Adco Legislative Update 6/26
It’s Friday, June 26, 2020. 130 days until Election Day. Below are today's updates. No action is required. Please feel free to share this information with interested community partners. You can expect the next update to come Monday evening.
Key Takeaway: Coronavirus will add 500,000 people to Colorado’s Medicaid rolls — with major consequences for the health care system.
For years, lawmakers in Colorado have talked about fundamentally changing the state’s health care system. They’ve talked about creating more competition in the insurance industry or providing subsidies to make coverage more affordable. They’ve talked about tackling hospital prices and trimming profits. And, now, after all that groundwork, the coronavirus pandemic has come along and flipped the table.
In the coming months, the state expects to add a half million people to its Medicaid rolls due to coronavirus-related job losses, bringing enrollment in the program to more than 1.8 million people. By December, nearly one out of every three Coloradans will be covered by Medicaid. Combined with the roughly 14% of Coloradans who are on Medicare, it means that, for at least a brief period, nearly half of the state will be covered by a government-run health plan. More on this from The Colorado Sun below.
Coronavirus In Colorado; The Numbers: According to today's data release, in Colorado there have been 304,759 people tested, 31,796 positive cases, 5,392 hospitalized, 1,673 deaths among cases (1,482 deaths due to COVID), 349 outbreaks at residential and non- hospital health care facilities, 61 of 64 counties with positive cases. In Adams County we have 4,058 cases and 154 deaths. More from CDPHE here.
CDPHE Outlines Terms For Outdoor Visits At Senior Facilities: The state’s health department is permitting scheduled, outdoor visitation at residential care facilities, and has prescribed protocols for interactions with older residents who are most likely to die from coronavirus infection. Staff at facilities are required to greet visitors outside in order to perform temperature checks and ensure that visitors are wearing masks. Employees will also take down the visitors’ information to enable contact tracing, and will escort them to and from the visitation. If the person receiving the visit has symptoms of COVID-19, or the facility has not waited for 14 days following an outbreak, there will be no visitation. It is a suggestion that the facility communicate the terms of the visit and the expectations about behavior before the visitors arrive. More from Colorado Politics here.
A Last Minute Voter’s Guide To The Colorado 2020 Primary Election: Colorado’s June 30 primary is less than a week away, so if you haven’t turned your ballot in yet, you need to drop it in an election drop box or at your county clerk’s office by 7 p.m. Tuesday. It’s too late to mail it. You can also register and vote in person at a vote center; visit www.GoVoteColorado.com to find one near you. More information can be found here. Still trying to figure out who to vote for — or even what your choices are? Your ballot will depend on where you live and which party you choose. Here are the contested races in and near the Denver metro area. More from The Denver Post here.
Election Results Are Delayed Again. Get Used To It: Kentucky and New York had primaries Tuesday, but the winners of the closest races probably won't be known until next week. What's going on? Get used to it. Slow vote counts and delayed results are a feature of elections during the pandemic and are likely to continue into the general election in November, when many election officials say that, absent a landslide, it won't be clear who won the presidential election for several days. “Americans need to learn a little patience," said Josh Douglas, a law professor at the University of Kentucky who studies voter rights. "The fact of not knowing who won right away is the process actually working.” More from Colorado Politics here.
Gov. Jared Polis To Examine Options For State Intervention Into Elijah McClain Investigation: Gov. Jared Polis on Wednesday said his office will examine what the state can do regarding the investigation into the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old killed by Aurora police last year in a case that has drawn national attention amid the movement to hold law enforcement responsible for their treatment of people of color. “Public confidence in our law enforcement process is incredibly important now more than ever,” Polis said in a tweet Wednesday afternoon. “A fair and objective process free from real or perceived bias for investigation officer-involved killings is critical.” The governor said in a second tweet that he is “hearing from many Coloradans who have expressed concerns the investigation of Elijah McClain’s death. As a result, I have instructed my legal council (sic) to examine what the state can do and we are assessing next steps.” More from The Denver Post here.
Governor Polis Appoints Special Prosecutor To Investigate The Death Of Elijah McClain: Governor Jared Polis signed an Executive Order designating Phil Weiser, Attorney General of Colorado, as the State’s prosecutor, to investigate and, if the facts support prosecution, criminally prosecute any individuals whose actions caused the death of Elijah McClain. “I was moved by speaking with Elijah’s mother and her description of her son as a responsible and curious child who became a vegetarian to be healthier, and who could inspire the darkest soul. His friends describe him as a gentle peacemaker who worked as a massage therapist and enjoyed playing the violin. Elijah McClain should be alive today, and we owe it to his family to take this step and elevate the pursuit of justice in his name to a statewide concern." More from Governor Jared Polis here.
