Tag Archives: bill

The Immigration Reform Bill – Prodding Forth Real ID, an INTERNATIONAL Biometric ID

global biometric id

Kaye Beach

May 14, 2013

On May 10th The Blaze ran a headline that asks; Is There a Scary Biometric ‘National ID System’ Tucked into the Immigration Bill?

The answer is YES!

But wait!  There’s more. . .I sometimes feel like I am belaboring the point but it seems to me the distinction between a national and INTERnational biometric identity system is a very important one.

Study that graphic up there.  It is the simple three step recipe for a single, global biometric identification system.  Read this post then look at it again and see if you can grokk what I’m telling you.

The federal Real ID Act of 2005 imposed federal guidelines that use international standards on state driver’s licenses and ID cards.  You may remeber that at least 25 states said no to Real ID by passing either a law or a resolution against the implementation of the Real ID Act.  Nevertheless, Real ID has continued to be implemented in most states to various degrees.

“By the deadline of January 13, 2013, most states will be substantially or materially or fully compliant with REAL ID” —Janice Kephart, Feb. 2012

It is important to note though, that ALL states are capturing and storing applicants’ digital facial images.  And although not all of the states are actually using this facial biometric as intended by the Real ID Act, eventually they will be.   The immigration reform bill (S.744, the ‘Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act’) will make sure of it.

In case you missed it, now, when you apply for a state driver’s license, a state identification card or any other form of government issued photo ID really, you are having your facial biometrics captured by a high resolution photograph.  High resolution digital cameras capture, map, digitize and database our facial features for the purpose of use by facial recognition technology.

Facial recognition technology enables remote identification and tracking through networked camera systems without our knowledge or consent.  As a matter of fact, facial biometrics is the governments biometric of choice because it can be used to identify and investigate us at-a-distance without our knowledge or consent.

Pay close attention here: This digital image on your state driver’s license or ID card is, by definition, a biometric.

The standard specified in the Real ID regulations for your state driver’s license and ID cards ensures that the digital facial image is facial recognition compatible.  That standard is the adopted standard of the ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organization, an agency of the UN.

(Want more information?  Read REAL ID – BIOMETRIC FACT SHEET)

International standards exist for one purpose;  to enable the global sharing of that information.

REAL ID is. . .the current face of a far larger, international government and private economic effort to collect, store, and distribute the sensitive biometric data of citizens to use for the twin purposes of government tracking and economic control.” -PA Rep. Sam Rohr

Real ID is technically voluntary for the states.  What the government has always intended, is for Real ID to be practically mandatory for the citizens.  This is why the threat hangs over our heads that if we do not have a Real ID card by a certian date, we will not be able to fly or enter a federal building.

“In the future, only those state issued Driver Licenses and  Identification cards which are fully compliant with the REAL ID act of 2005 will be authorized for use as identification for official federal
government purposes, such as boarding commercial aircraft and entering  certain regulated federal facilities.” Alabama DMV-STAR ID

The road to Real ID compliance has admittedly been a rather slow and arduous one but the Immigration Reform bill (S.744, the ‘Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act’), if passed, will put a stop to any state foot dragging on Real ID because citizens will have to have it in order to work!

 A Real ID compliant driver’s license is specifically named as one of the acceptable ID documents in the bill (but all ID documents specified in the bill are biometric ID’s.)

To be perfectly clear – with S.744, producing your government issued, internationally standardized biometric ID is mandatory.  You will not be able gain permission to work without it. 

In authoritarian societies you must always have permission.

Forget privacy.  That is not what this is about.  This is about the balance of power between us and our government.  This is about control.  If we wish to retain control over our own lives, we will not accept government serializing of our bodies and we won’t allow the government to turn our rights into privileges

The Sec. of the Dept. of Homeland Security also has the option to add any other biometric or security feature as a requirement for those who wished to be employed so facial biometrics is the minimum biometric requirement but iris scans, fingerprints, or any other biometric could be required as well.

The new comprehensive immigration reform bill is not the first step in enrolling US citizens in the global biometric identification system.  The first step was that every government issued ID (especially the driver’s license) captured and collected your biometric data and that that data was collected in accordance with international standards.  The second step is to share your biometric data, to connect databases so that they can get that data flowing freely from the state and local databases on to the federal ones and eventually into global data systems.

One other important step in this global system of identification and control is to make sure we have to produce our global biometric ID for everything.  Or at least everything that we do that government wants to track and control.  And don’t forget that with biometric ID, your body IS your ID.  It’s the databases and not the card we should be focusing on.

Here are a few more facts about the bill as drafted;

Requires ALL potential employees to be authorized to work through the Dept. of Homeland Security.  Even If you are already employed when the proposed law goes into effect, you still will have to go through this authorization process.

Authorization hinges upon biometric identification.  Biometric data, including but not necessarily limited to, digital facial image, is required.  Real ID compliant driver’s licenses are cited as one acceptable form of biometric ID but the bill leaves the door open for the Sec. of the Dept. of Homeland Security to add other security requirements as he or she see fit.

