A Fair Vote Could End the Monopoly of our Duopoly

Reforming our current election system is no easy task, especially with the duopoly stranglehold democrats and republicans have on the system.

However one non-profit organization believes they have a solution to encourage more participation not only among the populace, but from increasing the likelihood for third party candidates to have a voice.

In 1992, Fair Vote was founded as the Center for Proportional Representation (CPR), in Cinncinati, Ohio.

Then in 1993, led by Executive Rob Richie and then President Mattew Cossolotto, CPR became the Center for Voting Rights and Democracy, which reflected their commitment to a larger platform of research and advocacy in American elections.

In 2004, the title of Fair Vote was embraced and their mission is to make elections fair by, ranked choice voting, a national popular vote for president and universal voter registration.

Before I go more in depth, regarding the Fair Votes plan (which will I focus more on the ranked choice or instant run-off), let’s look at voter turnout throughout our country.

According to The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, here are some statistics regarding voter turnout for parliamentary and presidential elections in the United States:

“Parliamentary

Year Voter Turn­out Total vote Regi­­stration VAP Turn­out Voting age popu­­lation Popu­lation Invalid votes Compulsory voting
2014 42.‌50% 81,033,355 190,669,639 32.‌98% 245,712,915 318,892,103  No
2012 64.‌44% 124,793,121 193,653,908 51.‌80% 240,926,957 312,780,968  No
2010 48.‌59% 90,810,679 186,874,157 38.‌51% 235,809,266 308,282,053  No
2008 64.‌36% 122,586,293 190,461,401 52.‌59% 233,087,000 303,824,640  No
2006 47.‌52% 82,121,411 172,805,006 37.‌32% 220,043,054 298,444,215 0.‌40%  No
2004 68.‌75% 121,862,329 177,265,030 55.‌31% 220,336,019 293,027,571  No
2002 45.‌31% 73,844,526 162,993,315 35.‌09% 210,464,504 278,058,881  No
2000 63.‌76% 99,738,383 156,421,311 47.‌35% 210,623,408 284,970,789  No
1998 51.‌55% 73,117,022 141,850,558 34.‌74% 210,446,120 280,298,524  No
1996 65.‌97% 96,456,345 146,211,960 49.‌08% 196,511,000 265,679,000  No
1994 57.‌64% 75,105,860 130,292,822 38.‌78% 193,650,000 262,090,745  No
1992 78.‌02% 104,405,155 133,821,178 55.‌09% 189,529,000 255,407,000  No
1990 56.‌03% 67,859,189 121,105,630 36.‌52% 185,812,000 248,709,873  No
1988 72.‌48% 91,594,693 126,379,628 50.‌11% 182,778,000 245,057,000  No
1986 54.‌89% 64,991,128 118,399,984 36.‌40% 178,566,000 239,529,693  No
1984 74.‌63% 92,652,680 124,150,614 53.‌11% 174,466,000 236,681,000  No
1982 61.‌10% 67,615,576 110,671,225 39.‌79% 169,938,000 233,697,676  No
1980 76.‌53% 86,515,221 113,043,734 52.‌56% 164,597,000 227,738,000  No
1978 57.‌04% 58,917,938 103,291,265 37.‌20% 158,373,000 221,537,514  No
1976 77.‌64% 81,555,789 105,037,989 53.‌55% 152,309,190 218,035,000  No
1974 58.‌15% 55,943,834 96,199,020 38.‌23% 146,336,000 214,305,134  No
1972 79.‌85% 77,718,554 97,328,541 55.‌21% 140,776,000 208,840,000  No
1970 70.‌32% 58,014,338 82,496,747 46.‌60% 124,498,000 203,211,926  No
1968 89.‌66% 73,211,875 81,658,180 60.‌84% 120,328,186 200,710,000  No
1966 56,188,046 48.‌38% 116,132,000 197,730,744  No
1964 70,644,592 61.‌92% 114,090,000 192,119,000  No
1962 53,141,227 47.‌27% 112,423,000 186,512,143  No
1960 68,838,204 63.‌06% 109,159,000 180,684,000  No
1958 45,966,070 44.‌53% 103,221,000 175,038,232  No
1956 58,434,811 54.‌92% 106,408,890 168,903,000  No
1954 42,509,905 43.‌15% 98,527,000 162,725,667  No
1952 57,582,333 59.‌69% 96,466,000 157,022,000  No
1950 40,253,267 42.‌64% 94,403,000 151,325,798  No
1948 45,839,622 48.‌10% 95,310,150 146,631,000  No
1946 34,279,158 38.‌78% 88,388,000 142,049,065  No

Presidential

Year Voter Turn­out Total vote Regi­stration VAP Turn­out Voting age popu­lation Popu­lation Invalid votes Compulsory voting
2012 66.‌66% 129,085,403 193,653,908 53.‌58% 240,926,957 312,780,968  No
2008 70.‌33% 133,944,538 190,461,401 57.‌47% 233,087,000 303,824,640  No
2004 88.‌50% 125,736,000 142,070,000 57.‌07% 220,336,019 293,027,571 2.‌70%  No
2000 85.‌55% 110,826,000 129,549,000 52.‌62% 210,623,408 284,970,789 0.‌13%  No
1996 82.‌26% 105,017,000 127,661,000 53.‌44% 196,511,000 265,679,000  No
1992 89.‌96% 113,866,000 126,578,000 60.‌08% 189,529,000 255,407,000  No
1988 86.‌20% 102,224,000 118,589,000 55.‌93% 182,778,000 245,057,000  No
1984 87.‌75% 101,878,000 116,106,000 58.‌39% 174,466,000 236,681,000  No
1980 88.‌60% 93,066,000 105,035,000 56.‌54% 164,597,000 227,738,000  No
1976 88.‌68% 86,698,000 97,761,000 56.‌92% 152,309,190 218,035,000  No
1972 87.‌09% 85,766,000 98,480,000 60.‌92% 140,776,000 208,840,000  No
1968 89.‌66% 73,211,875 81,658,180 60.‌84% 120,328,186 200,710,000  No
1964 95.‌83% 70,644,592 73,715,818 61.‌92% 114,090,000 192,119,000  No
1960 68,838,219 63.‌06% 109,159,000 180,684,000  No
1956 62,026,908 58.‌29% 106,408,890 168,903,000  No
1952 61,551,118 60.‌31% 102,064,300 157,022,000  No
1948 48,692,442 51.‌09% 95,310,150 146,631,000  No
Page last updated October 5, 2011”

While the aforementioned statistics show some discouraging numbers, Fair Vote, has an ambitious plan to reign in the duopoly in our current political system and provide a system for the people by the people.

Here is a video by former bassist and co-founder of Nirvana Krist Novoselic, http://www.fairvote.org/proportional_representation#what_is_fair_voting.

Essentially, Fair Vote instant run off provides a way to promote majority support, discourage negative campaigning, provide more choice to voters, minimize strategic voting, mitigate the impact of money in politics, save money when replacing primaries or runoffs and promote reflective representation.

How will these goals be achieved one may ask?

 

The Ranked Choice Voting Act: Explanatory Memo

January 2016

 

The Ranked Choice Voting Act will require elections for Members of Congress beginning in 2022 to be conducted by ranked choice voting in multi-member districts drawn by independent redistricting commissions. The bill consists of four titles:

 

Title I—Ranked Choice Voting

Title II—Multi-Member Districts

Title III—Requirements for Congressional Redistricting

Title IV—General Provisions

 

Following the 2020 census, every state electing six or more Members will establish an independent redistricting commission. Those commissions will draw multi-winner congressional districts, each of which will elect at least three and no more than five Members, with a priority of districts with five seats; for example, a state that elects 11 Members will likely draw three districts: one that elects five Members and two that elect three Members each. The States electing five or fewer Members (25 after the 2010 census) will elect all at-large and not draw any districts.

Then, starting in 2022, all elections for Representatives, including primary elections, will be by ranked choice voting, a candidate-based, proportional voting system with a history of use in partisan and nonpartisan U.S. elections.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Title I—Ranked Choice Voting

In Title I, the bill amends the Help America Vote Act to require that elections for Representative in Congress (which includes primary elections) will be by ranked choice voting.

Under ranked choice voting, the ballot will allow voters to rank candidates in order of choice, and tabulation proceeds in rounds. For the election of only one Member, if a candidate receives a majority (50% + 1) of the votes cast by first-choice, then that candidate will be elected. If no candidate receives a majority, then the candidate in last place is eliminated. If a voter’s top choice is eliminated, their vote will count for their next choice. This process repeats until two candidates remain, at which point the candidate with a majority in this “instant runoff” is elected.

