The legal scuffle over the Affordable Care Act isn't taking a holiday. The Obama administration and lawyers representing Idaho and 19 other states have shifted their debate to Florida.
U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson in Pensacola heard arguments Monday from both sides on whether health-care reform exceeds legitimate federal power. Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden joined Attorneys General from other states days after the legislation became law in March, arguing it burdens state budgets and unconstitutionally compels people to buy coverage. An individual mandate and expansion of Medicaid and employer-based coverage would extend health care to 32 million more people by 2019. Mandatory coverage would start in 2014.
If you're keeping score, the administration won prior rulings from federal judges in Detroit and Lynchburg, Virginia. However on Dec. 13, a federal judge in Richmond, Virginia, invalidated the mandatory coverage portion of the Affordable Care Act. Shortly after that decision, it was reported that Virginia judge may have had a financial interest to do so.
What do the following people have in common:
-Former Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne
-Screenwriter of "500 Days of Summer" Scott Neustadter
-Passages author Gail Sheehy
-HIV Virus discoverer Flossie Wong-Staal
-Fair Game protagonist Valerie Plame
-NPR host Scott Simon
-Sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer
-Daily Show writer Kevin Bleyer
They're among the guests of this year's iconic Renaissance Weekend in Charleston, South Carolina. The non-partisan retreat is entering its 30th year of attracting leaders from diverse fields for hundreds of lectures and seminars. This week's event will draw 1,100 participants.
An increasing number of wind farm projects are being put on hold while researchers look into the potential that the massive, spinning blades could do some serious damage to wildlife. Topping the list of concerns are birds, which can be struck by the blades and killed. The focus is now on golden eagles, concern for which has held up some major wind farm projects, including some in Idaho.
Because of the issue, and conflicts with laws protecting the eagles, the Bureau of Land Management has suspended issuing permits for wind projects on public land until more research can be done.
Check out the map at msnbc.com to see what projects have been impacted.
Dec. 24th may mean shopping, feasting or praying in many corners of the world, but there are still way too many young men and women in harms way. It’s “business as usual” for some 1,500 Idaho soldiers at Victory Base Complex in Baghdad, Iraq. They’re joined by 600 each from Oregon and Montana, all making up the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team. Just before winging out of Gowen Field this past September, Citydesk got a chance to meet some of the 116th, and their families who are keeping the home fires burning.
Some of the soldiers who call Boise home have recorded video holiday greetings for family, friends and community. You can watch them by clicking on their name.
Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 will go down in history as a pivotal and unprecedented milestone in the struggle for equality for lesbian gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.
“This is a very good day,” said President Obama, in a moving 20 minute speech before he signed into law the Repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” that for 17 years discriminated against gay members of the United States Military.
The early Christmas gifts just keep coming from the Obama administration. The U.S. Senate gave its approval Wednesday to a new arms control treaty with Russia.
Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch were two of 26 Republicans voting against the New Start Treaty. But 13 of their GOP brethren joined every Democrat to total 71 "yes" votes. The treaty now heads to the president for his signature, and marks the most tangible foreign policy achievement of the Obama administration to date.
$40 million, $1 million deposit. That's basically the deal Tamarack's board of directors chose as its preferred buyer. The mysterious Green Valley Holdings of Eagle (which still hasn't answered any media inquiries) was selected Wednesday, Dec. 22 as the preferred purchaser of the Valley County resort.
It has been quite a week for Tamarack, seeing its ski lifts go full-tilt for the first time in 20 months and now having a possible buyer.
J.P. Boespflug, the creator and current debtor-in-possession of Tamarack, stood in the shadow of a Christmas tree at Banbury Golf Club in Eagle and used a stocking-full of metaphors.
On the resort's bankruptcy status: "Chapter 11 is bit like being in a hospital. But you have little access to modern medicine."
Regarding the negotiation: "When you're going through a divorce, you have to consider the children."
On striking a deal: "It a little like an engagement, but then you somehow have to get to the marriage."
On selling the resort: "It feels like when you become an empty-nester. Your teenage kids don't want to talk to you, but maybe someday when they grow up you'll have a good relationship with them again."
Boespflug considered three offers to buy the resort from Pelorus Group of Salt Lake City, JMA Ventures of San Francisco, and Green Valley Holdings. Green Valley's offer was chosen because they had the highest bid ($40 million), an adequate deposit ($1 million) and proof of funding.
Bankruptcy Judge Terry Myers still has to sign off on the deal.
"How long will it take?" asked Boespflug. "Sometimes it's a matter of days. Sometimes it's months. You guys can put your wagers on what might happen next."
It appears that one of the most contentious and maligned stumbling blocks of the lame duck session of Congress may have been resolved.
Both the New York Times and National Public Radio are reporting that a deal has been struck in the senate to pass the Zadroga Bill, which provides health coverage to 9/11 First Responders who became sick from toxic fumes and chemicals after their work at Ground Zero.
Though it seems like the bill should have been an easy win, Republicans opposed it and Tom Coburn (R-OK), nicknamed "Dr. No," even threatened a filibuster due to the bill's overall cost, despite criticism from high-ranking Republicans like Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani. But a deal was struck when two New York Democrats, Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, agreed to revisions demanded by conservative Republicans.
The changes nearly halve the bill, dropping the benefits from $7.4 billion over eight years to $4.3 billion over five years.
If the deal holds, the bill will go back to the house, where it is predicted to be swiftly passed and then signed by the President.
Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch joined 26 Republicans in a losing effort to block a new arms control treaty that would pare back American and Russian nuclear arsenals.
The Senate voted 67 to 28 to advance the New Start Treaty, reaching the two-thirds majority needed for approval. Eleven Republicans joined every Democrat present to support the treaty, which now heads to a final vote of approval on Wednesday.
The vote represents another December bipartisan victory for the Obama administration, which appeared politically wounded from the midterm elections, but successfully lobbied several priorities including a tax-cut package and the end of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy banning open homosexuals from serving in the military.
The New Start Treaty requires the United States and Russia to reduce nuclear stockpiles so that within seven years of ratification neither deploys more than 1,550 strategic warheads and 700 launchers.
The White House announced Tuesday that it would require health-insurance carriers to justify any increases of 10 percent or more in the premiums they charge next year.
The Affordable Care Act, signed into law this past March, calls for annual reviews of "unreasonable increases in premiums for health insurance coverage."
"The review will help rein in the kind of excessive and unreasonable rate increases that have made insurance unaffordable for so many families," said Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services.
Starting in 2012, the federal government will set a separate threshold for each state, reflecting its cost trends, and insurers will have to disclose rate increases above that level. Under the new law, insurers that show a "pattern or practice of excessive or unjustified premium increases" can be excluded from the centralized insurance market, or exchange that is to be set up in each state by 2014.
Sebelius said that since 1999, the cost of health insurance for the average working American had risen 128 percent.