The immigration reform bill requires employers to use a “photo tool” to verify the identity of each employee.  The term ‘photo tool’ is simply a euphemism for facial recognition software that will be used to match the facial biometrics provided by the potential employee to a federal database.

Where will this federal database come from?  I asked this question of Mark Lerner, co-founder of The Constitutional Alliance,  the leading expert on biometrics and the Real ID Act.

Here is his reply:

 “The answer will come in the Rulemaking process. There are two possible scenarios. In either scenario the “key” will be the photos stored in state DMV databases. Whether it will be DHS requiring employers to send photos to DHS and DHS having direct or indirect access to state DMV photo databases or whether DHS will require the photos the employers uses to be provided directly to states for the states to compare to photos in the state DMV database remains unclear. I also believe it is clear DHS will get the photo regardless.”

Access to the biometric data held in state DMV databases will be a must. 

There are reasons I have been having a fit trying to get my biometric data OUT of the state Department of Public Safety database.  I think this bill goes a long way in making my argument for me.  Read more about my lawsuit against the state of Oklahoma for the unwarranted collection of my biometric data here.

There is more to this bill to be concerned about  For instance,  the unconstitutional lack of due process.  Every person must prove they are a US citizen before they can work.  If the system says you do not pass muster, you are required to be terminated from your job at the end of an administrative process.   Will have more info on this and other issues soon.

ultimate control whitehead

Tonight on AxXiom For Liberty Live! 6-8PM CT Catching up with the Grassroots

a4l 55

Kaye Beach

March 15, 2013

 AxXiom For Liberty with Kaye Beach and Howard Houchen

Listen Live-LogosRadioNetwork.com  click ‘Listen’ then choose your Internet speed.  Logos Radio Network is a listener supported, free speech radio network and your contributions are vital but you do not have to be a subscriber in order to hear the show.
CALL IN LINE 512-646-1984

First, our apologies for not having very many live shows for you over the past few weeks.  Between travels,  being the high season for our legislative advocacy work (and THE FLU!) we have been out of pocket more that we would have preferred.  Tonight we will do some catching up.

The Oklahoma legislature hit an important deadline this week to hear bills from their House of Orgin.  What that means is that bills not heard by March 14th would be effectively dead for this session.  This was a week of long nights for House members and handwringing for grassroots activists.

We will cover some of the wins and losses for Oklahoma grassroots activists but first, we will speak with Evan Handy.

Evan is an Oklahoma Republican activist currently working for a new group known as the Secure Oklahoma Coalition.  Secure Oklahoma is a grassroots coalition of taxpayers, small business owners, public employees and concerned Oklahomans committed to securing the state’s financial future through Oklahoma Public Employee Pension Reform.

Then, joining us to discuss the bills that lived or died is Jenni White, Executive Director of Restore Oklahoma Public Education (ROPE) and Mark Kreslins, Director of Oklahoma Liberty.

After that, we will share with you the news on HB1476 which would allow for a religious exemption from mandatory biometric enrollment via our state driver’s licenses and ID cards and hear from Rep. Ken Walker (Republican, D-70)  who is the House author on the bill.

Be sure to check back at this post later tonight for any additional show notes on these issues!

Your questions or comments are always welcome!
CALL IN LINE 512-646-1984
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Show Notes
Events:

Tulsa 9.12 will host a symposium on “Understanding Agenda 21.”

Rosa Koire, author of “Behind the Green Mask” and founding member of Democrats Against Agenda 21, will be one of our many speakers. If you would like to learn more about Agenda 21 and how it affects you, please plan on joining us.
Speakers List:
Rosa Koire
Nathan Dahm – Oklahoma State Senator, District 33
Kaye Beach
Amanda Teegarden
Robert Semands

Sally Kern – OK State Representative
Friday, April 5

7pm Dinner

Introduction and remarks from Symposium Speakers

Q&A Session
Saturday, April 6 

9am – 4pm Conference

-lunch included

Online Registration at Tulsa912Project.com  MUST Register by April 1

Please share this event with your friends and family.

April 5&6, 2013

Tulsa Marriott Southern Hills  1902 E 71st St  PHONE-918-493-7000 

** Special room rates for out of town guests $92/night (reg $128)  Mention “Tulsa 9.12 Agenda 21 Conference” to receive discount.

 

Local Groups to Hold Pro Liberty Rally
March 14, 2013

Durant, Ok – The Bryan County Republicans & Conservatives Club & Guns Across America Bryan County Oklahoma announced today that they will be celebrating our Constitutional Right to freespeech by holding a Pro Liberty Rally Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. at the Historical Market Square in downtown Durant, Oklahoma. Guest speaker will be the honorable Oklahoma State Senator Nathan Dahm, author of three separate bills asserting the 2nd Amendment Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Particularly of note is Dahm’s Oklahoma State Senate Bill S.B. 548, which is an assertion of the 10th Amendments State Rights stating that Oklahoma would protect our right to keep and bear arms by “opposing all unconstitutiona l laws, orders, or regulations imposed by the federal government that violate” those rights.
Local Liberty and Grassroots activist, radio host, and author Howard Houchen will also be a speaker.
Past rallies have included speeches from Rep. Dustin Roberts, State Senator Josh Brecheen, and City Council Candidate Stewart Hoffman who pledged to work with our State Representatives in their efforts to attract gun manufacturers and high paying jobs to our community as part of our support for our freedoms. Local Pastors and Community Members have also taken the stage to comment on the importance of exercising our First Amendment rights to protect our 2nd Amendment rights and more in this time of unprecedented government growth.

