Thursday, October 31, 2013

Trick-or-Treat times rescheduled

The City of Toledo just sent out the following press release:

NW Ohio communities reschedule Trick-or-Treat hours for Sunday, November 3rd

After a collaborative meeting between mayors, managers and police chiefs, several area communities are rescheduling trick-or-treat hours according to the following schedule.

The cities of Oregon, Perrysburg and Toledo and the Village of Ottawa Hills will host trick-or-treat from 6-8p.m. on Sunday, November, 3 2013.

The City of Sylvania and Sylvania Township will host trick-or treat from 6-7:30 p.m. on Sunday, November 3, 2013.

The City of Bowling Green will host trick-or-treat from 6:30-8 p.m. on Sunday, November 3, 2013.

Further information is available from individual community contacts.

Why Sunday? Is it because they expect too much might be going on Friday and Saturday nights? What about Sunday being a school night?

The hourly forecast from Accuweather says it will rain between 6 and 8 p.m. tonight, but that the temperature will be in the low 60s. While Sunday is supposed to be clear, it's predicting a high temperature of only 51 degrees.

Have we routinely rescheduled trick-or-treat times because of rain or have we only recently become so intolerant of a little discomfort?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Just in time for Halloween: a civil liberties graveyard

The Young Americans for Liberty have been quite active at the University of Toledo this semester and their latest is rather creative. Just in time for Halloween, they've decided to host a civil liberties graveyard, mourning the loss of liberties and freedoms. Oh - they're handing out candy, too.

Here's the press release:

TOLEDO, OH—This Tuesday come see The Young Americans for Liberty at the University of Toledo in one of their spookiest activism projects yet, THE CIVIL LIBERTIES GRAVEYARD!!!!

The civil liberties graveyard will be filled with the tombstones of our beloved civil liberties and freedoms. Some liberties featured will include our health freedoms, religious liberty, right to privacy and right to bear arms. Along side those freedoms we will have tombstones mourning our losses of sound money and peace with two mystery tombstones. But be careful viewing the stones because the commander-in-chief and chief grim reaper of our civil liberties will be walking around with his scythe looking for more liberties he can take away. To put it more bluntly, we are going to have someone walking around in a Grim Reaper costume with a Barack Obama mask because in legend the grim reaper kills people and in real life our current president, Barack Obama kills our freedoms.

Please come take some pictures and take some candy... if you dare!

Tuesday, October 29th
Noon-5 pm

The University of Toledo
Centennial Mall
2801 W Bancroft St, Toledo, OH 43606

The Young Americans for Liberty at the University of Toledo

-Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Second Amendment film debuts tonight

"MOLON LABE - How the Second Amendment Guarantees America's Freedom" will have its world premier tonight in theaters and online.

Featuring Ron Paul, Pat Buchanan, Alex Jones and G. Edward Griffin, this documentary explores the reasons Americans not only have the right to "keep and bear arms," but the duty to "keep and bear arms" as part of their state militia responsibilities.

You can watch online beginning at 8 p.m. here:

Filmmaker James Jaeger (FIAT EMPIRE, CORPORATE FASCISM) teamed with constitutional attorney Edwin Vieira Jr. and producer Richard Iott (BEAUTIFUL BOY, CARJACKED) on MOLON LABE, which was inspired by The Sword and Sovereignty, a book by Vieira.

The movie notes how the duty to keep and bear arms, as well as the concept of the militia, are often misunderstood. As a result a "gun-control lobby" has been eroding the original intent of the Founders by passing unconstitutional laws establishing self-defense prohibition zones and destroying the 300-year-old militia system established by WE THE PEOPLE, the press release for the movie states.

You can view the trailer here.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

City of Toledo to begin electronic contracting

This is good news:

Press Release

Toledo to make the switch to electronic contracting

City, Chamber to host small business workshops to introduce new program

Soon to be gone are the days of orange folders routing through city offices with contracts waiting to be signed by department directors. The City of Toledo is preparing to flip the switch on electronic contracting in an effort to streamline the bid and contract process by automating the paperwork and allowing information to be submitted online. The new process will save the business community and the city time and money by reducing the City’s paper dependency and conserving resources. It will also speed the process, reducing the length of time between a bid award and a signed contract so projects may proceed more quickly.

In partnership with the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Minority Business Development Center, the City will host a series of business development workshops to roll out the new online bid and contract processes. The workshops will demonstrate how to use the new system and walk through the added value of bidding on city projects using the new online tools.

Two meetings and one webinar will be offered for the convenience of current vendors and other businesses interested in more information on the new program:

Thursday, October 24th 8:00am – University of Toledo, Scott Park Campus of Energy & Innovation, Student Center Room 1080C

Tuesday, October 29th 9:00am – Webinar – To register go to:

Wednesday, October 30th 5:30pm – Sanger Branch Library, Room A, 3030 W. Central Ave.

Bids will still be accepted through the traditional paper process, but vendors will be encouraged to utilize the convenience of an automated process. City employees will be available to assist businesses with the online services during the transition to the new system.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Controlling Board membership may be altered to provide okay for Medicaid expansion

It looks like Gov. John Kasich will get his Medicaid expansion approved by the Controlling Board.

I previously shared with you his plans to bypass the Ohio General Assembly, which had removed the expansion from prior bills and is still debating the issue.

