Good Monday 1 July, 2013. As summer 2013 grinds forward, so do WE. Thanks for listening to, participating in & ENGAGING w/ IDCM, TIDCS…
* Frankly the 25 June, 2013 SCOTUS ruling invalidating ‘Section 4′ of the iconic Voting Rights Act has not left my mind since it was announced.
What did WE lose? What are the strategies NOW?
“Vice President Biden Speaks on the Voting Rights Act”
Jun 25, 2013
Vice President Biden speaks on today’s Supreme Court’s decision that invalidates a core provision of the Voting Rights Act, and decades of well-established practices that help make sure voting is fair, especially in places where voting discrimination has been historically prevalent.
“Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act”
“When Congress enacted the Voting Rights Act of 1965, it determined that racial discrimination in voting had been more prevalent in certain areas of the country. Section 4(a) of the Act established a formula to identify those areas and to provide for more stringent remedies where appropriate. The first of these targeted remedies was a five-year suspension of “a test or device,” such as a literacy test as a prerequisite to register to vote. The second was the requirement for review, under Section 5, of any change affecting voting made by a covered area either by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia or by the Attorney General. The third was the ability of the Attorney General to certify that specified jurisdictions also required the appointment of federal examiners. These examiners would prepare and forward lists of persons qualified to vote. The final remedy under the special provisions is the authority of the Attorney General to send federal observers to those jurisdictions that have been certified for federal examiners.
Section 4 also contains several other provisions, such as Section 4(e) and Section 4(f), that guarantee the right to register and vote to those with limited English proficiency. Section 4(e) provides that the right to register and vote may not be denied to those individuals who have completed the sixth grade in a public school, such as those in Puerto Rico, where the predominant classroom language is a language other than English. In Section 4(f), the Act addresses the ability of those persons who are members of language minority groups identified in Section 4(f)(2), to register and vote as well as to get information relating to the electoral process in a manner that will ensure their meaningful participation in the electoral process. The Department has embarked on a vigorous program to enforce the Act’s language minority provisions.
As enacted in 1965, the first element in the formula was whether, on November 1, 1964, the state or a political subdivision of the state maintained a “test or device” restricting the opportunity to register and vote. The Act’s definition of a “test or device” included such requirements as the applicant being able to pass a literacy test, establish that he or she had good moral character, or have another registered voter vouch for his or her qualifications.
The second element of the formula would be satisfied if the Director of the Census determined that less than 50 percent of persons of voting age were registered to vote on November 1, 1964, or that less than 50 percent of persons of voting age voted in the presidential election of November 1964. This resulted in the following states becoming, in their entirety, “covered jurisdictions”: Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Virginia. In addition, certain political subdivisions (usually counties) in four other states (Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, and North Carolina) were covered. In fully covered states, the state itself and all political subdivisions of the state are subject to the special provisions. In “partially covered” states, the special provisions applied only to the identified counties. Voting changes adopted by or to be implemented in covered political subdivisions, including changes applicable to the state as a whole, are subject to review under Section 5.
In 1970, Congress recognized the continuing need for the special provisions of the Act, which were due to expire that year, and renewed them for another five years. It added a second prong to the coverage formula, identical to the original formula except that it referenced November 1968 as the relevant date for the maintenance of a test or device and the levels of voter registration and electoral participation. This addition to the formula resulted in the partial coverage of ten states, including Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Wyoming. Half of these states (Connecticut, Idaho, Maine, Massachusetts, and Wyoming) filed successful “bailout” lawsuits.
In 1975, the Act’s special provisions were extended for another seven years, and were broadened to address voting discrimination against members of “language minority groups,” which were defined as persons who are American Indian, Asian American, Alaskan Natives or of Spanish heritage.” As before, Congress expanded the coverage formula, based on the presence of tests or devices and levels of voter registration and participation as of November 1972. In addition, the 1965 definition of “test or device” was expanded to include the practice of providing any election information, including ballots, only in English in states or political subdivisions where members of a single language minority constituted more than five percent of the citizens of voting age. This third prong of the coverage formula had the effect of covering Alaska, Arizona, and Texas in their entirety, and parts of California, Florida, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, and South Dakota.
