Happy New Year from your Govt – More Than 400 New Laws Take Effect, New Taxes pass Senate, O-Care comes due….
In 2013 in Illinois, motorcyclists will be able to “proceed through a red light if the light fails to change.” In Kentucky, releasing feral or wild hogs into the wild will be prohibited. And inFlorida, swamp buggies will not legally be considered motor vehicles.
On Jan. 1, as crowds of people toast to a new year, more than 400 news laws across the country will take effect — and possibly improve life for some.
“The laws that state governments deal with are really the laws that impact people on a daily basis,” said Jon Kuhl, a spokesmanfor the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks the bills. “Whether amending or updating laws or enacting brand new legislation, it was an active year.”
In addition to the new laws of 2013, more than 29,000 lawswere passed by state legislatures this year, Kuhl said. Many dealt with healthcare, education, gay rights, child safety and the Internet.
In several states, including Maryland, New Jersey and Delaware, lawmakers made it illegal for employers to either require or request social-media passwords from job applicants or employees. Some of those laws are already in effect. However, similar bills passed in Illinois and California become law Tuesday.
“My legislation protects workers’ privacy,” said Nora Campos, speaker pro tempore of the California State Assembly and lead author of her state’s social-media bill. “The legislation is necessary because there is a hole in existing law that prevents employers from intrudinginto an employee’s legal off-duty conduct.”
She added that California could potentially be the new model for how other states deal with social media and the workplace.
Meanwhile, Alaska became the 31st state to require health insurance companies to cover the diagnosis, testing and treatment of autism spectrum disorders for people up to the age of 21. The legislation’s passage continues a trend among states that began in 2007, Kuhl said.
Other states could follow with similar bills, and a higher number of laws could take effect when the clock strikes midnight in 2014 because four state legislatures — Montana, Nevada, North Dakota and Texas —were out of session in 2012.
Some new laws in 2013:
- Same-sex couples in Maryland will be able to marry.
- California clergy members will not have to perform same-sex marriages if they object.
- Partial birth abortion by physicians and non-physicians will not be performed in New Hampshire except to save the life of the mother.
- Sex offenders in Illinois will not be able to dress up as Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny or give out candy during Halloween.
- Employers in Oregon will not be allowed to advertise a job opening if they won’t consider applicants who are unemployed.
Which is why we have to raise taxes and enforcement….
More than 21,000 retired federal workers receive lifetime government pensions of $100,000 or more per year, a USA TODAY/Gannett analysis finds.
Of these, nearly 2,000 have federal pensions that pay $125,000 or more annually, and 151 take home $150,000 or more. Six federal retirees get more than $200,000 a year.
Some 1.2 percent of federal retirees collect six-figure pensions. By comparison, 0.1 percent of military retirees collect as much.
The New York State and Local Retirement System pays 0.2 percent of its retirees pensions of $100,000 or more. The New Jersey retirement system pays 0.4 percent of retirees that much. Comparable private figures aren’t available.
The six-figure pensions spread across a broad swath of the federal workforce: doctors, budget analysts, accountants, public relations specialists and human resource managers. Most do not get Social Security benefits.
Retired law enforcement is the most common profession receiving $100,000-plus pensions, including 326 Drug Enforcement Administration agents, 237 IRS investigators and 186 FBI agents.
The Postal Service has 714 retired workers getting six-figure retirements. The Social Security Administration has 444. A retired Smithsonian zoologist has a $162,000 annual lifetime pension.
The six $200,000-plus pensions include a doctor, a dentist and a credit union regulator, plus three retirees whose occupations weren’t listed.
Pensions are a growing federal budget burden, rising twice as fast as inflation over the last decade. Pension payments cost $70 billion last year, plus $13 billion for retiree health care. Taxpayers face a $2 trillion unfunded liability — the amount needed to cover future benefits — for these programs, according to the government’s audited financial statement. (Read: The Truth About the Post Office’s Financial Mess.)
“These people are highly trained, highly skilled and often put their lives on the line in law enforcement,” says Julie Tagen, legislative director of the National Association of Retired Federal Employees. “It’s a very, very small portion of retirees at that ($100,000) level.”
“Government pensions are vastly more generous than those in the private sector,” says economist Veronique de Rugy of the market-oriented Mercatus Center. “It’s no coincidence that if there is a good plan, it’s available to federal employees rather than in the private sector.”
USA TODAY and the Asbury Park (N.J.) Press— both owned by Gannett — analyzed the Civil Service Retirement System database, obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request. The Office of Personnel Management withheld some information, including names, ages and length of service.
The records cover 1.9 million federal civilian pensions. Congress members were not included, nor were military retirees.
The average federal pension pays $32,824 annually. The average state and local government pension pays $24,373, Census data show. The average military pension is $22,492. ExxonMobil[XOM 88.18 0.18 (+0.2%) ], which has one of the best remaining private pensions, pays an average of $18,250 per retiree, Labor Department filings show.
The federal government has two retirement systems: one for those hired before 1984 and another for those hired after. Under the older system, employees did not participate in Social Security. The older system covers 78 percent of current retirees and accounts for 96 percent of six-figure pensions. All federal retirees receive health benefits.
The Federal Reserve released 513 pages of previously unseen transcripts of policy meetings that took place between 2007 and 2010—and most of them are so heavily redacted that they elicit laughter.
Take the entry from March 10, 2008. It begins with these words.
CHAIRMAN BERNANKE: Good evening, everybody. I am sorry, once again, to have to call you together on short notice. We live in a very special time.
That sounds like the start to a very interesting meeting. Unfortunately, the remainder of that page is redacted. In fact, the next 31 pages are redacted. We’re left guessing what it was that led Bernanke to talk about living in a “very special time.”
In this case, it’s easy to guess: very likely, the impending collapse of Bear Stearns and central bank preparations for a global liquidity crunch. The following day, the Fed announced the creation of the Term Securities Lending Facility (TSLF), one of the first of many bailout facilities the Fed would launch to prop up the financial system. It also increased its swap lines with the ECB and the Swiss National Bank.
Let’s fast-forward to the meeting of Sept. 16, 2008, when Lehman Brothers was collapsing. Surely this would make for interesting reading—if it weren’t redacted to the point of being almost a blank slate.
It starts off:
CHAIRMAN BERNANKE. Good morning, everybody. Sorry for the late beginning.
What follows is 15 pages of redacted material.
Finally, when we are allowed to peek back into the meeting, Bernanke says: “Anything else? All right. Do you want to call the roll on this one?”
The Federal Reserve has been releasing its transcripts on a five-year delay. It released these early, following a Freedom of Information Act request from MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan show. And, apparently, decided to redact them very heavily.