Thursday, March 21, 2013
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
During the 2011 GRAMA work group, created in response to public outcry over HB477 and proposed changes to Utah's GRAMA law, I learned three things:
- Utah has an amazing FOI law in GRAMA, defining public data.
- An aggressive online infrastructure is already in place, but not being fully utilized in the availability of public data as defined by GRAMA.
- Despite the image HB477 created, most of our lawmakers have high respect for transparency, being held accountable, and public access to information.
After we had made our recommendations as a work group -- almost all of which were enacted in Sen. Bramble's SB177 in 2012 -- I continued my conversations with state agencies, cities, counties, lawmakers, and transparency advocates here in Utah. I had long conversations with the Sunlight Foundation (who, surprisingly, never stopped answering my constant questions) and open data leaders in other states regarding the implementation of public data policy. The questions I had:
- Are we getting the most out of our FOI laws?
- Is there waste, inconsistency, or even unnecessary cost for both the state and the public regarding the release of public data?
- Could improvements be made easily?
- Do the necessary tools exist already?
The answers were always: Yes, yes, yes, and yes.
The next step became obvious. To borrow the words of the sponsor of the bill resulting from these many conversations, Sen. Deidre Henderson in a KNRS interview last Friday: In Utah "the wheel has already been invented, we just need to streamline the process."
In December, all of this talk became a reality when Sen. Henderson agreed to head the effort up. A small brainstorming group came together quickly, including Sen. Henderson, former lawmaker (and troublemaker) Holly Richardson, myself, Laurenellen McCann by phone from the Sunlight Foundation, and two people who know more about IT and data processes than anyone I know, Jesse Harris, and Phil Windley.
A skeleton bill was drafted, and our group expanded to include representatives from state archives, records, the Chief Information Officer's office, and additional members of the original GRAMA work group. I've been told Sen. Todd Weiler wants in, but he doesn't know the secret knock, so... Kidding! Sen. Henderson has made it known she wants the process behind possibly changing the process of how data gets to the public to be open, and has even asked for your feedback via her post at The Senate Site.
Personally, I'm hoping for a robust discussion and passage, followed by what will surely be a continued refining of the data policy, streamlined by this bill.
So why am I writing this? Two reasons. I want to start a conversation about the importance of an open data standard in ensuring we get the most -- both in efficiency and effectiveness -- out of an already impressive environment surrounding public data in Utah. More on that coming soon. I also wanted to highlight this entire process. From HB477 two years ago, to the work group, to the openness and sincerity and excitement of Senate leadership, staff, and of course Sen. Henderson herself in making this come together has been amazing.
On KVNU's For the People I get calls all the time from Utahns who feel their government doesn't listen. "They don't care what we think." "They don't listen to the little guy." "They're out of touch." Maybe this is a fair criticism, sometimes. But in Utah, it's also true and important to recognize that anyone -- even an unapologetic lefty activist/blogger/heckler, like me -- can still get the ear of lawmakers and be a part of the process armed with nothing more than their email address, phone numbers, and an idea.
That is very cool.
I'll write more about the usefulness of an open data standard in the coming days, but I wanted to tell this story first. I think it's easy to take for granted, or even get caught up in our (admittedly fun, equally important) partisan differences or the very "western" innate (and somewhat healthy) mistrust of government. But it's nice to have a reminder that here in Utah anyone willing to jump in, through lawmakers eager to engage, can be a part of the process.
Thanks to Sen. Niederhauser and Sen. Henderson for engaging.
|I'm reading: From HB477 to an Open Data Standard for Utah ~|
Posted by Jason The at 6:24 PM
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Ran across an interview by KUED as part of their Healthcare: Facing the Barriers documentary. Contrast today's staunch opposition to Obamacare and the Medicaid expansion with Sen. John Valentine, 2007:
By making it more affordable, you have a way to be able to get insurance. Let’s use an analogy of a car. Not everyone can afford an Expedition--a large SUV. But most people can afford a smaller car. If they can't afford a smaller car then perhaps they have to take public transit. Now some of us will go in and out of the various different systems. For example, I'll take my large SUV up to 106th South and get on tracks to go down to a Jazz game or go down to the Symphony or to go to Temple Square because it's more efficient to take that, it's faster oftentimes and I don't have to find a place to park. So you use various different aspects of the system based upon what is going to work for you on that particular day. Well healthcare can do the same thing. You can have a healthcare program that has a basic system and if you want to afford add-ons, you can buy the add-ons, but everyone should be able to afford a basic system--that's the view that Utah would like to put forward.