Last week, the Department of Medicaid submitted a request to the panel seeking authorization to spend federal funds totaling $500,000 million in FY14 and $2 billion in FY15 to extend the program to cover citizens up to 138% of the federal poverty level, as originally proposed by Gov. John Kasich in his biennium budget bill.

The item is scheduled for the Controlling Board's meeting on Oct. 21.

The Controlling Board is a 7-member body comprised of:

  • The Director of Budget and Management, or designee (the President of the Board)
  • The Chair of the Finance and Appropriations Committee of the House of Representatives
  • The Chair of the Finance Committee of the Senate
  • Two members of the House appointed by the Speaker of the House, one from the majority party and one from the minority party
  • Two members of the Senate appointed by the President of the Senate, one from the majority party and one from the minority party

In order for the expansion to be approved, at least one Republican would need to vote in favor of it. The two House Republicans have previously expressed opposition to the plan, but the two Republican Senators have been silent on the matter.

Today Gongwer Ohio (subscription may be required) reported that House Speaker Bill Batchelder (R-Medina) "plans to alter his chamber's membership on the panel prior to next Monday's meeting and will seat at least one member that will give the go-ahead to the governor's plan."

Rep. Ron Amstutz expressed his displeasure with the governor's Controlling Board move last week. Rep. Cliff Rosenberger said he would vote against expansion at the Controlling Board, and told Gongwer he hadn't heard of any plans to replace him on the panel.

From Gongwer:

Rep. Rosenberger said he'd prefer to continue to debate the policy through the full legislature but added that he has been on record as opposing a straight expansion and instead prefers the "reform" approach embodied in various proposals, including the bill (SB 208*) introduced last week by Sen. David Burke (R-Marysville). (See Gongwer Ohio Report, October 10, 2013)

"There's an opportunity for members of the General Assembly to still hear those options," he said, adding that he's concerns about the impact of pushing the expansion through the board versus the legislature.

"I would be a 'no' vote on the Controlling Board on the issue," Rep. Rosenberger said.

While Speaker Batchelder has been a staunch opponent to expansion, as it was part of the vilified "Obamacare" package, swapping out his reluctant Controlling Board members could prove to be politically expedient as it would provide cover to some of his caucus members who support expansion.

A Controlling Board vote averts putting those members on record for where they stand on separate legislation, thus protecting them from potential primary challenges from the right. Meanwhile, he's also boosting the policy aims of his fellow Republican governor, whose name is being bandied about as a presidential candidate in 2016.

Also a matter of conventional wisdom: Gov. Kasich wouldn't have scheduled a Controlling Board item if he wasn't assured of the votes.

Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina) said in an interview Tuesday that his caucus is aware of his opposition to expansion, however he has told his members on the panel - Sen. Bill Coley (R-Liberty Twp.) and Sen. Chris Widener (R-Springfield) - to vote their conscience and their districts.

Nevertheless, he also said he doesn't view the proposal before the board to be the actual "expansion," per se. That would come through an executive order from the governor, he said. The Controlling Board agenda item would merely authorize the transfer of funds.
Kasich has been criticized by conservatives in the state for his plan to expand Medicaid. Here is guest post that details the 'myths' associated with the expansion, as promoted by the Kasich administration talking points on the plan.

Others, including State Rep. Barbara Sears, left-leaning groups and many Democrats, support the expansion of the government program.

Had this been Democrats planning to replace board members in order to provide a favorable vote for their governor, I'm sure the Republican Party would be having a conniption. As it's a Republican governor, expect the party to stand behind their man, regardless of party principles.

Guest Post: The Myths of Medicaid Expansion

The following is a guest post from Rep. Ron Young, Republican from Leroy Township, District 61.

I believe Ronald Reagan summed up what we face today way back in 1961. He said, “In 1927 an American socialist, Norman Thomas, six time candidate for president on the Socialist Party ticket, said the American people would never vote for socialism. But he said under the name of liberalism the American people will adopt every fragment of the socialist program. One of the traditional methods of imposing socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It's very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project. Most people are a little reluctant to oppose anything that suggests medical care for people who possibly can't afford it.”

Today, our nation and Ohio are experiencing an expansion of government intrusion into our health care industry of unparalleled magnitude. Full implementation of Obamacare will mean about one- sixth of our nation’s total economy will fall under even tighter government regulation and bureaucracy. 

My comments in this report are focused on the impacts of expanding the Medicaid program. Contrary to some reports, it is impossible to oppose Obamacare and yet support Medicaid expansion. Medicaid expansion is a major part of Obamacare and represents about half of all Obamacare spending. 

In order to understand why Medicaid expansion is bad for Ohio, we need to first understand a few points about the current Medicaid program. 

