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Wisconsin’s Bipartisan Election Panel Agrees To Mail 3 Million Absentee Ballots For November

On Wednesday, the Wisconsin Elections Commission agreed to mail absentee ballot applications to nearly 3 million registered voters ahead of November's election, the Associated Press reported.

The decision — which was unanimous by the 6-person, bipartisan commission — is the latest example of a state helping people to vote safely during a pandemic.

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How New York Suffered Ten Times As Many Deaths As California

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica.

By March 14, London Breed, the mayor of San Francisco, had seen enough. For weeks, she and her health officials had looked at data showing the evolving threat of COVID-19. In response, she'd issued a series of orders limiting the size of public gatherings, each one feeling more arbitrary than the last. She'd been persuaded that her city's considerable and highly regarded health care system might be insufficient for the looming onslaught of infection and death.

“We need to shut this shit down," Breed remembered thinking.

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Carmakers, Don’t Pick A Fight With California

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

News flash: The Obama-era fuel-economy standards would add $875 to the average price of a new vehicle. But proposed border taxes or other tariffs on Mexican imports would add $2,000. President Donald Trump wants a weaker mandate on mileage, and he also wants the tariffs.

Digest those numbers when assessing Trump’s claim to be helping U.S. carmakers control their manufacturing costs. As for that $875 for new technology, drivers would save three times as much at the pump over the lifetime of the vehicle.

Trump has ordered a review of the rule that new cars and light trucks must achieve a real-world average of 36 miles per gallon, up from today’s 25 miles, by 2025. It’s true that lower gas prices have spurred demand for larger vehicles that burn more fuel, but no one seriously argues that the tighter standards are not attainable.

Rather, this would seem part and parcel of Trump’s general contempt for environmental protections — especially any related to climate change. Transportation is the largest source of planet-warming gases in the U.S. Trump says this deregulation is all about the economy and jobs.

A warming climate, meanwhile, could put Southern Florida and much of the East and Gulf coasts under water. It could lead to more devastating droughts inland. And if temperatures continue their rise, a heat wave in 2030 could kill 11,000 Americans, according to scientists. Consider what these disaster-movie events might do to the Dow Jones Industrial average.

U.S. automakers have made enormous strides raising mileage, including on trucks and SUVs. Do they want to blow all that goodwill and respect by going to war with California, their biggest car market? For that will surely happen if Trump does what he’d have to do to truly lower fuel-economy standards.

Some background: For historic reasons, California has a right to set its own standards. Trump could instruct the head of his Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, to pull the federal government waivers that let California go its own way. That would not happen without a fight: Right after Trump announced plans to lower the standards, California finalized new vehicle emissions rules roughly along the lines of Obama’s.

When you pick a fight with California on emissions, you’re also picking a fight with the 12 states, plus the District of Columbia, that have adopted California’s rules. We’re talking nearly 35 percent of the U.S. car market.

Then there are the nine states that follow California’s mandate for selling more “zero-emissions vehicles.” Without it, the market for U.S. electric cars would freeze.

Other countries are setting rules for tighter fuel efficiency. California would actually be doing the industry a favor by pushing it to make products more competitive in other markets.

Carmakers should stop their boohooing over how the more stringent Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards are all but bankrupting them and hurting their workers. “On the contrary,” a recent editorial in Automotive News stated, “the latest CAFE round has coincided with rather robust growth in jobs, sales, profits, horsepower and fuel economy.”

One more point. There’s not been enough discussion on how Mexican and U.S. factories complement one another in the production of cars. Lower-wage Mexican workers tend to do the labor-intensive tasks, helping manufacturers keep the prices of their products in check. This shared manufacturing protects the jobs of Americans doing the higher-skilled jobs. Populists on the Democratic side, please take note.

The public wants cars that are technologically cool and Earth-friendly. In this, California is the spokes-state for the desires of over a third of the U.S. car market. California is not the enemy. If automakers make it one, they will lose.

California Lawmakers Hire Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder To Fight Trump

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Democratic lawmakers in the California legislature have retained former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to help in any legal battles with President-elect Donald Trump’s administration, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.

The move is an indication that lawmakers in the nation’s most populous state, where Democrats hold two-thirds majorities in both houses of the legislature, are girding for possible court battles after Trump takes office on Jan. 20.

Last month, leaders of both houses introduced bills to protect undocumented immigrants from anticipated efforts by a Trump administration to increase deportations . In addition, Democratic Governor Jerry Brown has made combating climate change a priority for the state.

“Having the former attorney general of the United States brings us a lot of firepower in order to prepare to safeguard the values of the people of California,” Kevin de León, the Democratic leader of the state Senate, told the Times. “This means we are very, very serious.”

A representative from de León’s office could not immediately be reached for comment early on Wednesday.

Holder served as attorney general under President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2015. He is a partner in the law firm of Covington & Burling, which represents companies and helps them navigate government regulations.

“I am honored that the Legislature chose Covington to serve as its legal adviser as it considers how to respond to potential changes in federal law that could impact California’s residents and policy priorities,” Holder said in a statement, according to the Times.

California voted decisively for Democrat Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8 presidential election, choosing the former first lady over Trump by 28 percentage points.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis, editing by Larry King)

IMAGE: AFP Photo/Alex Wong