Thom Hartmann here – on the news… You need to know this. Living as an undocumented immigrant in this country is a civil infraction, not a criminal act. But, some members of our House of Representatives are working to change that. According to the Think Progress Blog, the bipartisan immigration bill that is coming together in the House would force all undocumented immigrants to plead guilty for breaking the law, and serve at least five years of probation. This probation requirement would even apply to the Dreamers, who were came to our country as children. One GOP congressional aide said the probation would be, “similar to how judges handles small drug crimes.” So, in order to get Republicans to stop whining about amnesty, this proposal would treat undocumented immigrants like drug dealers. In addition to insulting and stigmatizing the eleven million immigrants currently living in our country, this proposal would be a huge waste of the tax revenue collected during the legalization process. Instead of the additional funds being used to pay off debt, invest in our infrastructure, or simply run our government, the money would be spent processing eleven million people through our criminal system – and then monitoring them for years after that. This is a horrible idea on every level. Treating immigrants like drug dealers is inhumane, and it goes against everything that our country was created for. And, our court system can't focus on real criminals when judges are busy processing eleven million new cases. Instead of criminalizing those who want to call them selves Americans, let's fix out broken legal immigration system, and create a real path to citizenship for people who came here looking for a better life. In screwed news... Even after getting a voucher to allow him to privatize Medicaid, Florida still wants to screw over the poor.
Last Friday, the Republican-controlled Florida state house rejected federal funding for their Medicaid expansion. Instead, they want to open the state up to more private insurance carriers. Under the guise of containing health costs – for which they just rejected funding – the Florida House decided to provide a flat $2,000 per year insurance subsidy, instead of allowing more people to enroll in Medicaid. Under President Obama's plan, people earning up to 133% of the poverty level would be eligible to enroll in Medicaid, but Florida Republicans think that's too generous. To be clear, the poverty line for a family of four is only $23,550. Under the Florida Republican's plan, those families will now have to select a private high-deductible plan, which means less care and more money out of pocket. Where are the so-called compassionate conservatives? If Florida Republicans think it's so easy to raise a family on poverty wages, they should try doing so themselves... and try to cover the cost of corporate healthcare while they're at it.
In the best of the rest of the news... Maine is joining the fight against corporate power. That state may soon become the 13th in our nation to support a constitutional amendment to overturn the 2010 Citizens United decision. Today, State Senator Richard Woodbury will introduce a bill that directs on Maine's congressional representatives to support Bernie Sanders' “Saving American Democracy Amendment.” That amendment would prohibit corporate spending in all elections, allow Congress to regulate political contributions, and constitutionally affirm that corporations are not people. Senator Woodbury has been a leading voice in Maine against Citizens United, saying, “It has trivialized the voice and influence of regular voters.” Hopefully, that state's legislators will support Sen. Woodbury's proposal, and help in the fight against corporate power. You can help too, by signing the petition at MoveToAmend.org.
The point of a gun buyback event is to get guns off the street. But, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer just signed into law legislation to make the events pointless. Several cities in Arizona had conducted gun buyback events, and successfully collected hundred of weapons. To ensure those weapons didn't make it back into the hands of criminals, they were destroyed by local police departments. But, Jan Brewer just undermined all their efforts, by mandating that surrendered weapons must be sold back to gun dealers, rather than being destroyed. Arizona already had a law on the books requiring seized guns to be resold, but cities and counties argued that guns collected at buybacks didn't fall under the law because they were voluntarily surrendered. Democratic lawmakers in that state say that Brewer's stricter mandate undermines local control, and goes against the wishes of people who surrendered weapons to keep them off the street. In addition to the resale legislation, Gov. Brewer also signed a law that prohibits local towns and cities from collecting or storing any information about individuals that purchase or sell guns. So, in one day, Gov. Brewer went against the will of the people and mandated that cities can't get weapons of war off their streets, and then made it virtually impossible to track illegal gun sales. Unbelievable.
And finally… There's great news for those of us who hate doing laundry. An American clothing firm, known as Wool&Prince, has created the first self-cleaning shirt. Well, kind of... The shirt is made of a special wool fabric that can go months without being cleaned, and will never need to be ironed. Inventors say that it can be worn for 100 days before needing to be washed because the fabric is naturally resistant to odors. They say the innovative fabric is also specially designed to regain it's original shape, “even when stuffed into a gym bag at the end of the day.” Fifteen people were asked to test the garment maker's claims, and a company spokesman said testers confirmed the shirt's odor and wrinkle free properties. The spokesman added that they didn't expect anyone to really go over three months between washings, but said, “if you want to go for the 100 Day Challenge, we aren't going to stop you.” No word yet on when the shirts will be available for purchase, but our calls for self-cleaning laundry may finally be answered. And that’s the way it is today – Tuesday, April 30, 2013. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.