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Archive for June, 2013

Jackie Speier offers ‘Child Handgun Safety Act’

A Bay Area congresswoman’s new gun-control bill would require that all handguns have child-safety mechanisms built in.

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, said her Child Handgun Safety Act is inspired by a series of tragedies nationwide – most recently, a 5-year-old girl in New Orleans accidentally shot and killed herself with a .38-caliber revolver this past weekend.

Jackie Speier“A majority of gun deaths involving children are preventable at the point of manufacturing,” Speier said in her news release. “More than half of child deaths from guns result from accidents or failure to secure guns in the home. In the past, we have taken similar safety measures with products such as butane lighters and prescription drug bottles. It’s inexcusable we haven’t done the same with deadly weapons. We have an urgent responsibility to prevent these tragic deaths through smart, more effective handgun policies.”

The bill would require that all handguns made, sold in, or imported into the United States incorporate technology that prevents the average 5-year-old child from operating it when it’s ready to fire. It also would require that as of two years after enactment, any handgun sold, offered for sale, traded, transferred, shipped, leased, or distributed in the U.S. be child-resistant or retrofitted with a child-resistant mechanism.

Speier said that since December’s Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn., 73 more children aged 12 and under have been killed with guns. Of those, 40 were due to accidental shootings, 29 of which involved a teen or child aged 17 or younger pulling the trigger. Among the specific examples Speier cited:

    Corsicana, Texas: A toddler died after a self-inflicted shooting with a handgun inside a bedroom in his home, striking himself in the head.
    Tampa, Fla.: A 3-year-old boy who found a gun in his uncle’s backpack shot himself and died.
    Greenville County, S.C.: A 2-year-old child reached into his father’s pocket, grabbed a gun and shot himself at his grandparents’ home.
    Brighton, Ala.: A 4-year-old shot a 4-year-old cousin with .38 Special pistol left on a bed.
    Lebanon, Tenn.: A 4-year-old boy shot the wife of a sheriff with a pistol.
    Liberty, Mich.: The 3-year old son of a Jackson County Sheriff’s Office deputy accidentally shot and killed himself with his father’s weapon.

Lawrence Keane – senior vice president and general counsel of the Newtown, Conn.-based National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gun-industry trade group – said he doesn’t doubt Speier’s intentions are good, but “there is no reason or need for the legislation she has introduced.”

“Every firearm sold in the United States today … is required to be provided with a locking device,” Keane said. “It’s the responsibility of the gun owner to secure the firearm and keep it away from unauthorized users, particularly and obviously children.”

Not only do U.S. gunmakers include a lock with every firearm they ship, but retailers also are required by law to have locks available for sale as well. And the NSSF’s Project ChildSafe, launched in 2003 and partnered with law enforcement, has distributed more than 36 million free firearm safety education kits – each including a cable-style lock.

“We’re pleased to report that while the incidents she cites in the press release are devastating and horrible, the truth is that the number of firearms fatalities involving accidents are at their lowest level since record-keeping began in 1903,” Keane said, adding that statistically, children are far more likely to die in cars, bathtubs or swimming pools than by handgun.

Speier also Thursday introduced the Modernized Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act of 2013, which would require the U.S. Attorney General to modify the definition of armor-piercing ammunition to conform to the bullet’s performance, rather than just its metallurgical content. New bullet propellants, coatings and materials have left the original Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act of 1986 outdated, she argues, and there’s plenty of ammo for sale now that’s capable of piercing body armor while skirting the 1986 definition.

But Keane said the existing law focuses on composition, not performance, because a performance-based standard would encompass far too much.

“Virtually all rifle ammunition would be banned under her bill,” he said, adding he’s unaware of any cases in which an alternative, non-lead-based bullet has pierced an officer’s vest. “This is an old argument that comes up every couple of years.”

Neither bill has much chance of advancing in the Republican-led House.

Posted on Thursday, June 27th, 2013
Under: gun control, Jackie Speier, U.S. House | 6 Comments »

State agents seize arsenal from felon

California’s program to find and seize firearms from those prohibited by law from owning them bore spectacular fruit this week as agents seized an illegal arsenal from a convicted felon.

