Be Sure to Thank Sen. Dean Heller for NO Health Insurance Choices

— by Anjeanette Damon

News has broken that Anthem will stop offering health plans under the Affordable Care Act in nearly all of Nevada’s rural counties, specifically blaming the uncertainty caused by the Republican health care plan in the U.S. Senate. Roughly 8,000 rural Nevadans will lose their access to insurance, with no alternatives to buy a different plan on the exchange. Prominence also decided to pull out of the state’s exchange entirely.

From Stewart Boss, Nevada State Democratic Party spokesperson: “Nevada families are already feeling the harmful effects of the Republican health care agenda in Washington, and Senator Heller – who has voted 20 times to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act – is a major part of the problem. The uncertainty and instability caused by Dean Heller and Senate Republicans continuing their efforts to pass their toxic health care plan, combined with the GOP’s efforts to disrupt the exchanges, is now creating havoc in Nevada’s rural counties. The thousands of Nevadans who will lose their health care plans or lose access to health insurance through the exchange have Dean Heller and Donald Trump to blame for this turmoil.”

Reno Gazette-Journal: BREAKING: Rural Nevada to lose all Obamacare plans next year

R.I.P. Senator Debbie Smith

Rest in Peace and Strength, Senator Debbie Smith — Our thoughts and prayers, from Democrats all across Nevada, go out to Senator Smith’s family in their time of sorrow.

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Smith was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2015. She had successful surgery to remove the tumor before returning for the final six weeks of the session.

A memorial service will be held Sunday in Sparks. ​The service will be at noon Sunday at the Sparks High School gym. Parking is available at the lot behind the school.  Child care will be provided at Sparks High during the service in a classroom adjacent to the gym for children who are diaper-trained.
Should attendees choose to wear a particular color in honor of Debbie, gray is the color representing brain cancer.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Smith’s name to the Dr. Marnie Rose Foundation, which supports brain tumor research. Donations can be made online at the following link: https://drmarnierosefoundation.racepartner.com/debbiesmith

Official Statements honoring Senator Smith:


Senator Harry Reid:

“Debbie Smith was the epitome of an ideal neighbor, friend and public servant. A believer in the good of government, Debbie’s advocacy for adequately funding our education system will be felt in Nevada for a long time. Northern Nevadans, no matter what party, had a fighter in the Legislature. Despite her difficult year, her positive outlook on life was admirable to all. She was my friend and I will miss her.”


NV Dems Chair Roberta Lange

“Debbie Smith was a giant in the Nevada Legislature who fought tirelessly for Washoe County and Nevada’s working families. No one knew the state budget more or fought harder for more education funding than Debbie. Last session, when she was courageously fighting cancer, Debbie still made sure to get to the legislature to vote for the historic increase in education funding. No one in this state cared more about improving education for our kids than Debbie. I am proud to have called her a friend. On behalf of every Democrat in Nevada, I extend my thoughts and prayers to her family.


Mayor Geno Martini

“Today is a sad day for the City of Sparks and the State of Nevada. Senator Smith was an effective and principled leader and a champion of education, as well as a number of important human causes throughout our state. She was also a champion for her City, and I was always grateful for her strong partnership and advocacy on behalf of the citizens of Sparks. She fought for our citizens every day. She was so brave and strong as she battled her illness publicly. Senator Smith is a great Nevadan who will be missed but will never be forgotten.”

“On behalf of the Sparks City Council and the citizens of Sparks, I offer my deepest condolences to Senator Smith’s husband Greg and their family. Our thoughts and prayers will remain with Debbie and her family for many days to come.”


Mayor Hillary Schieve

“I was incredibly saddened today to learn of the passing of Debbie Smith. A Nevada resident for most of her life, Debbie was one of our state’s strongest advocates for public education. Her work in the Nevada Assembly and Nevada Senate was marked not only by her dedication to bettering education policy, but also by her support of wildlife and conservation issues. I, along with my fellow Reno City Council Members, extend our sympathy to Debbie’s family and friends during this difficult time. She will be missed.”


Chair of the Board of Washoe County Commissioners, Kitty Jung:

“Debbie Smith was a champion for Washoe County and I was heartbroken to hear of her passing,” Jung (Dist. 3) said. “Her dedication and collaboration in the State Assembly and State Senate to supporting children, seniors and adults was exemplary. We were lucky to have someone of her caliber care so deeply about the people of Northern Nevada. On behalf of the Board of County Commissioners, we send our thoughts to her family during this very difficult time.”


Rep. Dina Titus

“Senator Debbie Smith was a dear friend, a valued colleague, and a genuinely good person. She always put Nevada’s children first and never sought any credit or personal attention. Her last fight was her toughest, but the angels will now be fortunate to have her on their team.”


