The Cromnibus budget deal grants members of Congress a lucrative new perk: the ability for each member to spend $1,000 of tax dollars per month on a luxury car allowance. Democratic Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado was the first to alert the public to this impending perk, when he posted about it on Facebook last Wednesday, the day after House Republican leaders filed the legislation. The relevant language from page 982 of the 1,603-page bill: "None of the funds made available in this Act may be used by the Chief Administrative Officer of the House of Representatives to make any payments from any Members' Representational Allowance for the leasing of a vehicle, excluding mobile district offices, in an aggregate amount that exceeds $1,000 for the vehicle in any month." read more
ATTN: Earlier today, we published a story about Rep. Andy Harris from Maryland who just led the charge to overturn the will of Washington D.C. voters by inserting language into Congress' spending bill that prevents the District from implementing the referendum they passed to legalize recreational marijuana in the 2014 midterm election. That referendum, by the way, passed with 70% of the vote on Election Day. read more
A new dress code for the Montana House of Representatives that bans jeans and warns women to watch skirt lengths and necklines has drawn the ire of female lawmakers, who say it suggests they cannot independently decide what attire is appropriate. The wardrobe code was enacted by male leaders of the Republican-controlled House in advance of a legislative session that begins on Jan. 5. Most members of the chamber's Democratic minority are women, who say they were not consulted about new rules that target them for apparel infractions. It prohibits female legislators from wearing items like leggings and open-toed sandals, and cautions them to "be sensitive to skirt lengths and necklines."
A board of medical professionals appointed by Gov. Rick Perry said Wednesday that the state should provide health coverage to low-income Texans under the Affordable Care Act -- a move the Republican-led Legislature has opposed.
The 15-member Texas Institute of Health Care Quality and Efficiency recommended that the state's health commissioner be authorized to negotiate a Texas-specific agreement with the federal government to expand health coverage to the poor, "using available federal funds." read more
Americans pay far more and get far less when it comes to the Internet than many other people around the world. But a few small towns might be changing that. Internet users in Seoul continue to get the speediest connections at the lowest prices anywhere in the world, with speeds of one gigabit per second costing just $30 a month, according to annual report released Thursday the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute. By contrast, the best speeds that consumers in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., or New York can get are half as fast and cost $300 a month. The report looked at the cost and speed of Internet service in 24 cities in the United States and abroad. Many of the report's findings -- like the fact that broadband is faster and cheaper in several Asian cities like Seoul, Hong Kong and Tokyo than in American cities -- are similar to findings from previous years. read more