- - Monday, May 30, 2011

CAMPAIGN

Pawlenty touts Medicare proposal during Iowa trip

WAUKEE, Iowa — Republican presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty told people during a Monday stop in Iowa that the key difference between his Medicare proposal and the proposal introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, is that his plan will change the way providers are paid.

The former Minnesota governor spoke to a group of about 60 people during a campaign stop at Point of Grace Church in Waukee. He said his plan would include “performance pay.”

“We will begin to move providers from getting paid not just for the volume of procedures they crank out, but whether people are actually getting healthier and getting better,” Mr. Pawlenty told the Des Moines Register.

He also told ABC’s “This Morning” that he would support Mr. Ryan’s proposal to privatize Medicare if his only choices were Mr. Ryan’s plan or doing nothing.

Mr. Pawlenty, who launched his bid for the Republican presidential nomination last week in Des Moines, is scheduled to visit Sioux City on Tuesday and Council Bluffs on Wednesday.

NEW YORK

Lawmaker: Hacker posted lewd photo

NEW YORK — A spokesman for New York Rep. Anthony D. Weiner says a lewd photograph sent from the Democrat’s Twitter account is just “a distraction” perpetrated by a hacker.

Weiner spokesman Dave Arnold told the Associated Press in an email Sunday the Twitter episode was “a distraction” from the congressman’s “important work representing his constituents.”

The photo showed a man’s bulging underpants.

It first was reported Saturday by BigGovernment.com, a website run by conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart. The site said the photo was tweeted to a woman in Seattle.

The photo was quickly deleted.

Mr. Weiner later joked about it on Twitter, asking whether his kitchen blender would be next to “attack” him.

ILLINOIS

Private fund OK’ed for illegal immigrants

CHICAGO — Illinois lawmakers have approved a privately funded scholarship program for children of immigrants, whether they’re in the country legally or illegally.

A 61-53 vote in the Illinois House sent the measure to the governor’s desk Monday.

The Illinois Dream Act would create a panel to raise private money for college scholarships. To qualify, students must have a Social Security number or federal taxpayer number.

The legislation would also let children of immigrants join state-run college savings programs.

It has no impact on a person’s immigration status.

Opponents say it’s improper to provide benefits that could help people who violate immigration laws.

LOUISIANA

Gov. Jindal angles to reverse cuts in budget

BATON ROUGE — Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration tried Monday to persuade state senators to reverse a series of House-backed cuts to next year’s $25 billion budget, saying the cuts would have dire consequences: prisoners released from jail, emergencies left unattended and health care services shuttered.

Mr. Jindal wants the state Senate Finance Committee to restore more than $200 million in state spending to the 2011-12 budget, money stripped by the state House to lessen the use of one-time dollars for ongoing expenses and to remove “contingency” dollars tied to separate legislation that has yet to pass.

The governor’s top financial adviser, Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater, pitched the Jindal budget recommendations to the state senators as a “more prudent, balanced, deliberative approach” than the House budget.

Mr. Jindal’s budget proposed to close a more than $1 billion budget gap with a mix of cuts, one-time patches and a boost in certain types of federal funding. The governor’s budget office provided little information about those reductions, calling them efficiencies, “transformational reforms” and agency redesigns.

NEW JERSEY

Governor’s Supreme Court pick up for confirmation

TRENTON — The state Senate Judiciary Committee will hear from Gov. Chris Christie’s first state Supreme Court pick Tuesday.

Anne Patterson, 52, of Mendham, gets a confirmation hearing more than a year after Mr. Christie picked her to join a court he says is too activist.

Mrs. Patterson is a corporate lawyer who’s been called in to defend big companies when they’ve been accused of wrongdoing. Her clients have included Wal-Mart, Apple and DuPont.

She’s spent nearly 20 years as a litigator at a Morristown law firm and has also done some legal work for the state Republican Party.

If approved by the panel and confirmed by the full Senate, Mrs. Patterson would take her seat on the state’s top court in September.

The governor has pledged to reshape the court with more conservative justices.

TEXAS

Lawmakers consider making ‘frack’ chemicals public

HOUSTON — Texas could soon become the first state to require drilling companies to publicly disclose the chemicals they use to crack tight rock formations in their search for natural gas.

Legislation approved Sunday night in the Texas House could prompt the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other states to make similar rules. The governor hasn’t indicated whether he’ll sign it.

At issue is hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” The contentious technique allows oil and gas companies to permeate tight shale formations and release once out-of-reach minerals. Drillers pump millions of gallons of chemically laced water into the ground to break the rock, allowing natural gas to flow.

Many companies refuse to say what chemicals are used, arguing it could harm their competitive edge. Others fear the chemicals could taint groundwater or soil.

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