Liz Halloran http://iowapublicradio.org en A Path Out Of Prison For Low-Level, Nonviolent Drug Offenders http://iowapublicradio.org/post/path-out-prison-low-level-nonviolent-drug-offenders Thousands of nonviolent drug offenders serving time in federal prison could be eligible to apply for early release under new clemency guidelines announced Wednesday by the Justice Department.<p>Details of the initiative, which would give President Obama more options under which he could grant clemency to drug offenders serving long prison sentences, were announced by Deputy Attorney General James Cole.<p>Cole listed six factors the Justice Department will use to "prioritize clemency applications" as part of the administration's effort to address long mandatory minimum sentences meted out after Wed, 23 Apr 2014 16:13:00 +0000 Liz Halloran 39566 at http://iowapublicradio.org A Path Out Of Prison For Low-Level, Nonviolent Drug Offenders Rand Paul Bids To Loosen Democratic Hold On African-American Vote http://iowapublicradio.org/post/rand-paul-bids-loosen-democratic-hold-african-american-vote For more than a year, GOP Sen. Rand Paul has been staking out positions on issues that resonate in the black community, including school choice and prison sentencing reform. Mon, 21 Apr 2014 16:35:00 +0000 Liz Halloran 39448 at http://iowapublicradio.org Rand Paul Bids To Loosen Democratic Hold On African-American Vote Obama Seeks Wider Authority To Release Drug Offenders http://iowapublicradio.org/post/obama-seeks-wider-authority-release-drug-offenders Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday that the Obama administration is formulating new rules that would give it, and the president, far more latitude to pardon or reduce the sentences of thousands of drug offenders serving long federal prison sentences.<p>The move comes amid a broad national reconsideration of mandatory minimum sentences approved by Congress in 1986, when America's big cities were in the grip of a crack cocaine-fueled crime wave.<p>"The White House has indicated it wants to consider additional clemency applications, to restore a degree of justice, fairness, and proport Mon, 21 Apr 2014 16:20:00 +0000 Liz Halloran 39450 at http://iowapublicradio.org Obama Seeks Wider Authority To Release Drug Offenders Bloomberg Seeks To Alter Gun Debate With $50 Million, And Moms http://iowapublicradio.org/post/bloomberg-seeks-alter-gun-debate-50-million-and-moms Billionaire Michael Bloomberg's plan to invest $50 million in what he describes as a mom-driven grass-roots effort to support pro-gun-safety candidates grabbed headlines Wednesday, and energized gun control activists.<p>The commitment, the former New York City mayor says, aims to beat back the profound political influence of the National Rifle Association in 15 targeted states — to "make them afraid of us," he told NBC's <em>Today </em>show.<p>"This is what the American public wants," Bloomberg said, referring to his group's intended focus on gun-purchase background checks.<p>Polls show that B Wed, 16 Apr 2014 21:49:00 +0000 Liz Halloran 39238 at http://iowapublicradio.org Bloomberg Seeks To Alter Gun Debate With $50 Million, And Moms Backlash Over State Party's Progressive Agenda May Hobble Udall http://iowapublicradio.org/post/backlash-over-state-partys-progressive-agenda-may-hobble-udall Colorado Democrat Mark Udall's bid for a second term has become the most unexpectedly competitive U.S. Tue, 15 Apr 2014 14:06:00 +0000 Liz Halloran 39154 at http://iowapublicradio.org Backlash Over State Party's Progressive Agenda May Hobble Udall 'Kissing Congressman' Video Puts Scandal In Unusual Focus http://iowapublicradio.org/post/kissing-congressman-video-puts-scandal-unusual-focus Embattled GOP Rep. Wed, 09 Apr 2014 20:27:00 +0000 Liz Halloran 38870 at http://iowapublicradio.org 'Kissing Congressman' Video Puts Scandal In Unusual Focus Congressman's Lament: $174,000 Isn't Enough To Make Ends Meet http://iowapublicradio.org/post/congressmans-lament-174000-isnt-enough-make-ends-meet In what world does an annual salary of $174,000 meet the definition of underpaid?