Friday, May 06, 2011

Next week at the state capitol: When it rains, it pours

I'll try not to be overly dramatic. But the s**t is hitting the fan at the state capitol. Here's what could be/will be on tap for next week.

House Bill 574, re: altering legal guidelines for abortion clinics. This bill could cost freestanding abortion clinics to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in building renovations and staffing increases and could put those clinics out of business or at least increase dramatically the cost of abortion care. Supporters of the bill include the Pennsylvania Family Institute and Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, organizations that oppose women's access to abortion care. That says plenty.

Interestingly, while supporters of the bill have claimed that Philadelphia DA Seth Williams supports the bill, after the indictment of West Philly "Doctor" Kermit Gosnell, DA Williams has said, no, I don't.

HB 574 has been moved from the House Tabled Calendar to the House Calendar, and the word is that it is going to get a vote next week. We have an action alert posted on it. Take action now!

House Bill 934, re: voter suppression by ID. The House State Government Committee will vote on Monday on this bill to mandate photo ID at the polls. The problem? Approximately 11 percent of US citizens do not have government-issued ID, and they are disproportionately the elderly, the working poor, and African-Americans. In other words, this is an ol' fashioned voter suppression tactic that harkens back to the darkest corners of American history. Our friends at Project H.O.M.E. have posted an action on HB 934.

This just in! Late word has come in this afternoon that the Senate may take up Senate Bill 9, re: mandatory government-issued ID for public aid, and SB 637, re: forcing state contractors to use the federal E-Verify database program. We oppose both bills.

Hearings! Hearings! It's not all bad news. On Wednesday, the Senate Communications & Technology Committee will hold a hearing on SB 354, which would prohibit Pennsylvania's participation in the federal Real ID Act, and on other privacy issues. I'm testifying at that hearing and at a joint hearing of the Senate and House State Government committees on redistricting on Thursday. The latter is an open discussion about redistricting.

The hits just keep on comin'!

The Update, 4:15pm: I just got the Senate Appropriations Committee agenda for Monday. It includes SB 637 and SB 9...and SB 3, which prohibits insurance companies that participate in the insurance exchange created by healthcare reform from covering abortion care. I wasn't kidding when I said that the hits just keep on comin'.

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