Archive | October, 2012

Vote No on Amendment A

Vague Amendment A should fail

ESPC urges voters to reject ‘nullification’ amendment

Why re-live history?

Lincoln

The Equality State Policy Center opposes passage of Amendment A on the 2012 Election Ballot and urges all Wyoming voters to reject it. Legislators opposed to the Affordable Care Act brought this amendment to the Legislature in 2011, claiming the ACA violated states’ rights by imposing new requirements on individuals, insurance companies, and businesses. The ESPC disagreed and argued that the proposal was a “nullification bill,” a throwback to the first decades of the 19th Century. In those early days of the Republic, a number of Southern states passed acts of nullification in an attempt to thwart a federal tariff and refused to acknowledge the authority of the federal government to impose it. They believed that any state could “nullify” an act of Congress.

Jackson

This assertion of state power ultimately led to the Civil War, fought over states’ rights and slavery. Wyoming sponsors of the resolution that became Amendment A ignored this historic assertion of federal authority by President Lincoln – and President Jackson before him. States and citizens can challenge the constitutionality of federal laws when they believe Congress has over-stepped its authority. Twenty-six states, including Wyoming, did challenge the Affordable Care Act. But this summer, the United States Supreme Court found the insurance mandate constitutional. This key provision requires all Americans to buy insurance or pay a fine. Proponents of Wyoming Constitutional Amendment A claimed in 2011 that it enabled the state to stand against the insurance mandate. The ESPC disagreed then and disagrees now that the amendment’s indistinct language accomplishes that goal. The actual language of the amendment states: “Each competent adult shall have the right to make his or her own health care decisions.” It also says, “Any person may pay, and a health care provider may accept, direct payment for health care without imposition of penalties or fines for doing so.” Do those sentences, individually or together, mean no one can be required to buy health insurance? Of course, even if they do, the words have no power. Federal law supersedes state law. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled the insurance mandate constitutional. The proposed amendment cannot achieve the objective of its supporters. Please vote No on Amendment A. Editor’s note, Oct. 31, 2012 – There’s been some coverage of the ESPC position including the Associated Press, K2 radio and other stations, and by Time’s Swampland.  
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Canvassing Wyoming

VOTE Project picks up speed

Make a Difference Day in Casper Oct. 27

Volunteers needed for canvassing around the state

In Torrington, members of CORAJE made banners to prepare for canvassing there.

ESPC’s election canvass is nearly in full gear. This weekend, we’ll be canvassing in places all around the state. The ground game of our VOTE Project, this canvassing aims to encourage residents of low-income precincts around the state tovote and otherwise engage in civic affairs. Policy-makers pay attention to people who vote.vot For those in Casper, Make a Difference Day is this Saturday, October 27, at 8:30 a.m. at Casper’s City Park. We’re one of four organizations participating. Come on down, find either Jeralee or Cristina at our table, and sign up to help canvass in North Casper that afternoon. We’ll leave from the event and walk to the nearby First Presbyterian Church for a quick training, then go out and canvass. If you have any questions, you can reply to this email or call us at 307-337-8721. We’re looking for volunteers to help us canvass in other cities and towns, too. The list is at the end of this post, with the days we’re going out. We canvass during weekdays from 5:30 to dusk, on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Sundays from 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. We’ll have a short training for new folks about an hour before the canvassing starts. When you call or email, we’ll let you know the location and more exact time to meet up. Below are the cities/towns and days we’ll be canvassing. This is a chance for you to be part of the democratic process, meet new people, and enjoy Wyoming’s beautiful fall weather. Casper Saturday, October 27 Saturday, November 3 Cheyenne Saturday November 3 Sunday, November 4 Rawlins Saturday, October 27 Saturday November 3 Rock Springs Saturday, October 27 Monday, November 5 Torrington Wednesday, October 31 (house party/event, not canvassing – but we’ll still need volunteers!) Saturday November 3 Sunday, November 4 Wind River Reservation Sunday, November 4  
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Virtual town hall meeting on public pensions

Pension coalition reaches out via compressed video

Public can join discussion at 6 community colleges, UW

Meeting set Thursday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m.

Continuing its effort to educate the public and public employees about Wyoming’s Public Pension system and its key role in both better government and the state’s economy, the Coalition for a Healthy Retirement System has planned a virtual town hall meeting  Oct. 18. Wyoming Retirement System Director Thom Williams will outline the basic aspects of the system and how its health can be maintained over the long-term.  Williams will be joined at Laramie County Community College, the origination site for the compressed video “broadcast,” by several other speakers, including a Cheyenne fire fighter. The public can attend at the following locations:
  • Cheyenne – Laramie County Community College, Education & Enrichment Center Room 132
  • Casper – Casper College, Goodstein Library Room 102 (Seating limited)
  • Laramie – University of Wyoming, College of Education Room 2
  • Powell – Northwest College, Moyer Building Room 108
  • Riverton – Central Wyoming College, Intertribal Building Room 125
  • Rock Springs – Western Wyoming Community College, Annex Room A102
  • Torrington – Eastern Wyoming College, Tebbet Building Room 270
Two town hall meetings in November The coalition conducted a live town hall meeting Aug. 14 in Sheridan. Two other live town hall meetings are scheduled, including one Nov. 8 in Cheyenne at the DOT auditorium, and in Casper on Nov. 28 at the Nichols Auditorium on the Casper College campus.  
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OSHA proposes oil & gas safety amendments

New drilling safety rules a step forward

OSHA commission approves flame-resistant clothing rule

Fire is always a risk in the production and processing of fossil fuels. The Wyoming Occupational Safety and Health Commission on Oct.5 approved proposed amendments to its oil and gas industry safety rules that will require workers at drilling sites to wear certified fire retardant clothing while working within 75 feet of the well bore. The amendments also call for shut-down devices on diesel engines used on or near the rig that are an integral part of its operation. On Sept. 26, the ESPC and the Wyoming State AFL-CIO submitted written comments supporting the amendments. Both organizations specifically support tying the standards for fire-resistant clothing (FRC) to the latest improvements approved by the National Fire Protection Association. Those standards are developed by a committee of more than 7,000 volunteer industry experts. The NFPA notes committee members bring “a wide range of professional expertise” to its process of developing these standards. The ESPC also delivered a letter signed by several national organizations supporting the new rules. Commission takes action The proposed rules were the subject of a public hearing Oct. 5 in Casper. The commission voted in favor of both amendments. A survey by the Wyoming Oil and Gas Industry Safety Alliance found that nearly two-thirds of its members believe a mandatory FRC rule is necessary. Anadarko Petroleum’s Terry Clark spoke against the flame-resistant clothing rule arguing there have been no documented incidents of flash fires on Anadarko drilling rigs. Joghen Bhalla, vice president of Houston-based AMOT, told the commission that the rule requiring emergency shut-0ffs on engines used to operate the rig should be extended to cover service vehicles such as vacuum trucks and any other diesel engines in the vicinity of a drilling rig. The commission declined to extend the rule to cover such vehicles.  Bhalla’s company makes air intake shutoff valves that can stop an engine in an emergency. What’s ahead? The ESPC has asked state OSHA to develop standards to limit the exposure of rig workers to silica dust during hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health last spring released data from a long study of what is commonly known as “fracking” and found that rig works were exposed to air with more than 28 times the allowable exposure level to silica. Industry officials this summer acknowledged the problem and expressed interest in developing a rule in Wyoming. (See our blog for more information.) (Editor’s note: This blog was updated Oct. 7, 2012 to reflect the OSHA Commission decision on Wyoming’s oil and gas industry safety rules. Read the Casper Star-Tribune story here.)
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