<p>That would be in the nation's capital, where soon-to-be-retired Rep. Fri, 04 Apr 2014 19:05:00 +0000 Liz Halloran 38627 at http://iowapublicradio.org Congressman's Lament: $174,000 Isn't Enough To Make Ends Meet Who's Who In Senate-CIA Report Showdown http://iowapublicradio.org/post/whos-who-senate-cia-report-showdown The world could soon get its first official look at the CIA's post-Sept. 11 interrogation and detention activities now that the Senate Intelligence Committee has voted to make public a blockbuster report about the agency's secret program.<p>The Senate panel's<strong> </strong>move to declassify key parts of the 6,300-page document comes just weeks after a rancorous battle erupted between the committee's Democratic chairwoman, Sen. Thu, 03 Apr 2014 20:14:00 +0000 Liz Halloran 38574 at http://iowapublicradio.org Who's Who In Senate-CIA Report Showdown Conservative Media Watchdog: Univision, Telemundo Favor Liberals http://iowapublicradio.org/post/conservative-media-watchdog-univision-telemundo-favor-liberals The nation's increasingly powerful Spanish-language television networks show a distinct liberal bias in covering domestic news, a conservative media watchdog group asserted Tuesday.<p>The Media Research Center says that its<a href="http://www.mrc.org/press-releases/media-research-center-launches-mrc-latino-first-spanish-language-conservative-media-w"> four-month analysis</a> of weekday evening newscasts aired on Univision and Telemundo showed that the networks' domestic coverage was "dominated by partisans" from the left.<p>Authors Ken Oliver-Mendez and Rich Noyes, who were particularly critic Tue, 01 Apr 2014 19:33:00 +0000 Liz Halloran 38454 at http://iowapublicradio.org Conservative Media Watchdog: Univision, Telemundo Favor Liberals No Break From Politics On Obamacare Deadline Day http://iowapublicradio.org/post/no-break-politics-obamacare-deadline-day The sign-up period for 2014 individual insurance coverage required under President Obama's Affordable Care Act expires Monday, much as it began.<p>There were HealthCare.gov website snafus, White House pleas for enrollees, and the need for "navigators" to help those enrollees work their way through the often-balky federal insurance exchange site. Mon, 31 Mar 2014 22:07:00 +0000 Liz Halloran 38407 at http://iowapublicradio.org No Break From Politics On Obamacare Deadline Day Senate Slugfest Highlights Hawaii's Changing Political Landscape http://iowapublicradio.org/post/senate-slugfest-highlights-hawaiis-changing-political-landscape It says something about the changing politics of Hawaii that Democratic powerhouse Daniel Inouye's deathbed pick of a successor was ignored by his own party.<p>The question is what.<p>The December 2012 death of the long-serving senator — and one of the state's founding fathers — has exposed cracks in Hawaii's solidly Democratic façade, leading to a contentious Senate primary that has placed age, gender and ethnicity at center stage.<p>The combatants are two respected liberals: Sen. Tue, 25 Mar 2014 20:27:00 +0000 Liz Halloran 38110 at http://iowapublicradio.org Senate Slugfest Highlights Hawaii's Changing Political Landscape Top Democrat Insists Party Will Hold Senate — But Turnout Is Key http://iowapublicradio.org/post/top-democrat-insists-party-will-hold-senate-turnout-key As increasingly confident Republican leaders predict big midterm election gains, the head of Democratic National Committee put on her game face Tuesday and insisted the party will hold control of the Senate.<p>The Democrats' grass-roots organization, said Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and what she characterized as the GOP's continuing alienation of women, minority, LGBT and middle-class voters, bodes well for her party this fall.<p>"Our best weapon may just be Republicans themselves," said Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the DNC, at a press conference. Tue, 18 Mar 2014 17:43:00 +0000 Liz Halloran 37732 at http://iowapublicradio.org Top Democrat Insists Party Will Hold Senate — But Turnout Is Key One Year After Party 'Autopsy,' GOP Touts Progress http://iowapublicradio.org/post/one-year-after-party-autopsy-gop-touts-progress One year ago, a frank <a href="http://goproject.gop.com/RNC_Growth_Opportunity_Book_2013.pdf">Republican Party assessment</a> of why it came up short in the 2012 presidential election included a stark recommendation.