If two or more Members will be elected in a multi-winner district, then tabulation is modified so that as many voters as possible will help elect a preferred candidate. The winning threshold depends on the number to be elected (e.g., 25% for three, 20% for four, and 17% for five). If a candidate surpasses that threshold of votes from first-choices only, then that candidate will be elected. The quantity of excess votes they received will count for their voters’ second choices. If not all seats are elected based on first choices, the candidate in last place is eliminated. If a voter’s top choice loses, their vote will count for their next choice. This process repeats until all seats are elected. In a three-winner race, more than three in four voters will typically help elect a preferred candidate; in a five-winner race, that number rises to greater than five in six.

In June of 2021, states will receive a grant equal to $1 million plus $500,000 per Representative to pay for election administration and education costs associated with ranked choice voting. 2

 

Title II—Multi-Winner Districts

Under Title II, the single-winner district mandate (2 U.S.C. 2c) is repealed and replaced with a multi-winner district mandate. Any state electing five or fewer Members will not use districts, but will elect all at-large. Any state electing six or more Members will elect from multi-winner districts. Multi-winner districts may not elect fewer than three or more than five Members, and they must have an equal number of persons per Representative.

For primary elections, each political party will nominate a number of candidates equal to the number to be elected in the district, unless they adopt a rule changing that number. If a state uses a winnowing preliminary election (like the “Top Two primary” in California and Washington), then it must advance at least twice the number of candidates as the number of Members to be elected in the district; for instance, six advancing candidate in a district with three seats.

 

Title III—Requirements for Congressional Redistricting

Any state drawing districts under Title II must do so according to the rules established in Title III, by establishing a citizens’ independent redistricting commission based on the proposal in the Redistricting Reform Act of 2015.

In states that must draw districts, a non-partisan agency develops a pool of 60 candidates: 20 affiliated with the state’s majority party at the time of redistricting, 20 from its minority party, and 20 who are unaffiliated with either of those two parties. After a bipartisan legislative committee approves that pool, the non-partisan agency randomly selects four from each category to create the 12-member commission. Those 12 choose a chair, who must come from the unaffiliated group, and then the commission begins operating. After assembling an independent redistricting commission, a state is entitled to $150,000 per Representative to offset its costs.

Districts must be drawn according to fair criteria: contiguity; consistency with the Voting Rights Act; no district can be completely safe for one political party (based on presidential vote totals from prior elections); as few districts as possible should elect four candidates (to avoid frequent 2-2 splits); as many districts as possible should elect five candidates (to maximize proportionality); respect for existing political boundaries and communities of interest; compactness; and respect for visible geographic features.

Each independent commission must operate transparently. After holding hearings around the state, it will publish preliminary maps, and then hold at least three further hearings and accept public comments. After considering this input, a majority of the commission (including at least one from each of the three groups) must approve a final congressional district map by August 15th of the year ending in the number one.

If the state does not establish the requisite non-partisan agency or legislative committee, if the legislative committee fails to approve a pool of applicants, or if the independent commission fails to approve a final plan, then a panel of federal judges will develop and adopt a congressional redistricting plan, guided by the same criteria.

 

Title IV—General Provisions

This Title makes clear that nothing in the bill affects state or local elections, nor does it go into effect for congressional elections prior to 2022.”

Whether or not the act proposed by Fair Vote comes into fruition remains uncertain, but a changing of the current process is much needed, while still adhering to constitutional principles.

And just in case you wanted to know if success with ranked choice voting is possible in the states (currently used in 11, cities) here is a speech by Mayor of Minneapolis Betsy Hodges, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aB91G8h3ZH8.

 

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The Real ID Act is Reigning its ugly head Again

Now that the New Years Ball has been dropped, hangovers slept off and gathering with old acquaintances led to a great celebration, The REAL ID Act is starting off, 2016 with a bang.

The libertarian publication, Reason, reports come January 10, 2016, travelers from a plethora of states might not have their driver’s licenses accepted by the TSA.

In the article UPDATED! TSA Says It Will Stop Accepting Driver’s Licenses From Nine State, by Nick Gillespie, states, travelers from Alaska, California, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Washington could be stranded.

The act, in which Gillespie is referencing is not a conspiracy, it was actually passed in 2005.

Also, Gillespie, notes the Web site Boing Boing, stated “the feds quelled some of the rebellion by insisting that compliance by states with the rules would be voluntary.

But they also threatened “consequences” for noncompliance. After a decade of state/fed jousting, the feds appear ready to visit some of those consequences upon the recalcitrant states: Alaska, California, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Washington (as well as Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands). Previously, these states and territories had been granted exemptions to the Real ID requirements, but they expire on January 10, 2016 (less than two weeks from now), and the DHS has already refused to renew them for Missouri, Illinois, Minnesota, and Washington and said they wouldn’t renew it for other states.”

Boing Boing also goes on to state:

”12 states actually have laws prohibiting their DMVs from complying with Real ID requirements.

The new standards also require that licenses be equipped with “machine readable” technology, like a chip or a magnetic strip, to store all that personal information. Data from one state should also be made available electronically to all other states, and possibly also to federal authorities.

That information will eventually be shared through a system administered by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, a private group that provides support services to state motor vehicle departments.

A press officer for the Department of Homeland Security said the law’s intention was not to create a national identification card but to extend what the agency calls best practices on issuing driver’s licenses that apply to all states.”

What is the Real ID Act, one may ask?

Well, if hell exists, this is just another facade casting a dark shadow over the populace.

The Real ID Act failed to pass in 2004, however, the legislation was tacked on to the 2005 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Defense, the Global War on Terror and Tsunami Relief, leading to its eventual passage.

 

“TITLE II–IMPROVED SECURITY FOR DRIVERS’ LICENSES AND PERSONAL IDENTIFICATION CARDS

SEC. 201. DEFINITIONS.

In this title, the following definitions apply:

(1) DRIVER’S LICENSE- The term `driver’s license’ means a motor vehicle operator’s license, as defined in section 30301 of title 49, United States Code.

(2) IDENTIFICATION CARD- The term `identification card’ means a personal identification card, as defined in section 1028(d) of title 18, United States Code, issued by a State.

(3) OFFICIAL PURPOSE- The term `official purpose’ includes but is not limited to accessing Federal facilities, boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft, entering nuclear power plants, and any other purposes that the Secretary shall determine.

(4) SECRETARY- The term `Secretary’ means the Secretary of Homeland Security.

(5) STATE- The term `State’ means a State of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, and any other territory or possession of the United States.

SEC. 202. MINIMUM DOCUMENT REQUIREMENTS AND ISSUANCE STANDARDS FOR FEDERAL RECOGNITION.

(a) Minimum Standards for Federal Use-

(1) IN GENERAL- Beginning 3 years after the date of the enactment of this division, a Federal agency may not accept, for any official purpose, a driver’s license or identification card issued by a State to any person unless the State is meeting the requirements of this section.

(2) STATE CERTIFICATIONS- The Secretary shall determine whether a State is meeting the requirements of this section based on certifications made by the State to the Secretary. Such certifications shall be made at such times and in such manner as the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation, may prescribe by regulation.

(b) Minimum Document Requirements- To meet the requirements of this section, a State shall include, at a minimum, the following information and features on each driver’s license and identification card issued to a person by the State:

(1) The person’s full legal name.

(2) The person’s date of birth.

(3) The person’s gender.

(4) The person’s driver’s license or identification card number.

(5) A digital photograph of the person.

(6) The person’s address of principle residence.

(7) The person’s signature.

(8) Physical security features designed to prevent tampering, counterfeiting, or duplication of the document for fraudulent purposes.

(9) A common machine-readable technology, with defined minimum data elements (bolded for emphasis).

(c) Minimum Issuance Standards-

(1) IN GENERAL- To meet the requirements of this section, a State shall require, at a minimum, presentation and verification of the following information before issuing a driver’s license or identification card to a person:

(A) A photo identity document, except that a non-photo identity document is acceptable if it includes both the person’s full legal name and date of birth.

(B) Documentation showing the person’s date of birth.

(C) Proof of the person’s social security account number or verification that the person is not eligible for a social security account number.

(D) Documentation showing the person’s name and address of principal residence.

(2) SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS-

(A) IN GENERAL- To meet the requirements of this section, a State shall comply with the minimum standards of this paragraph.

