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Dylan Scott

Dylan Scott is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. He previously reported for Governing magazine in Washington, D.C., and the Las Vegas Sun. His work has been recognized with a 2013 American Society of Business Publication Editors award for Best Feature Series and a 2010 Associated Press Society of Ohio award for Best Investigative Reporting. He can be reached at dylan@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Dylan

What's past is prologue: Obamacare could once again be the catalyst to a government shutdown, this time at the state level where legislators in Arkansas and Virginia are sparring over the law's Medicaid expansion.

As TPM has reported, Arkansas lawmakers have been horse-trading to keep funding their privatized form of Medicaid expansion and the Virginia legislature has been debating adopting the provision for the first time, with the Senate and Democratic governor on one side and House Republicans on the other in both states.

Sound familiar? And if both sides refuse to budget, two state government shutdowns might be coming in the near future.

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According to Gov. Mike Beebe's own whip count, the Arkansas House is two votes shy of continuing its privatized Medicaid expansion under Obamacare and saving health coverage for more than 80,000 people.

Beebe told reporters Monday in Washington, where he had been attending the National Governor's Association annual meeting, that he believed there were 73 votes in favor of accepting federal funds for the expansion. He needs 75 votes out of the 100-member House because the Arkansas constitution requires that funding bills receive a 75-percent supermajority in both chambers.

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The 2014 handicapping is underway, and the consensus is clear: Democrats face a tough battle to maintain control of the Senate. They're defending too many seats in red states where President Obama and his signature health care reform law are unpopular.

They're also at a structural disadvantage. Turning out the base, conventional wisdom and historical precedents say, is the key element for midterm elections, and Republicans have done it better.

But Democrats might have a secret weapon in a couple of those key Senate races. Activist groups and state lawmakers are working to get Obamacare's Medicaid expansion on the ballot in Louisiana and Montana, where they have vulnerable candidates and GOP officials have refused to adopt the provision.

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Coming into 2014, Virginia was one of the more promising states for Obamacare's Medicaid expansion to take hold. A newly elected Democratic governor had made it a central issue of his campaign. Some GOP lawmakers had shown a willingness to play ball. Public polls showed even Republicans supported expanding the program to cover more than 250,000 low-income residents.

The momentum seemed to build earlier this week when Senate Republicans released and approved a privatized form of Medicaid expansion, using Medicaid dollars to pay for private insurance, as Arkansas had done to make one of the key provisions in Obamacare more palatable to conservatives.

But all those developments seem to have been for naught: Hard-line conservatives in the House refused to budge. They made the extra effort Thursday to pull the Medicaid expansion out of their broader budget bill and voted it down, 67 to 32, almost entirely along party lines, according to the Washington Post.

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Was ex-congressman Mel Reynolds really shooting pornographic videos and photographs with beautiful models while he cut business deals in Zimbabwe? It seems we may never know.

Reynolds's lawyer told the Chicago Tribune that the pornography charges have been dropped against his client. Reynolds had already pleaded guilty to violating the country's immigration laws and set to be deported after his Monday arrest.

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A bill that would allow for LGBT discrimination on the basis of "religious" freedom has cleared the Arizona House and is now headed to Republican Gov. Jan Brewer's desk.

The bill passed 33 to 27 in the House Thursday, according to KSAZ. It had passed the state Senate Wednesday. Brewer now has five days to sign the bill, veto it or, if she does nothing, it will become law, the Arizona Republic reported. She has not yet made any public comments about the bill.

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UPDATE, 12:35 p.m. ET: The Medicaid funding bill failed again Friday in the House, but more votes have been scheduled for next week.

Less than a month ago, the prospects for Obamacare's Medicaid expansion in Arkansas looked dire. The state had already expanded the program this year, but the legislature needed to approve its funding again. Conservatives confidently predicted that they had enough votes to block next year's funding. Insurance for more than 80,000 people hung in the balance, creating the real possibility that people could actually lose coverage that they had gained under the law.

But, after a week of political horse-trading and inexplicable posturing, the program -- and that coverage for low-income Arkansans -- is on the verge of being saved.

The Arkansas Senate, where conservatives had pledged to make their stand, approved the funding Thursday by the 75-percent majority necessary under state law to keep federal money flowing for the program.

The House is expected to vote Friday, and most local observers anticipate it will pass. Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe is sure to sign it once it clears that chamber.

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Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) thinks part of the reason Barack Obama was elected president was "because of guilt" -- a guilt that wouldn't exist for a female presidential candidate.

“I think there was a cachet about having an African-American president because of guilt," Bachmann told conservative columnist Cal Thomas in comments flagged by the Huffington Post. “People don’t hold guilt for a woman."

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California has signed up more than 825,000 people in Obamacare coverage, the state reported Wednesday, topping its total enrollment goals with six weeks to go in the open enrollment period.

About 728,000 people had enrolled by the end of January, according to the state's Obamacare marketplace, and more than 100,000 additional people have signed up in the first two weeks of February.

According to a September presentation, California was expecting a little less than 700,000 enrollments by March 31.

“These enrollment numbers mean that with six weeks to go, California has already exceeded its projected base enrollment for the 2014 open-enrollment period," Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee said in a statement. "While this is a strong showing, our goal is not pinned to meeting projections, but to making sure every Californian gets covered."

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