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As Midterm Election Approaches, State Election Laws Challenged, CRS Legal Sidebar (October 7, 2014)

October 20, 2014 Comments off

As Midterm Election Approaches, State Election Laws Challenged, CRS Legal Sidebar (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

As the November 4 election approaches, there have been several court challenges to state election laws. Depending on how the courts rule—and when—these cases could affect election administration in several states during the upcoming election.

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2014 Environmental Finance Innovation Summit (White Paper)

October 14, 2014 Comments off

2014 Environmental Finance Innovation Summit (PDF)
Source: Goldman Sachs

The underlying thesis for investing in solutions that benefit the environment is increasingly compelling, given the macro trends of a rapidly growing population and increased urbanization, the social pressures to more effectively manage the environmental spillovers that come with growth, and the security imperatives of protecting against extreme weather. At the same time, capital flow into environmentally beneficial opportunities is often constrained by uncertainties around public policy, budgetary challenges, and the natural fits and starts of nascent technologies. In response to the opportunities and challenges, a number of innovative financing mechanisms and capital markets solutions are being deployed to scale-up investments in clean technology, energy efficiency, water and green infrastructure solutions.

To raise awareness about these developments and to facilitate dialogue, Goldman Sachs hosted the Environmental Finance Innovation Summit on February 13, 2014. The Summit coincided with the powerful nor’easter Pax, which underscored the importance of the topic at hand. With a group of nearly 200 participants, the Summit provided a forum to discuss emerging innovative financing vehicles, identify obstacles and solutions to scaling up these financing mechanisms, offer policy input, and foster partnerships to drive further progress.

The following paper summarizes key takeaways from the summit.

The National Coalition on Health Care Releases Inaugural Congressional Report Card: 113th Congress Fails to Make the Grade on Health Care Costs

October 13, 2014 Comments off

The National Coalition on Health Care Releases Inaugural Congressional Report Card: 113th Congress Fails to Make the Grade on Health Care Costs
Source: National Coalition on Health Care

Today, the National Coalition on Health Care (NCHC) released “Health Costs and the American Family: A Report Card on the 113th Congress,” finding that despite strong bipartisan efforts, this Congress has yet to make the grade in curbing health care costs.

The seven-page report card grades actions taken by the 113 Congress in three areas of health policy where common-ground, bipartisan solutions were possible: modernizing physician payment and SGR repeal, price and quality transparency, and strengthening Medicare. The report card concludes that Congress has so far failed to make meaningful progress toward greater health care affordability.

CRS — Reauthorizing the Office of National Drug Control Policy: Issues for Consideration (September 30, 2014)

October 8, 2014 Comments off

Reauthorizing the Office of National Drug Control Policy: Issues for Consideration (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is located in the Executive Office of the President and has the responsibility for creating policies, priorities, and objectives for the federal Drug Control Program. This national program is aimed at reducing the use, manufacturing, and trafficking of illicit drugs and the reduction of drug-related crime and violence and of drug-related health consequences. The director of ONDCP has primary responsibilities of developing a comprehensive National Drug Control Strategy (Strategy) to direct the nation’s anti-drug efforts; developing a National Drug Control Budget (Budget) to implement the National Drug Control Strategy, including determining the adequacy of the drug control budgets submitted by contributing federal Drug Control Program agencies; and evaluating the effectiveness of the National Drug Control Strategy implementation by the various agencies contributing to the Drug Control Program. Authorization for ONDCP expired at the end of FY2010, but it has continued to receive appropriations. Congress, while continuously charged with ONDCP’s oversight, is now faced with its possible reauthorization.

New From the GAO

October 8, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Elections: Issues Related to State Voter Identification Laws. GAO-14-634, September 19.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-634
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665965.pdf

2. National Defense: Department of Defense’s Waiver of Competitive Prototyping Requirement for the Navy’s Fleet Replenishment Oiler Program. GAO-15-57R, October 8.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-57R

Teaching the Children: Sharp Ideological Differences, Some Common Ground

October 8, 2014 Comments off

Teaching the Children: Sharp Ideological Differences, Some Common Ground
Source: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press

As the public grows more politically polarized, differences between conservatives and liberals extend their long reach even to opinions about which qualities are important to teach children, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.

People who express consistently conservative political attitudes across a range of issues are more likely than other ideological groups to rate teaching religious faith as especially important – and the least likely to say the same about teaching tolerance.

By contrast, people with consistent liberal opinions stand out for the high priority they give to teaching tolerance – and the low priority they attach to teaching religious faith and obedience.

The war on poverty at 50: significant progress made, but renewed dedication needed

October 7, 2014 Comments off

The war on poverty at 50: significant progress made, but renewed dedication needed
Source: Bread for the World Institute

The United States cut poverty in half during the late 1960s and the 1970s. However, progress stalled in the 1980s as the issue of poverty moved further down the priority list for members of Congress and the president. Despite the advancements made since 1964, poverty is still far too high in the United States.
• 46.5 million Americans live in poverty.
• More than one in five children live in poverty.
• 49 million people, including one in six children, live in homes that struggle to put food on the table.
• A parent working full-time at minimum wage earns about $14,500 a year—$4,000 below the poverty line for a family of three.

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