(B) EVIDENCE OF LAWFUL STATUS- A State shall require, before issuing a driver’s license or identification card to a person, valid documentary evidence that the person–

(i) is a citizen or national of the United States;

(ii) is an alien lawfully admitted for permanent or temporary residence in the United States;

(iii) has conditional permanent resident status in the United States;

(iv) has an approved application for asylum in the United States or has entered into the United States in refugee status;

(v) has a valid, unexpired nonimmigrant visa or nonimmigrant visa status for entry into the United States;

(vi) has a pending application for asylum in the United States;

(vii) has a pending or approved application for temporary protected status in the United States;

(viii) has approved deferred action status; or

(ix) has a pending application for adjustment of status to that of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States or conditional permanent resident status in the United States.

(C) TEMPORARY DRIVERS’ LICENSES AND IDENTIFICATION CARDS-

(i) IN GENERAL- If a person presents evidence under any of clauses (v) through (ix) of subparagraph (B), the State may only issue a temporary driver’s license or temporary identification card to the person.

(ii) EXPIRATION DATE- A temporary driver’s license or temporary identification card issued pursuant to this subparagraph shall be valid only during the period of time of the applicant’s authorized stay in the United States or, if there is no definite end to the period of authorized stay, a period of one year.

(iii) DISPLAY OF EXPIRATION DATE- A temporary driver’s license or temporary identification card issued pursuant to this subparagraph shall clearly indicate that it is temporary and shall state the date on which it expires.

(iv) RENEWAL- A temporary driver’s license or temporary identification card issued pursuant to this subparagraph may be renewed only upon presentation of valid documentary evidence that the status by which the applicant qualified for the temporary driver’s license or temporary identification card has been extended by the Secretary of Homeland Security.

(3) VERIFICATION OF DOCUMENTS- To meet the requirements of this section, a State shall implement the following procedures:

(A) Before issuing a driver’s license or identification card to a person, the State shall verify, with the issuing agency, the issuance, validity, and completeness of each document required to be presented by the person under paragraph (1) or (2).

(B) The State shall not accept any foreign document, other than an official passport, to satisfy a requirement of paragraph (1) or (2).

(C) Not later than September 11, 2005, the State shall enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Secretary of Homeland Security to routinely utilize the automated system known as Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements, as provided for by section 404 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (110 Stat. 3009-664), to verify the legal presence status of a person, other than a United States citizen, applying for a driver’s license or identification card.

(d) Other Requirements- To meet the requirements of this section, a State shall adopt the following practices in the issuance of drivers’ licenses and identification cards:

(1) Employ technology to capture digital images of identity source documents so that the images can be retained in electronic storage in a transferable format.

(2) Retain paper copies of source documents for a minimum of 7 years or images of source documents presented for a minimum of 10 years.

(3) Subject each person applying for a driver’s license or identification card to mandatory facial image capture.

(4) Establish an effective procedure to confirm or verify a renewing applicant’s information.

(5) Confirm with the Social Security Administration a social security account number presented by a person using the full social security account number. In the event that a social security account number is already registered to or associated with another person to which any State has issued a driver’s license or identification card, the State shall resolve the discrepancy and take appropriate action.

(6) Refuse to issue a driver’s license or identification card to a person holding a driver’s license issued by another State without confirmation that the person is terminating or has terminated the driver’s license.

(7) Ensure the physical security of locations where drivers’ licenses and identification cards are produced and the security of document materials and papers from which drivers’ licenses and identification cards are produced.

(8) Subject all persons authorized to manufacture or produce drivers’ licenses and identification cards to appropriate security clearance requirements.

(9) Establish fraudulent document recognition training programs for appropriate employees engaged in the issuance of drivers’ licenses and identification cards.

(10) Limit the period of validity of all driver’s licenses and identification cards that are not temporary to a period that does not exceed 8 years.

(11) In any case in which the State issues a driver’s license or identification card that does not satisfy the requirements of this section, ensure that such license or identification card–

(A) clearly states on its face that it may not be accepted by any Federal agency for federal identification or any other official purpose; and

(B) uses a unique design or color indicator to alert Federal agency and other law enforcement personnel that it may not be accepted for any such purpose.

(12) Provide electronic access to all other States to information contained in the motor vehicle database of the State.

(13) Maintain a State motor vehicle database that contains, at a minimum–

(A) all data fields printed on drivers’ licenses and identification cards issued by the State; and

(B) motor vehicle drivers’ histories, including motor vehicle violations, suspensions, and points on licenses.

SEC. 203. TRAFFICKING IN AUTHENTICATION FEATURES FOR USE IN FALSE IDENTIFICATION DOCUMENTS.

(a) Criminal Penalty- Section 1028(a)(8) of title 18, United States Code, is amended by striking `false authentication features’ and inserting `false or actual authentication features’.

(b) Use of False Driver’s License at Airports-

(1) IN GENERAL- The Secretary shall enter, into the appropriate aviation security screening database, appropriate information regarding any person convicted of using a false driver’s license at an airport (as such term is defined in section 40102 of title 49, United States Code).

(2) FALSE DEFINED- In this subsection, the term `false’ has the same meaning such term has under section 1028(d) of title 18, United States Code.

SEC. 204. GRANTS TO STATES.

(a) In General- The Secretary may make grants to a State to assist the State in conforming to the minimum standards set forth in this title.

(b) Authorization of Appropriations- There are authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary for each of the fiscal years 2005 through 2009 such sums as may be necessary to carry out this title.

SEC. 205. AUTHORITY.

(a) Participation of Secretary of Transportation and States- All authority to issue regulations, set standards, and issue grants under this title shall be carried out by the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation and the States.

(b) Extensions of Deadlines- The Secretary may grant to a State an extension of time to meet the requirements of section 202(a)(1) if the State provides adequate justification for noncompliance.

SEC. 206. REPEAL.

Section 7212 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-458) is repealed.

SEC. 207. LIMITATION ON STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION.

Nothing in this title shall be construed to affect the authorities or responsibilities of the Secretary of Transportation or the States under chapter 303 of title 49, United States Code.”

 

Let’s now look into the ramifications of Real ID.

Realnightmare.org, which is in opposition to Real ID and was created when the act came out, illustrates the seven things wrong with the act:

  • “It’s a national identity system. The standardized national driver’s licenses created by Real ID would become a key part of a system of identity papers, databases, status and identity checks and access control points – an “internal passport” that will increasingly be used to track and control individuals’ movements and activities.
  • Will not be effective against terrorism. The fact is, identity-based security is not an effective way to stop terrorism. ID documents do not reveal anything about evil intent – and even if they did, determined terrorists will always be able to obtain fraudulent documents (either counterfeit or real documents bought from corrupt officials).
  • Will be a nightmare for state governments. Real ID requires state governments to remake their driver’s licenses, restructure many of their computer databases and other systems, create an extensive new document-storage system, and – perhaps most difficult of all – verify the “issuance, validity and completeness” of every document presented at DMVs. See Real Burdens.
  • Will mean higher fees, long lines, and bureaucratic nightmares for individuals. Because Congress ordered but did not pay for these mandates, which will cost states billions of dollars, fees on individuals applying for driver’s licenses will inevitably rise, perhaps steeply. Individuals are also likely to confront slower service, longer lines, and frequent bureaucratic snafus in obtaining these ID cards. Many unlucky individuals will find themselves caught in a bureaucratic nightmare as they run up against the complexities of this law.
  • Increased security and ID-theft risks. The creation of a single interlinked database as well as the requirement that each DMV store copies of every birth certificate and other documents presented to it will create a one-stop shop for identity thieves.
  • Will be exploited by the private sector to invade privacy. Real ID would make it easy for anybody in private industry to snap up the data on these IDs. Already, bars often swipe licenses to collect personal data on customers – but that will prove to be just the tip of the iceberg as every convenience store learns to grab that data and sell it to data companies for a dime.
  • Will expand over time. The Real ID database will inevitably, over time, become the repository for more and more data on individuals, and will be drawn on for an ever-wider set of purposes. Its standardized machine-readable interface will drive its integration into an ever-growing network of identity checks and access control points – each of which will create new data trails that will in turn be linked to that central database or its private-sector shadow equivalent.”

According to the Department of Homeland Security, here is a list containing states and territories where there is an exemption (for the time being) and those state ID that will not be accepted as announced on December 20, 2013 due to a phased enforcement plan for the act passed by Congress.

