POLITICAL LANDSCAPE:

Area congressmen are getting heat from lobbyists on both sides of the national debate on health-care reform as the representatives arrive back in their districts for their August recess.

Rep. David Dreier, who opposes the nearly $1-trillion plan in the House of Representatives that includes a public health insurance option, is one of 25 Republicans being targeted in a national ad campaign by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which supports the House proposals.

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, who has said he would be hesitant to vote for a health-care-reform plan that did not include a public option, is in the crosshairs of a lobbying effort by fiscally conservative group Americans for Limited Government.

The groups are pushing constituents join them in calling for a shift to the opposite end of the debate.

The Democratic committee has planned eight radio ads, letter writing drives, live phone calls and thousands of e-mail messages as part of their “Health Care ER” campaign for Dreier's district, Jon Vogel, the group's executive director, said in a statement.

Vogel criticized Dreier for not breaking with his party members to support President Obama's ambitions for a public insurance option.

“Time and again, Republicans, including Rep. Dreier, protect a broken system of skyrocketing costs, insurance companies making health care decisions, and record-setting insurance company profits instead of working with President Obama to bring real health insurance reform for middle class families,” Vogel said.

Dreier believes health-care reforms are necessary, but is opposed to the current plan being discussed in the House, Dreier's spokeswoman, Jo Maney, said in a statement.

“Like his constituents, Mr. Dreier has deep reservations about the proposed government takeover of our health care system that would add hundreds of billions of dollars to our already ballooning deficit,” Maney said.

Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson called on Schiff's constituents to “hold rallies, demonstrations, tea parties and protests” in opposition to Schiff's stance on “ObamaCare.”

Schiff, a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition of House Democrats, opted not to sign onto a coalition letter questioning the fiscal integrity of a public option as part of the health care reform effort.

Schiff signed a separate letter expressing concern over the total price of the current House bill.

But he has insisted that a public health insurance option would help drive down premiums for all private insurance plans by creating increased competition.

“I would be very loath to support anything without a public option,” he has said.

Opponents of the public insurance proposal have argued that it would require them to give up their current insurance plans, despite repeated statements from Obama and other democrats that a government-run plan would simply add another option to the market for taxpayers to choose from.

Wilson's group called on Schiff's constituents to oppose the proposal.

“There are going to be boots throughout the district, and they're not going to be happy with Congressman Schiff,” Wilson said in a statement.

Glendale Patriots, a group of conservative area residents are planning on attending a Schiff town hall planned for Tuesday in Alhambra, where they expect to grill the congressman.

?

Opposition to prisoner release plan builds

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich joined a growing chorus of officials who are protesting a court order to release nearly 41,000 state prisoners as a way to ease overcrowding in the system.

Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown on Wednesday also denounced the order from a three-judge federal panel to bring the state prison population down to 137% of system capacity.

The panel has given the state 45 days to come up with a plan for reducing the number of prisoners or face court intervention.

The governor's office and the state Legislature have been working on a plan for reducing the number of prisoners in state custody to alleviate overcrowding issues and cut down on costs, which were projected at about $1 billion in the first year under the latest proposal.

Antonovich, whose district includes Glendale and Burbank, released a statement Wednesday criticizing the court ruling as “reckless and irresponsible.”

He also encouraged the state attorney general's office to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, and action currently under consideration by state officials.

If the court ruling is allowed to stand, California's 33 prisons, which currently house 150,354 convicts, would be forced to release 40,591 inmates, reducing the total population to 109,763, according to Antonovich's office.

Performance rights bill moves forward

A bill that would amend federal copyright laws to exempt religious groups from having to make royalty payments for incidental use of music recordings was forward to the full U.S. House Judiciary Committee this week for consideration.

The Performance Rights Act would also grant music performers equal rights to compensation from broadcasters, and establish a flat annual fee in lieu of royalties for individual stations with gross revenues of less than $1.25 million and for noncommercial, public broadcast stations.

Authors of the bill contend none of its provisions would adversely affect public performance rights or the royalties due to songwriters or copyright owners of musical works.

Reps. Adam Schiff and Brad Sherman, who together represent studio rich Glendale and Burbank, sit on the Judiciary Committee, which will consider the bill for possible recommendation to the full House.

The bill failed to make it to a full vote during the previous session of Congress, so it had to be reintroduced this year.

?

— Compiled by Zain Shauk and Jason Wells


Copyright © 2019, Burbank Leader
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
66°