Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday Quick HIts: Hot Policy Topics for This Week

North Carolina:

All is quiet here at the North Carolina General Assembly as the Holiday break is underway.  There are no committee meetings scheduled for this week.  There are some news stories however dealing with the revenue collection in our state.

The Upcoming Budget:
News and Observer is reporting that state revenue is down by 6.1 percent.  This supports the information we have been receiving in numerous committees that there will be a lot of need and not a lot of money to go around.  

New Administration:
Governor-Elect Perdue has been slowly rolling out her cabinet and her picks for key secretary positions.  There have been lots of names in the rumor mill for the Secretary of HHS but nothing yet has been confirmed.  Last report was that current Secretary Dempsey Benton would be stepping down but Chris Fitzsimon wrote on NC Policy Watch that maybe Secretary Benton may be having second thoughts.  When we know who it is, you will.

Committee Reports:
So far there have been  few  final committee reports to discuss but with session starting on January 28th we will see a big push soon. 

The Holidays:
We wish you all a very happy holiday season. We will be posting our regular scheduled blogs here starting right after the Holidays.  There will also be some new formats.  We will be keeping the Monday Quick Hits and we will be updating the Friday Wrap Up once the session starts.  Julia's Musings will return once the committee reports start up.  We will also be updating what is included in the Dispatch from Jones Street features.

We appreciate you hanging with us as the new year starts.


Economic Stimulus

The Obama Transition team is working with Hill leaders on a new economic stimulus package that seems to grow by the week. The latest estimates put the stimulus in the range of $650 to $850 billion. Escalating unemployment, which could go as high as 9% in 2009, has served to increase the goal of saving or creating 2.5 million jobs over the next 2 years. The stimulus package, in addition to addressing employment, is expected to boost federal support to states, and pump new money into education, health care, infrastructure and energy programs. Aid to the poor and unemployed will also be part of the stimulus. The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), in which The Arc and UCP have key leadership roles, has prepared a number of recommendations pressing for disability related program increases in the stimulus.

111th Congress

Cabinet appointments have expanded the number of interim appointments needed to achieve the full complement of Senators and Representatives in the upcoming Congress. The 111th Congress will begin work on January 6. There are now three Senate seats needing to be filled - Clinton (NY), Obama (IL) and Salazar (CO). In addition, the recount for the still undetermined Senate seat in Minnesota may not be settled until early in 2009. The House seat of Department of Labor Secretary Designate Hilda Solis (D-CA) will also need to be filled.

Health Care Reform

Representatives John Dingell (D-MI) and Henry Waxman (D-CA) have reached an agreement that will place Rep. Dingell as the lead sponsor of the national health reform legislation that the House Energy and Commerce Committee will consider next year. Dingell will be "Chairman Emeritus" and will play an integral role in the health care negotiations with Congress and with the incoming Obama Administration. This arrangement will allow the Committee to focus on two major priorities next year: health care reform and climate and energy legislation.

1 comment:

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