The view 2007 Utah would like to put forward sounds a lot like a public option, and exactly like Romneycare in MA, a program Obamacare borrows heavily from especially regarding expanding access to reduce costs associated with a high number of uninsured. An idea 2007 Valentine also endorses:
I would start with a basic policy that could be affordable for all Utahans. It would be a basic policy. It would not have a lot of the bells and whistles that we keep mandating to insurance carriers. On that basic policy, the premium on it would be means tested, in other words, depending upon your income would be dependent on what you'd have to pay for that policy. That policy would be available to everybody above the poverty line. People at the poverty line would be covered by Medicaid--that's a federal program that the state participates in. I wouldn't change that part of it. But it's for those uninsured Utahans above the poverty line, but not able to obtain insurance through their own employer. That basic coverage would be just that--it would be very basic. It would not have a lot of the things on it that people expect with insurance when they have expectation of full indemnity, in other words it covers everything. But that basic policy would provide a basic coverage for everyone to be able to afford.
Sen. Valentine also endorses a collaborative effort between states and the federal government to expand access and reduce premium costs. While true to his conservative nature opposing mandates and "Canada-care," 2007 Valentine draws a stark contrast with the position of Gov. Herbert and many legislators expressed today. "The states can't go it alone," 2007 Valentine says, without hesitation.
Is the takeaway here that, uninsured be damned, a good idea is only a good idea if "our guy" is in the White House? If expanding Medicaid was a good idea in 2007, it's only a better idea in 2013 as costs have continued to more than triple in Utah.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Friday, September 28, 2012
I'm sure this RINO making all this hoity-toity smart sounding talk is soon to be purged and sanitized. Still, smart:
I’m not the biggest fan of Eisenhower or Nixon, but they (and Reagan) are clearly preferable to this post-Reagan Republican Party. Those presidents won national majorities for a reason. They weren’t strict conservatives, but they certainly weren’t any less conservative than the Bushes, McCain, or Romney. They didn’t pretend they were going to abolish the welfare state — often, they didn’t even pretend they would cut the welfare state — unlike so many of today’s Republicans, who don’t follow through but do use their rhetoric to polarize. That gives us the worst of both worlds: big government plus the delusional sense within one party that it represents the antithesis of big government and may freely hate other Americans who don’t mouth the mantra. And what goes for big government goes for Judeo-Christian values, a strong national defense, and all the rest: the GOP’s rhetoric occupies a separate mental compartment from its actions, even as its voters and ideological apologists continue to believe that there is a profound moral difference between them and the rest of the country. It’s a losing strategy, and worse, it’s made the country ungovernable even as government grows.
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
(Crossposted at MyDD)
May be my partisan view, watching from home, but the enthusiasm today seemed more palpable than last week, complete with mentions of the candidate by name that seemed both frequent and -- get this -- intentional! Hmm. Not only Obama himself but specific policy and programs received direct and often detailed positioning in quite a few remarks. The scene felt more like what I'd expect at a convention than my take on the all-things-generic-Republican (and some Romney guy too) RNC.
Also included: more than one strong commitment from speakers on gay marriage, not just in the approved platform items but as a rallying point (for turnout?). Interesting, considering this was only 2004.
Lilly Ledbetter was solid:
Three years ago, the house passed the paycheck Fairness Act to level the playing field for America's women. Senate Republicans blocked it. Mitt Romney won't even say if he supports it. President Obama does. In the end, I didn't get a dime of the money I was shortchanged.
But this fight became bigger than Lilly Ledbetter. Today, it's about my daughter. It's about my granddaughter. It's about women and men. It's about families. It's about equality and justice.
This cause, which bears my name, is bigger than me. It's as big as all of you.'Obamacare' fully embraced. "Real people, real problems" far better, far more tangibly defined than those spoken at/about in the Made Up Scary President Republican Universe.
Tim Kaine said some things I tried not to pay attention to.
Noted by a smart guy on Twitter:
Biggest news of the conventions is that both parties are now chasing Dem-leaning demographics--Latinos and women. [...] This ends decades when both chased GOP-leaners (southerners, suburbanites, working class whites).CSPAN has video of the whole shebang. Stand outs to me were (in content, if not delivery) San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro's stark contrast of the choice this election is about:
We all understand that freedom isn't free. What Romney and Ryan don't understand is that neither is opportunity. We have to invest in it.
Republicans tell us that if the most prosperous among us do even better, that somehow the rest of us will too. Folks...we've heard that before.
First they called it 'trickle-down.' Then 'supply side.' Now it's 'Romney/Ryan.' Or is it 'Ryan/Romney'?