Various other state and local leaders are also expected to speak about our rights granted us by the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights is the collective name for the first ten amendments to the Constitution, designed to protect the rights of liberty and property, and guarantee a number of personal freedoms, limit the government’s, and reserve some powers to the states and public, including the right to free speech, the right to keep and bear arms, unreasonable search and seizure, fair trial by jury, civil rights and much more.

We will also be celebrating our right to vote by serving free hotdogs to attendees who vote early in the April 2nd local city council election in Durant. Free transportation will be provided to the polls that day until 1:00 pm, and voter registration tables will be available for those who wish to vote in future elections. Early voting is available Friday (March 29, 8a-6p), Sat (March 30, 8a-1p) , and Monday (April 1, 8a-6p), before elections at the Bryan County Election Board at 217 N 16th Ave in Durant.

At the rally, show us your “I voted” sticker and enjoy free charbroiled hotdogs and all the trimmings, on us!

The Bryan County Republican and Conservatives Club is a Conservative group of citizens that are concerned about the future of our great Nation. Guns Across America is a nationwide network of gun owners and proponents of gun ownership, who have coalesced to protect our God given rights to keep and bear arms.

Contact:
To learn more about this rally, please contact us on Facebook at:
Bryan County Republicans & Conservatives Club
https://www.facebook.com/BryanCountyGOP
Guns Across America Bryan County Oklahoma
https://www.facebook.com/GunRightsOK
Or contact us at:
580-775-4349
gaabco@gmail.com

Mary Fallin puts an end to Oklahoma’s drone privacy bill

*Update* Oklahoma – Biometric Exemption Bill Passed Committee 12-0! Thank You’s Needed!

target dl 1

Kaye Beach

*Update 2/28/13 HB 1476 by Rep. Ken Walker passed the Government Modernization Committee 12 to 0 today!  Big thanks to all who called or emailed the committee members!  Please be sure to give them a thank you!

Here are the committee members’ emails;

Email block (use bcc)

jason.murphey@okhouse.gov, mike.turner@okhouse.gov, david.brumbaugh@okhouse.gov, david.derby@okhouse.gov, joedorman@okhouse.gov, dan.fisher@okhouse.gov, elise.hall@okhouse.gov, richardmorrissette@okhouse.gov, seneca.scott@okhouse.gov, jason.smalley@okhouse.gov, ken.walker@okhouse.gov, justin.wood@okhouse.gov

*Update 2/27/13 This bill is getting a lot of support!  Thank you to everyone who has called and emailed.  Thurs. morning, before the committee meeting (10:30 AM) It would be very helpfule to have a last push with some phone calls to the committee members. Numbers are listed below.  Thanks Again!**

Feb 26, 2013

Biometrics means “measurement of the body.”  Technology is used to measure behavioral or physical aspects of an individual and transform this personal data into digital code for the purpose of identification.

In Oklahoma, when we get a state driver’s license or identification card  we are having our facial biometrics captured by the high resolution photos.  High resolution digital cameras capture, map, digitize and database our facial features for the purpose of use by facial recognition technology.

Facial recognition technology enables at a distance identification and tracking through networked camera systems without our knowledge or consent.  (Oklahoma also requires a finger scan.)

The standard for the digital image on our ID cards is the adopted international standard of the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization and International Standards exist for one purpose: to enable the global exchange of information.

Americans are experiencing increasing demands by business and government to produce their ID as a condition for access.  Our ability to buy, sell travel (and if Congress gets its way-soon work!) is becoming contingent upon this biometric ID.

In truth, we are being enrolled into a global system of identification and control that links our bodies to our ability to buy sell and travel.  And it is being done through deception, coercion and stealth and these facts has vigilant Christians concerned.

“Oklahoma has a long tradition of protecting religious liberty through its laws.”  OK. AG Scott Pruitt

HB1476 by Rep. Jon Echols Ken Walker will be heard this Thursday in the Government Modernization Committee at 10:30 AM

HB 1476 will permit a religious exemption for those who object to being enrolled into a biometric identification system.

This is, in my mind, the most important bill offered this session.

HB 1476  says that

“Any applicant who has signed the exemption shall be exempt from supplying biometric data to the Dept. of Public Safety.”

And

“The Department of Public Safety shall cease collecting, retaining or disclosing biometric data and from making biometric comparisons of an applicant who has signed the exemption.”

This exemption means that those with a religious objection to biometric identification and enrollment could get a NON-biometric driver’s license or ID card AND that any biometric data previously collected from you would be deleted from the system.

