News releases, reports, statements and associated documents from public policy organizations whose goal it is to influence the debate Washington.
Today Center for Food Safety, on behalf of beekeepers, farmers and sustainable agriculture and conservation groups, filed a formal legal petition requesting reforms in the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) regulation of harmful neonicotinoid insecticide seed coatings, which are used on dozens of crops. Numerous studies have shown devastating impacts specifically to pollinators from the broad use of the seed coatings. With endorsement by all three of the national beekeeper associations, the American Beekeeping WASHINGTON, April 27 -- The Center for Food Safety issued the following news release: Today Center for Food Safety, on behalf of beekeepers, farmers and sustainable agriculture and conservation groups, filed a formal legal petition requesting reforms in the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) regulation of harmful neonicotinoid insecticide seed coatings, which are used on dozens of crops. Numerous studies have shown devastating impacts specifically to pollinators from the broad use of the seed coatings. With endorsement by all three of the national beekeeper associations, the American BeekeepingFederation, American Honey Producers Association and the Pollinator Stewardship Council, the petition represents the concerns of the overwhelming majority of America's managers of honey bees, which are essential to our food supply.
EPA has allowed millions of pounds of coated seeds to be planted annually on more than 150 million acres nationwide. The group's petition shows the agency has improperly allowed this to occur, without requiring the coated seeds to be registered under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), without enforceable labels on the seed bags, and without adequate assessments of the serious ongoing environmental harm.
Neonicotinoids are a class of insecticides known to have acute and chronic effects on honey bees and other pollinator species and are considered a major factor in overall bee population declines and poor health. Up to 95 percent of the applied seed coating ends up in the surrounding air (through dust off), soil and water rather, than in the crop for which it was intended, leading to extensive contamination.
The cost-effectiveness of neonicotinoid seed coatings has been challenged in recent years, with numerous studies indicating that they are drastically overused - making EPA's disregard of their risks all the more harmful. The seeds lack enforceable labels or adequate use directions from EPA. As they are not considered to be "pesticides," there is no requirement for official investigations of the bee kills that clearly can result from the seeds. And beekeepers who suffer damage to their hives have virtually no recourse. Along with honey bees, wild bees and other beneficial insects are in jeopardy. Overuse of the seed coating insecticides threatens sustainable agriculture going forward.
EPA also has allowed some other similar types of systemic insecticides onto the market and appears poised to approve additional seed coatings in the future.
The Petitioners are beekeepers Bret Adee, American Beekeeping Federation, American Honey Producers Association, Jeff Anderson, David Hackenberg, and Pollinator Stewardship Council, farmers Lucas Criswell and Gail Fuller, and public interest and conservation groups American Bird Conservancy, Center for Food Safety and Pesticide Action Network of North America.
There are major differences between younger Millennial workers and their older Gen X and Baby Boomer colleagues when it comes to how they view and use health benefits, according to a new analysis by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).
The Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey (CEHCS) by EBRI and Greenwald & Associates finds that Millennials are much more satisfied than Baby Boomers and Gen Xers with health plan choices and financial aspects of their health plans; WASHINGTON, April 27 -- The Employee Benefit Research Institute issued the following news release: There are major differences between younger Millennial workers and their older Gen X and Baby Boomer colleagues when it comes to how they view and use health benefits, according to a new analysis by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). The Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey (CEHCS) by EBRI and Greenwald & Associates finds that Millennials are much more satisfied than Baby Boomers and Gen Xers with health plan choices and financial aspects of their health plans;are more actively engaged in picking a plan and making cost- conscious health care decisions; and are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors (except smoking).
"We find profound differences in how Millennials deal with health issues and health coverage than their older colleagues at work," said Paul Fronstin, director of EBRI's Health Education and Research program, and co-author of the report. "It's no surprise that employers are interested in the role of Millennials in the labor force. It's important for employers to understand differences in generational cohorts to better adapt to a changing workforce."
For instance, Fronstin said employers may need to engage Millennials differently than older generations because of different expectations and experiences regarding health care and health coverage as an employee benefit. Employers should better understand how different workers may react to different plan design features and other efforts to engage workers in their health, and use of health care services, he said.
The Millennial Generation (also known as Millennials or Generation Y), is the demographic cohort with birth years ranging from 1977 to 2000 (currently ages 17 40); it numbers over 75 million people, which is currently larger than the Baby Boom generation (individuals born 1946-1965, currently ages 52 71) of about 74.9 million. In addition, Generation X (those born 1966-1976, currently ages 41 51) is projected to pass the Baby Boom generation in population by 2028.
