“Just as gun laws have failed to keep pace with the advance of technology — which puts ever greater firepower in the hands of virtually anyone who wants it — the Senate has failed to adapt to the urbanization and suburbanization of the nation, enabling rural representatives to veto the will of an increasingly metropolitan majority. The Senate cannot, and indeed does not, function if 60 votes are the threshold for every proposal.”
The editorial stops short of calling for a constitutional amendment to undo the Senate’s state-representational system. Instead, it says the Senate needs filibuster reform, so proposals wouldn’t have to reach a supermajority of 60 votes to move through the legislative system.
Bloomberg says that rural people were represented in the vote on gun legislation but that the rest of America was not.
Bloomberg News also criticizes the House representation, which they say is “anti-cosmopolitan,” like the Senate.
Snow Days and School Testing. Minnesota Public Radio reports on rural school leaders who are worried that the large number of snow days this year could hurt school performance on high-stakes testing.
Teachers are behind in preparing students for the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment, a rural superintendent reports.
Some rural schools will provide tutoring to make up for the lost classroom time.
Keystone Developments. Legislation in the House would push through approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, bypassing the White House and State Department, InsideClimate News reports. The subcommittee on energy and power voted 17-9 Tuesday to approve a bill. The author, Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) said the measure was similar to the 1972 bill that pushed through the Alaska oil pipeline after it became “mired in all of the bureaucracy.” This is the third attempt in two years to approve Keystone with congressional action. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who opposed the measure, said the bill “would short circuit the process and dictate the result. It would grant the permit by Congressional fiat.”
The Omaha World-Herald reports that security will be high today during a public hearing at the Heartland Events Center in Grand Island, Neb. The State Department, which is holding the hearing, has already received more than 800,000 public comments on the proposed pipeline.
School Mascots. Oregon schools that use images of Native Americans as mascots will lose state funding if they continue the practice after July 2017. A bill that just passed the Oregon state Senate would allow schools to continue using such images without repercussions if a local tribe approves them. The bill now rests with Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland), who has yet to decide whether to assign the legislation to a committee.
Radio Silence. We see a lot of stories about the downside of poor broadcast communication in rural areas. Slate reports on people who have moved to Green Bank, W.Va., specifically to get away from radio wave signals. Green Bank, population 147, is inside the U.S. National Radio Quiet Zone, established to prevent interference with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.