HB 1476 reads in part;

Beginning November 1, 2013, the Department of Public Safety shall modify the application for the issuance of a Class D driver license or an identification card to contain a statement of exemption. The statement of exemption shall contain the following language:

“BIOMETRIC IDENTIFICATION RELIGIOUS EXEMPTION”

“Because of my religious beliefs, I object to enrollment in an international biometric identification system including, but not limited to, facial recognition and digital fingerprinting that directly connects my body to identification and personal biometric information sharing.”

E. Any applicant who has signed the exemption shall be exempt from supplying biometric data to the Department of  Public Safety.

. . .

G. The Department of Public Safety shall cease collecting,  retaining or disclosing biometric data, biometric samples or  biometric templates from and making biometric comparisons of an applicant who has signed the exemption.

Please contact the members of the Government Modernization Committee before this Thursday and ask that they support HB 1476 which will permit people of faith in Oklahoma to avoid being mandatorily enrolled in a system of identification and control that violates their sincerely held religious convictions.

Members of the Government Modernization Committee

Chair Rep. Murphey, Jason  405/557-7350

Vice Chair Rep. Turner, Mike 405/557-7357

Rep. David Brumbaugh  405/557-7347

Rep. David Derby  405/557-7377

Rep. Joe Dorman  405/557-7305

Rep. Elise  Hall  405/557-7403

Rep. Richard Morrissette  405/557-7404

Rep. Dan Fisher  405/557-7311

Rep. Seneca Scott  405/557-7391

Rep. Jason Smalley  405/557-7368

Rep. Ken  Walker  405/557-7359

Rep. Justin F. Wood  405/557-7345

Email block (use bcc)

jason.murphey@okhouse.gov, mike.turner@okhouse.gov, david.brumbaugh@okhouse.gov, david.derby@okhouse.gov, joedorman@okhouse.gov, dan.fisher@okhouse.gov, elise.hall@okhouse.gov, richardmorrissette@okhouse.gov, seneca.scott@okhouse.gov, jason.smalley@okhouse.gov, ken.walker@okhouse.gov, justin.wood@okhouse.gov

Oklahoma Unmanned Surveillance Act Passes Committee 23-4!

eye in the sky drone

Kaye Beach

Feb. 26. 2013

This afternoon HB1556, Oklahoma Unmanned Surveillance Act which limits surveillance by drones without a warrant,  passed the Energy and Aerospace Committee on a vote of 23 Yea’s to 4 Nay’s!

Much thanks goes to Rep. Paul Wesselhoft the bills author and Ryan Kiesel, Dir. of the OK ACLU for providing the legislation and support.

The biggest thank you of all though goes out to all of you who took the time to let legislators know that your Fourth Amendment rights are important to you -Thank you Grassroots!  Your voice does count!!

The bill still has to go through various committees and to the House floor for a vote.  If it passes in the House it should go on to the Senate.  If it recieves a passing vote it the Senate it will then go to the Governor’s desk where she will either sign it or veto it.

You might want to thank the Representatives for their Yes! vote on HB 1556.  here are the Yes voting Representatives’ emails in a a block.

johntrebilcock@okhouse.gov,weldon.watson@okhouse.gov, david.brumbaugh@okhouse.gov, mariancooksey@okhouse.gov,  scott.inman@okhouse.gov, steve.kouplen@okhouse.gov, randy.mcdaniel@okhouse.gov, mike.sanders@okhouse.gov, bensherrer@okhouse.gov, garybanz@okhouse.gov, leedenney@okhouse.gov, david.brumbaugh@okhouse.govcharlie.joyner@okhouse.govstevemartin@okhouse.gov, mikereynolds@okhouse.gov,  colby.schwartz@okhouse.gov, aaron.stiles@okhouse.gov, lisajbilly@okhouse.gov, josh.cockroft@okhouse.govjwhickman@okhouse.gov,  dan.kirby@okhouse.gov, mark.mcbride@okhouse.gov, eric.proctor@okhouse.gov, sean.roberts@okhouse.gov, seneca.scott@okhouse.gov

(No votes were Don Armes, Mike Brown, Jerry McPeak and R.C. Pruett)

Be watching for action alerts on HB 1556 coming up in the near future.

Oklahoma Lawmaker Plans to File Bill to `Nullify’ Individual Mandate

Kaye Beach

July 3, 2012

 

Oklahoma House of Representatives     Media Division

July 3, 2012

Lawmaker Plans to File Bill to `Nullify’ Individual Mandate

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Mike Ritze plans to reintroduce a bill to
“nullify” the individual mandate in the 2010 federal health care
legislation in Oklahoma.

“I disagree with the Supreme Court’s ruling and believe that
state governments were intended to serve as a check on the federal
government,” said Ritze, R-Broken Arrow. “The Patient Protection and
Affordable Care Act, which is better known as ObamaCare, is an example of
federal overreach and my legislation will authorize the state to resist it
and ban the enforcement of it.”

Ritze said his legislation would authorize the Oklahoma
attorney general to defend citizens who fail to purchase health insurance
against the federal government and criminalizes the enforcement of the
individual mandate.