Noncompliant States/Territories

  • Am.Samoa
  • Minnesota+

+ Federal officials may continue to accept Enhanced Driver’s Licenses from these states.

Compliant/Extension States/Territories

The following states/territories are compliant with the REAL ID Act:

  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • DC
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • Ohio
  • S. Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

The following states/territories have an extension, allowing Federal agencies to accept driver’s licenses from these states until October 10, 2016:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Idaho
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • N. Carolina
  • N. Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • S. Carolina
  • Texas
  • Virginia

The following states/territories have an extension, allowing Federal agencies to accept driver’s licenses from these states, until June 1, 2016.

  • New Hampshire

The following states/territories are under review for an extension renewal, allowing Federal agencies to accept driver’s licenses from these states, until at least January 10, 2016 under a grace period.

  • Guam
  • N. Marianas
  • Puerto Rico
  • Virgin Islands

The following states/territories have not received an extension for 2016 and will be subject to enforcement for accessing most Federal facilities, nuclear power plants and military bases beginning Jan. 10, 2016.

  • Illinois
  • Missouri
  • New Mexico
  • Washington”

Let’s hope congress as well as law-abiding citizens come together and demand an end to this National ID card.

One can view what former congressmen Ron Paul said about this in 2005.

http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/peace-and-prosperity/2015/december/31/ron-paul-rewind-real-id-is-national-id/

Lastly, On February 1, 2012 representative Justin Amash (R-MI) sent a letter too Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano regarding the evasive components of how drivers licenses could be equipped with RFID technology. The letter can be read at amash.house.gov.

“Dear Secretary Napolitano:

I urge you to reverse the Department of Homeland Security’s requirement that enhanced driver’s licenses include vicinity radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. I specifically ask the Department to cease demanding that Michigan include RFID chips in its enhanced driver’s licenses.

I have been informed that the RFID chips in these driver’s licenses would contain unique numbers that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers could scan from 20 to 30 feet away. These numbers would allow CBP to identify all of the occupants within a vehicle with one scan.

I am deeply concerned about the privacy implications of mandatory RFIDs in driver’s licenses. The chips would give public and private entities an unprecedented ability to track Americans. RFIDs can be read using widely available technology, including technology contained in mobile phones, which increases the risk of identity theft. Furthermore, if RFIDs were to become ubiquitous, there is little doubt that private entities would deploy new technology to capture the chips’ data.

Congress never has required RFIDs to be installed in driver’s licenses. Current federal law states only that “standards for common machine-readable identity information [are] to be included on each driver’s license or personal identification card, including defined minimum data elements.” This mandate could be satisfied by issuing driver’s licenses with magnetic strips, for example.

The people of Michigan oppose the new requirement. The Michigan state House and Senate each unanimously approved a resolution calling on DHS to address privacy concerns related to the federal mandate. And Michigan’s Secretary of State has asked the Department for the flexibility to issue secure driver’s licenses without RFIDs.

I believe we can find a solution that both satisfies federal law and protects our civil liberties. Please work with Michigan officials to adopt an alternative to mandatory RFIDs.

Sincerely,

/s/

Justin Amash

Member of Congress”

 

Multigenerational Homes are on the Rise in the United States.

 

Ever since the economic recession of 2007-2008, a rise in multi-generational families is occurring in the Unites States.

According to the Census Bureau, the percentage of millennial’s (18 to 34 years-old), 30.3 percent are living with a parent.

CNSNNews.com reached out to Veronique de Rugy, who is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center, to get some insight into why this is happening.

““Millennials are taking a big hit in this economy,” said de Rugy. “Recessions are always rough on younger people, but this one has been particularly rough. The recovery has been so slow, and it’s also been kind of slow on the labor market side of things.

“For instance, the recession hit when some millennials were just getting out of college and so they went straight into the unemployment line. And then when they were lucky enough to get a job, usually there was a lot of underemployment going on, meaning not necessarily full-time and part-time jobs but also at lower salary than they would otherwise,” she said.

“The other thing that’s been really rough for them is the fact that during the recession and the slow recovery, the number of older workers that actually quit their jobs to get a better position, was down quite significantly, and unfortunately, I mean this is a bad thing, because this is one of the ways that first you measure the health of the labor market, but also this is one of the ways that younger workers go up the job ladder,” de Rugy added.

“And when you actually have few options because people are worried and won’t quit their jobs for better opportunities either because they’re risk averse or because those opportunities do not exist, it means that you are stuck at lower positions without being given the opportunity to go out. So it’s a problem,” she said.”

With the stagnant economy, the price of rent does not help matter any.

In a Yahoo! Finance article, How much you need to make per hour to afford a rental in the U.S., by Mandi Woodruff, in May 2015, points out this alarming information.

“A worker would need to earn $19.35 per hour — nearly three times the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 — to be able to afford a basic two-bedroom unit. A one-bedroom unit is only slightly less costly, requiring a wage of at least $15.50 an hour.  The average renter nationwide makes $15.16 an hour, which might explain why so many adults are leaning on roommates these days. (The report, which uses Fair Market Rent figures determined by Department of Housing and Urban Development, sets one-bedroom units at $806 and two-bedrooms at $1,006.)”

In the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, “Out Reach Report,” it gives the break down of what one person has to earn to rent a one and two bedroom apartment in each state.

The full report can be read at, http://www.nlihc.org/sites/default/files/oor/OOR_2015_FULL.pdf, since it is to long to reproduce.

But, here are the top ten most expense states for rent for a two-bedroom housing wage:

  1. Hawaii- $31.61
  2. District of Columbia- $28.04
  3. California-     $26.65
  4. New York-   $25.67
  5. New Jersey- $25.17

 

In the forward to the report, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown had this to say.

“Those who put more than half their income towards rent are forced to choose which bills they can pay, which necessities, food or healthcare, they will forgo to avoid getting evicted or becoming homeless,” she says. “More must be done to ensure families have the option to live in decent, affordable homes located near their jobs.”

As if the aforementioned news was not gloomy enough.

Here are some statistics http://www.usdebtclock.org/, and some of this maybe alarming if you did not know:

U.S. Population- 322,223,650

U.S. Work Force- 149,260,542

Official Unemployed- 7,827,307

Actual Unemployed- 15,193,847

U.S. National Debt- Over 18 trillion and counting.

U.S. Total Debt – Over 66 trillion and counting.

Student Loan Debt- Over 1 trillion and counting.

Also its important to make the distinction between official unemployed and actual unemployed, which can be read in the below article written in February of 2015, by Chairman and Gallup CEO, Jim Clifton.

“The Big Lie: 5.6% Unemployment

by Jim Clifton

Here’s something that many Americans — including some of the smartest and most educated among us — don’t know: The official unemployment rate, as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, is extremely misleading.

Right now, we’re hearing much celebrating from the media, the White House and Wall Street about how unemployment is “down” to 5.6%. The cheerleading for this number is deafening. The media loves a comeback story, the White House wants to score political points and Wall Street would like you to stay in the market.

None of them will tell you this: If you, a family member or anyone is unemployed and has subsequently given up on finding a job — if you are so hopelessly out of work that you’ve stopped looking over the past four weeks — the Department of Labor doesn’t count you as unemployed. That’s right. While you are as unemployed as one can possibly be, and tragically may never find work again, you are not counted in the figure we see relentlessly in the news — currently 5.6%. Right now, as many as 30 million Americans are either out of work or severely underemployed. Trust me, the vast majority of them aren’t throwing parties to toast “falling” unemployment.

There’s another reason why the official rate is misleading. Say you’re an out-of-work engineer or healthcare worker or construction worker or retail manager: If you perform a minimum of one hour of work in a week and are paid at least $20 — maybe someone pays you to mow their lawn — you’re not officially counted as unemployed in the much-reported 5.6%. Few Americans know this.

Yet another figure of importance that doesn’t get much press: those working part time but wanting full-time work. If you have a degree in chemistry or math and are working 10 hours part time because it is all you can find — in other words, you are severely underemployed — the government doesn’t count you in the 5.6%. Few Americans know this.

There’s no other way to say this. The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie.

And it’s a lie that has consequences, because the great American dream is to have a good job, and in recent years, America has failed to deliver that dream more than it has at any time in recent memory. A good job is an individual’s primary identity, their very self-worth, their dignity — it establishes the relationship they have with their friends, community and country. When we fail to deliver a good job that fits a citizen’s talents, training and experience, we are failing the great American dream.

