- - Thursday, June 23, 2011

TEXAS

Congressman: Perry is in for 2012

At least one fellow Texas Republican thinks Gov. Rick Perry, already flirting with a 2012 presidential run, is getting ready to jump into the race.

“I think he is. But remember I said, ‘I think,’ ” freshman Rep. Francisco Canseco said Thursday during an interview on The Washington Times-affiliated “America’s Morning News” radio program.

The San Antonio congressman, like the governor a strong ally of the tea party movement, said the Obama administration is strangling the American economy with overregulation.

“The root of the problem is an enormous growth of government, and what it’s done has created a lot of uncertainty in our businesses so that they don’t want to move one way or the other,” he said.

“There’s just so much going on with all of these agencies, growing their tentacles, interfering with the private sector.”

Mr. Canseco, 61, also sharply criticized the White House’s handling of security along the Mexican border.

“Most of my life … I’ve lived on the border, and I’ve worked on the border. The border used to be a peaceable area and a very lovely area to go and cross into Mexico … go to a restaurant, do some shopping and come back. That’s ended,” he said.

NEW JERSEY

Assembly OKs bill hiking benefit costs

TRENTON — The New Jersey Assembly has passed landmark employee benefits legislation requiring public workers to pay sharply more for pension and health benefits.

The divisive bill passed 46-32 Thursday with support from all Republicans who were present and a smattering of Democrats.

The Senate approved the bill Monday. Republican Gov. Chris Christie is expected to quickly sign it.

The measure requires 500,000 teachers, police, firefighters and other public workers to pay a portion of their health insurance based on income. It also increases pension contributions.

The state’s retirement funds are underfunded by $110 billion. The bill’s backers say higher contributions are needed to ensure solvency. Opponents object to the four-year suspension of bargaining over health benefits.
More than 8,000 rallied at the Statehouse Thursday to oppose the bill.

MINNESOTA

Pawlenty plans Mideast address next week

ST. PAUL | Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty plans to weigh in on the “challenges and opportunities” posed by the turmoil in the Middle East during a foreign-policy address next week in New York.

An aide to Mr. Pawlenty says the former Minnesota governor will use the speech at the Council on Foreign Relations to lay out his foreign-affairs philosophy. The aide spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a not-yet-public schedule.

The so-called “Arab Spring” uprisings have played out in bloody protests across Northern Africa and Mideast nations such as Syria, Bahrain and Yemen. Mr. Pawlenty has been critical of President Obama’s approach to the region’s instability.

It will be the second major policy address for Mr. Pawlenty. Earlier this month, he laid out his economic plan during a speech in Chicago.

 

SENATE

Petraeus ponders how far interrogators should go

Army Gen. David H. Petraeus is urging lawmakers to determine how far interrogators should be allowed to go when faced with a terrorism suspect who may have time-sensitive information like the codes to disarm a nuclear weapon set to explode in the U.S.

Testifying at his Senate confirmation hearing to be CIA director Thursday, Gen. Petraeus backed interrogation methods set out in the U.S. Army field manual. Those methods reject enhanced interrogation methods used by the CIA during the Bush administration.

Gen. Petraeus said lawmakers should consider setting policies that would require authorization from the top, implying that the president would be consulted on whether to use enhanced interrogation techniques and lower-level officials would not be under pressure to make the decision in what Gen. Petraeus called a “ticking time bomb” situation.

HOUSE

Lawmakers want to end federal ban on pot

Two House members introduced a bill Thursday that would remove marijuana from the list of federal controlled substances and cede to the states enforcement of laws governing pot.

The legislation would eliminate marijuana-specific penalties under federal law, but would maintain a ban on transporting marijuana across state lines. It would allow individuals to grow and sell marijuana in states that make it legal.

The bill, which has no chance of passing the Republican-controlled House, was introduced by Democrat Barney Frank of Massachusetts and Ron Paul, a Texas Republican running for his party’s presidential nomination.

Four Democrats are co-sponsors: John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, Barbara Lee of California, Jared Polis of Colorado and Steve Cohen of Tennessee.

“Criminally prosecuting adults for making the choice to smoke marijuana is a waste of law enforcement resources and an intrusion on personal freedom,” Mr. Frank said. “I do not advocate urging people to smoke marijuana. Neither do I urge them to drink alcoholic beverages or smoke tobacco. But in none of these cases do I think prohibition enforced by criminal sanctions is good public policy.”

The bill would have to go through the House Judiciary Committee. The panel’s chairman, Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican, said his panel would not consider it.

 

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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