Either way, their theory has been tested. It failed. Our economy failed. The middle class paid the price. Your family paid the price. Mitt Romney just doesn't get it.And of course the Twitter busting (nearly double that of Romney's acceptance speech) boat of awesome that was Michelle Obama:
Wednesday's schedule here.
Monday, July 9, 2012
Because I'm still on Cherilyn Eagar's mailing list and I don't want to bogart the hilarity:
Dear [Reactionary Moron],
Thank you for being a strong supporter of liberty in a dangerous time in our nation's history. First it was the federal take-over of banks, autos, energy, and health care - ObamaCare.
Now it's ObamaCore: the take-over of education through "Common Core Standards."
On all fronts, President Obama is showing Americans what he really meant when he promised to dramatically transform this nation.
And now America is standing up and fighting back.
Now more than ever, we need you to stand up with us. The American Leadership Fund was established in 2010 to assist coalitions, candidates and elected state officials in promoting state issues that need our support across this nation. We have had a strong and effective influence on education, immigration, fighting ObamaCare, and opposing a constitutional convention.
Your immediate help today will go a long way to push back ObamaCore - the progressive education agenda of the Left destroying free enterprise and the American Dream.
ObamaCore and State NCLB Waivers
Unfortunately, Utah is once again on the front lines of progressive education, having recently been approved for the ObamaCore waiver, also supported by Washington special interests and unions.
If you don't live in Utah, is YOUR state on board with the Common Core NCLB waiver? Chances are, the answer is "yes."
You see, it's a Catch 22. It's either No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which has been another federal failure, or the waiver, which requires the adoption of federal "Common Core Standards."
This waiver violates federal statute by imposing a centralization of standards, testing and curriculum. It also drastically alters prior legislation (FERPA), which has traditionally protected parental and student privacy rights in the past.
With this new Common Core waiver, not only will privacy be gone. Another generation of American children will once again be subjected to new round of lowering the basketball standard so all students can shoot the basket, a typical progressive dumbing-down strategy that resurfaces with new names and labels.
ACTION ALERT: What You Can Do
- Attend The Common Core Forum - FREE to the Public
(or request a copy of the recorded version by clicking here.)Tuesday, July 10, 2012, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
Larry H. Miller Free Enterprise Building Auditorium
Salt Lake Community College Campus
9750 South 300 West, Sandy, Utah
Featured Speakers Include:
Dr. Bill Evers, Research Fellow, Hoover Institution; member, Mitt Romney's Education Policy Advisory Group; former United States Assistant Secretary of Education under George W. Bush
Kent D. Talbert, co-founder, Talbert & Eitel, PLLC; former General Counsel, United States Department of Education under George W. Bush
Emmett McGroarty, Esq., Director of Education Policy, American Principles Project; author, ALEC anti-common core legislation; founder, www.truthinamericaneducation.
James Gass, Director, Center for School Reform, Pioneer Institute
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Over the last sixty years or so, I see far more continuities than discontinuities in what the rightward twenty or thirty percent of Americans believe about the world. The crazy things they believed and wanted were obscured by their lack of power, but they were always there – if you knew where to look. What's changed is that loony conservatives are now the Republican mainstream, the dominant force in the GOP….It's comically expected for some to feed it to get elected. It's tragically human for simple minds to suck up what explains your troubles and fears, no matter how bat shit crazy. And it's down right embarrassing how many of these lunatics are Utahns.
David Noebel, who exposed the "Communist subversion of music" by which Russian spymasters deployed Pavlov's techniques to rot the minds of America's youth via their bought-and-paid-for agents, the Beatles…. Noebel himself is still with us. In the 1970s, he was a favorite source for James Dobson, the still enormously popular Christian Right radio pschologist and Republican power broker. Most recently, Noebel's reputation got a boost from an admiring Glenn Beck on Fox News…. Right-wing radio hosts fingering liberal billionaires like George Soros, who use their gigantic fortunes – built by virtue of private enterprise under the Constitution – out to "socialize" the United States? 1954: Here's a right-wing radio host fingering "gigantic fortunes, built by virtue of private enterprise under the Constitution ... being used to 'socialize' the United States." Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, "fed up with elitist judges" arrogantly imposing their "radically un-American views" — including judges on the Supreme Court, whose rulings he's pledged to defy? 1958: Nine Men Against America: The Supreme Court and its Attack on American Liberties, still on sale at sovereignstates.org.