Agents from the state Justice Department’s Bureau of Firearms seized the weapons late Tuesay from the Sacramento-area home of Britton Edward McFetridge, 37, who was on probation due to a 2010 conviction for felony battery with serious bodily injury. (He broke someone’s face.)

McFetridge's alleged arsenalDuring a probation search of his basement, the agents found eight unregistered assault weapons, one bolt-action rifle, eight large-capacity drum magazines, 100 other large-capacity magazines and more than 20,000 rounds of ammunition.

The weapons had been bought illegally in the last three to five years from private parties, according to the news release from Attorney General Kamala Harris’ office, and the magazines were illegally purchased online. Spokeswoman Michelle Gregory said the Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS) flagged McFetridge because he had two other firearms registered to him, which agents were unable to locate.

McFetridge was arrested later Tuesday evening at his workplace – the Royal Peacock Tattoo Parlor, apparently – and was booked into the Sacramento County Jail on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm, possession of unregistered assault weapons, being a felon in possession of ammunition and large capacity magazines, and violation of probation.

The Sacramento Bee featured McFetridge in an article less than two weeks ago about tattoo artists donating their time for a charity marathon inking session.

APPS cross-references five databases to find people who legally purchased handguns and registered assault weapons since 1996 with people who are prohibited from owning or possessing firearms, including felons and the mentally ill. The system is the only one of its kind in the nation; agents collected 461 firearms and 23,080 rounds of ammunition statewide in the first four months of this year.

Gov. Jerry Brown last month signed into law SB 140, which diverted $24 million into the badly backlogged APPS program from a surplus of background-check fees.

Gun-rights and lobbying groups including the National Rifle Association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the California Rifle and Pistol Association had opposed the bill, saying lawful gun owners shouldn’t pay the cost of such a program; any surplus background-check fee money should be returned or lead to a reduction in the fee, they said.

Posted on Thursday, June 27th, 2013
Under: Attorney General, gun control, Kamala Harris | No Comments »

Honda bill would create cybersecurity centers

The government would create five regional cybersecurity centers, each specific to an industry facing electronic threats, under a bill introduced Thursday by Rep. Mike Honda.

The centers established by Honda’s Excellence in Cybersecurity Act – at a cost of $125 million over the next five fiscal years – would bring together stakeholders from academia, government, and the private and non-profit sectors to analyze threats and develop best practices, the lawmaker said.

honda.jpg“From an economic, social, and national security standpoint, the cyber threat is one of the most important issues facing our country today,” Honda, D-San Jose, said in his news release. “Representing Silicon Valley in Congress, I believe we must be proactive in our approach by developing industry-specific coalitions that bring together a wide variety of stakeholders. I am proposing the creation of vertically-integrated cybersecurity centers to meet this challenge and further America’s economic prosperity and technological growth in the 21st century.”

The centers would be charged with examining existing threats in a specific field; acting as a clearinghouse for information and education; promoting community-centric solutions; and developing yearly reports to the industry and security officials.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s director would decide what industry each center would represent, and where each would be located. There would be a competitive process to win those centers, and you can bet Honda wants Silicon Valley to be at the top of the list for one of them.

Posted on Thursday, June 27th, 2013
Under: Mike Honda, U.S. House | 4 Comments »

Lee, Huffman will help seek budget deal

Two Bay Area House members will be on the conference committee charged with completing a federal budget deal, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday.

Pelosi, D-San Francisco, appointed all Democrats from the House Budget Committee as conferees; that includes Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael. Pelosi also called out House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, for having not appointed any Republican conferees, even though the U.S. Senate passed a budget bill 96 days ago.

“The American people can’t afford to wait any longer for Republicans to act on a reasonable, responsible budget, and neither should we,” she said. “Democrats have put our ideas on the table time and again, with a budget proposal to create jobs, promote growth, invest in innovation and infrastructure, and bring down the deficit in a balanced way.”