“My hope is that ObamaCare will be repealed, but I do not
think that means we have to wait for the repeal to happen. Oklahoma
lawmakers should do what they can to support our choice to make our own
health care decisions,” Ritze said.

###

Sat. July 7, 2012 9-11 am Oklahoma State Capitol-

Rally For Healthcare Independence Sat. July 7, 2012 Oklahoma State Capitol

For Immediate Release: Rally For Healthcare Independence Sat. July 7, 2012 Oklahoma State Capitol

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 3, 2012

Contact Jon Scolomiero, the Oklahoma Tenth Amendment Center

jon.scolamiero@tenthamendmentcenter.com

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma—On Saturday, July 7, 2012, 9-11 am, The Oklahoma 10th Amendment Center, in conjunction with numerous other like-minded activist groups and individuals, will gather for a Rally for Healthcare Independence on the south steps of the Oklahoma State Capitol.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision last Thursday that upheld the most onerous portions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), including the individual mandate – liberty-loving Oklahomans once again find themselves at the losing end of Washington, D.C.’s continued big government policies.  Now that the Federal Government has been given the power to force individuals to buy health care insurance, into what other actions will individuals be coerced under the guise of a tax?

Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution lists the seventeen powers specifically enumerated to the Federal Government.  Health care is NOT an enumerated power.  The 10th Amendment to the Constitution states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  Thus, any health care policy must be left to states to enact at the behest of their citizens – if they so choose.  America’s Founders instituted government to protect the liberties of individual Americans.  In fact, the majority believed that power could not emanate from a central government, that it must be dispersed among states, in order to protect the states and maximize the freedom of the individual.

In 2010, Oklahomans overwhelmingly supported State Question 756– The Oklahoma Health Care Freedom Amendment – which, among other things, prohibits making a person participate in a health care system.  Our state has spoken on this issue.

Last spring, Oklahoma, along with the states of Louisiana, Florida, Nebraska, Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Michigan, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin refused to implement the Health Insurance Exchange plans inherent in the PPACA.  Again, our state has spoken on the issue.

Attendees of Saturday’s rally will have an opportunity to hear speakers who can educate them in some of the many ways Oklahoma citizens and legislators can band together to continue defending individual liberties.  All Oklahoma legislators are invited to attend in order to assist and address their concerned constituents.

Please join us for this important rally on the south side of the Capitol steps, Saturday, July 7th, from 9am to 11am, and find out what you can do to prevent Oklahoma from succumbing to ObamaCare – and other unconstitutional federal overreaches.

 

###

THE FEDS WANT TO TAKE YOUR CAR! Randal O’Toole’s Transportation Newsletter

Kaye Beach

May 21, 2012

I don’t necessarily agree with O’Toole on everything here.  For example,He urges the creation of ” quasi-governmental toll road authorities” such as the ones in assistance today in Florida and Texas.  O’Toole notes that these entities are politically well insulated.  O’Toole see this as a plus but customer complaints like this one make me a little skeptical.

Lots of good info here though!

 

THE FEDS WANT TO TAKE YOUR CAR!              May 20, 2012

Randal O’Toole’s transportation newsletter

TRANSPORTATION REAUTHORIZATION IN CONFERENCE COMMITTEE

On May 8, members of the House and Senate conference committee started meeting to debate the surface transportation reauthorization bills. Normally, conference committees meet when the two houses of Congress pass different bills, but the 884-page House bill (H.R. 7) never made it to the House floor due to objections from fiscal conservatives who claimed it had too much pork in it (as well as objections from Republicans in transit-heavy cities such as New York and Chicago). But the real pork can be found in the 1,674-page Senate bill, known as MAP-21 (S. 1813).

Among other things, the Senate bill includes:
* A continuation of payments to national forest counties to make up for lost revenues due to reduced timber sales;
* A seven-year extension of the Land & Water Conservation Fund to buy more lands for the Forest Service and Department of the Interior;
* A brand-new National Endowment for the Oceans, Coasts and Great Lakes.

Of course, these have nothing to do with transportation and everything to do with politicians trying to tack their favorite projects onto a bill that Congress has to eventually pass.

In the area of transportation, the House bill is actually the most fiscally conservative transportation reauthorization bill passed out of any committee in 35 years. The bill includes no earmarks (a feature of transportation bills since 1982) and minimal deficit spending. While it does spend about $5 billion more per year than gas tax revenues, this is a huge reduction from the existing law, which as of 2009 was spending $10 billion to $15 billion more than revenues. The Senate bill continues spending at 2009 levels, which means about $15 billion in annual deficits.

From a transportation view, there are many differences between the two. The House bill continues the Small Starts program (transit capital grants of up to $75 million) that the administration wants to use to fund streetcars all over the place (see below). The Senate bill never mentions Small Starts. The Senate bill also allows “New Starts” money (which the bill calls “fixed guideway capital investment grants”) to be used to maintain existing rail lines as well as build new ones. Since the nation’s rail transit systems suffer from about a $60 billion maintenance backlog, it is better to spend on maintenance than build new lines we can’t afford to maintain.

