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The DC: Alabama's near-total abortion ban, and... 👤 Should cities ban facial recognition software?

by Countable | 5.15.19

Welcome to Thursday, May 16, blue, red, and purple-staters...

Alabama Senate Passes Near-Total Abortion Ban

Alabama lawmakers have voted to effectively ban abortion in the state, sending to the governor a bill that makes no exceptions for rape or incest.

The Human Life Protection Act bans all abortions in the state except when "abortion is necessary in order to prevent a serious health risk" to the mother. The bill also criminalizes the procedure, reclassifying it as a Class A felony, punishable by up to 99 years in prison for doctors.

State Rep. Terri Collins (R), who sponsored the bill, said after its passage: "This bill is about challenging Roe v. Wade and protecting the lives of the unborn, because an unborn baby is a person who deserves love and protection."

"It's a sad day in Alabama," said Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D) in the debate leading up to the vote. "You just said to my daughter, you don't matter, you don't matter in the state of Alabama."

Should more states pass near-total abortion bans?

On the Radar

Maine's Getting More Popular

Maine could become the latest state to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, after the Senate voted to pledge its electoral votes to the national popular vote winner.

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact only goes into effect if laws pass in enough states to represent an electoral majority (i.e., the states joining the coalition must have a combined electoral vote of 270 or above). The total is now at 189, with 14 states and Washington, D.C., having joined the pact.

“We’re not in the 1700s any more,” said Sen. David Miramant, D-Camden. “Sometimes we change the laws because we live in a modern century. It happens a lot. This one needs to be changed.”

Should the U.S. abandon the Electoral College?

Here are the latest numbers:

Iran Tensions

The Trump administration is assessing potential responses to attacks by Iran against U.S. personnel and interests in the Middle East, which could include a deployment of 120,000 troops to the region according to reports from The New York Times. The news comes amid rising tensions that prompted the withdrawal of non-essential U.S. diplomatic personnel from Iraq due to “specific threats."

With all that in mind, it’s worth noting that the presence of U.S. military forces in the Middle East has declined in recent years. As the USAFacts annual report shows, when the Pentagon stopped disclosing troop levels in December 2017, there were 15,000 in Afghanistan, 9,000 in Iraq, and 1,700 in Syria compared to 134,152 in Iraq & Afghanistan in 2008.

How do you feel about Trump's response to tensions with Iran?

Under the Radar

Facial Recognition

San Francisco lawmakers voted Tuesday to bar city police and municipal agencies from using facial recognition software.

The law defines facial recognition technology as “an automated or semi-automated process that assists in identifying or verifying an individual based on an individual’s face.”

Federal law enforcement officials are exempt from the bill, so agencies like the TSA will be unaffected.

“I think part of San Francisco being the real and perceived headquarters for all things tech also comes with a responsibility for its local legislators,” said Aaron Peskin, the city supervisor who sponsored the bill.

“It is ridiculous to deny the value of this technology in securing airports and border installations,” Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law expert at George Washington University, told the New York Times. “It is hard to deny that there is a public safety value to this technology.”

Should more cities ban facial recognition software?

Poverty Line On The Line

The Trump administration has proposed regulatory changes that would redefine “poverty” in a way that could push many low-income individuals off assistance programs like food stamps, Head Start, and Medicaid.

Currently, the poverty line for a family of four is around $26,000. The government adjusts the line for inflation yearly based on the consumer price index (CPI). The administration is considering using a different measure called “chained CPI,” which is lower than the rate currently used.

“Our knowledge about inflation has increased substantially since that time, so it is worth re-evaluating,” an undisclosed senior administration official told the New York Times.

Melissa Boteach, of the National Women’s Law Center, tweeted that the proposed change “is a cynical attempt to squeeze the working-class people. Their incomes will STILL be too low to make ends meet, but Trump’s decree would make it harder for them to qualify for help.”

Do you support redefining the poverty line?

Your Gov at a Glance 👀

The White House: President Trump in D.C. & NY

  • At 11:50am EDT, the president will meet with the president of the Swiss Confederation.
  • At 1:30pm EDT, the president will deliver remarks on modernizing our immigration system for a stronger America.
  • At 6:30pm EDT, the president will hold a roundtable with supporters in New York, NY before attending a joint fundraising dinner.
  • At 8:10pm EDT, the president will arrive at Trump Tower.

The House of Representatives: In

  • Voting on a bill to strengthen healthcare outreach under Obamacare, ban "junk plans", and get generic drugs to market sooner.

The Senate: In

What You're Saying

Here's how you're answering Should the Interior Secretary’s Authority to Take Land Into Trust for All Tribes Be Reaffirmed?

(Follow eliyak's comment here.)

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But wait, there's more!

And, in the End…

It's Love a Tree Day. Here's the nation's most-famous president with his most-famous tree:

"Father, I Can Not Tell a Lie: I Cut the Tree" Engraving by John C. McRae, 1867.

May all your tree love be requited,

—Josh Herman

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Written by Countable

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