03-02-2021  9:00 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
I-5 Rose Quarter Project Open House
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Blumenauer, Pressley Reintroduce Legislation to Fully End Qualified Immunity

Unjust doctrine shields police officers from accountability for misconduct and criminal behavior

Ruby Haughton-Pitts’ Dismissal as Oregon AARP Director Draws Fire

State leaders, members and supporters are questioning AARP’s secrecy around the decision to fire the highly regarded leader after two years of service

All Oregonians Eligible for the COVID-19 Vaccine by July 1

People who are 45 to 64 with underlying health conditions will be eligible starting March 29

City Permanently Cuts Funds to Portland Neighborhood Group

Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who oversees the city’s civic life bureau, opted to remove funding from Southwest Neighborhoods Inc. after an audit found that money had been mismanaged.

NEWS BRIEFS

$500,000 Grant Funding Will Invest In Racial Equity In WA

Kaiser Permanente commits funding to grassroots organizations to dismantle practices and structures that prevent communities of color...

Girls Inc. of the PNW Welcomes Cyreena Boston Ashby as CEO

Boston Ashby has served as interim executive director since summer 2020, plans to focus on paths to addressing learning loss ...

Changes Made To Scheduling Vaccine Appointments via the Vaccine Information Tool

Adults who are 65 and older, and most people who are eligible for vaccines in Phase 1A in the Portland metro area, will no longer be...

Senators Markey, Smith, and Booker and Rep. Jackson Lee Re-introduce Legislation to Make Juneteenth a National Holiday

“Juneteenth,” observed on June 19, commemorates the end of slavery in the United States ...

HB 1465, To Increase the Death Tax Rate in Washington State To 40%

The Washington Policy Center's Vice President for Research, Paul Guppy today released a study on the bill ...

More contagious Brazilian virus variant emerges in Oregon

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A coronavirus variant that was first detected in Brazil has emerged in Oregon, the first known case of the new variant on the contiguous U.S. West Coast, medical authorities said Tuesday.The sample was sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the end...

Ex-UPS driver sentenced to 20 years for I-5 shootings

MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) — A former UPS driver charged in shootings that injured a woman and damaged vehicles along Interstate 5 in Southern Oregon has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. Kenneth Ayers, of Roseburg, was sentenced Tuesday in Jackson County Circuit Court for three counts of...

Ex-Cardinals coach Wilks new defensive coordinator at Mizzou

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Steve Wilks is returning to coaching as the defensive coordinator at Missouri.Wilks, who was hired by Tigers coach Eli Drinkwitz on Thursday, took last year off after spending the previous 14 seasons in the NFL. The stint was highlighted by a year as the head coach of...

OPINION

OHA Marks 1 Year One-Year Anniversary of Oregon’s First COVID-19 Case

Director thanks Oregonians and asks state residents to maintain pandemic precautions and choose vaccination ...

Democracy and White Privilege

“White Nationalists” who believe that America only belongs to its “White” citizens, who live and have lived according to “White Privilege” are ignoring the words of the Declaration of Independence ...

The Leadership Conference Submits Letter in Support of H.R. 40

H.R. 40 finally forces the U.S. government to recognize and make amends for the decades of economic enrichment that have benefited this nation as a result of the free labor that African slaves were forced to provide ...

Letter to the Editor Re: Zenith Energy

The time is now for Portland City Council to stop Zenith Energy’s transporting fossil fuels into and out of our city. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Unusual alliance seeks policing reforms in New Mexico

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Policing reforms are making for strange bedfellows in New Mexico as the co-founders of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and the conservative-backed nonprofit group Americans for Prosperity lobby for a bill to eliminate police immunity from lawsuits on civil rights...

FBI chief warns violent 'domestic terrorism' growing in US

WASHINGTON (AP) — FBI Director Christopher Wray bluntly labeled the January riot at the U.S. Capitol as “domestic terrorism” Tuesday and warned of a rapidly growing threat of homegrown violent extremism that law enforcement is scrambling to confront through thousands of...

NBA reveals All-Star skills, 3-point, dunk participants

Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Phoenix’s Devin Booker have been 3-point champions at All-Star weekend before, and they’ll try to win that trophy again Sunday.The NBA revealed the 15 players Tuesday who will be taking part in the other on-court events besides the All-Star Game...

ENTERTAINMENT

'Vaccine, vaccine': Dolly sings 'Jolene' rewrite before shot

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Dolly Parton has written hundreds of songs over her decades-long career and it turns out her tune “Jolene" is the just right one for getting her COVID-19 vaccine. “I even changed one of my songs to fit the occasion. It goes, ‘Vaccine, vaccine,...

Catherine Zeta-Jones joins Michael Sheen in 'Prodigal Son'

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Catherine Zeta-Jones was already a fan of “Prodigal Son,” so when the chance came to join the show, she jumped, lured by the prospect of working alongside Michael Sheen.The Welsh actors were born in cities about an hour apart and moved in similar circles...

Jhene Aiko to host Grammy Award premiere ceremony

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jhene Aiko will take on hosting duties at the Grammy Awards premiere ceremony this month.The Recording Academy announced Tuesday that the Grammy-nominated singer will host the pre-show, where most trophies are awarded. It will be streamed live on the Grammy’s...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

'Vaccine, vaccine': Dolly sings 'Jolene' rewrite before shot

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Dolly Parton has written hundreds of songs over her decades-long career and it...