Boehner at a news conference this morning said the nation’s 1.8 percent economic growth in the year’s first quarter isn’t enough. “That’s why Republicans are continuing to listen to the American people, and offering a real jobs plan for American families and small businesses,” he said. “Our jobs plan can bring us out of this ‘new normal’ and deliver sustained economic growth, and expand opportunity for all Americans.”

Meanwhile, the House Budget Committee held a hearing Wednesday on “America’s Energy Revolution,” which chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc, acknowledged “isn’t a big part of the federal budget.” Huffman accused the committee of wasting time.

“We continue to have these pep rallies for the oil and gas industry while real problems are simply, for some reason, off the table. We don’t even have a conference committee so we can move forward and try to negotiate a federal budget, but we’re here to have a pep rally for the oil and gas industry,” Huffman said at the hearing. “We’ve got student loan interest rates about to double in less than a week, but we’re not talking about that. We’re not talking about any number of things, like the sequester and the people that are actually suffering. We’re here to talk about folks who are experiencing record profits. There are real problems that we need to be solving, and we need to be working together.”

Posted on Thursday, June 27th, 2013
Under: Barbara Lee, Jared Huffman, John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

Politicians react to same-sex marriage rulings

EVERYBODY has something to say about today’s U.S. Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage. Here’s the latest from your Bay Area elected officials.

From U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.:

“As author of the bill to repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act, I am thrilled by today’s Supreme Court decision.

“Today’s ruling clearly establishes that the 14 senators who opposed DOMA in 1996 were correct. It also states that one class of legally married individuals cannot be denied rights under federal law accorded to all other married couples. Doing so denies ‘equal protection’ under the Constitution. This is an important and significant decision.

“Because of inequities in the administration of more than 1,100 federal laws affected by DOMA, it is still necessary to introduce legislation to repeal DOMA and strike this law once and for all. I will introduce that legislation today with 39 cosponsors in the Senate.

“As a Californian, I am thrilled by the Supreme Court’s decision on Proposition 8. The court’s ruling on technical grounds leaves in place former Chief Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision that Prop 8 is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced.

“I believe this decision means marriage equality will finally be restored in California.”

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

“Today my spirits are soaring because the Supreme Court reaffirmed the promise of America by rejecting two blatantly unconstitutional measures that discriminated against millions of our families.
“I was proud to have voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, and it is so heartening to see that the federal government will now treat all marriages equally.

“Because of the Court’s ruling on Proposition 8, millions of Californians will be able to marry the person they love – with all the rights and responsibilities that go along with it.”

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

“Today, the Supreme Court bent the arc of history once again toward justice. The court placed itself on the right side of history by discarding Section 3 of the defenseless Defense of Marriage Act and by allowing marriage equality for all families in California. The highest court in the land reaffirmed the promise inscribed into its walls: ‘equal justice under law.’

“Soon, the federal government will no longer discriminate against any family legally married in the United States. California will join 12 other states and the District of Columbia in recognizing the fundamental rights of all families. Our country will move one step closer to securing equal protection for all of our citizens.

“Nearly 44 years to the day after the Stonewall Riots turned the nation’s attention to discrimination against LGBT Americans, the fight for equal rights took a giant step forward. Yet even with today’s victory at the Supreme Court, the struggle for marriage equality is not over. Whether in the courts or in state legislatures, we will not rest until men and women in every state are granted equal rights. We will keep working to ensure that justice is done for every American, no matter who they love.”

Tons more, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, June 26th, 2013
Under: Assembly, Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee, Bob Wieckowski, California State Senate, Dianne Feinstein, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, George Miller, Jackie Speier, Jared Huffman, John Garamendi, Leland Yee, Mark DeSaulnier, Mark Leno, Mike Honda, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, Nancy Skinner, Nora Campos, Paul Fong, Rich Gordon, Rob Bonta, Tom Ammiano, U.S. House, U.S. Senate, Zoe Lofgren | 40 Comments »

Did Steinberg bawl out Yee in public-records flap?

Did state Senate Democratic leaders call Sen. Leland Yee on the carpet behind closed doors last week after Yee spoke out against their proposal to water down the California Public Records Act?