In 1982, the coverage formula was extended again, this time for 25 years, but no changes were made to it. In 2006, the coverage formula was again extended for 25 years. Section 4, along with those other sections that are dependent upon it, such as Section 5 and 8, will expire in 2031.”
MUST WATCH. Thank you @RingofFire & @FreeSpeechTV.
“Robert Kennedy Jr on the Gutting of the Voting Rights Act”
Jun 28, 2013
“Robert Kennedy Jr., Ring of Fire Radio, joins Thom Hartmann. On Tuesday – the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and gutted one of the most important pieces of Civil Rights Era legislation. But have things really changed in America?”
* MUST READ, and thank you MHP & tv.msnbc.com.
“Chin up! How to fight for voting rights in 4 steps”
Melissa Harris-Perry, @mharrisperry
In RepubANTIWoman News:
* WOMEN: Whose Uterus Is It? YOURS! Make YOUR Voice Heard To ANTIWoman GOP!
In Texas, and in Republican led state legislatures ANTIWoman reproductive health care legislation is ongoing, and relentless. Thank you TexasTribune.org. A MUST READ excerpt!
“Top Texas News for July 1, 2013″
“At 2 p.m. today, the Legislature will convene for the second special session of 2013, which Gov. Rick Perry called after Democrats — led by state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth and aided by hundreds of boisterous protesters — defeated major abortion legislation last week in one of the most explosive political moments in recent state history.”
* Student Loan Interest Rates Double As Of Today (Thanks Boehner’s DoNOTHING Congress)!
June 27, 2013
“Harkin, Senate Democrats Seek to Keep Student Loans Affordable”
“Despite efforts to forge bipartisan agreement, Republicans still insisting on plans with skyrocketing interest rates that increase annually and would make college more expensive for working families”
“WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to protect taxpayers and prevent the interest rate on need-based student loans from doubling on millions of Americans, U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today joined 38 Senate Democrats to introduce a fully paid for bill to lock in the rate at 3.4 percent for one year.
The Keep Student Loans Affordable Act of 2013 (S. 1238) will secure the low interest rate for an additional year as Congress works on a long-term and sustainable approach for the federal student loan program.
Earlier this month, Senate Republicans blocked legislation to maintain the low student loan interest rates for two years, and instead are pushing legislation with ballooning interest rates that would increase student debt and make it harder for middle-class families to afford college.
The current 3.4 percent interest rate on subsidized federal Stafford loans is set to double on July 1, unless Congress acts. This rate hike would add about $1,000 of additional debt on the average student over the life of the loan. If enacted, the Keep Student Loans Affordable Act of 2013 would retroactively set the interest rate for any subsidized Stafford loan made between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014 at 3.4 percent. The bill is fully paid for by closing a loophole that currently allows those who inherit certain IRAs and 401(k)s to avoid paying the taxes on those accounts for many years. The bill does not create a new tax – it would simply cap the amount of time payment of taxes can be delayed at five years.
“There is no question that Congress must take a comprehensive look at student loan programs, and as Chairman of the Senate HELP Committee, I plan to do so in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act next year. However, rushing through a short-sighted, long-term proposal that will burden millions of future college students and their families with higher, unrestricted interest rates—and ask these same students to pay additional interest to reduce the deficit—is simply not right or fair,” Senator Harkin said. “The Keep Student Loans Affordable Act of 2013 offers a short-term, fully-paid-for extension that is a much more viable and responsible path forward to keep student loan rates affordable in the coming school year for millions of middle-class students and their families.”
“We need to keep student loans affordable, but we must not sell out our students and make them mortgage their future to afford college. Both parties agree on the need for a comprehensive overhaul to make our financial aid system more effective, affordable, and sustainable. But Republicans see the deadline as a chance to cram through a long-term bill that would keep rates low for a year or so but then in successive years make college more expensive for working families. They have blocked legislation to keep rates low and want to do away with important safeguards for students and their families. The American people can’t afford that. The Keep Student Loans Affordable Act is a fiscally responsible, short-term solution to keep rates low now and build long-term consensus as Congress does the work necessary to address the bigger picture of college affordability,” said Senator Jack Reed.