Among the report's key findings:
* Millennials value and are more satisfied than other generational cohorts with aspects of plan management that are directly within a plan sponsor's control. More than other generational cohorts, Millennials are satisfied with the process of enrollment, including the information available to help understand health plan choices. Further, Millennials are more satisfied with the availability of affordable health plans at enrollment and their personal financial experience of out-of-pocket costs. Millennials are slightly less satisfied with health system features that plan sponsors have less control over, including quality of health care received and doctor choice. This is an issue plan sponsors may engage their insurance partners to address.
* Millennials are more engaged than other generational cohorts in health care choices, including some costly for plan sponsors. At enrollment and when engaged with the health system, Millennials report higher rates of specific behaviors that contributed to more engaged health care consumers. However, they are also more likely to request a brand name drug over a generic. Plan sponsors may want to experiment with targeted ways to lower plan costs among this subset of their participant population, the report notes. Millennials report greater engagement with cost-conscious behaviors (e.g. seeking the cost of a procedure before receiving services) that many plan sponsors encourage through their health plan design and participant education.
* Plan sponsors may have more leverage to encourage Millennials to stop smoking. The EBRI research shows that Millennials have the highest rates of regular exercise and normal weight, yet paradoxically are more likely to smoke. Given the higher overall engagement rates summarized above, plan sponsors may want to experiment with plan design and education to decrease the rates of smoking among the youngest generational cohort.
The EBRI/Greenwald & Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey (CEHCS) is an online survey that examines issues surrounding consumer-driven health care, including the cost of insurance, the cost of care, satisfaction with health care, satisfaction with health care plans, reasons for choosing a plan, and sources of health information. It is co-sponsored by EBRI and Greenwald & Associates, Inc., with the support from seven private organizations.
The full report, "Consumer Engagement in Health Care and Choice of Health Plan: Differences Among Millennials, Baby Boomers, and Generation X Have Implications for Plan Sponsors," is published in the April 27, 2017, EBRI Notes, available online at http://www.ebri.org
Liberty Counsel's Assistant Vice President of Legal Affairs, Roger Gannam, will testify and present a brief today at the public meeting of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), urging amendment of article I, sec. 23 of the Florida Constitution to clarify that it does not include a right to abortion.
Liberty Counsel prepared an amicus brief in support of amending article I, sec. 23 to clarify that it was intended to apply strictly to protect citizens from government intrusion into their private JACKSONVILLE, Fla., April 27 -- Liberty Counsel issued the following news release: Liberty Counsel's Assistant Vice President of Legal Affairs, Roger Gannam, will testify and present a brief today at the public meeting of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), urging amendment of article I, sec. 23 of the Florida Constitution to clarify that it does not include a right to abortion. Liberty Counsel prepared an amicus brief in support of amending article I, sec. 23 to clarify that it was intended to apply strictly to protect citizens from government intrusion into their privatedata and information.
The privacy provision, adopted by amendment in 1980 to protect informational privacy, arose out of the post-Watergate-era regarding the collection of personal information. All the testimony proposing the amendment clearly centered around the need to protect personal information. No one ever suggested this provision could apply to abortion. Beginning in 1989, the Florida Supreme Court redefined the right of informational privacy to create a right of abortion. The Court has continued to expand its rulings so that even parental consent and 24-hour waiting periods have been invalidated.
Every twenty years, the appointed commissioners of the CRC review and study the Florida Constitution, and hold public hearings to receive input on constitutional issues and possible amendments. The CRC may then propose amendments to the Constitution, which must be approved by voters. Today's Jacksonville hearing is one of many which will be held around the state by the 2017-2018 CRC. Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, presented similar testimony at the first CRC hearing in Orlando.
"When Florida voters adopted the constitutional amendment creating article I, section 23 in 1980, the amendment was intended to protect informational privacy," said Gannam. "None of the debate surrounding the amendment included any notion that it would include abortion. However, the Florida Supreme Court later redefined the amendment to create a new right of abortion by a minor, without parental consent. This redefinition of the amendment undermines the separation of powers, and the Commission should give the people of Florida the opportunity to amend the Constitution and reign in the Florida Supreme Court's continuing march towards a virtually unfettered right to abortion," said Gannam.