The Senate bill also includes three amendments raised by New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman designed to kill public-private partnerships. One would prevent private road partners from using the same depreciation schedules used by all other industries; a second would prevent the from using tax-exempt private activity bonds that other infrastructure companies can use; the third excludes public-private roads from a state’s total road mileage when calculating a state’s share of federal highway funds. All of these demonstrate the hostility of Senate Democrats to market-based transportation.

The good news is that the conferees have said they will treat the House bill equal with the Senate one even though the House bill never actually passed the House. The bad news is that many if not most of the conferees are more attracted to pork than to fiscal conservatism. On the House side, Republicans include House Transportation Committee chair John Mica (who often said he would have passed a more fiscally liberal bill were it not for the tea party members of Congress), former chair Don Young (who wrote the 2005 bill that included more than 7,000 earmarks), and likely future chair Bill Shuster (whose father was one of the biggest pork barrelers in Congress). Democrats include Oregon representatives Earl Blumenauer (who wrote the Small Starts law) and Peter DeFazio (who objects to any new roads, especially if they are privately funded).

Even if the Senate bill passes, it will expire in less than 18 months, so the next session of Congress can begin the debate all over again. But it would be better if it did not pass because it will start several new programs and expand other programs that will be harder to kill in the next bill. It seems like the best fiscal conservatives can hope for is more gridlock.

Links:
List of Senate conferees: http://tinyurl.com/6mobbqz
List of House conferees: http://ti.org/antiplanner/?p=6466
House bill: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112hr7rh/pdf/BILLS-112hr7rh.pdf
Senate bill: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112s1813es/pdf/BILLS-112s1813es.pdf
Bill Shuster likely next chair: http://tinyurl.com/7ow32ku

COMING SOON TO A CITY NEAR YOU: STREETCARS

Streetcars are a completely obsolete technology that do nothing to enhance urban mobility. Advocates want to build them because, they claim, streetcars lead to economic development. If that were true, they should be funded out of economic development funds, not out of transportation dollars.

Yet the Obama administration is eager to hand out transportation grants for streetcars in cities all over the country. It has already given transportation stimulus funds for streetcars to Atlanta, Cincinnati, Dallas, Salt Lake City, and Tucson. It gave $75 million in Small Starts transit funds to Portland. But Small Starts rules written during the Bush administration require that cities prove that streetcars are more cost-effective than buses at saving people time, something that is impossible to do. (Portland got around the rules by using the political muscle of Oregon’s Congressional delegation.)

The Obama administration wants to change the rules, and cities are lining up to hand in their grant proposals as soon as the final rules go into effect: Albuquerque, Austin, Detroit, Kansas City, Milwaukee, and San Antonio are just a few of the cities that have completed or are currently doing the required environmental analyses to build federally funded streetcars.

These cities have been scammed by consulting firms that claim huge economic development benefits from streetcars. In fact, no city that has built streetcars have generated any economic development unless the city accompanied that streetcar with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of other subsidies and the neighborhood in which the streetcar was located was already growing.

For example, Portland’s streetcar, which opened in 2001, went through two neighborhoods in Northwest Portland, and city officials brag that after it was built, developers invested nearly $1.4 billion into these neighborhoods. Developers in one of the neighborhoods, known as the Pearl District, received about $450 million in subsidies, and here they invested more than $1.3 billion in more than 50 projects. A similarly sized neighborhood in Northwest Portland received no subsidies, and developers invested only $17.6 million in seven projects. Clearly, developers followed the subsidies, not the streetcar.

On or about June 14, the Cato Institute will publish my detailed analysis of the streetcar fad. In the meantime, this is one good reason why Congress should take all competitive grant programs out of the transportation bill and allocate funds exclusively using formulas.

Links:
My comments on proposed rules: http://tinyurl.com/7zkon9t
Pro-streetcar group: http://www.modernstreetcar.org/

VEHICLE-MILE PRICING: AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME; BUT HOW?

Everyone knows the gas tax is on its way out. Due to inflation and more fuel-efficient cars, we only pay one-third as much for every mile we drive as people paid in 1956, when Congress created the Interstate Highway System. Cars are getting more fuel-efficient all the time and electric cars, if they ever become significant, will only make the problem worse.

Raising the gas tax could solve part of this problem, but not all of it. For one thing, gas taxes are collected by the federal and state governments, but few local governments collect gas taxes. Though most states share their gas tax revenues with cities and counties, it isn’t enough, so local governments must find about $30 billion a year in general funds to support roads.

A second, even bigger, problem is that gas taxes don’t properly price roads, and the $100-billion-plus annual congestion cost is the result. While economists have long advocated congestion pricing of roads, people don’t like to “pay twice” for roads. So many fiscal conservatives have promoted the idea of building new HOT (high-occupancy/toll) lanes parallel to existing congested roads, both to give people a congestion-free option and to demonstrate the benefits of congestion pricing.

The problem with HOT lanes is they only solve part of the problem with congestion. Congestion begins when too many vehicles try to drive on a road, exceeding the road’s maximum capacity. But congestion continues long after the number of vehicles fall below the maximum capacity because, at slow speeds, the capacity of the road actually declines. Preventing the decline in capacity through congestion pricing of all lanes would save Americans billions of hours and billions of gallons of fuel a year.