  • About two million Ohioans are on the Medicaid program today, or about 20 percent of Ohio’s total population.
  • The current program is by far the biggest expense of the state’s budget, consuming about 42% of it, because Medicaid spending increases much faster than inflation. It is crowding out education, infrastructure improvements, prison funding, and other critical needs. The current program, even without expansion, is financially unsustainable
  • The program has been in effect for more than 40 years and is designed to care for pregnant women, children and individuals with disabilities of low or no income. Medicaid expansion is designed to a different population, healthy individuals who fall below the poverty line. The largest group in this population is comprised of single young adults with no dependent children. Of course, this begs the question, are we incentivizing people not to work?  
Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is famous for her statement regarding Obamacare, “We have to pass this bill so we can find out what’s in it.” However, I believe one of her even more insightful quotes is, "Think of an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer or a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance."  
Her vision of incentivizing unemployment to create an underclass of starving artists is absurd. However, while operating an employment firm in Ohio for more than 30 years, I can recall numerous occasions where individuals rejected job offers and even promotions in order to retain government benefits. Incentivizing unemployment and underemployment is a real problem with the Medicaid program. 


In an effort to win public support, a number of myths have been perpetrated regarding Medicaid expansion. By contrasting some of these myths with reality I believe a clearer portrait of the effects of Medicaid expansion can be seen.  

MYTH #1: “Medicaid offers good health care and expanding Medicaid will save countless lives.” 

REALITY: The health outcomes for those our government places on Medicaid are poor and the best research supports this statement. It should not be surprising that Medicaid offers sub-par medical services. Medicaid patients have a significant problem getting access to medical care. One major reason for lack of access is that Medicaid pays doctors only a fraction of what private insurers pay. According to a Heritage Foundation 2012 study, “Medicaid Patients Have Worse Access and Outcomes than the Privately Insured,” Medicaid typically pays physicians only 56% of the amount private insurers pay. Other studies indicate that for a physician in Ohio practicing in an office setting the reimbursement average for Medicaid is even lower. 

As a result, many doctors choose not to see Medicaid patients because it is more difficult to keep their practices alive if they do. That, in turn, makes it hard for Medicaid patients to get doctor’s appointments for annual checkups, routine care, and even urgent medical problems. A 2011 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that many doctors even refuse to see Medicaid children complaining of seizures, uncontrolled asthma, and even broken arms.  

These types of access problems also cause huge overcrowding issues in hospital emergency rooms. Since they have difficulty finding available doctors, Medicaid recipients visit emergency rooms at much higher rates than the uninsured. According a study reported in USA Today, “Uninsured Don’t Go to the ER more than the Insured” by Mary Brophy Marcus, Medicaid recipients visit the ER about twice as much as the uninsured.  

After reviewing the research described below I hope each reader will ask a simple question. Is it moral to promote a health program that consumes hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars, but offers such questionable health outcomes? 


University of Virginia Study: A very large study by the University of Virginia found that surgical patients on Medicaid are 13% more likely to die during their hospital stay than those with no insurance coverage and 97% more likely to die than those with private insurance. The Virginia group evaluated 893,658 major surgical operations from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample database from 2003 to 2007. They adjusted the database in order to control for age, gender, income, geographic region, operation, and co-morbid conditions (having 2 or more diseases simultaneously). That way, they corrected for the obvious differences in the patient populations (for example, older and poorer patients being more likely to have ill health). 

Oregon Study: The 2008 Medicaid expansion in Oregon based on lottery drawings from a waiting list provided an opportunity to evaluate the health impacts of the expansion. Approximately 2 years after the lottery, data was obtained from 6387 adults who won the lottery and received Medicaid coverage. Data on health outcomes was also collected on 5842 adults who lost the lottery and did not receive Medicaid coverage. This randomized and controlled two year study that was published in the prestigious Harvard School of Public Health showed that Medicaid coverage generated no significant improvements in measured physical health outcomes. 

A University of Pennsylvania study published in Cancer found that, in patients undergoing surgery for colon cancer, the mortality rate was 2.8% for Medicaid patients, 2.2% for uninsured patients, and 0.9% for those with private insurance. The rate of surgical complications was highest for Medicaid at 26.7%, as compared to 24.5% for the uninsured and 21.2% for the privately insured. 

A Columbia-Cornell study in the Journal of Vascular Surgery examined outcomes for vascular disease. Patients with clogged blood vessels in their legs or clogged carotid arteries (the arteries of the neck that feed the brain) fared worse on Medicaid than did the uninsured; Medicaid patients outperformed the uninsured if they had abdominal aortic aneurysms. 

A Harvard Study suggests there are some instances where Medicaid coverage may save lives. The authors compared three states that expanded their Medicaid programs — Maine, Arizona, and New York — with neighboring states that did not — New Hampshire, Nevada and New Mexico, and Pennsylvania. The Medicaid expansion was associated with increased mortality in Maine, and with decreased mortality in Arizona and New York. 

While the results suggest Medicaid could be helpful in some instances the study has problems. For example, demographic differences between New York and Pennsylvania could explain the entirety of the “benefit” that the authors ascribed to New York’s Medicaid program. Yet the authors’ conclusion — that Medicaid saves lives — hinges entirely on the comparison of New York with Pennsylvania. Without it, the authors would have shown no difference in outcomes between those with Medicaid and the uninsured, because the results in Maine and Arizona would have canceled each other out. 

Another obvious problem with the study is that the Harvard economists looked only at county- level data about mortality and Medicaid; they had to make assumptions about which patients had enrolled in the program, and when. The extensive clinical research showing Medicaid’s poor outcomes, such as the UVA study, has reviewed millions of individual patient records to learn what happened to specific patients with specific forms of health insurance. 