State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg says he didn’t dress down Yee; Yee won’t say. But two reliable sources – a good-government policy advocate I talked with last week at Netroots Nation, and a State Capitol expert I talked with today – say that’s exactly what happened.

Darrell SteinbergThey said Steinberg, D-Sacramento, was none too pleased that Yee, D-San Francisco, spoke with me on Friday, June 14 as Thomas Peele and I prepared an article about the budget trailer bills that would’ve let local governments opt out of key parts of the public-records law.

Bad blood between Steinberg and Yee reportedly dates back to their Assembly days, as both jockeyed for leadership positions and influence. In the Senate, Steinberg has stripped Yee’s name from a few bills in recent years – including a 2009 bill to restore funding for domestic violence shelters and a 2010 bill providing relief after the San Bruno explosion – and stripped Yee of his title as assistant pro tem in 2010, in part because Yee opposed the Dems’ budget deal.

So Yee’s public criticism of Steinberg, Budget Committee Chairman Mark Leno and other Democrats who’d voted to water down the Public Records Act shouldn’t have come as a surprise, but Steinberg and other Dems reportedly were miffed nonetheless that Yee had hung them out to dry in public.

“God forbid you vote your conscience and then tell people why,” said the State Capitol expert I talked with today, noting that it would’ve been foolish for anyone to think Yee – a longtime government-transparency activist who’s running for Secretary of State next year – would either vote for the bill or remain silent about it afterward if called by a reporter.

Leland YeeYee wouldn’t discuss it today. “We don’t have any further comment on that matter,” spokesman Dan Lieberman said. “We’re just glad the CPRA is being protected.”

Steinberg spokesman Mark Hedlund said no caucus meeting was convened for the purpose of dressing down Yee; when I asked whether Yee was dressed down during a caucus meeting that was convened for some other purpose, he replied with a simple, “No.”

“Senate Democrats all strongly support the Public Records Act. That support has never waned,” Hedlund said. “What we now have is a fair compromise that offers a short-term solution, while allowing the people of California to constitutionally enshrine CPRA protections and to ensure that state taxpayers don’t pay for what local governments should be doing on their own.”

Posted on Tuesday, June 25th, 2013
Under: California State Senate, Darrell Steinberg, Democratic politics, Leland Yee | 4 Comments »

Another fight about who pays for public disclosure

On the heels of last week’s California Public Records Act dustup, we’ve seen another sign that local governments don’t want to be told how, or foot the bills, to keep the public informed.

The state Senate Judiciary Committee today voted 7-0 to pass AB 1149 by Assemblywoman Nora Campos, D-San Jose, which would require all local government agencies to notify their workers and constituents if their electronic data has been hacked, as the state and the private sector already are required to do.

But the bill’s opponents include the Association of California Healthcare Districts, California Association of Joint Powers Authorities, California Special Districts Association, California State Association of Counties, the League of California Cities and the Urban Counties Caucus.

“AB 1149 infringes on local governments that have already adopted their own policies related to information breaches, and we are concerned about the potential cost implications for some cities of setting up the breach notifications outlined in the bill,” Natasha Karl, the League of California Cities’ legislative representative, said via e-mail today.

In other words, they don’t want to be told how – or be forced – to do it, or to pay for it. Campos contends that without such a law, there’s a patchwork of local policies – or no local policies at all – on disclosing such information leaks.

Nora Campos“People have the right to know if their personal information has been stolen so they can take appropriate steps to prevent further theft,” she said. “It’s outrageous that local governments are standing in the way of this. They say it would be too costly. But this is a public duty.”

Campos said her account was once hacked when she served on the San Jose City Council, and she was grateful for the alert she received so that she could contact her bank and credit card companies to warn them of any potential identity theft.

Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, said she understood local governments’ misgivings over potential costs, “but this just makes so much sense because local government does use this kind of information… A breach is a breach. It’s very important to have that protection.”

State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, just last week were contending that few if any local governments would hesitate to foot their own bills for compliance with the California Public Records Act. Such entities would be too scared of the public’s wrath to ignore the law, they insisted as they pushed Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal that the state stop funding the law and major sections be reduced to recommended best practices if locals don’t want to pay for them.