In a new paper published by the Cato Institute last week, I propose to solve all of these problems at once by replacing gas taxes with vehicle-mile fees. Since the gas taxes are eliminated, no one will be paying twice. Eliminating the congestion will save drivers and businesses tens or hundreds of billions of dollars. Replacing gas taxes with vehicle-mile fees will also effectively devolve transportation decisions to the state and local level. This can be done on a state-by-state basis, though the states should coordinate with one another so they use compatible technologies.

The paper also urges that states and counties create quasi-governmental toll road authorities that collect the fees and spend them exclusively on roads. Such toll road authorities in Texas, Florida, and other states have proven to be well-insulated from politics, and they act almost as efficiently as private road providers. Replacing gas taxes with mileage fees would effectively devolve transportation to the local level.

Oregon has demonstrated that vehicle-mile fees can be collected without invading traveler’s privacy. The system tested by Oregon had people pay fees when they purchased gas. A GPS unit on their car told the gas pump how much drivers owed for the roads they used, but not exactly when or what roads they used. Minnesota is doing a similar test, and similar systems could be designed using cell phones or other wireless devices.

Congestion is a terrible burden on society, while local subsidies to highways politicize transportation and lend support to inane projects such as streetcars. Replacing gas taxes with vehicle-mile fees in a way that will protect traveler privacy should be the top priority for those who want to improve our transportation systems and devolve decisions to the local level.

Links:
My Cato paper: http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/PA695.pdf
Mileage Based User Fee Alliance: http://mbufa.org/
Oregon’s experiment: http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/RUFPP/mileage.shtml
Minnesota’s experiment: http://www.dot.state.mn.us/mileagebaseduserfee/studies.html

HOUSEKEEPING

You can view previous issues of this newsletter at http://ti.org/pipermail/thefedswantyourcar_ti.org/

.

Best,

Randal
The Antiplanner
P. O. Box 76
Camp Sherman, Oregon 97730
541-595-1460
541-588-0518 cell
http://ti.org/antiplanner

The Latest in Irrational Oklahoma Lawmaking-Urine Tests for Welfare Recipients (and political candidates)

Kaye Beach

March 15, 2012

From 23rd and Lincoln the JRLR’s Insiders’ Report;

House passes bill requiring drug testing of TANF recipients; Shelton amendment extends to political candidates

A measure requiring welfare recipients to be drug tested passed the House Monday morning, with a floor amendment that would expand the requirement to include political candidates.

HB 2388, by Rep. Guy Liebmann, R-Oklahoma City, would require drug tests of individuals who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, within three months of being approved for benefits, with the applicant bearing the cost of the test. In a two-parent household, both parents would have to be tested.

Read more

First of all, I do not relish the idea of my tax dollars going to support people who are doing drugs.  But here is my problem.  I have an attachment to our Bill of Rights and I know that these rights apply to all of us or they apply to none.

Now,  I’m no lawyer but it seems clear that these programs strike a potent blow to our Fourth Amendment.  You know the one that prohibits search and seizure without a warrant?  Number 4, if you haven’t noticed, is hanging by the barest of threads as it is. I will admit, it is not my concern over poor pot smoking welfare recipients that motivates me on this (Nevermind that alcohol which is perfectly legal but causes terrible damage to individuals and families is not at issue here.  Ask yourself would you prefer an alcoholic parent or a pot smoking one?  Hands down, if I am a child, I am praying for a pot smoking parent as opposed to an alcoholic any day of the week! ) No.  My concern is for how this will effect me.

Legal experts have said that allowing this type of program in order catch a few illegal drug users on the public dole is too high a price to pay as it would weaken  our rights under the Fourth Amendment.

I have done some research and no matter which way I look at it, drug testing for welfare recipients just seems to be poor policy as well.

On Oct. 24, 2011,  a federal judge in Florida, Judge Scriven (appointed by GW Bush) halted the Florida drug testing of welfare recipients program which was challenged by a 35 year old Navy veteran, Luis Lebron,  a full time student at the University of Central Florida.
The Florida judge found that the drug testing program is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Judge Scriven writes; “The constitutional rights of a class of citizens are at stake, and the Constitution dictates that the needs asserted to justify subverting those rights must be special, as the case law defines that term, in order for this exception to the Fourth Amendment to apply.”
The Florida federal judge found that there was no “special needs”  to justify this program.

The “special needs” doctrine is another exception to the warrant and probable cause requirements of the Fourth Amendment. Special needs cases generally arise from searches by government actors other than police officers, such as school officials, public employers, and probation officers.

The doctrine applies when the government can demonstrate that:

(1)     it is impracticable to obtain a warrant;

(2)     the governmental interest outweighs the intrusion;

(3)  the immediate objective of the search is one other than to generate evidence for law enforcement purposes, even if the ultimate goal is non-criminal in nature.  link

There was also a  study done before implementing this program which showed  a very low incidence (5.1%) of illicit drug use among welfare recipients.