Gallup defines a good job as 30+ hours per week for an organization that provides a regular paycheck. Right now, the U.S. is delivering at a staggeringly low rate of 44%, which is the number of full-time jobs as a percent of the adult population, 18 years and older. We need that to be 50% and a bare minimum of 10 million new, good jobs to replenish America’s middle class.

I hear all the time that “unemployment is greatly reduced, but the people aren’t feeling it.” When the media, talking heads, the White House and Wall Street start reporting the truth — the percent of Americans in good jobs; jobs that are full time and real — then we will quit wondering why Americans aren’t “feeling” something that doesn’t remotely reflect the reality in their lives. And we will also quit wondering what hollowed out the middle class.”

With the stagnant economy, The Federal Reserve printing more money and devaluing our currency, rising student loan debt, was well as the baby boomer generation retiring, only time will tell if multi-generational households will exponentially become the norm.

Lastly, if you are one whom lives in a multi-generational home and being judged (and I live in a multi-generational home and have been judged, even though I pay my own bills, pay rent and have a college degree) I would encourage you to inform the person of the stats.

 

Could Industrial Hemp Homes be the future?

An alternative building material, which has been used in Europe and Australia since the 1960s, has slowly made its way to the United States.

What material is this material, one may inquire?

Its none other than hempcrete.

According to American Lime Technology, hempcrete is, “a bio-composite made of the inner woody core of the hemp plant mixed with a lime-based binder. The hemp core or “Shiv” has a high silica content which allows it to bind well with lime. This property is unique to hemp among all natural fibers. The result is a lightweight cementitious insulating material weighing about a seventh or an eighth of the weight of concrete. Fully cured hempcrete blocks float in a bucket of water. It is not used as a structural element, only as insulating infill between the frame members though it does tend to reduce racking. All loads are carried by internal framing. Wood stud framing is most common making it suitable for low-rise construction. Hempcrete buildings ten stories high have been built in Europe.”

This site explains hempcrete in more detail, http://www.americanlimetec.com/.

And if you are wondering, if a hemp house has been built in the United States, the answer is yes.

Check out this video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPHgnd068nI.

Given many restrictions, in regards to hemp production in the United States, Push Design had to source their material from the U.K. through the company Tradical.

“We are very lucky to have Hemp Tech and their founder, Greg Flavell, here in Asheville,” David Mosrie told Gizmag. “Greg is one of the top experts on hemp in the world. We have been looking for the most effective, sustainable and energy efficient toxin-free building material for years, an effort that we still put time into every single week. We recognized almost immediately that hemp was, in every way but in cost, seemingly the most effective and sustainable material available worldwide. The qualities it offers are beyond anything we get from typical materials, combining energy efficiency found in mass-based construction with the carbon sequestration, rapid renewability, strength, several hundred year wall lifespan, and the breathability and indoor air quality that is unsurpassed. It is an incredible combination, and a list of positive attributes we have never seen in any other material.”

Mosrie of Push Design went on to say: “The main negative effect of the legal situation [in the U.S] is the cost to import it, which is frankly very high. Even while [the government] is legalizing medical marijuana now in 19 states, [they] can’t seem to allow industrial hemp production. Local production would not only lower the environmental impact exponentially versus bringing it from Europe, but would bolster a struggling economic group and prop up local farming, a long regional tradition. It frankly makes no sense to keep up the ban , at the state or federal level, but it continues on.”

While an industrial hemp house has been completed by Push Design, industrial hemp is legal in some states.

In the 2014 federal Farm Bill, a provision paved the way for universities and state departments of agriculture to cultivate industrial hemp for limited purposes.

The requirements in the 2014 Farm Bill for industrial hemp include:

“ (1) the industrial hemp is grown or cultivated for purposes of research conducted under an agricultural pilot program or other agricultural or academic research; and

(2) the growing or cultivating of industrial hemp is allowed under the laws of the State in which such institution of higher education or State department of agriculture is located and such research occurs.”The law also requires that the grow sites be certified by—and registered with—their state.”

And lastly, “the law also requires that the sites used by universities and agriculture department be certified by—and registered with—their state.”

According to the National State Council of Legislators, here is some of the state action that has occurred with industrial hemp.

“State action

Twenty-two states have enacted state laws relating to industrial hemp. Generally, states have taken three approaches:

  1. Establish commercial industrial hemp programs.
  2. Establish industrial hemp research programs.
  3. Enact studies of industrial hemp or the industrial hemp industry.

Thirteen states have statutes establishing commercial industrial hemp programs:

  1. California
  2. Colorado
  3. Indiana
  4. Kentucky
  5. Maine
  6. Montana
  7. North Dakota
  8. Oregon
  9. South Carolina
  10. Tennessee
  11. Vermont
  12. Virginia
  13. West Virginia

Seven states have passed laws establishing industrial hemp programs that are limited to agricultural or academic research purposes.

  1. Delaware
  2. Hawaii
  3. Illinois
  4. Michigan
  5. Nebraska
  6. New York
  7. Utah

Current state policies include:

Elements of state industrial hemp laws can include:

  • Defines industrial hemp. Most state laws require hemp to have THC concentrations of not more than 0.3 percent by weight, but at least one state (West Virginia) requires the crop have less than 1 percent THC concentrations.
  • Provide that industrial hemp is an agricultural crop in the state.
  • Establish licensing or registration programs for growers. Such programs often require registrants to provide information on the type of industrial hemp that will be grown, the grow area, and how the harvested crop will be used. Programs often also require growers to submit to criminal background checks.
  • Provide for inspections and establish testing standards for seeds and crops.
  • Authorize fees to support the program. Some states have authorized specific industrial hemp funds. Some states also specifically authorize the state to collect funding from foundations and private sources to support the industrial hemp program.
  • Establishing an affirmative defense for registered industrial hemp growers from prosecution under state controlled substances laws.
  • Setting penalties for violations of the industrial hemp law.
  • Creation of an advisory board to advise regulators on the development of regulations, enforcement, and budgetary matters.
  • Defining industrial hemp based on the percentage of tetrahydrocannabinol it contains.
  • Authorizing the growing and possessing of industrial hemp.
  • Requiring state licensing of industrial hemp growers.
  • Promoting research and development of markets for industrial hemp.
  • Excluding industrial hemp from the definition of controlled substances under state law.
  • Establishing a defense to criminal prosecution under drug possession or cultivation

Note that some states laws establishing commercial industrial hemp programs require a change in federal law or waivers from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency before those programs can be implemented by the state.

Two other states—Connecticut and New Hampshire—have passed laws that establish studies of potential industrial hemp production in the state.”

For a complete list of states that have rules in place allowing for industrial hemp, read my other article on Industrial Hemp Production Should Not Go Up In Smoke.

Let’s hope this innovation comes to into fruition, since the benefits are great.

As far as some of the concerns about getting high, Mosrie had this to say. “We tell folks they would have to smoke the master bedroom to get high! It would take smoking 2500 lbs of the hemp to get high, so it is a losing effort.”

Libertarian and Green’s are suing the FEC.

“For over 25 years, the Commission on Presidential Debates has used millions of dollars in tax-deductible contributions from big corporations to rig the rules, keeping Americans from hearing from anyone but the two old parties in debates,” said Nicholas Sarwark, Chair of the National Libertarian Committee. “If two teams got together to make sure that only they could make it to the Super Bowl, people would be outraged at the cheating. With this lawsuit, we’re standing up for the right of Americans to have fair debates between all candidates who are on enough ballots to become President.”

With the aforementioned comments, the Libertarians and Green Parties are teaming up in order to sue the Federal Election Commission.

On September 29, 2015, the Libertarians and Green Parties, along with their 2012 presidential candidates, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington D.C., charging, “that the exclusion of qualified candidates from the general election presidential debates by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), violates federal anti-trust laws.”

The objective is to allow all candidates in the presidential debates who are legally qualified to serve as well as whose names appear on enough state ballots to possibly win the majority in the Electoral College.

The lawsuit is funded by Our American Initiative, which is a not-for-profit organization, through their Fair debates project (www.FairDebates.com) and the suit was filed by Our American Initiative’s Attorney Bruce Fein, who served as Associate Deputy Attorney General and General Counsel to the Federal Communications Commission under the Regan Administration.

The video released by Our American Initiative can be seen here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gD4TQLyMDw.

“The proposed lawsuit from Our America Initiative, paired with the initiatives of the Free and Equal Elections Foundation, are essential to the movement for real democracy and real solutions. In stark contrast to the bipartisan establishment, these organizations present America with more political choices, more political voices. A majority of U.S. adults say a 3rd major political party is needed [1]. Towards this end, the American people have the right to hear from the full spectrum of their choices, so we can begin to secure a government that is truly of, by and for the people!” said, Dr. Jill Stein (2012 Green Party presidential candidate).