<p>Embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform, the post-mortem authors urged, or get used to a party whose appeal "will continue to shrink to its core constituents only."<p>That bold assertion was decidedly offstage Monday, as the party orchestrated a full-on media effort to mark advances it says it's made as a result of recommendations contained in the 2013 Growth and O Mon, 17 Mar 2014 21:54:00 +0000 Liz Halloran 37702 at http://iowapublicradio.org One Year After Party 'Autopsy,' GOP Touts Progress Hispanic Activists Vow To Keep Pressing White House Over Deportations http://iowapublicradio.org/post/hispanic-activists-vow-keep-pressing-white-house-over-deportations Five months before his 2012 re-election, President Obama announced that his administration would stop deportations of more than a half-million young adults, often referred to as "Dreamers," brought illegally to the U.S. as children.<p>Latinos subsequently turned out to vote in record numbers that fall. Fri, 14 Mar 2014 23:27:00 +0000 Liz Halloran 37587 at http://iowapublicradio.org Hispanic Activists Vow To Keep Pressing White House Over Deportations New Climate For Drug Sentencing, Guidelines Expected To Change http://iowapublicradio.org/post/new-climate-drug-sentencing-guidelines-expected-change The nation's highest law enforcement official Thursday endorsed the "All Drugs Minus Two" proposal — as it's known by prison sentencing reformers — to change the way drug crime sentences are handed down.<p>Attorney General Eric Holder backed <a href="http://famm.org/mandatory-sentencing/state-and-federal/u-s-sentencing-commission/reforming-the-guidelines-for-drug-offenses/">the concept</a>, which has garnered support from across the political spectrum, in testimony before a commission examining federal prison sentencing guidelines. Thu, 13 Mar 2014 19:32:00 +0000 Liz Halloran 37517 at http://iowapublicradio.org New Climate For Drug Sentencing, Guidelines Expected To Change Obama's Overtime Move Designed To Excite Base, Swing Voters http://iowapublicradio.org/post/obamas-big-move-overtime-pay-keyed-swing-base-voters President Obama's planned move to expand the pool of the nation's employees covered by overtime pay laws was hailed Wednesday by Democrats as key to their midterm election strategy.<p>And it was just as predictably criticized by conservatives as an overreach by a president who recently characterized income inequality as the "defining challenge of our time."<p>The president plans to exercise his executive authority on Thursday, leapfrogging Congress to direct the Labor Department to come up with guidelines that would set a new, higher income threshold at which employers are required to pay over Wed, 12 Mar 2014 18:11:00 +0000 Liz Halloran 37459 at http://iowapublicradio.org Obama's Overtime Move Designed To Excite Base, Swing Voters Florida Election Tests Midterm Messaging http://iowapublicradio.org/post/florida-election-tests-midterm-messaging There's a congressional election in Florida on Tuesday that's worth watching — even if you don't live in the Tampa Bay-area district where it's taking place.<p>It's not because the winner of the neck-and-neck special election between Democrat Alex Sink and Republican David Jolly will affect the GOP's stranglehold on the U.S. House this cycle. It won't.<p>Rather, the contest to succeed the late longtime Republican Rep. Tue, 11 Mar 2014 11:37:00 +0000 Liz Halloran 37369 at http://iowapublicradio.org Florida Election Tests Midterm Messaging Race To Stop 'Revenge Porn' Raises Free Speech Worries http://iowapublicradio.org/post/race-stop-revenge-porn-raises-free-speech-worries It's called "revenge porn" — the posting of nude or sexually explicit photos or videos online to degrade or harass someone, usually a former spouse or lover.<p>And states from Arizona to New York are racing to make it a crime.<p>It's a development that has heartened privacy advocates but alarmed free speech watchdogs who see constitutional peril in many bills being considered.