Congressman Mark Amodei

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my dear friend, Senator Debbie Smith. Debbie was a respected colleague and I will always value our time serving together in the Nevada Assembly and Senate. As a dedicated public servant with a huge heart for children and families, Debbie fought tirelessly to ensure every child in Nevada received a great education. Nevada will undoubtedly benefit from her courageous leadership and unwavering devotion to her constituents and state. Her work has touched the lives of many and she will be sorely missed. I send my deepest condolences to her husband, Greg and their three children.”


Washoe County School District Superintendent Traci Davis

“Sen. Debbie Smith was an extraordinary champion for children,” said Superintendent Traci Davis. “She waged courageous, sometimes lonely, battles to improve education in our state. She was instrumental in improving education policy and safety measures in schools. She introduced and helped pass legislation to put epi-pens in every school, a measure which saved the lives of two of our students who suffered life-threatening allergic reactions within the first month after the devices were placed in our schools, and many more lives since. For years, she fought for increased classroom funding, capital funding to relieve overcrowding and repair older schools, and established family engagement as a priority for school districts across Nevada. In Carson City during the last session, she helped pass legislation to combat bullying and abuse. She fought the good fight, both in the public forum and in her final, personal battle against cancer. I will miss her leadership, her commitment, and her devotion to education. This is a profound and painful loss for all of us in the Washoe County School District, and for the children of Nevada.”


Washoe County School District Board President Angie Taylor

“I am heartbroken to hear of the passing of Sen. Debbie Smith. She was a fierce and selfless advocate for education and for our children, and the effects of her tireless dedication will be felt in this state for decades to come. Through her work with the Nevada State Senate, Nevada State Assembly, Education Alliance of Washoe County, Nevada PTA, and a host of other agencies, she established herself as a powerful defender and supporter of children, families, and public education. This is a tremendous loss for Nevada, but her legacy will live on through all of the lives she touched. I offer my condolences to her wonderful family and friends. It was a privilege and an honor to know her.”

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You Don’t Matter—GOP House Votes for Monsanto’s Right to Deceive

DARK-ActToday, 275 members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of H.R. 1599, the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act. By voting for the DARK Act, these politicians (including  all of Nevada’s GOP Representatives—Amodei, Hardy and Heck) voted AGAINST truth and transparency, AGAINST science, AGAINST your right to know, and AGAINST the more than century-old right of states to legislate on matters relating to food safety and labeling. If this bill passes the Senate and is signed into law, it will nullify laws in states like Maine, Connecticut and Vermont where currently, GMO products are required to be labeled as such.

They voted against the 90-percent of Americans who are in favor of mandatory labeling of GMOs. They voted against the producers of non-GMO foods. The voted against States’ Rights.  They voted against you.

Whatever your views on GMOs, there is no Constitutional justification for the federal government to preempt state laws in this area. There certainly is no justification for Congress to preempt private sector efforts to meet consumer demands for non-GMO foods, while allowing those who support the use of GMOs to do so.

H.R. 1599 was sold to Congress via multi-million dollar public relations and lobbying campaigns built on lies and deception. Rumored to have been written by Monsanto themselves, the bill’s sole purpose is to support one industry—Monsanto’s poison-peddling industry—that was founded on lies and deception from the get-go. Monsanto—that same corporation who sold Agent Orange to our government as “safe” to use on our nation’s soldiers.

According to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mike Pompeo, the DARK Act gives consumers what they want: the means to know whether or not their food contains GMOs: “Consumers can choose to presume that all foods have GMO contents unless they are labeled or otherwise presented as non-GMO.  Meaning that it is knowable and it is known by the public which products have GMO and which don’t.”

Government regulation should NOT be an iffy, maybe they will, maybe the won’t kind of thing.  But, the DARK Act turns regulation upside down.  It would create a VOLUNTARY, government-run non-GMO certification program. Unless every producer of non-GMO products pays to have those products certified as non-GMO, consumers will still have no way of knowing which products contain GMOs, and which don’t. And why should the burden of labeling fall on the producers of non-GMO foods, when the risk factor is associated with those foods that do contain GMOs?

Did our Congress members vote against us because they were fooled by Monsanto’s slick, deceitful packaging of this so-called “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act”? Or did they simply vote with their wallets, stuffed full of biotech and junk food industry cash?

We don’t know. Given the Citizens United ruling, we’ll probably never know.  But we better know this: We can’t let this bill get through the U.S. Senate. We need to target Senator Heller and let him know this bill is unacceptable.

And Just Exactly HOW Retroactive Would That Be?

Today, the House voted on immigration. But it wasn’t on an effort to reform our broken system, or on the bipartisan bill the Senate passed more than 500 days ago.  Nope. Instead, House leaders held a vote t​hat would make our broken immigration system worse, not better. ​

Unproductive doesn’t begin to describe it. It’s all part of the Republican House’s pattern of payback politics — lawsuits,​ talks​ of impeachment​ and shutting down the government​, all because the President took common-sense action in the face of congressional gridlock ​to make our nation and families stronger.

