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Department of Justice to States: Don’t Sue Polluters

In a blow to states’ leadership over clean energy, the U.S. Department of Justice has filed a brief before the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that states cannot sue power plant operators that generate pollution. The Justice Department alleges that: (1) the Environmental Protection Agency has already started to regulate greenhouse emissions; and (2) states lack standing to assert a federal nuisance claim.

2010 Legislative Roundup: Vermont

The Vermont legislature was able to compromise on next year’s budget somewhat expeditiously. For fiscal year 2011, beginning in July, the state will face a $154 million budget gap and will have to borrow about $71 million. Many successes took place in the realms of health care, job creation, broadband coverage, criminal justice, and environmental issues, including a successful stop to the re-licensing of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant.

Preventing Loss of Medicaid Drug Rebate Funds for States

While the new Affordable Health Care law provides a variety of funding opportunities for states, one provision in the health law that could shift billions of dollars from cash-strapped states to the federal government.  Under the National Medicaid Drug Rebate Program created by the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990, drug manufacturers are required to enter into agreements that provide rebates for Medicaid purchased drugs, establishing a 15% minimum level of rebates.  Up until now, the rebates were divided between the states and the federal government.  But under the new health reform law, a significant portion of the rebates will go solely to Washington beginning this year.

Up and Running: States Implementing Federal Health Reforms

The federal health reform law is only the starting point for achieving health care access for all Americans.  Many states are already moving forward, not only on implementing the basic provisions of the Affordable Care Act in their states, but are also planning how to build on its framework to further expand coverage and rein in costs for their residents.  The following are a few models of implementation and comprehensive reform underway.

Private Prison Firm Exploiting Broken Immigration System

Who benefits from hyping criminal enforcement as the solution to the immigration issue? 

As a Service and Employees International Union (SEIU) campaign highlights, one key player profiting off the nation's broken immigration system is the private prison firm, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).  CCA operates and profits significantly from private prisons across the country, many of which house immigrants in detention, a kind of legal limbo in which immigrants are imprisoned while their cases are being considered, or who are in the process of being deported.

States Decide on High Risk Pools

The choice of whether or not to establish high-risk insurance pools represents the first major decision that states are facing with the March 2010 passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). While twenty-nine governors -- 22 Democrats and 7 Republicans -- decided to create the pools themselves, most conservative governors failed to take advantage of the option to shape health care for their constituents and instead just kicked the issue back to the federal government, which will establish its own high-risk insurance pool in states that fail to take action.