MYTH #2: “If we don't expand Medicaid Ohio will lose federal tax dollars that are earmarked for us. It would be foolish of Ohio to turn down all these free federal dollars."

REALITY: There are no federal Medicaid dollars earmarked for Ohio and it is not free money. There is no pot of gold with Ohio's name on it in Washington waiting to be dispersed the day we expand Medicaid. Most of the money we would receive from the federal government by expanding Medicaid would simply increase the national debt. Many members of the Ohio General Assembly are constantly bemoaning excessive and out of control federal spending. This is reasonable given the fact our federal government is currently more than $16 trillion in debt and going deeper in debt every day. Not only do they not have a balanced budget, they don't even have a real budget. To expand Medicaid only makes the hole this nation is digging for our grandkids deeper. 

MYTH #3: “The federal government has made some great promises to Ohio in the form of special dollar matches if we expand our Medicaid program. The federal government funds about 62% of Ohio’s current Medicaid program. For the expanded program they have promised to pay 100% of the cost of the program for 3 years and 90% of the cost thereafter. A promise from our federal government is rock solid. They have to live up to their promises; we should trust them and take the deal.”  

REALITY: There are no iron clad guarantees in any of the promises offered by the federal government. The federal government can change the Medicaid match amount at any time. To accept Medicaid expansion means Ohio is trusting its financial future to a government that is deeply in debt and addicted to over spending. The calls for a balanced federal budget and entitlement cuts should send a chilling message to those that would support the expansion. Also, we must consider potential changes caused by future administrations. Remember Medicaid is not a road project, or some other short term building project. No one foresees an end date for Medicaid. Whatever budget sources we use to fund the program must be deep, dependable and wide.  The current program is growing so rapidly that its cost is often described as unsustainable. Expanding the program now by signing on hundreds of thousands of new participants would be irresponsible.  Perhaps the old saying, "today's promises are tomorrows taxes" applies in this case as new revenue would have to be found to sustain the program at some point in the future. In any case the long term commitments required to make this deal even somewhat financially feasible are very dubious. 

MYTH 4: “If the expansion program doesn’t work then we’ll just shut it down and walk away.”

REALITY: We could probably argue all day about how Health and Human Services, the courts, a future Governor, a future President, a future Secretary of Health and Human Services, etc., might interpret the law. Most of the “experts” seem to agree that once a state accepts the federal offer and expands Medicaid there is no easy withdraw from the expansion portions of the program. However, I believe the legal argument is a moot point. The reality is that Ohio would simply not drop hundreds of thousands of voting citizens from a Medicaid program. We do not have the political will to do such a thing. Just consider the political pressure being applied today for expanding the program and then consider how much greater that pressure would be if the subject of the discussion was one of taking it away. 

MYTH 5: “We will use the expansion of Medicaid as an opportunity to reform the program.”  

REALITY: It defies logic to expand a government program that needs to be reformed. If we can meaningfully reform Medicaid we should start with the existing program. After the reforms are in place and operating effectively then, and only then, should we consider expansion. 

CONCLUSION: Regardless of the sweeping rhetoric and marketing techniques used by those that support Medicaid expansion the science to support claims of significant improvements in public health are not supported by the facts. How many lives and families could be saved by leaving these billions of dollars in the private sector to create jobs and expand our economy, as opposed to burdening the nation with more debt and bigger government in order to expand a very questionable, if not failed, government program? 

Quote of the day: value vs. fear

"Economic power is exercised by means of a positive, by offering men a reward, an incentive, a payment, a value; political power exercised by means of a negative, by the threat of punishment, injury, imprisonment, destruction. The businessman's tool is values; the bureucrat's tool is fear." ~ Ayn Rand

Friday, October 11, 2013

UPDATED: Kasich seeks Controlling Board approval for Medicaid expansion

Gongwer is reporting that Ohio Gov. John Kasich's administration will seek approval from the Controlling Board to expand Medicaid up to 138% of the federal poverty level.

The Department of Medicaid on Friday submitted a request to the panel seeking authorization to spend federal funds totaling $500,000 million in FY14 and $2 billion in FY15 to extend the program to cover citizens up to 138% of the federal poverty level, as originally proposed by Gov. John Kasich in his biennium budget bill.

The Controlling Board’s next meeting is Oct. 21. GOP legislative leaders have thus far been coy about providing votes for the plan; at least one Republican vote will be needed to clear the spending through the seven-member panel.

“Only the General Assembly can authorize Medicaid to spend funds in this way, either through a bill or the Controlling Board,” Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said in an email. “The Administration has been preparing to implement this change when the General Assembly gives its ok and we’ll be ready.”

Despite the shutdown, federal officials approved Ohio’s proposal to expand the entitlement program earlier this week...apparently, such approval is an 'essential' function of government.

See Jason Hart's post at MediaTrackers for more background on the continuing saga.

UPDATE: Statement from Chairman of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee and member of the State Controlling Board Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster):

"I have grave concerns about the place, the time and the substance of this proposed Controlling Board action. Based on our solid track record of passing tough bills, I would expect a far superior and more creative solution by legislative enactment than what I fear may result from effectively crimping the legislative process."

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Free fuel for thee, but not for me!

City to give electric vehicle owners free fuel

Charging stations similar to this one have
 been  installed in downtown Toledo.
You and I  are paying for them.

