Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 9:12 am
Oklahoma state Rep. Mike Ritze is a foot soldier — one of hundreds — in a passionate war over the Affordable Care Act that is reigniting as state legislatures convene across the country.
The Republican lawmaker, a family doctor, has stood behind three anti-Obamacare bills supported by conservative groups in Oklahoma and other states. None has made it into law, but Ritze plans to pick up the fight in the 2015 legislative session that convenes in the Sooner State next month.
Originally published on Sat January 24, 2015 4:17 pm
Are you thinking about tax day yet? Your friendly neighborhood tax preparer is. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen declared this tax season one of the most complicated ever, partly because this is the first year that the Affordable Care Act will show up on your tax form.
Tax preparers from coast to coast are trying to get ready. Sue Ellen Smith manages an H&R Block office in San Francisco, and she is expecting things to get busy soon.
"This year taxes and health care intersect in a brand-new way," Smith says.
Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 8:58 am
Even with free agency, our professional leagues show a reliable sort of sameness from year to year. Oh sure, each season there are a few teams that surprise, but mostly, changes in the standings are evolutionary. That said, I don't believe I've ever seen a league that looks so cockeyed as the NBA is this year.
First of all, it's just plain weird to see the two historically glamorous franchises, the Celtics and Lakers, both down near the bottom of the standings, while up top are teams that previously were nondescript also-rans.
Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 8:56 am
Facing a Republican-controlled Congress in his sixth State of the Union speech, President Obama took credit Tuesday for an improving economy and focused on proposals aimed at advancing the middle class.
After years of recession and war, Obama claimed "the shadow of crisis has passed." In its place, he asserted, is a future marked by "a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production."
Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 11:59 pm
President Obama's guest list for tonight's State of the Union address includes Alan Gross, the Maryland man who was freed from a Cuban prison in December after five years of captivity — an event that was announced along with a new era of relations between the U.S. and Cuba.
Gross will be attending with his wife, Judy, who worked to gain his release.
Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 8:05 am
After more than five years away, and at a significantly smaller weight, J.C. Penney Co.'s print catalog is back. The company discontinued its often 1,000-page "Big Book" in 2009 and phased out several smaller, specialty catalogs over the past few years as well. But the company announced this week that it's re-entering the print catalog game.
Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 12:48 am
Delivering his sixth State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Obama faced a Congress that's now controlled by his Republican opponents. His speech included possible areas of cooperation — and a threat to use his veto power.
Tax proposals that would boost middle-class families were in the president's speech; so were calls for a new approach to immigration and a push for free education at community colleges.
Obama also called on Congress to pass a resolution to authorize using military force against the extremist group ISIS.
Schools are offering more and more healthy foods for lunch. And schools that participate in the National School Lunch program require students to choose a fruit and a vegetable side. Yet plate waste is a big problem in schools; as The Salt has reported, kids throw away anywhere from 24 to 35 percent of what's on their trays.
Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 11:25 am
New Orleans' most visited neighborhood rarely sees the type of violent crime that plagues other parts of the city. Recently, several high-profile robberies have rattled the region and led to criticism of the police department and the mayor, both of whom are rethinking safety measures.
Over the next few weeks, more and more visitors will roam the city's famous French Quarter, drinks in hand, for Mardi Gras. In less than 2 square miles, the French Quarter combines hotels, restaurants, street performers, and all-night bars with historic homes and tight-knit neighbors.
Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 5:50 pm
On the education front, President Obama's State of the Union address is likely to focus on three big proposals:
First, the president wants to talk about the idea he floated last week of making community college tuition-free. This is new.
The plan would benefit about 9 million full- and part-time students and would cost the federal government about $60 billion over 10 years. According to the administration's numbers, that would account for three-fourths of the total cost. States and community colleges would come up with the rest.