<p>"This is a delicate issue," says Lee Rowland of the American Civil Liberties Union, who says the legislation is "spreading like wildfire." "The ACLU is concerned both with the protection of privacy and free speech righ Thu, 06 Mar 2014 16:18:00 +0000 Liz Halloran 37162 at http://iowapublicradio.org Race To Stop 'Revenge Porn' Raises Free Speech Worries The 'Blue-ing' Of Texas Is Unlikely To Start At The Top http://iowapublicradio.org/post/blue-ing-texas-unlikely-start-top The process of electing a new governor in Texas begins in earnest Tuesday, when Republican Greg Abbott and Democrat Wendy Davis are expected to easily dispatch their primary opponents and move on to the Nov. Tue, 04 Mar 2014 15:20:00 +0000 Liz Halloran 37056 at http://iowapublicradio.org The 'Blue-ing' Of Texas Is Unlikely To Start At The Top Another Bush Takes Aim At Texas Office And Family Dynasty http://iowapublicradio.org/post/another-bush-takes-aim-texas-office-and-family-dynasty George Prescott Bush.<p>Ring a bell?<p>It should, and if it doesn't, it soon will. George P. Bush, 37, is a great-grandson of a late U.S. senator from Connecticut; a grandson and nephew of former U.S. presidents; and the eldest son of ex-Florida Gov. Fri, 28 Feb 2014 21:18:00 +0000 Liz Halloran 36928 at http://iowapublicradio.org Another Bush Takes Aim At Texas Office And Family Dynasty Debbie Dingell Poised To Keep U.S. House Seat In The Family http://iowapublicradio.org/post/debbie-dingell-poised-keep-us-house-seat-family Debbie Dingell is expected to announce Friday that she will run to succeed her husband, John Jr., for the southeast Michigan congressional seat that's been in the family since John Sr. Wed, 26 Feb 2014 23:31:00 +0000 Liz Halloran 36846 at http://iowapublicradio.org Debbie Dingell Poised To Keep U.S. House Seat In The Family Lobbyists Amp Up Efforts To Sell Washington On E-Cigarettes http://iowapublicradio.org/post/lobbyists-amp-efforts-sell-washington-e-cigarettes In a scene from the new season of the popular Netflix political drama <em>House of Cards,</em> the elegant Claire Underwood catches her soon-to-be vice president husband puffing an e-cigarette.<p>"You're cheating," she says, referring to their efforts to quit smoking.<p>"No, I'm not," Congressman Francis Underwood replies. "It's vapor ... Wed, 26 Feb 2014 15:52:00 +0000 Liz Halloran 36807 at http://iowapublicradio.org Lobbyists Amp Up Efforts To Sell Washington On E-Cigarettes Edwin Edwards: Governor, Convict, Reality TV Star — Congressman? http://iowapublicradio.org/post/edwin-edwards-governor-convict-reality-tv-star-congressman Rascally former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards was once so confident about re-election that he declared "the only way I can lose is if I'm caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy."<p>That was 30 years ago, when Edwards, 86, was a much younger man. Thu, 20 Feb 2014 21:43:00 +0000 Liz Halloran 36556 at http://iowapublicradio.org Edwin Edwards: Governor, Convict, Reality TV Star — Congressman? House Candidates Outpace Senate Contenders In Money Haul http://iowapublicradio.org/post/house-candidates-outpace-senate-contenders-money-haul With 435 seats up for grabs every two years, House candidates typically raise more money overall than those running for the Senate, where <a href="https://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/reference/two_column_table/Class_II.htm">only about one-third</a> of the chamber's 100 seats are contested every two years.<p>But according to the Center for Responsive Politics, the fundraising gap is especially wide this year: Data show that House candidates have <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/overview/">raised more than twice as much</a> as Senate hopefuls at this point in the election cycle. Tue, 18 Feb 2014 21:17:00 +0000 Liz Halloran 36448 at http://iowapublicradio.org House Candidates Outpace Senate Contenders In Money Haul Interest Groups Gear Up For Next Supreme Court Vacancy http://iowapublicradio.org/post/interest-groups-gear-next-supreme-court-vacancy It's been nearly four years since activists engaged in a battle over a Supreme Court nomination, and a tepid one it was.<p>Republicans barely pushed back on President Obama's 2010 nomination of Elena Kagan, his second appointment in as many years. She was confirmed by the Senate, 63-37.