I received a press release from the City of Toledo announcing a press conference to unveil their new electric vehicle charging stations:

City to unveil electric vehicle charging stations

Three stations to be available in downtown area

Mayor Michael P. Bell will unveil three electric vehicle chargers at 10 a.m., Thursday, October 10 near 347 North Superior St., the corner of Superior and Adams.

As a pilot program, motorists will pay for metered parking and can plug to the charger in at no additional cost. The city will monitor the usage to determine the need to expand the program in other locations. In total the units cost $7,200 to purchase. Installation assistance was provided through a competitively bid contract with local contractor TAS Electric.

Okay - so the city is spending $7,200 to purchase the chargers and TAS Electric got the contract to install them, for how much it didn't say.

But did you catch this? The cost to the electric vehicle user is the same and you and I would pay to park - the coins we are required to put in the meter.

The electric vehicle owner is getting their juice for free.

The City is paying the cost of the electricity used to charge the vehicles - which means you and I are paying for someone else to charge their car.

Now, when a regular vehicle owner parks downtown, no one pays him or her two hours worth of gas.

Why should electric vehicle owners get their fuel for free while you and I have to pay for our own?

Whatever happened to equal equal treatment?

Mayor Mike Bell said at the press conference that this will contribute to Toledo being a business-friendly town.

Really? What's "business-friendly" about giving some people their fuel for free while charging others for it?

A Honda Fit can go 82 miles on a fully-charged electric battery. It needs 7.25 kW-hrs to go 25 miles which means it needs 23.78 kW-hrs to fully charge the battery. According to Edmonds, the cost of charging the vehicle is 23.78 kW-Hrs times the cost of the electricity.

The cost of electricity varies and the city probably has a special rate, but my current rate is $0.064075/kwh. If I were charging a Honda Fit at home, it would cost me $1.52.

That might not seem to be very much - at first. But numerous cars will be able to plug in, each charging their battery in full, 7 days a week.

But that's not the only cost. The expense the city incurred to install the charging units also needs to be recouped, except the city isn't charging the users for that at all.

This is going to be a constant drain on taxpayers. And since it's a pilot project and Bell hopes to add more, it will be even more of drain as time goes on.

And don't forget the current controversy over the gasoline tax. Electric vehicles, because they use so much less gasoline (if at all), don't pay as much gasoline tax which is used to pay for road maintenance and repair. This has caused some to suggest a meter on vehicles to charge a fee per mile driven. So they're using the roads, but not paying as much for them as you and I.

How difficult would it be to have the users pay an extra $1.50 when they put money in the meter?

And why would the city and its elected officials think it's okay to not charge the users for the fuel they're using?

Can I park at a downtown meter and get $1.50 worth of gas? Can pull up to the city gas pump and put $1.50 worth of their gasoline in my car every day?

Can you imagine if we all demanded equal treatment when it comes to the city paying for vehicle fuel?

This is so wrong I don't know where to begin.

This is not the proper role of government and tax dollars should not be going to pay for fuel for some but not for others.

The vehicle owners need to be charged for the electricity they use and a portion of the cost of the chargers as well. Anything less is unacceptable.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Indiana, 15 school corporations sue IRS to block employer mandate

I received this press release via email:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

State and 15 schools sue IRS to block impact of employer mandate

Zoeller: IRS exceeded its authority, contravened law Congress passed

INDIANAPOLIS – The State of Indiana and 15 school corporations filed a lawsuit today against the Internal Revenue Service, challenging a new IRS regulation that imposes the costly “employer mandate” requirements of the Affordable Care Act onto state and local governments. The plaintiffs seek declaratory judgments and injunctions that would prevent the IRS from financially penalizing the State and its political subdivisions. They contend the Affordable Care Act or ACA as passed by Congress does not allow financial penalties in states that did not create their own health insurance exchanges; and that the financial penalties – which are based on the total number of employees – cannot be applied to government employers.

“This case is about the fundamental relationship between the State and federal government. We respect the United States Supreme Court’s ruling last year upholding the individual mandate to buy health insurance; but it did not address the recent IRS regulations extending the reach of the ACA’s employer mandate. We contend the ACA improperly regulates sovereign states and does not authorize the IRS to do what it is doing in treating the State as a taxable entity. We are raising this respectful challenge for the federal courts to decide these questions,” Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said. As the lawyer for state government, Zoeller’s office filed the lawsuit today in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

Joining the State as co-plaintiffs are 15 Indiana school corporations:

  • • Metropolitan School District of Martinsville, Martinsville, Ind.
  • • Perry Central Community Schools, Leopold, Ind.
  • • Benton Community School Corporation, Fowler, Ind.
  • • Community School Corporation of Eastern Hancock County, Charlottesville, Ind.
  • • John Glenn School Corporation, Walkerton, Ind.
  • • Monroe-Gregg School District, Monrovia, Ind.
  • • Mooresville Consolidated School Corporation, Mooresville, Ind.
  • • North Lawrence Community Schools, Bedford, Ind.
  • • Northwestern Consolidated School District of Shelby County, Fairland, Ind.
  • • Shelbyville Central Schools, Shelbyville, Ind.
  • • Southwest Parke Community School Corporation, Montezuma, Ind.
  • • Vincennes Community School Corporation, Vincennes, Ind.
  • • Madison Consolidated Schools, Madison, Ind.
  • • South Henry School Corporation, Straughn, Ind.
  • • Southwestern Jefferson County Consolidated School Corporation, Hanover, Ind.