Judge Jim Gray, 2012, Libertarian Party, vice presidential candidate, expressed similar sentiments.

“Our America Initiative has presented a glimpse of the coming struggle to break the corruption within the Commission on Presidential Debates and realign American politics with the original constructs of the constitution,” said Gray.

Let’s hope this lawsuit is won, so free choice can prevail.

TPP Tentatively finalized in Atlanta, Georgia.

On October, 5th, 2015, in Atlanta, Georgia, 12 nations finalized and tentatively agreed upon the secretive TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) “trade deal.”

The countries participating in this NAFTA on steroids concept are the United States, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand, Brunei Darussalam and Japan.

Kasim Reed, mayor of Atlanta is a huge supporter of the TPP as well as President Obama (who has been working on this deal in secret for several years).

“It really is essential that we beat China into a relationship with these Asian-Pacific countries and that the United States the rules of the road and the terms of the engagement and we have an important ally in Japan and that we send a message about who they want to place their global future,” Reed said”

Not everyone is buying into Reed’s sentiments.

“TPP, countries have agreed to United States government and multinational drug company demands that will raise the price of medicines for millions… The big losers in TPP are patients and treatment providers in developing countries…The TPP will still go down in history as the worst trade agreement for access to medicines in developing countries,” stated Doctors Without Borders.

This is not the only organization opposing the TPP.

The Electronic Freedom Foundation said, “Despite its earlier promises that the TPP would bring ‘greater balance’ to copyright, more than any other recent trade agreement, the most recent leak of the intellectual property chapter belies their claims. The U.S. Trade Representative [Michael Froman] (USTR), has still failed to live up to its word that it would enshrine meaningful public rights to use copyrighted content in this agreement.”

According to Ben Swann, from Truth in Media, there are a lot of fallacies and secretiveness surrounding the TPP (and the quotes above are in the video).

The video can be seen at http://truthinmedia.com/reality-check-what-we-know-about-tpp-makes-it-the-worst-trade-deal-ever/.

Besides, Ben Swann being against the TPP and the groups he mentioned in the video, the AFL-CIO is also opposed to it.

This is the document that explains what ISDS is. Also, for more of their stance visit http://www.aflcio.org/content/download/138571/3647761/version/2/file/AFL-CIO_ISDSReport_5.pdf

“What is ISDS?

“Many international trade and investment agreements give individuals and corporations who invest in other countries access to a special legal procedure that can challenge domestic policy decisions in private tribunals. Investors—meaning anyone who buys property in a foreign country, from a hectare of land to stocks and bonds—can use “investor-to-state dispute settlement” (ISDS) to sue governments over laws, regulations and even domestic court decisions that affect current or future profits. You can think of ISDS as establishing special “corporate courts” that have their own rules and that a country’s own citizens cannot use.

ISDS is designed to allow foreign investors to skip all the domestic processes citizens or domestic businesses must use to fight laws and decisions they do not like, such as national courts, administrative procedures and municipal hearings. Instead, foreign investors bring claims

directly to international arbitration panels. The panelists are private arbitrators empowered to decide the case and potentially award vast sums of taxpayer money in compensation.”

While I do support free-trade, I do not support trade that will allow for the propensity of erosion of sovereignty and benefit mega-corporations rigging the system to their own advantage.

For more details of my full opinions on TPP, read my other article on the aforementioned.

California Governor Signs Physician Assisted-Suicide Bill

On October 5, 2015, California become one of the very few states, to allow right to dignity legislation.

In September, California state senators voted 23-14 in favor on letting doctors prescribe life-ending medications who were expected to die within six months and are terminally ill.

The state assembly approved the bill earlier with a 43-34 vote.

Governor Jerry Brown who signed the legislation into law, had this to say to the Associated Press.

“I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill,” the governor said in a signing statement that accompanied his signature, the Associated Press reported.

The right to die with dignity was put back into the spot light last year, by Brittany Maynard.

On New Year’s Day, 2014, Maynard found out she had brain cancer and a few months later she moved from California to Oregon, in order to die with dignity, before her 30th birthday.

Maynard wrote this op-ed last November, which appeared on CNN:

“On New Year’s Day, after months of suffering from debilitating headaches, I learned that I had brain cancer.

I was 29 years old. I’d been married for just over a year. My husband and I were trying for a family.

Our lives devolved into hospital stays, doctor consultations and medical research. Nine days after my initial diagnoses, I had a partial craniotomy and a partial resection of my temporal lobe. Both surgeries were an effort to stop the growth of my tumor.

In April, I learned that not only had my tumor come back, but it was more aggressive. Doctors gave me a prognosis of six months to live.

Because my tumor is so large, doctors prescribed full brain radiation. I read about the side effects: The hair on my scalp would have been singed off. My scalp would be left covered with first-degree burns. My quality of life, as I knew it, would be gone.

After months of research, my family and I reached a heartbreaking conclusion: There is no treatment that would save my life, and the recommended treatments would have destroyed the time I had left.

I considered passing away in hospice care at my San Francisco Bay-area home. But even with palliative medication, I could develop potentially morphine-resistant pain and suffer personality changes and verbal, cognitive and motor loss of virtually any kind.

Because the rest of my body is young and healthy, I am likely to physically hang on for a long time even though cancer is eating my mind. I probably would have suffered in hospice care for weeks or even months. And my family would have had to watch that.

I did not want this nightmare scenario for my family, so I started researching death with dignity. It is an end-of-life option for mentally competent, terminally ill patients with a prognosis of six months or less to live. It would enable me to use the medical practice of aid in dying: I could request and receive a prescription from a physician for medication that I could self-ingest to end my dying process if it becomes unbearable.

I quickly decided that death with dignity was the best option for me and my family.

We had to uproot from California to Oregon, because Oregon is one of only five states where death with dignity is authorized.

I met the criteria for death with dignity in Oregon, but establishing residency in the state to make use of the law required a monumental number of changes. I had to find new physicians, establish residency in Portland, search for a new home, obtain a new driver’s license, change my voter registration and enlist people to take care of our animals, and my husband, Dan, had to take a leave of absence from his job. The vast majority of families do not have the flexibility, resources and time to make all these changes.

I’ve had the medication for weeks. I am not suicidal. If I were, I would have consumed that medication long ago. I do not want to die. But I am dying. And I want to die on my own terms.

I would not tell anyone else that he or she should choose death with dignity. My question is: Who has the right to tell me that I don’t deserve this choice? That I deserve to suffer for weeks or months in tremendous amounts of physical and emotional pain? Why should anyone have the right to make that choice for me?

Now that I’ve had the prescription filled and it’s in my possession, I have experienced a tremendous sense of relief. And if I decide to change my mind about taking the medication, I will not take it.

Having this choice at the end of my life has become incredibly important. It has given me a sense of peace during a tumultuous time that otherwise would be dominated by fear, uncertainty and pain.

Now, I’m able to move forward in my remaining days or weeks I have on this beautiful Earth, to seek joy and love and to spend time traveling to outdoor wonders of nature with those I love. And I know that I have a safety net.

I plan to celebrate my husband’s birthday on October 26 with him and our family. Unless my condition improves dramatically, I will look to pass soon thereafter.

I hope for the sake of my fellow American citizens that I’ll never meet that this option is available to you. If you ever find yourself walking a mile in my shoes, I hope that you would at least be given the same choice and that no one tries to take it from you.

When my suffering becomes too great, I can say to all those I love, “I love you; come be by my side, and come say goodbye as I pass into whatever’s next.” I will die upstairs in my bedroom with my husband, mother, stepfather and best friend by my side and pass peacefully. I can’t imagine trying to rob anyone else of that choice.”

Current states that have right to dignity laws included Washington State, Oregon, California and Vermont.

According to a article in Time magazine last year, See Which States Allow Assisted Suicide, writer Emily Barone goes into detail regarding death with dignity laws.

Barone shows these facts, in regards to the aforementioned.