Amid a public outcry, the lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown reversed course. The state will keep reimbursing local governments for compliance with the Public Records Act at least until voters can decide next year whether to enshrine the PRA in the state constitution – and in doing so require the locals to foot the bills themselves.

Posted on Tuesday, June 25th, 2013
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Mark DeSaulnier, Mark Leno, Nora Campos | 8 Comments »

Brown appoints 3 in advance of big reorganization

Gov. Jerry Brown appointed three agency secretaries Tuesday in preparation for an epic consolidation of state agencies and departments.

Brown’s plan cuts the number of state agencies from 12 to 10 and eliminates or consolidates dozens of departments and entities. The Little Hoover Commission has said the plan – which it approved in May 2012 and the Legislature approved (by not rejecting it) in June 2012 – is the most ambitious of the 36 reorganizations it has reviewed since 1968.

For now, unrelated departments – like Caltrans, the Department of Real Estate and the Department of Financial Institutions – are housed together, while related programs are scattered across different agencies, sometimes with duplicative results. Brown’s plan aims to improve coordination and efficiency and make government more responsive.

Effective July 1, five existing state agencies will be replaced by the following three: the Government Operations Agency, which will be responsible for administering state operations such as procurement, information technology and human resources; the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency, which will be responsible for licensing and oversight of industries, businesses and other professionals; and the Transportation Agency, which will encompass all of the state’s transportation entities.

Marybel BatjerBrown on Tuesday named Marybel Batjer, 58, of Reno, to be secretary of the Government Operations Agency. Batjer has been vice president of public policy and corporate social responsibility at Caesars Entertainment Corporation since 2005. Although she’s a Democrat, she served as cabinet secretary for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger from 2003 to 2005, chief of staff for Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn from 2000 to 2003 and undersecretary at the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency from 1997 to 1998.

Earlier, Batjer was chief deputy director of the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing from 1992 to 1997 and special assistant to the U.S. Secretary of the Navy from 1989 to 1992. She was a national security affairs special assistant for President Ronald Reagan and deputy executive secretary for the National Security Council from 1987 to 1989. Batjer was assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Defense and Deputy Secretary of Defense from 1981 to 1987 and director of political planning for the National Women’s Political Caucus from 1980 to 1981.

Anna CaballeroBrown appointed Anna Caballero, 59, of Salinas, as secretary of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency. Caballero has served as Secretary of the California State and Consumer Services Agency since 2011 and was a Democratic Assemblywoman representing the 28th District from 2006 to 2010.

Earlier, Caballero was executive director of Partners for Peace, a non-profit specializing in violence prevention work, from 2000 to 2006. Caballero was mayor of Salinas from 1998 to 2006 and served on the Salinas City Council from 1991 to 1998. She was a partner at Caballero Matcham and McCarthy from 1995 to 2007 and at Caballero Govea Matcham and McCarthy from 1982 to 1995. Caballero was a staff attorney at California Rural Legal Assistance Inc., representing farm workers in consumer matters, from 1979 to 1982.

Brian KellyAnd Brown named Brian Kelly, 44, of Sacramento, as secretary of the Transportation Agency. Kelly has served as acting secretary at the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency since 2012, where he was undersecretary in 2012. He was executive staff director for state Senate President Darrell Steinberg from 2008 to 2012 and executive principal consultant for state Senate President Don Perata from 2004 to 2008.

Earlier, Kelly was principal consultant for state Senate President John Burton from 1998 to 2004 and assistant consultant for Senate President pro Tempore Bill Lockyer from 1995 to 1998. He was a field representative for the California Senate Democratic Caucus from 1994 to 1995

All three of these appointments are subject to confirmation by the state Senate, and each carries an annual salary of $180,250.

Posted on Tuesday, June 25th, 2013
Under: housing, Jerry Brown, Transportation | No Comments »

Dianne Feinstein names new chief of staff

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein has a new chief of staff.

Feinstein & Duck circa 2011Jennifer Duck, 42, will be based in Washington and will oversee a staff of 70 in Washington, Fresno, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. She replaces Chris Thompson, who is returning to California after nearly a decade of working for DiFi in D.C.