Staver added, "Now more than ever people need protection in the collection of their personal information. This was the concern and the reason for the amendment in 1980, and today that concern is even greater. But rather than protecting the people by properly applying an amendment they adopted, the Florida Supreme Court distorted the language and applied it to abortion, beginning with a minor who sought an abortion. The amendment should be addressed to reclaim the original intent of the people."
Shockingly, and with no medical evidence before the court, then-Justice Shaw writing for the Court in 1980, said that a fetus is "a highly specialized group of cells solely dependent on the mother for sustenance."
Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.
Transparency International said today that corruption risks in Afghanistan hamper humanitarian aid from getting where it needs to go, and called on the government of Afghanistan, donor agencies and humanitarian agencies to strengthen transparency and accountability in the humanitarian response to ensure fair, rapid and corruption-free humanitarian aid.
In a new report, Collective Resolution to Enhance Accountability and Transparency in Emergencies: Afghanistan report, developed in partnership with Humanitarian BERLIN, April 27 -- Transparency International issued the following news release: Transparency International said today that corruption risks in Afghanistan hamper humanitarian aid from getting where it needs to go, and called on the government of Afghanistan, donor agencies and humanitarian agencies to strengthen transparency and accountability in the humanitarian response to ensure fair, rapid and corruption-free humanitarian aid. In a new report, Collective Resolution to Enhance Accountability and Transparency in Emergencies: Afghanistan report, developed in partnership with HumanitarianOutcomes, the global anti-corruption organisation found that strengthening the role of local governance structures to promote transparency and investing in communication with affected communities would strengthen the response of humanitarian aid providers and the integrity of the aid they deliver.
Through in-depth interviews with affected communities and stakeholders, the study shows that corruption risks exist in a number of stages within the programme cycle of humanitarian aid in Afghanistan. The most notable included during the negotiation of conditions for access and area selection for programming; inappropriate interference in the selection of beneficiaries; risks of nepotism and ethnic bias in staff hiring; a lack of means to reliably hold corrupt staff and organisations accountable; and a lack of transparent and effective communication and feedback mechanisms with aid recipients. Many people interviewed were unaware of the amounts and timing of aid entitlements and some had tried to complain about aid quality or corruption issues to no effect.
Corrupt practices were reported both within local government agencies at the provincial and sub-provincial levels, as well as within the contracting chain with national and international aid organisations.
Corruption is widely understood to be a major problem in Afghanistan, threatening people's ability to trust in government, undermining security and pulling apart the fabric of society. An anti-corruption agenda has become a major focus of the Government of Afghanistan and of a number of partner donor governments. Focus, however, is on the 'big ticket' areas of the security sector and long-term, on-budget development assistance.
However, there is a significant need to create incentives to mitigate corruption in the humanitarian arena and to increase the openness and transparency generally on the corruption experience and challenges faced by humanitarian organisations in Afghanistan. In particular, Transparency International makes the following recommendations:
Humanitarian aid agencies should:
* Be open, principled and supportive in addressing corruption pressure and threats and prioritise internal and external risk mapping.
* Establish joint mechanisms to engage and effectively capture the perspectives of those receiving assistance.
* Support and engage in inter-agency initiatives and invest in collective approaches to mitigation.
* Develop more rigorous, and possible collaborative, approaches to recruitment, partnerships and contracts, and tendering at local levels.
Donor agencies should:
* Take greater shared responsibility for risks and mitigation measures.
* Increase dialogue with partners on risks, sharing experience and investing in good practice mitigation measures.
The Government of Afghanistan should:
* Promote the integrity of humanitarian assistance and the impartial delivery of assistance to insecure areas.
* Deepen the role of local governance structures, such as tribal elder's councils, particularly where local elders have been observed as working with integrity and transparency in aid distribution and are recognised as being representative of their communities.
A sobering new analysis released today by The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS) finds striking inequities in public college affordability, both within and across states. College Costs in Context: A State-by-State Look at College (Un)Affordability exposes the financial burdens that the actual costs of getting a public college education place on students at different income levels. While college costs are high relative to family incomes for most students in most states, the OAKLAND, Calif., April 27 -- The Institute for College Access and Success issued the following news release: A sobering new analysis released today by The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS) finds striking inequities in public college affordability, both within and across states. College Costs in Context: A State-by-State Look at College (Un)Affordability exposes the financial burdens that the actual costs of getting a public college education place on students at different income levels. While college costs are high relative to family incomes for most students in most states, thelowest income students face by far the most extreme and unrealistic financial expectations.