“In this litigation, the State provides scant evidence that rampant drug abuse exists among this class of individuals,” writes Judge Scriven.

**Around 8% of the general population uses illicit drugs. http://oas.samhsa.gov/2k7State/Ch2.htm#Fig2-1

That same study produced these facts;

Evidence from the Florida demonstration project showed very little difference between drug users and non-users on a variety of dimensions. Users were employed at about the same rate as were non-users, earned approximately the same amount of money as those who were drug free and did not require substantially different levels of governmental assistance.

Read the 37 page ruling here.

The Florida drug testing program in it’s first month  found 2% of TANF applicants tested positive for illicit drug use. There were a number of applicants that did refuse the test and that is certainly a money saver but, are all of those refusers taking illicit drugs?                                                                                       Well,  there is the fee for the test that some may have been unable to pay, transportation to the clinic to do the test may have been lacking and it is even possible that some of those that refused although poor, might also be too proud to relinquish their rights by submitting to a pee test as in the case of the Navy vet who brought the case against the state in the first place.  A urine test is legally considered to be a search and there was no reasonable suspicion that this gentleman was doing drugs therefore his rights were being violated.

Potential candidates for office might be relived to know that the same grounds that have repeatedly sunk the drug testing for welfare recipients also applies to them.  The Georgia Supreme Court sunk the drug testing for political candidates based on no substantial special need.

What we do know from the facts is that only 2-5% of potential recipients test positive for illicit drugs and previous studies show that those who do test positive show no measurable difference in employment rates or amount of assistance required than non users.

All in all, from a public policy perspective, there seems to be no pressing need for this program.  Emotionally however, it is a different story.  No one like the idea that we are using tax dollars to support lifestyles we don’t approve of.  So the question is, do we push forth policy based on moral indignation even if the facts don’t support our concerns?  Do we push forth policy not supported by the facts for emotional gratification even though there may be negative repercussions on all of us as in weakening the Fourth Amendment?

Judge Scriven writes;

Conversely, imposing an injunction would serve the public interest by protecting TANF applicants from the harm caused by infringement of their constitutional right, a right here that once infringed cannot be restored. “Perhaps no greater public interest exists than protecting a citizen’s rights under the constitution.” (Emphasis mine) Marchwinski, 113 F. Supp. 2d at 1144 (quoting Legal Aid Soc. of Haw. v. Legal Servs. Corp., 961 F. Supp. 1402, 1418 (D. Hawaii 1997))  link

And yes.  Someone will sue and that will cost the state beaucoup bucks to defend against and the state will lose. No cost savings, less freedom-what’s not to love about this bill!?  

Seriously, can we stop implementing irrational policies that just come back to bite us in the butt?

 

Big Momma Gov says No Smoking Young Okies!

Kaye Beach

Feb. 14, 2012

House Bill 2314 to gradually raise the legal age to smoke to 21  passed the House Public Health  Committee today. The next stop for the bill will be for a hearing on the floor of the Oklahoma House.

If you have an opinion on this measure, you will want to contact your Representative in the  House soon and let them know what you think about it. Link

Personally, I consider those that are 18 years old to be adults and while I wish that no one would choose to smoke, I think the loss of personal autonomy to be the bigger threat here.  Big Momma Gov appears to be alive in kicking in the great state of Oklahoma!

Proposed Legislation Could Raise Smoking Age Limit

 

More drones coming to airspace near you? Yes!

Kaye Beach

Feb. 7, 2012

This just in-

Congress OKs FAA bill allowing drones in U.S., GPS air traffic control

7:25 a.m. CST, February 7, 2012

After five years of legislative struggling, 23 stopgap measures and a two-week shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration, Congress finally has passed a bill aimed at prodding the nation’s aviation system into a new high-tech era in which satellites are central to air traffic control and piloted planes share the skies with unmanned drones.The bill, which passed the Senate 75-20 Monday, speeds the nation’s switch from radar to an air traffic control system based on GPS technology. It also requires the FAA to open U.S. skies to drone flights within four years.
Gee.  You think Oklahoma is one of the six areas set up to test run the drones?
It [the bill] would set up six test areas around the country for demonstrating safety technology to minimize the risk of UAVs colliding with larger aircraft.

More drones coming to airspace near you?

From Government Computer News published Feb. 6, 2012

Keep your eyes on the skies. A bill working its way through Congress could dramatically increase the number of drones allowed in U.S. airspace, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The House of Representatives on Feb. 3 passed a Federal Aviation Administration funding bill that would ease restrictions on the places unmanned aerial vehicles are allowed to fly. The robotic aircraft have mostly been used by law enforcement agencies and by the military in combat zones, and the FAA has limited their widespread use in national airspace because of concerns that their lack of “detect, sense and avoid” technology could raise the risk of midair collisions, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The bill would direct the FAA to find a way of bringing many smaller UAVs into general and commercial air traffic by September 2015. It would set up six test areas around the country for demonstrating safety technology to minimize the risk of UAVs colliding with larger aircraft.

Read More

And this timely report from the ACLU;

Protecting Privacy From Aerial Surveillance