Colorado Civil War Soldier Statue Torn Down At The Capitol: A monument at the Colorado state Capitol remembering the 1st Colorado Cavalry who fought and died in the Civil War was torn down early Thursday morning. The Colorado State Patrol said it happened around 1:30 a.m. The pedestal that supported the statue of a Union cavalryman was also defaced with graffiti. It's been subject to similar graffiti and defacement in the last few weeks as protests over racism and police brutality took place on the statehouse grounds. Protesters have defaced and torn down statues of historic figures during recent demonstrations against racial injustice in cities across the nation. Most of those pieces have explicit ties to colonialism, slavery and the Confederacy, including imagery of Christopher Columbus and former U.S. presidents who owned slaves. More from CPR here.
Statue Honoring Christopher Columbus In Denver’s Civic Center Torn Down Overnight: A statue erected in Denver’s Civic Center in the mid-1970s to honor Christopher Columbus was torn down by protesters overnight, just a day after the state’s Civil War monument — which included a commemoration of the Sand Creek Massacre — met a similar fate. Video tweeted around 12:40 a.m. Friday by a group called the Afro Liberation Front shows a number of people pulling on ropes attached to the 15-foot bronze statue, which sat on a pedestal bearing a plaque with the inscription “In Honor of Christopher Columbus. More from The Denver Post here.
Federal Cash Could Be The Thing That Shifts A Front Range Train From Dream To Reality: Colorado’s fledgling plans for passenger rail up and down the Front Range could get billions from the federal government under two separate proposals. Sal Pace, a member of the state’s Southwest Chief And Front Range Passenger Rail Commission, said he’s been working with Amtrak and Republican Sen. Cory Gardner on bill language that would fund four new rail corridors across the country. He said it would mean more than $2 billion for Colorado. “It would really play a huge difference in getting the Front Range passenger rail program built,” said the former Democratic state legislator and Pueblo County Commissioner in an interview. Gardner confirmed that, saying he’s hopeful the language will be included in a future coronavirus stimulus bill. “We’re going to keep pushing,” he said earlier in June. More from CPR here.
With Days Left To Apply For A Paycheck Loan, There’s Still More Than $126 Billion Available To Small Businesses: With four days left to apply, there’s still $126 billion available to small businesses that could benefit from a forgivable loan, or at least a low-interest one, to recover from the havoc of shutdowns during the coronavirus pandemic. But are there any more businesses that want one? It’s been crickets at many Colorado banks and lending organizations, which saw applications for federal Paycheck Protection Program loans plummet in popularity since May, shortly after a second round of money was approved by Congress. Changes were made this month to make it easier for business owners to use the loan — and qualify for 100% forgiveness. They no longer had to use 75% on payroll, but could now use 40% on other expenses. Borrowers also now have 24 weeks to use the money, instead of eight. But there’s been a major slow down in applicants. The last day to apply for a PPP loan is June 30. More from The Colorado Sun here.
RTD Union Holds Rallies In Advance Of Front-Door Boarding Resumption: The union representing the bulk of Regional Transportation District operators are holding two rallies on Friday to educate riders about the potential hazards of front-door boarding, which is scheduled to resume on July 1. “The biggest problem facing bus and train operators right now is passengers who are not wearing masks,” said Lance Longenboh, the president and business agent of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1001. “While the union wants RTD to return to front-door boarding and fare collection, it must be done safely. Our demands are for shields to protect operators from droplets; personal protective equipment like disinfectants, gloves and the facemask of the operator’s choosing; requiring passengers to wear masks; and enforcing proper social distancing.” More from Colorado Politics here.
‘No Mask, No Ride’- Bus Drivers Worry RTD Isn’t Ready To Collect Fares Safely: RTD’s bus and light rail operators say the agency isn’t ready to safely begin collecting fares. About three dozen drivers picketed at RTD’s Central Park station Friday morning, just days before fare collection is set to start July 1. Passengers have been boarding most of RTD’s buses from the rear door since April to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. “$3 fare, the risk is still there,” they chanted. “We protect you, you protect us.” Lance Longenbohn, president of the ATU-1001 transit workers union, said RTD should require passengers to wear masks and enforce social distancing on its vehicles. "If anybody without a mask gets on a bus, the bus has the potential to be contaminated — and we're no longer delivering passengers, we're delivering virus," he said as drivers marched behind him. More from CPR here.