As political subdivisions of the State, school corporations are faced with reducing the hours of their part-time employees in order to avoid the financial penalties of the IRS regulation under the employer mandate.

“The costly and burdensome employer mandate the IRS wrongly applies to government employers such as our school corporation interferes with our ability to efficiently manage our workforce. We always strive to be good stewards of tax dollars in educating our community’s students, but our school corporation’s efforts are undermined by the IRS overstepping its bounds that Congress set. As public servants who revere the Constitution, we join with the State in asking the federal court to correct the IRS’s overreach,” said Assistant Superintendent Randy Taylor of MSD of Martinsville.

IRS contravenes specific instructions of Congress

As passed by Congress in 2010, the Affordable Care Act permits states to decide whether to operate their own health insurance exchanges or leave that task for the federal government. The unambiguous wording of the ACA says that citizens in a state with a state-run exchange can qualify for federally subsidized insurance; while citizens in states with a federally run exchange can use the exchange to shop for coverage, but will not qualify for federally subsidized insurance. Though some states have chosen to create their own state exchanges, seven states chose hybrid federal-state exchanges and 27 states including Indiana declined to create exchanges. Since Indiana declined, the ACA therefore required the federal government to operate an exchange useable by Indiana citizens; it opened October 1.

The IRS also administers the federal premium subsidies available to those citizens who use exchanges. In May, the IRS issued a regulation that goes beyond what Congress authorized, contrary to the specific language of the ACA statute. The IRS regulation offers federal insurance premium subsidies in all states, not just those the ACA specified. That regulation in turn has the effect of charging a future financial penalty against non-compliant employers in all states, even though the ACA that Congress passed authorizes the penalty to be collected only in states where a state-established exchange exists.

By exceeding the specific authority Congress granted it, the IRS is interfering with the State’s ability to manage its own employees and thwarting the State’s policy to avoid employer mandate penalties – and that in turn violates the Tenth Amendment, the ACA and the Administrative Procedure Act, the lawsuit alleges. The plaintiffs ask the federal court to issue an injunction blocking the IRS regulation and resulting penalties from being applied against the State and school corporations since that is contrary to the ACA. Also, the plaintiffs ask the federal court to issue a declaratory judgment finding the IRS regulation and associated tax reporting and certification requirements unconstitutional and void under the Tenth Amendment.

Ripple effect: Avoiding enormous financial penalties

Among the issues with the penalties faced by employers who don’t provide minimal essential health coverage: The employer mandate defines “full-time” as working 30 hours per week on average. That federal definition conflicts with state government’s longtime personnel policy that defines state employees as full time -- and eligible for insurance benefits -- if they work 37.5 hours per week or more. Full-time state employees already are eligible for health insurance but part-time state employees are not. A preliminary analysis found the State has fewer than 65 part-time employees who work an average of at least 30 hours per week but fewer than 37.5 hours who would be considered “full time” under the ACA.

Under the employer mandate, large employers who do not offer minimum essential coverage face penalties of $2,000 per employee for all full-time employees in the organization (after the first 30), even if just one employee obtains federally-subsidized insurance through the IRS regulation. For example, if a private company employing 1,000 people does not offer minimum essential coverage and some workers then obtain subsidized coverage through health-care exchanges, the IRS could impose penalties of $2,000 for 970 employees, or a total $1.94 million. For State government, with approximately 28,000 employees in the executive branch (not including the legislative and judicial branches), the potential penalty for non-compliance could be approximately $56 million or more. Although the U.S. Treasury Department issued a July 2 statement announcing its intention to postpone enforcement of the financial penalties until 2015, Zoeller said the lack of a formal legally binding document and the potentially draconian penalty amounts prompted the plaintiffs to seek relief from the court.

Zoeller reiterated the IRS regulation potentially subjecting the State to financial penalties it would not otherwise face is contrary to the actual wording of the ACA. But to mitigate the risk of financial penalties due to the lack of a state exchange, the State Personnel Department recently notified agencies that the State’s definition of “part-time” employee is being reduced from less than 37.5 hours to less than 30 hours per week – below the threshold where either employer-sponsored coverage or federally-subsidized insurance would be triggered.

“It’s very unfortunate that by unconstitutionally interfering with our state personnel policy, the IRS has caused hardship not only to the State but to a number of our state employees who will see their hours reduced through no fault of their own, and it inflicts similar injuries on schools and local governments and their part-time employees,” Zoeller said. One issue in the lawsuit is whether the federal government through the IRS can treat the State government and its political subdivisions as taxable entities like private businesses. The plaintiffs contend it cannot.

School corporations who employ part-time workers – such as instructional aides for learning disabled students, substitute teachers, part-time coaches and extra-curricular staff or cafeteria workers – have already reduced the hours of non-benefit-eligible employees in order to avoid financial penalties, the Attorney General added.

