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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Rhode Island is among the states that might lose a representative in Congress if our population is under counted because of adding a census question on citizenship.

New York Times, March 28, 2018
Here’s Why an Accurate Census Count Is So Important

The federal government bases a large amount of its spending decisions, including on highways and low-income programs, on census data. CreditRich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The United States census is so much more than just a head count. It is a snapshot of America that determines how congressional seats are apportioned, how state and federal dollars are distributed, where businesses choose to ship products and where they build new stores. To do all that properly, the count needs to be accurate.
The Commerce Department’s decision to restore a citizenship question to the census beginning in 2020 is prompting concerns about curtailing participation and possibly undercounting people living in the United States, particularly immigrants and minority groups who are expressing discomfortwith answering questions from census workers.
Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, acknowledged concerns about decreased response rates in a memorandum released on Monday night. But he said asking about citizenship would enhance the results by helping calculate the percentage of the population eligible to vote.
An undercount of the population would have far-reaching implications. It could skew the data that are used to determine how many congressional representatives each state gets and their representation in state legislatures and local government bodies. It would shape how billions of dollars a year are allocated, including for schools and hospitals. It would undermine the integrity of a wide variety of economic data and other statistics that businesses, researchers and policymakers depend on to make decisions, including the numbers that underpin the forecasts for Social Securitybeneficiaries.
Here are several of the commercial, political and research efforts that depend on accurate census data:
Divvying up seats in Congress, state legislatures and more
The Constitution requires the government to enumerate the number of people living in the United States every 10 years, and to use that data to apportion the seats in Congress among the states. The calculation is based on total resident population — which means citizens and noncitizens alike — and it generally shifts power between the states once a decade, in line with population and migration trends. States including Texas, Florida, Colorado and Oregon are projected to gain seats after the 2020 numbers are in. Illinois, Ohio, New York and West Virginia are among the states expected to lose seats. An undercount could shift those projections.
Lawmakers also use census data to draw congressional district boundarieswithin states, an often-controversial process that can help decide partisan control of the House. Census data also underpin state legislative districts and local boundaries like City Councils and school boards.
Handing out federal and state dollars
The federal government bases a large amount of its spending decisions on census data. Researchers concluded last year that in the 2015 fiscal year, 132 government programs used information from the census to determine how to allocate more than $675 billion, much of it for programs that serve lower-income families, including Head Start, Medicare, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Pell grants for college and reduced-price school lunch programs. Highway spending is also apportioned according to census data.
The calculation for determining congressional districts is based on total resident population — which means citizens and noncitizens alike. CreditKiichiro Sato/Associated Press
Influencing business decisions
To sell products and services, companies large and small need good information on the location of potential customers and how much money they might have to spend. The census provides the highest-quality and most consistent information on such items, and businesses have come to depend on it to make critical choices.
Census data help companies decide where to locate distribution centers to best serve their customers, where to expand or locate new stores and where they have the best chance of seeing a high return on investment. That is why business groups have been particularly concerned about the integrity of that data.
 “The 2020 census is used to help construct many other data products produced by the federal government,” said Michael R. Strain, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute who writes frequentlyon the importance of census data for policymakers and the private sector.
“Some of those products are heavily used by businesses when determining where to open new stores and expand operations, or even what items to put on their shelves. This affects retail businesses, for sure, but businesses in many other sectors as well,” he added.
Planning for various health and wellness programs
Low response rates from any one demographic group would undermine the validity of various population-wide statistics and program planning.
Scientists use census data to understand the distribution of diseases and health concerns such as cancer and obesity across the United States population, including drilling down to race and ethnicity to identify health patterns across demographics. Public health officials then use the data to target their interventions in at-risk communities. Inaccurate census data could lead public health officials to invest in solving a problem that does not exist — or worse, to overlook one that does.
“It’s getting harder to conduct the census, due to a variety of factors, including increasing cultural & linguistic diversity, and distrust of the government,” said Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, an economist who directs the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University. “The addition of the citizenship question will make the enumerators’ jobs even harder by heightening privacy concerns and reducing participation among immigrants, who may fear the information will be used to harm them or their families.”
Gaming out Social Security
An undercount in the census could also impact forecasts about Social Security payouts, which are already increasing as a share of the federal government’s revenue.
When Congress plans for the costs of the country’s Social Security needs, lawmakers rely upon demographic projection about the population’s future: the number of children expected to be born, the number of people expected to die, and the number of people expected to immigrate. If baseline data regarding the current population are inaccurate, future projections could be skewed, causing financial challenges down the line.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

League Day at Statehouse



Seth Magaziner
RI General Treasurer Seth Magaziner will be the featured speaker at League Day at the State House on April 3, 2018. His focus will be the new school upgrade plan coming out of Governor Raimondo's Rhode Island School Building Task Force that Magaziner co-chaired.
Agenda for Tuesday April 3rd at the Governor's Reception Room
3 P.M. Social Hour - Meet and Greet - Outside the Governor's Reception Room
4 P.M. League Program
5 P.M. RI General Treasurer Seth Magaziner speaks to the League
Please bring your friends and invite your General Assembly representatives to attend.

