It’s tough to tell which side is winning the latest round of what has become America’s confusing gun control debate. Legislation has been introduced at the federal level seeking a reinstitution of the expired assault weapons ban and limits on ammunition magazine capacity. Universal background checks for all gun sales—including private sales—is also on the table. But like so many issues in the hyper-divided Congress, real action is taking place not in Washington, but in the states.
States will feel it when sequestration takes effect tomorrow, but there could be worse things down the road. “For states, I would say the hit (from sequestration) is significant, but it’s not catastrophic,” said Chris Whatley, director of CSG’s Washington, D.C., office. When Congress passed the Budget Control Act in 2011, it put into place mandatory budget cuts for both domestic and defense spending if Congress could not agree on a way to reduce the national deficit. Originally set to take effect Jan. 2, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 extended that deadline to March 1.
In Texas, $68 million in public school funding and 930 teacher and aide jobs would be eliminated. 6,100 fewer people would get admitted to substance abuse treatment programs in New York. In Georgia, 1,100 fewer children would have access to child care. Nutritional programs for Colorado seniors would see a $720,000 decrease in funding. All of these cuts are possible according to the White House, which detailed how the sequester would impact individual states as the deadline for automatic, across-the-board spending cuts worth $85 billion draws near.
When Liz Bangerter was a child, one question would frequently come up at dinner. “What have you done to make the world a better place today?” Her parents were very active in community groups and her brothers were all involved in Boy Scouts. “Community service and civic duty were a huge deal in our family,” said Bangerter. “So that kind of tied into that—what have you done to make the world a better place? How have you served someone else? How have you done your duty to help somebody else?”
Be Respectful and Do Your Homework
Delaware House Majority Leader Pete Schwartzkopf chairs several committees, including House Administration and Rules committees. He served in the minority party for years and learned lessons in that role. A former state police officer in Dover, Schwartzkopf believes the no-nonsense approach to police work also applies to chairing a legislative committee.