Fauci presents his personal virus model to Smithsonian

WASHINGTON (AP) — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the face of the U.S. government’s pandemic response, has...

California crash kills 13 of 25 people crammed into SUV

HOLTVILLE, Calif. (AP) — Authorities are investigating whether human smuggling was involved after a crash...

Mexico Senate passes energy bill favoring state, fossil fuel

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s Senate passed an electrical energy bill that favors government-owned...

Farmers in Fukushima plant indigo to rebuild devastated town

MINAMISOMA, Japan (AP) — Because of radiation released by the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster a decade...

Ontario says seniors won't get AstraZeneca vaccine

TORONTO (AP) — The health minister of Canada’s most populous province said Tuesday Ontario seniors...

I-5 Rose Quarter Project Open House 2
By The Skanner News

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's historic health care overhaul hit its first major legal roadblock Monday, thrown into doubt by a federal judge's declaration that the heart of the sweeping legislation is unconstitutional. The decision handed Republican foes ammunition for their repeal effort next year as the law heads for almost certain eventual judgment by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Skanner News Video here

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson, a Republican appointee in Richmond, Va., marked the first successful court challenge to any portion of the new law, following two earlier rulings in its favor by Democratic-appointed judges.

The law's central requirement for nearly all Americans to carry insurance is unconstitutional, well beyond Congress' power to mandate, Hudson ruled, agreeing with the argument of Virginia's Republican attorney general — and many of the GOP lawmakers who will take control of the U.S. House in January. Hudson denied Virginia's request to strike down the law in its entirety or block it from being implemented while his ruling is appealed by the Obama administration.

"An individual's personal decision to purchase — or decline to purchase — health insurance from a private provider is beyond the historical reach of the Commerce Clause," said Hudson, a 2002 appointee of President George W. Bush.

Nevertheless, the White House predicted it would prevail in the Supreme Court, although it may be a year or two before the health care law gets there. The next step for the Virginia lawsuit is the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, where Democratic-appointed judges hold a majority.

In an interview with television station WFLA in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, Obama emphasized that other judges had either found the law constitutional or dismissed lawsuits against it.

"Keep in mind this is one ruling by one federal district court. We've already had two federal district courts that have ruled that this is definitely constitutional," Obama said. "You've got one judge who disagreed. That's the nature of these things."

But in the short term, the latest court ruling hands potent ammunition to GOP opponents as they prepare to assert control in the new Congress with promises to repeal the law. Obama in turn has promised to veto any repeal legislation and appears likely to be able to prevail since Democrats retain control of the Senate. Republicans also have discussed trying to starve the law of funding.

Whatever the eventual outcome, Monday's ruling could create uncertainty around the administration's efforts to gradually put into effect the landmark legislation extending health coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans. And it can only increase the public's skepticism, which has not significantly receded in the months since the law's enactment, defying Obama's prediction that it would become more popular as the public got to know it.

Obama aides said implementation would not be affected, noting that the individual insurance requirement and other major portions of the legislation don't take effect until 2014.

Underscoring the potential for Hudson's ruling to become a political cudgel for the new Republican House majority, incoming House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, quickly cautioned states against "investing time and resources in Obamacare's implementation now that its central mandate has been ruled unconstitutional."

"Republicans have made a pledge to America to repeal this job-killing health care law, and that's what we're going to do," said Boehner. Calls to repeal the law were a staple of tea party campaign rallies this year.

Other lawsuits are going forward, including one by 20 states that gets under way Thursday in Florida. That suit also challenges whether the federal government can require states to expand their Medicaid programs.

The suit that was decided on Monday had gained a high profile because it was pursued by Virginia's outspoken attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli. The two earlier cases decided in favor of the administration were brought by little-known legal entities.

In his ruling, Hudson largely agreed with Cuccinelli's argument that Congress exceeded its authority, and he dismissed the Justice Department's argument that the insurance-buying requirement would come under the definition of regulating interstate commerce, a power given to Congress by the Constitution.

The mandate for people to buy insurance "is neither within the letter nor the spirit of the Constitution," the judge said.

Hudson limited his ruling to striking down the so-called individual mandate, leaving intact other portions of the law — something supporters cast as a victory. But administration officials and outside analysts agree that important provisions of the legislation could not go forward without the requirement for everyone to be insured. That's because insurers need to have large pools of healthy people, who are cheap to insure, or it is not financially tenable for them to extend coverage to anyone with a pre-existing condition or guarantee certain policies to nearly all comers.

Some provisions of the law took effect in September, six months after its passage, including free preventive care, an elimination of lifetime limits on coverage and a requirement for insurers to allow adult children to stay on their parents' health plans until age 26.

Hudson recognized that his would not be the last word on the subject.

"The final word will undoubtedly reside with a higher court," he wrote.

White House health reform director Nancy-Ann DeParle said the administration is encouraged by the two other judges — in Virginia and Michigan — who have upheld the law. She said the Justice Department is reviewing Hudson's ruling.

In contrast to Hudson's ruling, the judges in Michigan and Virginia, both appointed by President Bill Clinton, said the purchase requirement was allowable under the Constitution.

Associated Press writer Larry O'Dell contributed to this report from Richmond, Va.

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