Worth Considering - Repeal the Second Amendment

The second amendment was enacted so that state militias could defend their states again the federal government.  It is no longer needed. " Repeal it!" says Justice John Paul Stevens.

Link to article

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

LWVRI Action 2018: Women's Health and Reproductive Rights

The League of Women Voters never supports or opposes candidates, but does take positions on issues we have studied on which we have reached consensus. Each year LWVRI reviews bills proposed in the RI legislature, and supports or opposes them based on positions arrived at after study and consensus.  


The Issue:  Women’s Health and Reproductive Rights

The Issue:  The League of Women Voters of Rhode Island (LWVRI) is considering important health care related issues in the current legislative session.  These include advocating for reproductive rights, and opposing efforts to prevent access to abortion, guaranteed under the Constitution by Roe v Wade, and perennially introduced bills such as “fetal protection,” and recognizing a fetus as “a human life upon conception.”

The League Position:  The League is committed to Reproductive Health Rights for Women. The League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS) believes that public policy in a pluralistic society must affirm the constitutional right of privacy of the individual to make reproductive choices.  Position of Reproductive Choices (January 1983).  This position is the basis of our support of the Reproductive Health Care Act of 2017, which would prohibit the state from interfering with a woman’s decision to either carry to term or terminate her pregnancy.  The LWVUS believes that a basic level of quality health care at an affordable cost should be available to all U.S. residents.  Other U.S. health care policy goals should include the equitable distribution of services, efficient and economical delivery of care, advancement of medical research and technology, and a reasonable total national expenditure level for health care. (Go to www.lwv.org/content/impact-issues-online-edition to read the full positions.)

Action:  The LWVRI is working with the RI Coalition for Reproductive Freedom (RICRF) to address issues concerning women’s reproductive health.  The following bills have been introduced so far this year.  To track bills that have been introduced, go to the RI State website.  Legislation Rhode Island/General Assembly/2018 Legislative Session/Bill Status/History, and insert the bill number.  You can also find listed the Bill Text. Click on Daily Introductions to find out what is being introduced.

Legislators are most liable to listen to their own constituents.  If your legislators are on the committees considering the proposed legislation, or if they are sponsors of the bills, it would be especially helpful if you would contact them.  Identify yourself as their constituent and a League member    to support the League positions on these bills.

House Bills the League Supports:

H-7077 - Provides that no pregnant applicant for insurance coverage be denied coverage due to her pregnancy.  By: Ajello, Kazarian, Ranglin-Vassell, Donovan. 1/10 House Judiciary Committee

H-7095 -  Taxation: Exempts from the sales tax products used for feminine hygiene in connection with the menstrual cycle. By Ajello, Tanzi, Hearn, Fogarty, Ruggerio.
1/10 House Finance Committee

H-7169 - Labor and Labor Relations - Grants unpaid pregnancy leave to part time workers; would clarify their access to unpaid sick leave during their pregnancy, and provides additional protections for pregnant workers who work in the medical field.  By: Perez, McKiernan, Hull, Almeida, Lombardi.  1/12 House Labor Committee 

H - 7182.  Act relating to State Affairs and Government - The healthy pregnancies for incarcerated women act.  Prohibits the use of restraints on pregnant prisoners in their 3rd trimester during transport to and from court proceedings by sheriffs, and/or incarceration at the ACI with annual reports to the General Assembly.  By Ajello, Shanley, Walsh, McEntee, Craven.
1/17 House Judiciary Committee
H-7193 - Provides that any person including, but not limited to, a minor who is pregnant, could give effective consent for medical, dental, health and hospital services relating to prenatal, delivery, and post-natal care. By: McNamara, Ajello, Donovan, Ruggerio, Vella-Wilkinson. 
1/18 House Health, Education and Welfare Committee

H-7340 - The Reproductive Health Care Act. Prohibits the state from restricting persons from terminating pregnancy prior to fetal viability.  Would repeal the State’s unconstitutional laws regulating abortion.  By Ajello, Walsh, Casimiro, Donovan, Ranglin-Vassell. 
1/31 House Judiciary Committee

H-7363 - Prohibits insurance companies from varying the premium rates charged for a health coverage plan based on the gender of the subscriber.  (Gender Rating). By Kazarian, Carson, Ajello, Ruggerio, Tanzi.  1/31 House Corporations Committee

