Thursday, May 24, 2007

House pases bill to combat price gouging - Ehlers opposes it

Unless you've been sleeping under a rock, you know that the price of gas has passed $3 per gallon. Some worry it will soon eclipse $4 per gallon soon.

In response, US Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) introduced HR 1252, the Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act. This bill would provide penalties for those who take unfair advantage of consumers at the pump. (Read more here.)

The bill passed 284-141 - a veto-proof majority - with 56 Republicans joining all but one Democrat in supporting the bill.

How did Michigan's members of Congress vote?

Bart Stupak (D)
Dale Kildee (D)
Candice Miller (R)
Thaddeus McCotter (R)
Sander Levin (D)
John Conyers (D)
Carolyn Kilpatrick (D)
John Dingell (D)

Pete Hoekstra (R)
Vern Ehlers (R)
Dave Camp (R)
Fred Upton (R)
Tim Walberg (R)
Mike Rogers (R)
Joe Knollenberg (R)

Two Michigan Republicans joined all six Michigan Democrats in supporting the bill. The other seven - including Vern Ehlers - don't seem to care about the pain being inflicted on American drivers. Yet Republicans in the State Legislature oppose the idea of raising taxes to fix the state's budget crisis. (While painful, a tax increase would go a long way in avoiding the alternative: cuts to education and higher tuition. More on that later.)

I don't know about you, but I'd rather see my money go to help our schools than help oil industry executives who don't need it.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Ehlers featured on front page of Daily Kos

Vern Ehlers is famous in the progressive blogosphere now:

Another failure to plan:

In a grim sign of the times, the "Wall of the Fallen," set up by House Republican leaders in June, is almost full. The mounting death toll from Iraq has forced U.S. House staffers to study how to reconfigure the display in the lobby of the Rayburn Building - the largest office building for members of Congress - to squeeze in more names.

...New names are added to the display every few months, but none have been added since November. [...]

In the current format, there is space for about 130 more names, but 506 Americans have died since mid-November.

Apparently a member of the, "no one could have anticipated" club, Republican Rep. Vernon Ehlers said that he recently realized:

Boy, we could have a problem. More space is needed.

More space. Yes, that's the problem.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Ehlers: Hate crimes okay if based on gender, sexual orientation

The US House Thursday passed a bill designed to expand the nation's hate-crimes laws to include those crimes that are based on gender or sexual orientation. 25 Republicans joined with 212 Democrats in votng for the bill, which President Bush is threatening to veto.

CNN has more on the bill:

Under current law, hate crimes are subject to federal prosecution only if the acts of violence are motivated by race, religion, color or national origin. Federal prosecutors get involved only if the victim is engaged in a federally protected activity, such as voting or participating in interstate commerce.

The White House says there is no need for the expanded bill because state and local laws already cover the crimes it addresses, and there is no need for federal enforcement.

In addition to allowing greater leeway for federal law enforcement authorities to investigate hate crimes, the House bill -- which was passed on a 237-180 vote --provides $10 million over the next two years to aid local prosecutions.

According to the article, critics of the hate-crimes legislation say it will target pastors who preach against homosexuality. Two points in that regard. First, the bill targets those who commit crimes based on gender and sexual orientation, NOT those who believe homosexuality is wrong.

Second, I'm a straight man, and I personally believe marriage is between one man and one woman. But if one of my friends from the GLBT falls victim to a hate crime, I would expect nothing less than for the perpetrator to receive swift justice.

But Congressman Ehlers and 179 of his colleagues do not see it that way. They believe that the current law, which criminalizes hate crimes perpetrated based on religion, race, national origin, or color, is sufficient enough.

But a hate crime is a hate crime, regardless of the basis on which it is perpetrated. Until Mr. Ehlers realizes this, he will probably keep receiving zeros on the Human Rights Campaign's Congressional Scorecard.