The bill they voted on? That would be HR5759.  Roll Call Vote 550:

BILL TITLE: To establish a rule of construction clarifying the limitations on executive authority to provide certain forms of immigration relief

No provision of the Constitution, the Immigration and Nationality Act (of 1965), or other federal law shall be interpreted or applied to authorize the executive branch of the government to exempt, by executive order, regulation, or any other means, categories of persons unlawfully present in the United States from removal under the immigration laws.

Declares any action by the executive branch with the purpose of circumventing the objectives of this statute null and void and without legal effect.

Makes this Act EFFECTIVE RETROACTIVELY, applying to any such exemption made AT ANY TIME. (emphasis added)

The vote was 219-197 with 3 Democrats (Barrow, McIntyre and Peterson) voting FOR passage, and only 7 Republicans (Coffman, Denham, Diaz-Belart, Gohmert, Ros-Lehtinen, Stutzman and Valadio) voting against it. And yes of course, our illustrious representative from Nevada Congressional District 2, Mr. Mark Amodei was thrilled to cast his AYE vote as a “symbolic message” that, “that black guy in the oval office has no business doing what every President since ‘Ike’ has done via ‘executive action’.”

ImmigrationEOs

So, they want to retroactively nullify executive action of the President. Really? Did they bother to read the bill they just passed?  What are they nullifying? Actions just this President? Or, for curiosity’s sake, is their intent to nullify immigration-related actions taken by each and every President since 1956?  It does after all say, that it applies RETROACTIVELY, to ANY such exemption made at ANY time.

Talk about hypocrisy.  Apparently, if it’s intent is to apply ONLY to actions by President Obama, it’s okay for them to be ambiguous in bill that they themselves choose to pass, but how dare those heathenish Democrats pass a bill the Republicans claim is ambiguous as to healthcare subsidies! That just cannot be and they’ll make sure it can’t be, by wasting taxpayer money to take >50 votes to kill it, by suing the President for not implementing on a timely bases that same bill they’re trying to kill, and by goading their benefactor buddies into pursuing nullification of various provisions of that bill through all levels of the judiciary up to and including, the Supreme Corporate (oops, I mean Supreme Court).

The outright blatant hypocrisy of their ambiguous actions is immoral, unethical and UNchristian.

 

Just Like Me? NOT! Amodei Is Deaf, Dumb and Can’t Read!

DiscriminationSome time ago, I wrote to Rep. Mark Amodei regarding DOMA and various bills proposed by GOP members of Congress seeking to  restrict the marriage franchise.  I specifically stated that I believe that marriage is a contract of law and as such it should be available to all human beings, be they male + male, female + female or male+female couples.  I conveyed in that letter that I consider marriage a civil right.  I also told him in my letter that if he was of the belief that marriage should NOT be available to ALL couples, but instead allowed only between ONE man and ONE woman, then he should find the intestinal fortitude to introduce a bill into Congress to remove all discriminatory marriage-related tax incentives and benefits from our US Tax Code.  It is inappropriate for Congress to impose discriminatory tax codes on certain members of our society.  I also stated that if it’s only to be between ONE man and ONE woman, then they should outlaw divorce and not allow widows or widowers to marry as they’d already used up their “ONE.”

A number of bills have been proposed.  HJRes51 proposed an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to enshrine discrimination of against an entire class of U.S. Citizens:

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein),

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This joint resolution may be cited as the `Marriage Protection Amendment’.

SEC. 2. CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.

The following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years after the date of its submission for ratification:

`Article–

`Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.’.

Yet another bill, HR2834, proposed which marriages would be eligible for benefits:

Declares that, in determining the meaning of any Act of Congress: (1) “marriage” includes a marriage, domestic partnership, civil union, or any other similar legal union between two individuals that is recognized by a state, the District of Columbia, a territory or possession of the United States, or a federally recognized Indian tribe; and (2) “spouse” refers to either member of such a legal union. (Currently, “marriage” is defined only as a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, while “spouse” refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or wife.)

Under the definitions outlined in HR2834, my late husband and I would not have been considered husband and wife, as we were not married in a “State,” the District of Columbia,  a U.S. Territory, or on Tribal grounds.  We were married in the Bahamas. That was another point I raised in my letter to Rep. Amodei.

Well, I finally got my response from Rep. Amodei’s office.  Clearly, he, and the member of his staff (sp) who drafted the response below, are incapable of comprehending that someone in his district would be “FOR” the principle of marriage equality and thought I must have erred in my assertion that marriage should NOT be restricted to just ONE man and ONE woman.  Here’s the copy of his letter (the only modification to this letter is the removal of my address from the letter before posting it here):

Amodei-DOMA