H-7625 - Relating to insurance - Requires individual/group health contracts (effective 1/1/19) to provide insured/spouse/dependents 12 month contraceptive coverage/voluntary sterilization/patient education/counselling/follow-up services and Medicaid recipient coverage for a 12 month supply. By: Kazarian, Tanzi, Fogarty, Hearn, Ajello. 2/14 - House Finance Committee

H-7736 - Relating to Health and Safety. Would provide that any person, including, but not limited to, a minor who is pregnant, could give effective consent for medical, dental, health and hospital serveices relating to prenatal, delivery, and post-delivery care. By Vell-Wilkinson, Maldonado, Messier, Bennett, and Walsh.  2/28 House Judiciary Committee

House Bills the League Opposes:

H-7026 - The RI Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Act.  Defines and prohibits certain such acts with certain exceptions. Does not recognize any right to abortion. By Corvese, Assinaro, Ucci, O’Brien. 
1/3 House Judiciary Committee   
H-7113 - Would criminalize the knowing and intentional failure of a physician, nurse, or other licensed medical person to provide reasonable medical care and treatment to an infant born alive as a felony and manslaughter if the infant dies.  By Perez, Vella-Wilkinson, Ucci, Diaz. 
1/11 House Judiciary Committee

H-7164 - Born Alive Infant Protection Act.  Would provide for the duties and obligations of medical personnel in certain circumstances.   By: Perez, Chippendale, Diaz, Almeida, Lombardi.   1/11 House Judiciary Committee

H-7180 - Resolution recognizing the fetus as a human life on the existence of a heartbeat. 
By: McLaughlin, Nardolillo, Fellela, Perez.  1/17 House Judiciary Committee

H-7735 - Relating to Criminal Offenses - Children. Would make the practice of aiding a minor in the process of getting an abortion a civil and criminal offense.  By Vella-Wilkinson, Corvese, Maldonado, Messier, and Fellela. 2/28 House Judiciary Committee

Senate Bills the League Supports:

S-2163 - The Reproductive Health Care Act. Prohibits the State from restricting persons from terminating pregnancy prior to fetal viability.  Would repeal laws regulating abortion. By: Golden, Sosnowski, Miller, Calken, Nesselbush.  1/24 Senate Judiciary Committee

S- 2268 - The Healthy Pregnancies for Incarcerated Women Act.  Prohibits the use of restraints on pregnant prisoner during transport to and from court proceedings by sheriffs and/or incarceration at the ACI with annual reports to the General Assembly.  By:  Lynch Part, Metts, Gee, Quezada, Nesselbush.  2/1 Senate Judiciary Committee.

S-2399 - relating to insurance - Prohibits insurance companies from varying the premium rate charged for a health coverage plan based on the gender of the individual policy holder, enrollee, subscriber or member (known as “gender rating.”  By: Sosnowski, Calkin, Golden, Coyne.  2/15  Senate Health and Human Services Committee

S-2400 - Relating to insurance - Establishes a special enrollment period for pregnant women to obtain health coverage at any time after the commencement of the pregnancy.  By:  Golden, Calkin, Miller, Sosnowski, Crowley.  2/15 Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

Senate Bills the League Opposes:

S-2173 - Act relating to Businesses and Professions - Board of Medical Licensures and Discipline.  Makes it unprofessional conduct for a physician not to take all reasonable steps to insure that a viable fetus being carried by their patient be brought to term.  By: Ciccone, Lombardi.  1/23 Senate Judiciary Committee

S-2142 - Criminalizes the knowing and intentional failure of a physician, nurse, or other licensed medial person to provide reasonable medical careened treatment to an infant born alive a felony and manslaughter if the infant dies. By Ciccone, Lombardi.  1/23 Senate Judiciary Committee

S-2152 - The Born Alive Infant Protection Act.  Provides certain duties and obligations of medical personnel in certain circumstances.  By Ciccone, Lombardi.  1/23 Senate Judiciary Committee

S-2535 - Health and Safety - Would define and would regulate, and in some cases, would prohibit dismemberment abortions.   By DiPalma, Goodwin, McCaffrey, Metts, and Crowley.           3/1 Senate Judiciary Committee

Mary Chace

Seth Magaziner talks about RI School Building Task Force

League Day at the State House:  a 'Once in a Generation  Opportunity'

Please bring your voice, your questions and your friends and join us Tuesday, April 3, beginning at 3 p.m. at the Governor’s Reception Room at the State House as the League welcomes General Treasurer Seth Magaziner.
 The RI School Building Task Force, co-chaired by Treasurer Magaziner, recommends spending $500 million in state bonds on renovations and repairs to upgrade our public school buildings.  Magaziner says this is “once in a generation opportunity to get smarter about how we plan and finance school construction at the State and local levels.”
Come, learn about the Task Force and its goals and help ensure an equal opportunity for each of our RI students.
Details about League Day and the Task Force  are available on our web site.

Jane W. Koster