Zoeller said it is up to federal policymakers in Congress, not the IRS, to decide whether to extend federal insurance premium subsidies into states that do not have state-run exchanges. He noted the focus of the lawsuit is not directly about whether private-sector workers should be able to purchase insurance at subsidized rates; that’s a decision for Congress. But State government should not be saddled with potentially huge financial penalties because the IRS promulgated a rule that Congress never approved, Zoeller said.

Attorney General defends sovereignty of state government

In May 2010, representing Indiana, Zoeller’s office joined the 26-state legal challenge to the constitutionality of newly-passed Affordable Care Act. The United States Supreme Court in June 2012 upheld the ACA’s individual mandate, as a tax. But the Court struck down a portion of the federal health care law that would have required states to dramatically expand Medicaid or forgo the program entirely. Zoeller noted U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts’ majority opinion striking down the mandatory Medicaid expansion opened the door to states bringing new legal challenges to other portions of the ACA.

“The fact that many citizens lack health insurance is an issue for policymakers, and my office takes no position regarding the congressional debate over funding the ACA. I never complain when private plaintiffs file lawsuits to challenge the state authority that my office defends; but now our role is reversed and Indiana has initiated this lawsuit asking the court whether the IRS has exceeded its federal taxing authority over state governments. This respectful challenge is an appropriate role for the Office of the Attorney General to vigorously assert the ability of the State and its political subdivisions to manage their workforces in our American system of federalism,” Zoeller said.

If other schools decide to join, the complaint can be amended later to include additional co-plaintiffs. The public school corporations are represented by Bose McKinney & Evans LLP.
The lawsuit, State of Indiana et al v. IRS et alis one of approximately 3,000 civil suits and 1,200 criminal appeals the Indiana Attorney General’s Office handles at any given time, and Zoeller noted his office’s participation in the case will not distract from its work on other cases representing the State. The AG’s Office’s solicitor general, Thomas M. Fisher, is overseeing the State’s legal representation in the multi-plaintiff lawsuit. Two similar challenges to the IRS regulation brought by other plaintiffs are pending in federal district courts in Oklahoma and Washington, D.C.

Named as defendants in the Indiana’s lawsuit are the Internal Revenue Service and Acting IRS Commissioner Daniel I. Werfel, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. No court dates have been set yet.

NOTE: At this link is the complaint filed today in U.S. District Court in the lawsuit State of Indiana et al v. IRS et al. At this link is a financial circular issued by the State Personnel Department.

Quotes of the Day - rulers vs. the people

"...there is no such entity as 'the public' - since the public is merely a number of individuals - the idea that 'the public interest' supersedes private interests and rights can have but one meaning: that the interests and rights of some individuals take precedence over the interests and rights of others." ~ Ayn Rand

"All governments are more or less combinations against the people...and as rulers have no more virtue than the ruled...the power of government can only be kept within its constituted bounds by the display of a power equal to itself, the collected sentiment of the people." ~ Benjamin Franklin Bache

Monday, October 07, 2013

Honor Flight of Northwest Ohio decides to risk arrest to visit WWII Memorial

This post went up late last night at Ohio Watchdog:

IT’S A GO: Honor Flight of Northwest Ohio will make their scheduled to trip D.C. after all.

By Maggie Thurber | for Ohio Watchdog
Never mind the shutdown. An outpouring of support from across the country — and the willingness of guests and volunteers to risk arrest — helped Honor Flight of Northwest Ohio proceed with its scheduled Oct. 9 trip to theWorld War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
“We’d been watching the issue for several weeks,” said Lee Armstrong, the group’s president. “We planned the flight back in May, but knowing they were talking about a government shutdown on October 1, we kept watching and told our volunteers to be ready.”
Honor Flight is a national nonprofit that gives veterans free transportation so they can see war memorials. More than 3,500 veterans from across the country are scheduled to visit the memorials this October.
On Wednesday, more veterans moved the barricades to gain access and the National Park Service issued an announcement that, despite the government shutdown, the memorial would remain open to veterans under the First Amendment.
Armstrong was told Tuesday by a woman at the National Park Service who refused to give her name that if his Honor Flight group crossed the barricades that had been set up, they were going to be arrested.
When he questioned if they were really going to arrest a bunch of 90-year-old veterans, she told him to “have a good day,” and then hung up, he said.
“We have several individuals on this flight who are prominent members of the community. We didn’t want to risk having them arrested,” he said. So they announced the potential cancelation of the trip on their webpage, but not before sending emails to local congressional representatives, the Speaker of the House, the President of the Senate and the White House objecting to the threat of arrest.
And that’s when the media frenzy started, Armstrong said.

Continue reading...