Duck since August 2009 has served as vice president of government relations and corporate leadership for Pfizer, Inc., the international pharmaceutical and consumer products company.

Earlier, Duck was staff director and chief counsel to Feinstein, D-Calif., on the Senate Judiciary Committee from 2005 to 2009. Duck has also worked as counsel to former Democratic Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D.; counsel to U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee; and senior policy advisor for the Senate Democratic Policy Committee.

Duck also worked in the Clinton Administration at the Labor Department’s Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, managing outreach to state and local officials as well as Congress. In 2008, she worked on the Obama presidential transition with teams for the Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of Management and Budget, the CIA and the Department of Labor. Duck holds a bachelor’s degree from St. Olaf College and a law degree from Emory University.

“I’m delighted to welcome Jennifer Duck back to my team,” Feinstein said in a statement issued this morning. “Jennifer is a seasoned Capitol Hill aide with deep experience in both the public and private sectors, familiarity with the executive and legislative branches of government, and significant policy expertise. I will rely on her counsel and good judgment as we advance a busy legislative agenda and work for the people of California.”

“I want to thank Chris Thompson for his dedication and service,” Feinstein added. “For nearly a decade Chris has been a trusted advisor and a friend. He has been an instrumental part of the team, and I’m sorry to lose him.”

Posted on Tuesday, June 25th, 2013
Under: Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

California politicos on the Voting Rights Act ruling

Here’s how some California politicos are reacting to today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that voids key provisions of the Voting Rights Act:

From U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.:

“I strongly disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision today to limit the Voting Rights Act. The law successfully countered a century of aggressive limitations on minority voting rights, a fact that today’s majority decision acknowledged: ‘The Act has proved immensely successful at redressing racial discrimination and integrating the voting process.’

“After more than 20 hearings in the House and Senate, Congress in 2006 reauthorized key provisions in the Voting Rights Act for 25 years, a bill I was proud to cosponsor. By invalidating a key piece of the law, the Supreme Court departed from settled precedent and dealt a real setback for voting rights in this country.

“I believe Congress should move quickly to introduce new legislation to preserve voting rights for all Americans.”

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

Barbara Boxer“The Supreme Court’s decision flies in the face of the clear evidence we continue to see of efforts to suppress the vote in minority communities across the country. It is devastating that the Court’s conservative majority would strike down a central provision of the law that has protected the voting rights of all Americans for nearly a half century, and was reauthorized by Congress almost unanimously just seven years ago. I’ll be working with my Senate colleagues to restore the protections of the Voting Rights Act to ensure that every American can participate fully in our democracy.”

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

Nancy Pelosi“Today, the Supreme Court took a step backward on voting rights, on civil rights, on liberty and justice for all. This decision weakens the cause of voting rights in our time, disregards the challenges of discrimination still facing our country, and undermines our nation’s ongoing effort to protect the promise of equality in our laws.

“Even with this setback, the court did place the power to reinforce the heart of the Voting Rights Act in the hands of Congress. As Members of Congress, we know that changes in election laws can have discriminatory effects. That’s why Congress made the determination that advance review of changes in election procedures is required for jurisdictions with a history of discrimination. In 2006, Democrats and Republicans came together to reauthorize the law, garnering overwhelming bipartisan support in a Republican-led Congress – passing the House by a vote 390-33 and the Senate by a vote of 98-0, then signed into law by President George W. Bush. This year, we must follow in that same tradition, taking the court’s decision as our cue for further action to strengthen this legislation.

“Voting rights are essential to who we are as Americans, to the cause of equality, to the strength of our democracy. It is our responsibility to do everything in our power to remove obstacles to voting, to ensure every citizen has the right to vote and every vote is counted as cast. We must secure the most basic privilege of American citizenship: the right to vote.”

More, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, June 25th, 2013
Under: Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee, California State Senate, Debra Bowen, Dianne Feinstein, Leland Yee, Mike Honda, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House, U.S. Senate, voter registration, Zoe Lofgren | 10 Comments »