New Posts

Feb 8, 2016

Top 400 Taxpayers See Tax Rates Rise, But There’s More to the Story

As Americans were gathering party supplies to greet the New Year, the Internal Revenue Service released their annual report of cumulative tax data reported on the 400 tax r...

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Feb 4, 2016

Chlorine Bleach Plants Needlessly Endanger 63 Million Americans

Chlorine bleach plants across the U.S. put millions of Americans in danger of a chlorine gas release, a substance so toxic it has been used as a chemical weapon. Greenpeace’s new repo...

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Jan 25, 2016

U.S. Industrial Facilities Reported Fewer Toxic Releases in 2014

The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data for 2014 is now available. The good news: total toxic releases by reporting facilities decreased by nearly six percent from 2013 levels. Howe...

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Jan 22, 2016

Methane Causes Climate Change. Here's How the President Plans to Cut Emissions by 40-45 Percent.

  UPDATE (Jan. 22, 2016): Today, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its proposed rule to reduce methane emissions...

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Connecticut Campaign Funding System in Peril

A very complicated case from Connecticut may have implications for federal campaign finance law. An appeals court upheld restrictions on campaign contributions from government contractors, threw out part of the state's public campaign financing law, and struck down a ban on lobbyist contributions. According to BNA Money and Politics ($$), "the decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S.

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ACLU, Lawyers' Committee Intervene in Georgia Voting Rights Act Challenge

On July 6, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Georgia, and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a motion to intervene in Georgia v. Holder, the state of Georgia's challenge to the Voting Rights Act. Georgia filed suit against the U.S. Department of Justice because it wants the federal government to allow it to verify each voter's citizenship before allowing an individual to vote.

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State Can't Force Nonprofits to Register as Political Committees

The New Mexico Independent reports that a federal appeals court upheld a lower-court decision which ruled that forcing two nonprofits to register as political committees was a violation of the groups' free-speech rights.

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New Report Finds that Lobbyists' Deregistration Peaked in 2008

The Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) released a new report addressing the question of whether federal lobbyists are "deregistering." CRP found that the increase in deregistrations increased before President Barack Obama took office. As it turns out, policies meant to limit lobbyists' influence may not have played as great of a role in deregistrations as originally thought. CRP points out that "the process of deregistering is not straightforward."

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Supreme Court Says States May Disclose Petition Signatories

On June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that states may publicly disclose referendum petition signatures. The case, Doe v. Reed, centers on the public's right to know who signed petitions related to Referendum 71, a 2009 attempt to overturn Washington State’s expanded domestic partner law, which gives gay and lesbian couples the same rights as married couples.

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House Passes DISCLOSE Act, Senate Struggle Begins

On June 24, the House passed the DISCLOSE Act by a close, largely party-line vote of 219-206. Supporters praise the bill as a success for transparency, while critics argue that it is an attack on the First Amendment and creates unfair exemptions for groups such as the National Rifle Association. The companion bill in the Senate, S. 3295, must now overcome many obstacles.

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Call for Investigation into White House

An article from the New York Times last week detailed the widespread use of the Caribou Coffee on Pennsylvania Avenue as a meeting place between White House officials and lobbyists. Now, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) asked the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform for an investigation.

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Supreme Court Rules Against Charities' Challenge to the Patriot Act

In a 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that the government can ban all forms of aid to designated terrorist organization, even if that aid includes advice about nonviolent and legal activities. In Humanitarian Law Project v. Holder, the Humanitarian Law Project (HLP) and other charities allege that sections of the USA PATRIOT Act violate the First Amendment. The plaintiffs said they only wanted to help the groups' nonviolent activities.

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DISCLOSE Act Delayed Again

Facing trouble from all sides, House Democrats again decided to delay consideration of the DISCLOSE act. As the Washington Post describes, "One of President Obama's top legislative priorities is in serious doubt after top House Democrats' attempt to satisfy the National Rifle Association backfired badly.

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Changes to DISCLOSE Act Spark Debate

Some controversy has developed after news that the DISCLOSE Act has been modified to exempt certain large 501(c)(4) organizations. Reportedly, organizations that have more than 1 million members, have been in existence for more than 10 years, have members in all 50 states, and raise 15 percent or less of their funds from corporations would be exempt from the disclosure requirements.

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Resources & Research

Living in the Shadow of Danger: Poverty, Race, and Unequal Chemical Facility Hazards

People of color and people living in poverty, especially poor children of color, are significantly more likely...

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A Tale of Two Retirements: One for CEOs and One for the Rest of Us

The 100 largest CEO retirement funds are worth a combined $4.9 billion, equal to the entire retirement account savings of 41 percent of American fam...

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