Nationally, families that earn $30,000 or less have to spend 77 percent of their total income to cover the average net price of going to a four-year school, and 50 percent of their total income for a two-year school - more than double the burden placed on any other income group. "Net price" is the total cost of college - books, transportation, and living expenses, as well as tuition and fees - minus state, federal, and college grants and scholarships. In 15 states and D.C., the net price for the lowest income students at four-year colleges is more than 100 percent of total family income.
College Costs in Context is unique in focusing on affordability as the share of family income required to cover the net price paid by students at each income level, and the number of hours low-income students would have to work to cover the price they're asked to pay.
"College prices alone don't tell you whether they're affordable for a given family," said Debbie Cochrane, vice president of TICAS and report co-author. "The net price of college may be lowest for the lowest income families, but a family living on $30,000 per year cannot realistically devote more than half of its income to college and still cover basic necessities."
Other findings from College Costs in Context:
Wide Variations by State
* To pay the net price of going to a public, four-year college as an in-state, full-time student, the share of total income required from those with family incomes of $30,000 or less ranges from a high of 146 percent in D.C. to a low of 55 percent in California. At community colleges, the share of total income required for the lowest income students ranges from a high of 120 percent of income in New Hampshire to a low of 35 percent in Michigan.
* The affordability gap is widest in the D.C., Mississippi, Idaho, and Utah: the lowest income students must commit more than eight times the share of income than the highest income students to cover the net price of four-year college. The gap is narrowest in California, Washington, and New York, where the share of family income required for the neediest students is still at least 3.5 times higher than for the wealthiest families.
Work Hours Needed to Cover the Net Price are Excessive in Many States
* In nine states and D.C., the lowest income students would need to work more than 40 hours per week at minimum wage to cover the net cost of public four-year college, and more than 20 hours per week in all but one state. At community colleges in 27 states plus D.C., the lowest income students would also have to work more than 20 hours per week to cover their net price. Research shows that working more than half time reduces students' odds of graduating.
* In no state do public four-year or two-year colleges meet the Lumina Foundation's affordability benchmark for students with family incomes under 200 percent of poverty, for whom the net price of college is not supposed to exceed the equivalent of 10 hours of work per week.
Low and Moderate Income Families' Burdens Even Greater Considering Discretionary Income
* Looking at discretionary income - what families have left after paying for food, housing and other necessities - puts inequitable burdens into even starker relief. Families with incomes up to $30,000 have no discretionary income to put towards college costs, yet they are expected to pay on average $6,057 per year to attend a two-year college or $9,310 for a public four-year college. For students with family incomes between $30,001 and $48,000, two-year college costs require about a third (32 percent) of discretionary income, and four-year college costs require more than half (53 percent).
Disproportionate Impact by Race/Ethnicity
* Because the majority of African-American, Latino, and Native-American college students have family incomes under $30,000, the heavy affordability burdens placed on low-income students reinforce both income and racial/ethnic disparities in college attainment.
"We will not achieve equity in college enrollment and completion until federal and state student aid recognize the full cost of attending college and direct more aid to those with the greatest need," said Lindsay Ahlman, senior policy analyst at TICAS and report co-author.
To narrow gaps in college affordability, TICAS recommends that policymakers focus where the problems are most severe by strengthening need-based federal Pell Grants, improving state aid programs, and promoting state investment in higher education. The maximum federal Pell Grant covers the smallest share of college costs in more than 40 years, and Pell Grant recipients - the vast majority of whom have family incomes of $40,000 or less - are more than twice as likely as other students to have student loans and owe much more when they graduate. Improving and increasing state grant aid will also help narrow affordability, enrollment, and completion gaps, and states should assess the inequitable impact that early application deadlines, age restrictions, and prohibitions on using grants for non-tuition college costs can have on students' access to needed aid. A new federal investment that promotes state higher education spending would help increase affordability for low- and middle-income students at public colleges, which serve more three-quarters of all undergraduates. On average, state higher education spending is 17 percent lower than before the recession.
College Costs in Context includes national and state-level cost and affordability data for students at community colleges and public four-year schools, which can be compared by state, type of school, and income group. A sortable spreadsheet, the full report, and additional graphics can be downloaded at http://www.ticas.org/content/pub/college-costs-context.
A massive PETA banner proclaiming, "Orcas Suffer at SeaWorld--Stay Away," will fly over the Battle of Flowers Parade during Fiesta San Antonio on Friday. PETA is calling on SeaWorld to release all the orcas in its tanks to sea sanctuaries--including Takara and her newborn calf, the last orca to be born into captivity at the park and, if not released, doomed to spend decades in a small concrete tank.