Only the names of the ogres have changed — although sometimes they haven't. Dr. Noebel's latest project is to republish a volume he apparently finds freshly relevant, Dr. Fred Schwarz's You Can Trust the Communists: To be Communists. Schwarz, an Australian physician who died three years ago, had his heyday in the early 1960s, when he would fill municipal auditoriums preaching his favorite gospel: that the Kremlin dominated its subjects by deploying "the techniques of animal husbandry," and harbored "plans for a flag of the USSR flying over every American city by 1973." The new version, updated by Noebel – it comes with raves from grateful Amazon.com reviews, like this: "Just as important as it was 50 years ago"; and this: "Should be required reading for every American," and "This book made me a conservative" – is titled You Can Still Trust the Communists: To be Communists, Socialists, Statists, and Progressives Too.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
(Crossposted at MyDD)
After initial arguments yesterday, the Supreme Court today slogged headlong into the meat of the arguments for and against the Affordable Care Act mandate (transcript and full audio via NPR).
Nothing new here outside of specific presentation, and maybe the political optics outside the court. Politico has a recap of the 7 key points, including the "Brocolli Argument":
SCALIA: “Could you define the market — everybody has to buy food sooner or later, so you define the market as food, therefore, everybody is in the market; therefore, you can make people buy broccoli.”
VERRILLI: “No, that's quite different. That's quite different. The food market, while it shares that trait that everybody's in it, it is not a market in which your participation is often unpredictable and often involuntary. It is not a market in which you often don't know before you go in what you need, and it is not a market in which, if you go in and — and seek to obtain a product or service, you will get it even if you can't pay for it.”Here in Utah, Little Mikey and Marky are already cheering the demise of the mandate, and SCOTUSblog's Lyle Denniston confirms, this is going to be Justice Kennedy's case to call. But where Kennedy is may be up in the air (emphasis mine):
“So,” Breyer said, “I thought the issue here is not whether it’s a violation of some basic right or something to make people buy things they don’t want, bujt simply whether those decisons of that groujp of 40 milliion people substantially affect the interstate commerce that has been set up in part” through a variety of government-sponsored health care delivery systems. That, Breyer told Carvin, ”the part of your argument I’m not hearing.”
Carvin, of course, disputed the premise, saying that Congress in adopting the mandate as a method to leverage health care coverage for all of the uninsured across the nation. Kennedy interrupted to that that he agreed “that’s what’s happening here.” But then he went on, and suggested that he had seen what Breyer had been talking about. “I think it is true that, if most questions in life are matters of degree,” it could be that in the markets for health insurance and for the health care for which insurance was the method of payment “the young person who is uninsured is uniquely proximately very close to affecting the rates of insurance and the costs of providing medical care in a way that is not true in other industries. That’s my concern in the case.”More interesting, was yesterday a setup? As David Dayden has pointed out: yesterday every Justice agreeing a mandate was not a tax under Anti-Injunction, today Obama's SG arguing it's just like a tax to Congress.
And even more interesting, the politics outside of it all. Roll Call has 5 races where health care will matter either way, and why Democrats will make this about RyanCare. Senate Republicans are squealing tires in reverse, hoping everyone forgets "Replace" is a word. For Obama, it could be win-win. Mandate struck down, Republicans lose a major rallying point for the general election, Democrats may gain one (Activist judges!). Robert Reich sees Obama positioned well for Medicare for All if the Affordable Care Act unravels. And somewhere, Lil' Ricky and the Newt are firing up the attack ads on Romney.
Tomorrow's arguments: Mandate "what-ifs" and the Medicaid expansion.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Say it ain’t so, Ron Wyden. The Democratic senator from Oregon has teamed upwith Congressman Paul Ryan to propose an option for Medicare recipients to buy private plans. They would be offered a flat payment to buy private plans if they so chose. Competition for these dollars will supposedly make Medicare and the health insurance companies more efficient. More likely, however, it will result in misleading claims by the health insurance companies or reduced coverage plans. It will raise costs for Medicare as healthy seniors are induced to take cheaper private plans with healthier individuals. Allegedly, the Wyden-Ryan plan would control for all this by setting minimal standards. Forget about that. The Obama administration has already given in on federal standards for Obamacare, letting states set their own. Guess who most of the states will favor. Seniors will probably have to move to New York or Massachusetts to get decent plans.But that’s not even the big rub. It is that Medicare payments will be limited to growing just 1 percent faster than GDP. Health care costs have risen considerably faster than that for a long time. Somehow Wyden thinks that such a limit will force reforms. In sum, it will simply lead to less coverage and more expense for beneficiaries. ___________________________________________________