“Students in North Carolina and across the country cannot afford more student loan debt. And they certainly cannot afford congressional inaction,” said Senator Kay Hagan. “I am disappointed that a compromise on a long-term solution that could pass the Senate was not reached before the July 1 deadline, but I refuse to sit on my hands while 176,000 North Carolina students and their families see interest rates double on their federal Stafford loans. I am proud to introduce this bill with Senator Reed to keep student loans affordable. I am hopeful we can work towards a long-term plan, but in the meantime I am committed to working with my colleagues – Democrats and Republicans – to pass this legislation and avoid putting one more burden on our students and middle class families who are trying to make ends meet.”
“Countless students at schools in Minnesota—and across the country—demonstrate tremendous perseverance in getting a college education and in cobbling together the resources to pay for it,” said Senator Al Franken. “If Congress doesn’t act, paying for college is only going to get harder, which is why this legislation to prevent this rate hike is so crucial.”
“Within days, student loan interest rates will double. I am hopeful that we will find a broad solution that keeps rates low, reduces the outstanding debt burden that is crushing our students, and makes college more affordable. But next year’s students do not have time to wait for Congress to get its act together. They need us to stand up for them today. This compromise proposal does just that, and is a critical first step toward a long-term solution that solves our country’s student debt problem,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren.
“At a time when many families are struggling to make ends meet, we need to be making college more affordable, not raising rates so the government makes a profit off of students,” said Senator Debbie Stabenow. “Allowing student loan rates to double could put the dream of a college education out of reach for millions of Americans. This legislation keeps rates where they are for one year while Congress works on a more comprehensive plan to make college more affordable for all.”
The Keep Student Loans Affordable Act of 2013 is authored by U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Kay Hagan (D-NC) and cosponsored by Harkin along with: Al Franken (D-MN); Debbie Stabenow (D-MI); Elizabeth Warren (D-MA); Patty Murray (D-WA); Harry Reid (D-NV); Mary Landrieu (D-LA); Mark Pryor (D-AR); Dick Durbin (D-IL); Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI); Tom Udall (D-NM); Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); Sherrod Brown (D-OH); Bob Menendez (D-NJ); Patrick Leahy (D-VT); Bernie Sanders (I-VT); Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH); Brian Schatz (D-HI); Carl Levin (D-MI); Mazie Hirono (D-HI); Claire McCaskill (D-MO); Chris Murphy (D-CT); Richard Blumenthal (D-CT); Tammy Baldwin (D-WI); Mark Begich (D-AK); Martin Heinrich (D-NM); Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY); Ben Cardin (D-MD); Jeff Merkley (D-OR); Jay Rockefeller (D-WV); Ron Wyden (D-OR); Barbara Boxer (D-CA); Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Chris Coons (D-DE).”
* ImmigrationReform: Will DoNOTHING Boehner’s Congress Get Anything Done?
“Pelosi: Senate Action Moves Us One Step Closer to Comprehensive Immigration Reform”
“Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today after the U.S. Senate passed the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act,” a comprehensive immigration reform bill, by a vote of 68-32:
“Today, a bipartisan coalition in the U.S. Senate voted to reaffirm our values, advance our ideals, and honor our history as a nation of immigrants by passing comprehensive immigration reform. With this action, the Senate moved our country one step closer to achieving commonsense reform that reflects our heritage and makes America more American.
“Now, it’s the House’s turn to act. The bipartisan taskforce of seven has been hard at work on legislation that echoes the spirit of the Senate bill and upholds our basic principles: to secure our borders, protect our workers, unite families, and offer an earned pathway to citizenship. The House must bring up for a vote a bipartisan bill that embodies these principles so we can then work with the Senate in making comprehensive immigration reform the law of the land.
“From generation to generation, immigrants have built, strengthened, and enriched our culture and our society; they have reinvigorated our economy; they have brought their hopes, optimism, and aspirations to the ongoing pursuit of the American Dream. That tradition is embedded into the very fabric of American tradition and strength, and in our time, we must make our own contribution to that legacy with comprehensive immigration reform.””
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