Center Urges Court to Uphold Political Disclosure

The Center for Political Accountability and the Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School called on the U.S. Supreme Court to leave in place long-standing limits on corporate political activity and more recent requirements that companies and trade associations disclose their spending on electioneering communications.

In an amicus brief filed in the United Citizens case, the CPA and the Zicklin Center warned that “dismantl[ing] [Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act] provisions, including its disclosure requirements,” would remove”... all restraints on corporate political influence.”   The case poses a major challenge to effective federal regulation of corporate political activity.

If successful, the CPA and the Zicklin Center noted, appellants would leave the public, shareholders and company directors in the dark when it comes to corporate political activity.  Millions of dollars of corporate money will be spent through third party groups and public accountability will disappear.

 


 

Yellowstone Park Receives Funds For Unique Research Project

Yellowstone National Park will receive a half million dollars in federal funds to match a private donation enabling the park to conduct a groundbreaking research project.

The federal grant is part of the National Park Service Centennial Challenge, unveiled by Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne at the August 2006 dedication of Yellowstone’s new Canyon Visitor Education Center.

Read more: Yellowstone Park Receives Funds For Unique Research Project

Earth Temperatures Fall Short of Forecasts

The prediction by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climatic Change (IPCC) of one degree increase in earth’s temperature by 2011 doesn’t appear likely to happen. The earth has not been warming over the past decade as was predicted by the IPCC computer model. A Washington professor thinks it is more likely that we are entering a cooling phase.

Read more: Earth Temperatures Fall Short of Forecasts

SBA Warns of Fraudulent Attempts to Obtain Information from Businesses

The U.S. Small Business Administration issued a scam alert to small businesses, warning them not to respond to letters falsely claiming to have been sent by the SBA asking for bank account information in order to qualify them for federal tax rebates. 

The fraudulent letters were sent out with what appears to be an SBA letterhead to small businesses across the country, advising recipients that they may be eligible for a tax rebate under the Economic Stimulus Act, and that SBA is assessing their eligibility for such a rebate.  The letter asks the small business to provide the name of its bank and account number. 

These letters have not been sent by or authorized by the SBA, and all small businesses are strongly advised not to respond to them.

The scheme is similar in many ways to e-mail scams often referred to as “phishing” that seek personal data and financial account information that enables another party to access and individual’s bank accounts or to engage in identity theft.

The SBA is working with the SBA Office of Inspector General to investigate this matter. The Office of Inspector General asks that anyone who receives such a letter report it to the OIG Fraud Line at 1 (800) 767-0385, or e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 


 

Montana Leads Transportation Awards

Montana led all other states in the number of national awards recently presented for outstanding and innovative transportation planning efforts.

The Transportation Planning Excellence Awards Program, which is co-sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration, and American Planning Association, awarded three excellence and one honorable mention awards to Montana transportation planning efforts.

MDT Director Jim Lynch noted that, although MDT’s first priority is to develop planning processes that result in cost-effective improvements appropriate for Montana’s sometimes unique conditions, the national recognition demonstrates many of these processes can also serve as models for other states.

Ag Opposes EPA Tax on Livestock

The American Farm Bureau Federation has registered its opposition to an Environmental Protection Agency proposal to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, asserting it would essentially result in new taxes on livestock operations.

“Most livestock and dairy farmers would not be able to pass along the costs incurred under this plan,” said Mark Maslyn, AFBF executive director of public policy. “Steep fees associated with this action would force many producers out of business. The net result would likely be higher consumer costs for milk, beef and pork,” said Maslyn, in comments submitted to EPA.

Read more: Ag Opposes EPA Tax on Livestock

Builders Object to Executive Order

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) has denounced an Executive Order signed by President Obama that repeals Executive Order 13202, that prohibited federal agencies and recipients of federal funding from requiring contractors to sign union-only project labor agreements (PLAs) as a condition of performing work on federal and federally funded construction projects.

Today’s decision to repeal Executive Order 13202 opens the door to waste and discrimination in federal and federally funded construction contracts,” said ABC President and CEO Kirk Pickerel. “This action removes the safeguards that prohibited discrimination based upon union affiliation in the awarding of federal contracts.

 


 

Health Care Costs, Biofuel Use Among Topics in Abstract

The U.S. Census Bureau’s Statistical Abstract of the United States, first published in 1878, is a summary of statistics on a wide range of topics. Whether one seeks numbers on biofuel or banking, foreign trade or foreign aid, cars or bars, there is no better one-stop shop for statistics.

For example, the average length of stay for patients at community hospitals declined from 7.2 days in 1990 to 5.5 days in 2006. Yet over the same period, the average cost per patient stay climbed 81 percent, from $4,947 to $8,970.
The source of the data is not limited to the Census Bureau — statistics are also derived from other social, political and economic organizations in the United States. Data in this edition are generally for the most recent year or period available by the summer of 2008.

Looking for a Few Businesses

The U.S Small Business Administration is seeking nominations for 2009 Small Business Week Awards. Each year small business owners and advocate champions from every state are recognized for their ingenuity, determination, success and contributions toward building a more prosperous future for our country.

Read more: Looking for a Few Businesses

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