While the article is too long to reproduce, go to this web site for more details, http://time.com/3551560/brittany-maynard-right-to-die-laws/

Here are some brief facts to know from Barone’s article:

WHY PATIENTS SEEK LETHAL MEDICATION:

91%- Losing Autonomy

89%- Less able to engage in activities

81%- Loss of Dignity

50%- Loss of Bodily Functions

40%- Burden on family, friend and caregivers

24%- Inadequate pain control

3%-Financial implications of receiving treatment

 

 

EDUCATION OF THOSE WHO DIED

6%- Less than high school

22%- High school graduate

26%- Some College

46%- BA or higher”

Also, here is a state by state break down of legislation on this issue, provided by http://www.deathwithdignity.org/advocates/national#sthash.QTN4s66O.dpuf

“ALASKA*
Bill Number HB 99
Bill Title An act relating to the voluntary termination of life by terminally ill individuals
Summary TBD
Date Introduced 2/9/2015
Current Status Introduced by State Representative Harriet Drummond, a bill was heard on April 9 in the Health & Social Services Committee on April 9. The Committee adopted several amendments, and Rep. Drummond hopes to see progression on the bill next year.
CALIFORNIA
Bill Number SB 128 (Senate) / AB X2-15 (Assembly)
Bill Title End of Life Option Act
Summary Authorizes adults meeting certain qualifications and suffering from terminal illness to request medications for the purpose of ending their life.
Date Introduced 1/21/2015 / 8/18/2015
Current Status State Senators Bill Monning (D-Carmel) and Lois Wolk (D-Davis) introduced their bill on January 21 (watch our summary here). Death with Dignity Political Fund has provided strategic support for the effort in California. Meanwhile, on February 11 a lawsuit was filed in San Francisco challenging the state’s ban on physician-assisted dying. On March 25 the Senate Health Committee approved the bill 6-2, with 1 abstention; on April 7 the Judiciary Committee passed the bill 5-2; on May 28 the Appropriations Committee passed the bill 5-2; and on June 4 the full Senate approved the bill 23-15. The bill sponsors pulled it from the Assembly Committee on Health due to insufficient support and continued working on the bill. After the summer recess, Assembly Members Susan Talamantes Eggman, Mark Stone, and several others introduced a new bill, which is an amended version of SB 128, in an extraordinary legislative session dedicated to healthcare. Both the Assembly and the Senate approved the bill, on a 42 to 33 and 23 to 14 vote, respectively. Governor Brown signed the bill on October 5.
COLORADO*
Bill Number HB 15-1135
Bill Title Colorado Death with Dignity Act
Summary Concerning a terminally ill individual’s freedom to make end-of-life decisions.
Date Introduced 1/27/2015
Current Status Colorado State Reps. Lois Court (D-Denver), Joann Ginal (D-Fort Collins) and Lucia Guzman (D-Denver) introduced a Death with Dignity bill, which was debated and voted down in a House Committee. Rep. Ginal anticipates bringing the bill back next year; media reports have confirmed the bill sponsors will work to bring the bill back in 2016.
CONNECTICUT
Bill Number HB 7015
Bill Title An Act Providing a Medical Option of Compassionate Aid in Dying for Terminally Ill Adults
Summary To allow a terminally ill person who is mentally competent the option to receive a prescription for medication that he or she can self-ingest to bring about a peaceful death.
Date Introduced 1/23/2015
Current Status Three state senators and 13 representatives introduced a bill, which was heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 18. However, the Committee decided not to vote on the bill, marking the third time in as many years the bill failed to come up for a committee-level vote.
DELAWARE*
Bill Number HB 150
Bill Title An Act to Amend Title 16 of the Delaware Code Relating to Death with Dignity
Summary This act will allow a competent terminally ill patient the ability to request medication to end the patient’s life.
Date Introduced 5/28/2015
Current Status State Representative Paul Baumbach introduced a Death with Dignity bill that was tabled in Committee.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA*
Bill Number B21-0038
Bill Title Death with Dignity Act of 2015
Summary TBD
Date Introduced 1/14/2015
Current Status D.C. Ward 3 Council representative Mary Cheh has introduced a Death with Dignity Act. A hearing in the Council’s Health and Human Services Committee took place on July 10; the same day our new poll, conducted by Lake Research, showed that 67% of Washingtonians favor Death with Dignity.
HAWAII
Bill Number TBD
Bill Title TBD
Summary TBD
Date Introduced TBD
Current Status A bill was debated during the 2013 session but did not move forward. Legislators are again considering an Oregon-style Death with Dignity bill for this year’s session. Our leadership team has worked in this state to help build a foundation for success.
IOWA*
Bill Number HF 65
Bill Title Iowa Death with Dignity Act
Summary TBD
Date Introduced 1/21/2015
Current Status State Representatives Brian Meyer (D-Des Moines), Dennis Cohoon (D-Burlington) Sally Stutsman (D-Riverside), Mary Mascher (D-Iowa City), Timi Brown-Powers (D-Waterloo), Mary Wolfe (D-Clinton), Marti Anderson (D-Des Moines), and Beth Wessel Kroeschell (D-Ames) introduced a bill, which stalled in committee.
KANSAS*
Bill Number HB 2150
Bill Title Kansas Death with Dignity Act
Summary TBD
Date Introduced 1/28/2015
Current Status A bill has been introduced in the Kansas State House by the standing Committee on Vision 2020 and referred to the Committee on Health and Human Services.
MAINE
Bill Number SP 452 / LD 1270
Bill Title An Act Regarding Patient-directed Care at the End of Life
Summary Introduces legislation similar to the Vermont Patient Choice and Control and the End of Life Act.
Date Introduced 4/7/2015
Current Status Representatives Bobbi Beavers (D-South Berwick), Richard Campbell (R-Orrington), Kathleen Dillingham (R-Oxford), Denise Harlow (D-Portland), Brian Hubbell (D-Bar Harbor), Eric Jorgensen, (D-Portland), Diane Russell (D-Portland), Stephen Wood (R-Sabattus), as well as Senators Roger Katz (R-Kennebec/Augusta) and Dawn Hill (D-York) introduced a bill. The Joint Committee on Health and Human Services passed the bill 7-5 at a working session on May 22. The Senate voted 18-17 against the bill on June 15 and 16, while the House approved it on June 15 76-70. Sen. Katz vows to bring the bill back in the next session.
MARYLAND*
Bill Number SB 0676 (Senate) / HB 1021 (House)
Bill Title Richard E. Israel and Roger “Pip” Moyer Death With Dignity Act (Senate and House bill are cross-filed)
Summary Authorizing a qualified patient to request aid in dying by making specified requests.
Date Introduced 2/6/2015 (Senate) / 2/13/2015 (House)
Current Status State Delegate Shane Pendergrass (D-Howard) plus 37 co-sponsors, and Senator Ronald Young (D-Frederick) plus 7 co-sponsors, introduced cross-filed bills. Following committee hearings in both chambers, the bill was killed on April 1 with a decision to not put it up for a vote. The bill Sponsors intend bring the bill back in 2016. In the meantime, the bill is under consideration in summer-study committees, with hearings scheduled for September 9 and October 8.
MASSACHUSETTS
Bill Number H 1991
Bill Title Massachusetts Compassionate Care for the Terminally Act
Summary An Act affirming a terminally ill patient’s right to compassionate aid in dying.
Date Introduced 1/15/2015
Current Status After the narrow loss on the 2012 ballot, a bill was heard in committee in the 2013 session but did not move forward (unfortunately, a Death with Dignity bill cannot return to the Massachusetts ballot until 2018 because of the Commonwealth’s rules on the initiative process). Representative Louis Kafka (D-Stoughton) has filed a bill this session, the fourth time he’s done so, backed by 39 lawmakers. A hearing is scheduled for October 27.
MINNESOTA*
Bill Number SF 1880 / HF 2095
Bill Title Minnesota Compassionate Care Act of 2015
Summary A bill for an act relating to health and adopting compassionate care for terminally ill patients.
Date Introduced 3/18/2015 (Senate) / 3/23/2015 (House)
Current Status Senators Chris Eaton, Sandra Pappas, D. Scott Dibble, and John Marty introduced a Death with Dignity bill, which received an informational hearing. A companion bill was later introduced in the House by 17 co-sponsors. The bill is unlikely to be picked up again in 2016.
MISSOURI*
Bill Number HB 307
Bill Title Missouri Death With Dignity Act
Summary Establishes the Missouri Death With Dignity Act to allow patients with terminal disease to end their life in a humane and dignified manner.
Date Introduced 1/7/2015
Current Status State Representative Kimberly Gardner (D-St. Louis) has introduced House Bill 307, which was read for the second time on 1/8/2015. No hearings are scheduled and the bill is not on the House calendar.
MONTANA
Bill Number SB 202
Bill Title Montana Death With Dignity Act