Friday, October 04, 2013

Ohio should act quickly to broadcast House hearings

My latest from Ohio Watchdog:

OHIO CHANNEL: Ohioans may soon
be able to view committee
 hearings as well as general
 House sessions if Rep.
 Dan Ramos’ bill is passed.
Rep. Dan Ramos is right. All Ohio House legislative hearings should be broadcast and made available to the public.
Ramos, D-Lorain, is sponsoring H.B. 262which would require the Ohio government telecommunications service to broadcast all 23 standing committee meetings as they occur.
Too bad his bill doesn’t include the Senate.
So far, he has 11 co-sponsors, including two Republicans, but there should be more – from both sides of the aisle.
“Ensuring transparency in and accessibility to government is one of the primary responsibilities we have as elected officials to the taxpayers across this state,” Ramos said in announcing the bill.
He knows – as do all legislators – that not everyone can travel to Columbus to hear testimony or take part in the legislative process.
Too often, Ohioans are surprised by new bills they only hear about after they’ve been passed. Their ability to weigh in on pending legislation or communicate with their legislators about what’s been said in a hearing is virtually non-existent unless they, or someone they know, was there.
“Ohioans still deserve access to their state government,” Ramos said.
If the bill passes, residents can be more actively involved in the process, rather than getting in after the fact.
The Ohio Channel already airs full voting sessions of the House and Senate — theHouse Finance and Appropriations Committee hearings were broadcast so Ohioans could see the budget process in action.
The best part about the broadcasts is they’re streamed live online and archived, so you can watch at your convenience.
But how much will it cost?
Well, the equipment needed to air all the committee hearings was bought under H.B. 562 in 2008, but it’s been sitting mostly unused in state storage. It was, however, used for this year’s finance hearings.
Since the roughly $300,000 in equipment is paid for and the Ohio Channel infrastructure is in place, it shouldn’t cost anything more to place the cameras in the committee rooms and turn them on.
“As legislators, we shouldn’t be picking and choosing which committees are broadcast,” Ramos said.
Indeed, and others agree.
Brian Rothenberg, executive director of Progress Ohio, a nonprofit advocacy group, said his group called for the committee hearings to be broadcast two sessions ago, when it was clear the equipment was available but wasn’t being used.
“Anytime the public can see government through the light of day, it’s a win for the public,” he said.
John McAvoy, a spokesman for the Northwest Ohio Conservative Coalition, was equally supportive.
“If I wish to be actively involved in these proceedings, I must drive seven hours round trip to listen and participate, or wait for a summary from Gongwer (a legislative reporting service) or transcripts from the website,” he said. “This would significantly add transparency and, more importantly, knowledgeable, informed voters to the governance process.”
The bill was introduced Sept. 10 and has not yet been assigned to a committee, but the House did just return to session, so the assignment should happen shortly.
For Ohioans, it can’t be too soon.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Group ends effort to repeal Internet Cafe ban

Press Release from the Committee to Protect Ohio Jobs:


This week, the leaders of the Committee to Protect Ohio Jobs were informed by the petition management firm it retained to gather signatures that the firm was unable to gather enough signatures to place House Bill 7 on the November 2014 ballot. Given this information, the Committee has no choice but to announce that the effort to give Ohio voters the last say on this issue has been discontinued. Although tens of thousands of signatures were gathered in the last 10 days and have been inventoried, none will be submitted to the Secretary of State.

As the first statewide ballot issue committee to operate under new, more onerous rules regarding signature collection in Ohio, it appears that the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law was correct when it recently filed a lawsuit challenging these rules as an unconstitutional infringement of Ohioans' right to petition their government. Simply put, never before has it been so difficult for Ohio citizens to place an issue on the ballot.

With respect to the ability of Ohioans to continue to patronize Internet Sweepstakes Cafes in Ohio, legal challenges to House Bill 7 are under consideration by industry attorneys. As of today, there is nothing to announce in that regard.

The Committee is grateful to the tens of thousands of voters who signed petitions in solidarity with the 80 percent of Ohioans who oppose banning Internet Sweepstakes Cafes. Sadly, as a result of House Bill 7 going into effect, Ohio will lose thousands of jobs and state and local governments will lose millions of dollars in tax revenues.


Wednesday, October 02, 2013

How money walks - Lucas County and Ohio both lose billions

We all know that people will flee high-tax areas and relocate to low-tax areas, a fact that too many politicians ignore. But the same applies to counties and cities and now we know how much.

"How Money Walks," by Travis Brown, takes a look at data from the Internal Revenue Service and then examines how wealth and people move between states. His website maps the data with numbers. The correlation is clear, he says: the key to accumulating wealth in your state is to have a pro-growth tax policy that does not tax personal income.

Nationally, Ohio fairs poorly.

The state lost $18.39 billion in annual Adjusted Gross Income from 1992-2010.

To be fair, we did gain income from some states:

  • $323.51 million New York
  • $218.36 million West Virginia
  • $205.12 million New Jersey
  • $112.16 million Pennsylvania
  • $15.20 million Connecticut

But here is who we lost to - and how much:

  • $6.46 billion Florida
  • $1.51 billion North Carolina
  • $1.18 billion South Carolina
  • $1.16 billion Texas
  • $1.09 billion Arizona

In Lucas County, as in all the other large metropolitan areas, the story is the same:

Lucas County lost $1.82 billion in AGI. Here is where we lost to - and gained from:

Gained Wealth From:

  • $8.27 million Allen County, OH
  • $5.95 million Erie County, OH
  • $5.25 million Lorain County, OH
  • $5.08 million Seneca County, OH
  • $4.86 million Trumbull County, OH

Lost Wealth To:

  • $219.39 million Wood County, OH
  • $204.14 million Monroe County, MI
  • $100.26 million Franklin County, OH
  • $60.18 million Fulton County, OH
  • $42.49 million Lee County, FL

In both the state and county data, you can see that we're losing far, far more than we're gaining.

There are lessons here, especially in light of Toledo's income tax - but is anyone paying attention?

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