Where: The plane will fly over the parade, from Broadway and E. Grayson streets to N. Santa SAN ANTONIO, April 27 -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals issued the following news release: A massive PETA banner proclaiming, "Orcas Suffer at SeaWorld--Stay Away," will fly over the Battle of Flowers Parade during Fiesta San Antonio on Friday. PETA is calling on SeaWorld to release all the orcas in its tanks to sea sanctuaries--including Takara and her newborn calf, the last orca to be born into captivity at the park and, if not released, doomed to spend decades in a small concrete tank. Where: The plane will fly over the parade, from Broadway and E. Grayson streets to N. SantaRosa and W. Travis streets, San Antonio
When: Friday, April 28, 12 noon-4 p.m.
"As Fiesta commemorates Texas' fight for freedom, a newborn orca calf has been sentenced to life in prison inside a tiny concrete tank at SeaWorld," says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. "PETA is calling on families to stay away from the park until it agrees to move Takara, her newborn baby, and all marine mammals to sanctuaries, where they'd have some semblance of a natural life."
PETA--whose motto reads, in part, that "animals are not ours to use for entertainment"--notes that while orcas in nature spend their entire lives in close-knit family pods, Takara has been artificially inseminated many times, separated from her mother and two of her offspring, and shuffled from theme park to theme park. At a seaside sanctuary, she and her fifth calf might someday be reunited with Takara's mother, other children, and grandchildren.
For more information, please visit SeaWorldOfHurt.com.
Biologists from Trout Unlimited, the University of Arizona and state and federal agencies this week announced expanded "citizen science" stream monitoring projects that will help them understand the impacts of climate change on Southwest native trout and aid recovery of these rare species.
The efforts will be detailed at this week's annual Southwest Native and Wild Trout Conference in Phoenix, which brings together leading biologists and conservationists from more than 35 agencies and organizations involved in protecting PHOENIX, April 27 -- Trout Unlimited issued the following news release: Biologists from Trout Unlimited, the University of Arizona and state and federal agencies this week announced expanded "citizen science" stream monitoring projects that will help them understand the impacts of climate change on Southwest native trout and aid recovery of these rare species. The efforts will be detailed at this week's annual Southwest Native and Wild Trout Conference in Phoenix, which brings together leading biologists and conservationists from more than 35 agencies and organizations involved in protectingand restoring native trout habitat in New Mexico and Arizona.
In the past decade, the Southwest's three native trout--Gila, Apache, and Rio Grande cutthroat--have suffered devastating impacts from wildfires, climate change, nonnative species and other pressures.
"Southwest native trout have survived for thousands of years in rugged backcountry--but today, they're facing a triple threat of climate change, wildfires and invading non-native species. We need to step up our efforts to protect these rare, beautiful species--time might be running out," said Jack Williams, senior scientist for Trout Unlimited.
Williams noted that trout need cool water and consistent flows. And as the climate warms, those conditions could be harder to find in the Southwest. Climate change and drought also have contributed to larger, more intense mega-fires, which also disrupt trout habitat and stream flows.
To better understand changing conditions, TU, in collaboration with the University of Arizona in Tucson, will enlist citizen volunteers to help install temperature monitoring devices in streams across the state. The collected data will be used to model future stream temperature predictions and help inform restoration and reintroduction strategies for Apache and Gila trout.
In coming months, Dr. Scott Bonar and students at the U of A will deploy some 25 "Tidbit" temperature data monitors in the San Francisco and Verde River drainages in Arizona and New Mexico--historical Gila trout habitat. In addition, volunteers from TU's Gila Trout Chapter in Payson will place at least 35 temperature monitors in Gila and Apache trout waters.
These "citizen science" projects contribute greatly to scientific understanding of how native trout adapt to changing conditions, according to Williams. "We need better data on stream temperatures in areas of potential reintroduction for Gila trout. We're looking for things like which stream stretches are spring-fed or have cooler environments for trout habitat."
The long-term goal is to make native trout populations more resilient to climate change and wildfires.
"Collectively, the efforts by the fish, wildlife, and land management agencies, in collaboration with Trout Unlimited and other non-governmental organizations, are helping to improve the status of the three native trout species in the Southwest," said Julie Carter, statewide native aquatics program manager for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. "The more momentum we have, the greater the chances for recovery and our ability to expand opportunities to anglers to fish for these truly unique species of trout."