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Perry Stein

Perry is a News Writer for Talking Points Memo based in Washington D.C. Prior to TPM, she was a reporter-research at The New Republic and worked for her hometown paper, The Miami Herald. Perry can be reached at perry@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Perry

Deseret Industries, a Mormon church-owned non-profit in Salt Lake City, has slashed its workers' hours to fewer than 30, circumventing a provision under the Affordable Care Act that requires companies to provide health insurance to full time employees.

Under the Affordable Care Act, companies with more than 50 employees must offer health insurance to employees who work 30 or more hours a week.

The company, according to the The Salt Lake Tribune, serves as a one year training program intended to help people fleeing from war-torn countries to learn the skills necessary for employment. Workers are paid a beginning wage of $7.25 per hour, but are not provided health insurance.

A spokesperson for the LDS Church told the paper that the company cut the hours in order to "serve as many people as possible."

The Affordable Care Act goes into effect January 1. 

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, currently an independent, intends to switch his party registration and join the Democratic Party, sources told Politico Wednesday.

Chafee, a former Republican senator, was elected governor as an independent in 2010, although he campaigned for President Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012.

The governor currently has low approval ratings and faces a tough reelection fight in 2014, with the mayor of Providence and the state treasurer already planning to duke it out with him for the Democratic nomination.

Gun rights advocates in Colorado are taking an innovative approach in their quest to take down Colorado Senate President John Morse (D), who, as a term-limited lame duck, pushed a number of gun-control measures through the state legislature this year.

Volunteers working with the Basic Freedom Defense Fund and El Paso County Freedom Defense Fund to recall Morse, can win gun-themed prizes, including a 30-round ammunition magazine, gift cards and a 9 mm pistol.

Volunteers need to collect 7,178 valid signatures to get the recall on the ballot, according to The Gazette.  A spokesman for the effort told the paper that they have already surpassed that required number.

Morse was elected in 2010 and his term expires in 2014.

 
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) is expected to announce in a press conference Wednesday afternoon that he will automatically restore the rights of former non-violent felons.

Virginia is one of a few states that does not automatically restore the voting rights of nonviolent felons who have served their time. State law prohibits McDonnell or the General Assembly from passing sweeping legislation that would restore the civil rights -- which includes the right to vote and serve on a jury -- to all former felons. Instead, the governor must approve applications on an individual basis.

The process has proved slow at best. McDonnell has restored the rights of less than 5,000 former felons out of about 350,000 eligible people.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that McDonnell plans to speed up the restoration process by eliminating the application process for non-violent former felons. Effective July 15, once the administration proves that a felon has served their time, they will automatically send them a letter indicating that they can vote.

Under current policy, there is a two-year waiting period before a felon who has served their time can even apply, and even then the governor does not have to approve the application.

Secretary of the Commonwealth Janet Kelly told the paper that between now and July 15 her office will process its current applications using the new criteria, "so it should go very quickly."


On Tuesday, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) released a committee report on how Virginia can restore voting rights to former felons and called for the state to expedite its current process.

The most prominent Democrat yet has almost thrown his name into the Iowa gubernatorial race. State Sen. Jack Hatch -- a housing developer and outspoken advocate for expanding government health insurance to low income Iowans -- told the Des Moines Register that a run is "really likely."

The only thing keeping him from making the announcement official: The possibilities of U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D) or former Govs. Tom Vilsack (D) or Chet Culver (D) running for the state's top post. If they run, Harkin said he'd back out.

The Register reported that Harkin has ruled out a bid. Vilsack's and Culver's intentions are still unclear, although state operatives said it is unlikely they'd jump in.

If Hatch runs and gets the nomination, he'd likely face Gov. Terry Branstad (R), who is expected to run for an unprecedented sixth term.

Alaska conservative Joe Miller officially filed papers indicating his intent to run for the Senate in 2014, Politico reported Tuesday.

Miller first ran for a Senate seat in 2010, beating out incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the GOP primary. He ultimately lost to Murkowski in the general election after she launched an aggressive write-in campaign.