<p>At the time, influential Republican Sen. Mon, 10 Feb 2014 20:38:00 +0000 Liz Halloran 36077 at http://iowapublicradio.org Interest Groups Gear Up For Next Supreme Court Vacancy Montana Lt. Gov. John Walsh To Replace Sen. Max Baucus http://iowapublicradio.org/post/montana-lt-gov-john-walsh-replace-sen-max-baucus Montana Lt. Gov. John Walsh, a Democrat, was appointed Friday to fill the unexpired term of longtime Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, who is leaving the Senate to serve as U.S. ambassador to China.<p>Walsh, 53, was already an announced candidate for the seat Baucus had planned to vacate at the end of this year. His appointment by Democratic Gov. Fri, 07 Feb 2014 17:53:00 +0000 Liz Halloran 35954 at http://iowapublicradio.org Montana Lt. Gov. John Walsh To Replace Sen. Max Baucus Black Openly Gay Judge Would Be Federal Bench's First http://iowapublicradio.org/post/black-openly-gay-judge-would-be-federal-benchs-first Darrin P. Gayles, a Florida state circuit judge, appears to be on track to become the nation's first openly gay black man to serve on the federal bench.<p>President Obama on Wednesday nominated Gayles, a former assistant U.S. attorney, to fill a vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.<p>His nomination, <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/02/05/president-obama-announces-intent-nominate-four-serve-united-states-distr">among four made by Obama</a>, comes months after GOP Sen. Wed, 05 Feb 2014 23:32:00 +0000 Liz Halloran 35862 at http://iowapublicradio.org Black Openly Gay Judge Would Be Federal Bench's First White House Creates 'Climate Hubs' To Help Rural Towns, Farmers http://iowapublicradio.org/post/white-house-creates-climate-hubs-help-rural-communities The White House on Wednesday rolled out a high-profile plan to help farmers and ranchers adjust to climate changes that have already begun to upend growing seasons and threaten livestock.<p>The <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/02/05/usda-s-climate-hubs-providing-targeted-solutions-modern-challenges-0">"climate hub" initiative</a> was praised by environmentalists, though they were quick to warn President Obama that it would not provide him cover on another environmental issue in the headlines: the Keystone XL pipeline.<p>"This is a great step, but it would be the height of irony to Wed, 05 Feb 2014 20:57:00 +0000 Liz Halloran 35856 at http://iowapublicradio.org White House Creates 'Climate Hubs' To Help Rural Towns, Farmers Surgeon General Pick's Tweets Annoy GOP, But Not Enough To Block Him http://iowapublicradio.org/post/surgeon-general-picks-tweets-annoy-gop-not-enough-block-him Boston physician Vivek Murthy was expected to run into political headwinds Tuesday during his Senate confirmation hearing for the post of the nation's top doc — surgeon general.<p>Murthy, 36, the founder of a national physicians group that worked to pass the Affordable Care Act, was seen by some as vulnerable to GOP attacks because of his political work, his youth and his less-than-a-lifetime of public health experience — not to mention a few impolitic tweets guaranteed to rile conservatives.<p>But Republican opposition to Murthy, the Harvard-educated son of immigrants from India, proved tepid Tue, 04 Feb 2014 20:45:00 +0000 Liz Halloran 35791 at http://iowapublicradio.org Surgeon General Pick's Tweets Annoy GOP, But Not Enough To Block Him Keystone XL Pipeline Report Creates Political Headache For Obama http://iowapublicradio.org/post/keystone-xl-pipeline-report-creates-political-headache-obama Any expectation that a <a href="http://www.keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov/">new State Department report</a> would clarify the Keystone XL pipeline issue went up in smoke in recent days.<p>In the aftermath of a conclusion that downplayed the oil pipeline's potential effects on climate change, the issue has gotten even more politically complicated for the Obama White House. Environmentalists are ramping up their opposition to the proposed 1,179-mile pipeline, while Republicans have intensified their push for approval. Mon, 03 Feb 2014 22:28:00 +0000 Liz Halloran 35743 at http://iowapublicradio.org Keystone XL Pipeline Report Creates Political Headache For Obama