Summary Establishes guidelines and immunities for physicians who provide end of life care.
Date Introduced 1/21/2015
Current Status The Montana Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that nothing in the state’s statutes prohibits physicians from prescribing medication to terminally ill patients; the ruling essentially rendered death with dignity not illegal in the state. In the current legislative session, State Senator Dick Barrett, D-Missoula, introduced a bill, which was later tabled in the Judiciary Committee. Related bills which would have criminalized Death with Dignity were defeated.
NEVADA*
Bill Number SB 336
Bill Title Patient Self-Determination Act
Summary TBD
Date Introduced 1/16/2015
Current Status Following our work building a foundation for success, Senators David Parks (D-Las Vegas), Ben Kieckhefer (R-Washoe), and 5 other co-sponsors introduced March 16 a bill modeled on the Oregon law March 16. The bill died in Health Committee without a hearing. The sponsors intend to bring the bill back in the 2017 session. Learn more →
NEW HAMPSHIRE
Bill Number HB 151
Bill Title TBD
Summary Establishing a committee to study end-of-life decisions.
Date Introduced 1/8/2015
Current Status Following a nay vote in the State House in 2014, New Hampshire legislators are returning to the issue again this session, with HB 151, sponsored by Rep. Phillips, which aims to “establish a committee to study end-of-life decisions.” The bill passed in the House on March 4, but Governor Hassan vetoed it on June 2.
NEW JERSEY
Bill Number Assembly Bill 2270 / S382 (identical Senate bill)
Bill Title Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act
Summary Introduces legislation similar to the Oregon, Washington, and Vermont Death with Dignity laws.
Date Introduced 1/14/2014 in the Senate, 2/6/2014 in the Assembly.
Current Status On 11/13/2014 the Assembly voted 41-31 in favor of the bill. In January, the Senate bill S382, was introduced in the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee with amendments. According to media reports, the bill may not make it out of the Senate before the January 12, 2016 deadline.
NEW MEXICO
Bill Number TBD
Bill Title TBD
Summary TBD
Date Introduced TBD
Current Status An appeals court has overturned a lower court’s ruling that doctors could not be prosecuted under the state’s assisted suicide law, saying nothing in the state’s Constitution allows for the right to die by means of physician-assisted dying. The state Supreme Court will be reviewing this latest decision beginning in October.
NEW YORK*
Bill Number A02129 & A05261 (Assembly) // SB 3685-2015 / SB 5814-2015 (Senate)
Bill Title New York Death with Dignity Act & Patient Self-Determination Act (Assembly) // New York End of Life Options Act / Patient Self-Determination at the End of Life Act (Senate)
Summary To grant terminally-ill New Yorkers the right to end their lives safely and in a humane and dignified manner (A02129) / Authorizes the prescription of aid-in-dying medication to individuals with terminal illnesses (SB 3685)
Date Introduced 1/15/2015 & 2/13/2015 (Assembly) // 2/13/2015 & 6/4/2015 (Senate)
Current Status State Representative Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) has introduced a bill in the Assembly, where it was referred to the health committee. A month later State Senators Diane Savino (D-N Staten Island/S Brooklyn) and Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) introduced a bill in the Senate, and a separate group of Representatives a parallel, patient self-determination bill proposal in the Assembly and Sen. John Bonacic (R-Middletown) in the Senate. Meanwhile, a lawsuit before the State Supreme Court seeks to legalize “doctor-assisted suicide” in the state.
NORTH CAROLINA*
Bill Number HB 611
Bill Title North Carolina Death with Dignity Act
Summary Introduces legislation similar to the Oregon Death with Dignity Act.
Date Introduced 4/9/2015
Current Status Representatives Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford) and Susan Fishare (D-Buncombe) have introduced a bill together with two co-sponsors.
OKLAHOMA*
Bill Number HB 1673
Bill Title Oklahoma Death with Dignity Act
Summary Introduces legislation similar to the Oregon, Washington, and Vermont Death with Dignity laws.
Date Introduced 1/30/2015
Current Status Rep. Steve Kouplen (D-Beggs) has authored and filed a bill proposal.
OREGON
Bill Number ORS 127.800–127.897
Bill Title Oregon Death with Dignity Act
Summary Allows terminally ill patients to request medication to end their life in a humane and dignified manner.
Date Passed 11/1/1994
Effective Date 11/4/1997
Current Status In effect for 17 years, working as intended (read the annual reports). Learn more →
PENNSYLVANIA
Bill Number TBD
Bill Title TBD
Summary TBD
Date Introduced TBD
Current Status State Senator Daylen Leach (D-Montgomery) and Representative Rozzi (D-Berks) introduced a bill this session but it failed to move out of Judiciary Committee and is likely to not be taken up this year.
RHODE ISLAND*
Bill Number HB 5507 (House) / SB 598 (Senate)
Bill Title Lila Manfield Sapinsley Compassionate Care Act
Summary Provides a legal mechanism whereby a terminally ill patient may choose to end his or her life using drugs prescribed by a physician.
Date Introduced 2/12/2015 (House) / (Senate_
Current Status State Representatives Edith Ajello (D-Providence), Teresa Tanzi (D), Aaron Regunberg (D), Christopher Blazejewski (D) and David Bennett (D) introduced a bill in the House, which on April 8 received a hearing at the Committee on Health, Education, and Welfare, which recommended the measure be held for further study. Senator Gayle Goldin (D-Providence) and co-sponsors Christopher Ottiano (R), Joshua Miller (D), Erin Lynch (D), and Paul Jabour (D) introduced a companion bill in the Senate, where the Judiciary Committee made the same recommendation as the House Committee for the companion bill on May 28.
TENNESSEE*
Bill Number HB 1040 / SB 1362
Bill Title TBD
Summary TBD
Date Introduced 3/31/2015
Current Status Introduced by Representative Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley) with two co-sponsors and by Senator Reginald Tate (D-Shelby), the companion bills were moved to summer study by both the House and Senate Subcommittees that considered them. A hearing was held on June 9. The bill will likely return in the 2016 session.
UTAH*
Bill Number HB 391
Bill Title Utah Death with Dignity Act
Summary Introduces legislation similar to the Oregon, Washington, and Vermont Death with Dignity laws.
Date Introduced 2/24/2015
Current Status Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck (D-Salt Lake City) has introduced a Death with Dignity bill this year in order to start the discussion about it. The House Health and Human Services Committee voted to send the bill for further study during an interim session.
VERMONT
Bill Number Act 39
Bill Title Patient Choice at End of Life Act
Summary Legislation similar to the Oregon and Washington Death with Dignity laws.
Date Passed 2013
Effective Date 5/20/2013
Current Status Vermont in 2013 became the third state to enact a Death with Dignity law—the first in New England and the first to be passed through legislation. In the 2015 session S.108, an act repealing the sunset on provisions in the Patient Choice at End of Life Act was passed by both the House and the Senate, and signed into law by Governor Shumlin on May 20. Learn more →
WASHINGTON
Bill Number RCW 70.245
Bill Title Washington Death with Dignity Act
Summary Legislation nearly identical to the Oregon Death with Dignity Act.
Date Passed 11/4/2008 (Ballot Measure I-1000)
Effective Date 3/5/2009
Current Status In effect for 6 years, working as intended (read the annual reports). Learn more →
WISCONSIN
Bill Number AB67 (Assembly) / SB 28 (Senate)
Bill Title N/A
Summary Permitting certain individuals to make requests for medication for the purpose of ending their lives and providing penalties.
Date Introduced 3/3/2015 (Assembly) / 2/11/2015 (Senate)
Current Status Senator Fred Risser (D-Madison) plus 4 cosponsors, and Representatives Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton) and Sondy Pope (D-Cross Plains) plus 12 cosponsors, have introduced companion Death with Dignity measures modeled after the Oregon act in the Senate and Assembly, respectively. This is the 7th time such a proposal has been introduced in the past 20 years. In previous 6 attempts the bill was not heard by either chamber. Though the legislators aren’t confident the bill will pass this session, they believe “it’s a conversation lawmakers ought to have.”
WYOMING*
Bill Number HB 119
Bill Title Death with Dignity Act
Summary TBD
Date Introduced TBD
Current Status A House Committee has tabled a Death with Dignity bill sponsored by State Representative Dan Zwonitzer (R-Cheyenne) and recommended the proposed law be researched by an interim committee.”

With California becoming the most recent state to allow death with dignity law, let’s hope this will pave the way for more states to allow similar policies.