The tea party candidate has been contemplating a run for months and filed his papers with the Federal Elections Commission in early May, according to Politico.

A poll taken earlier in the month by the Republican-affiliated Harper Polling found that 49 percent of Republicans had an unfavorable opinion of Miller.

President Barack Obama offered some laudatory words for his departing chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, Alan Krueger, who will be returning to Princeton to teach for the upcoming school year.

“Over the past two years, Alan has been one of my most trusted advisers on economic policy and a great friend.  I asked Alan to lead my Council of Economic Advisers because he understands the economy better than almost anyone, but more importantly, he understands who we’re fighting for – middle-class families and anyone working to climb into the middle class.  Alan was the driving force behind many of the economic policies that I have proposed that will grow our economy and create middle-class jobs.  He’s devoted his entire career to making sure our economy works for everyone, not just those at the very top.  And while we have more work to do, today our economy is improving – thanks, in no small part, to Alan’s efforts. I want to thank Alan for his service and wish him the best of luck as he returns to Princeton.”

 

An advisor to a possible-Democratic nominee in the Kentucky Senate race, Alison Lundergan Grimes, said a decision on whether to challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) would likely be coming in the "not-too-distant future."
 
"She's certainly closer to making a decision than she has been because she has been talking to a lot of people and assessing what this opportunity means," the adviser told ABC News.
 
Grimes, Kentucky's secretary of state, has been mulling a Senate run for months and, despite mounting pressure from her fellow Democrats to make a decision, still has only said that an annoucement would probably come "within a month."
 
In an interview with ABC News Tuesday, Rep. John Yarmuth, Kentucky's lone Democratic congressman, said that he and other Democrats have been reaching out to Grimes to little response and called her failure to return calls "extremely unusual."
 

“She’s keeping her own counsel on this, and I guess that is fine, but there are others waiting in the wings,” Yarmuth said, noting that Democrats want to “avoid an expensive primary.”

The Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling released a survey Tuesday that showed Grimes and McConnell statistically tied in a hypothetical match up.

A new television ad released by the campaign of Massachusetts Democratic senate candidate Ed Markey on Tuesday touts his support of tax policies that would help middle class families.

"Ed Markey wants fairness in our taxes," the narrator says in the ad. "That's why he's proposing to close our corporate tax loopholes and passing the Warren Buffett rule, making milliones pay the same tax rate as the middle class." In contrast, the ad says his opponent, Republican Gabriel Gomez, thinks the "rich already pay enough."

President Barack Obama officially endorsed Markey earlier today, calling him a "champion for middle class and working families."

Watch the ad here:

Obama endorsed

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli released a committee report Tuesday on how Virginia can restore voting rights to former felons and called for the state to expedite its current process, a major shift from his position as a state senator when he consistently voted against efforts to create a constitutional amendment automatically granting the restoration of those rights. 

Virginia is one of just a few states that does not automatically restore the voting rights of nonviolent felons who have served their time. But, as the attorney general's Rights Restoration Advisory Committee's report found, restoring voting rights in Virginia can be tricky: neither the governor nor the state's legislative branch can automatically restore the voting rights to all former felons. Instead, the governor must restore voting rights on an individual basis.

An estimated 350,000 Virginians are unable to vote because they have been convicted of a felony. Gov. Bob McDonnell--who has restored a record number of felons' rights--has granted just about 4,400 people the right to vote. 

"I believe we need a simpler way for individuals who want to return to their place in society to be given a second chance and regain their civil rights that were lost through a felony conviction," Cuccinelli said during a news conference Tuesday, the RTD reports. 

Cuccinelli suggested teaming up with community groups to help people through the restoration process. He also said that he had a "change in heart" on the issue in recent years, but Democrats are accusing the Republican gubernatorial candidate of simply playing politics during an election year.

Cuccinelli supported McDonnell's unsuccessful effort this year to pass a constitutional amendment to automatically grant ex-felons voting rights.

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