Another 20,000 Apply For Jobless Aid In Colorado Amid Economy’s Slow Reopening: More than 20,000 Coloradans filed unemployment claims last week as the steady pace of deep job cuts and income losses for workers continues in the Centennial State amid the COVID-19 pandemic even as the state’s economy reopens. Last week’s claims — 9,882 for traditional unemployment benefits and 10,385 for federal pandemic unemployment assistance, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment — are down significantly from the week prior, which saw more than 28,000 Coloradans file for support. Still, with just about every type of business in the state, including bars, now cleared to reopen in at least a limited capacity the job losses have not slowed down to pre-pandemic levels. The more than 20,000 initial claims filed last week are on pace with the 19,774 claims filed the week of March 8-14 in the earliest stages of the pandemic. More from The Denver Post here.
Coronavirus Will Add 500,000 People To Colorado’s Medicaid Rolls With Major Consequences For The Health Care System: For years, lawmakers in Colorado have talked about fundamentally changing the state’s health care system. They’ve talked about creating more competition in the insurance industry or providing subsidies to make coverage more affordable. They’ve talked about tackling hospital prices and trimming profits. And, now, after all that groundwork, the coronavirus pandemic has come along and flipped the table. In the coming months, the state expects to add a half million people to its Medicaid rolls due to coronavirus-related job losses, bringing enrollment in the program to more than 1.8 million people. By December, nearly one out of every three Coloradans will be covered by Medicaid. “This is unprecedented,” said Kim Bimestefer, the executive director of Colorado’s Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, which administers Medicaid in the state. The surge is bigger than when Colorado expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act — when the state added 400,000 people to the rolls over a 2-year period. It is larger than during any previous economic crisis. Combined with the roughly 14% of Coloradans who are on Medicare, it means that, for at least a brief period, nearly half of the state will be covered by a government-run health plan. More from The Colorado Sun here.
Coronavirus Safety Added To CU Boulder Code Of Conduct: University of Colorado Boulder students who do not wear masks in public, adhere to social distancing or follow public health orders could be disciplined under the campus’ updated code of conduct, including being put on probation or suspended in the worst cases. CU Boulder leaders released more information about campus’ fall plan this week, including clarifying what will be required of students and consequences for not following those rules. CU Boulder’s code of conduct now requires that students follow public health orders, the campus’ COVID-19 Health and Safety Policy and university expectations for social and physical distancing on campus, that they wear a face covering over their nose and mouth outside of their home and that they follow guidelines for events and social gatherings. More from The Denver Post here.
Despite The Pandemic, The Air Force Academy Welcomes The Next Class Of Cadets: The next class of cadets arrived for basic training at the U.S. Air Force Academy on Thursday, going through a pandemic-altered version of the institution’s traditional “In-processing Day.” The event still served its primary purpose as initiation for the new freshmen: They received Air Force compliant haircuts and physical training clothes; they passed medical and physical standards of the service branch; filled out Academy paperwork and were introduced to their roommates. Yet, the pandemic altered other traditions. Where normally parents say goodbye at the Academy’s Doolittle Hall, on Thursday appointees were unceremoniously dropped off by parents who were asked not to leave their cars. Members of the new class were each handed a black face mask and sent to socially distant check-in tables at the football team’s indoor practice field — all in an effort to keep the cadets as widely spaced as possible. More from CPR here.
Masks Required As Part Of DPS In-Person Learning This Fall: The Denver Public School District (DPS), the state's largest school district, announced that masks will be required as students return for full in-person learning in August at all district-run, innovation and charter schools. "'Masks are uncomfortable so we won't use them,' that's not going to be a choice," said DPS Superintendent Susana Cordova. "I think it's really important. We see school systems around the globe where students are wearing masks and they're adjusting to what that's like." More from 9News here.
DeGette Sponsors Legislation Granting $25 Billion To Research Disrupted By Pandemic: U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette has sponsored a bill that would give to the federal agencies that depend on scientific research approximately $25 billion that they can award to research universities and other institutions whose operations the pandemic has disrupted. “These researchers are essential to our nation’s public health, national security, economic growth and international competitiveness,” DeGette said in a statement with the bipartisan group of other House sponsors. “Preserving our scientific infrastructure and protecting our innovation pipeline will help ensure U.S. leadership in the world and help us better respond to future pandemics.” More from Colorado Politics here.
Crow Introduces Bill For Congressional Oversight Over Afghanistan Troop Withdrawals: U.S. Rep. Jason Crow has introduced legislation that would prevent the Trump Administration from stationing fewer than 5,000 American soldiers in Afghanistan without submitting the drawdown operation to congressional oversight. Crow said in a statement that although he served in Afghanistan while in the Army, “I also know the limitations of military power. If there was a military solution to the war in Afghanistan, we would’ve found it long ago. The war in Afghanistan must end, but we must do so in a way that ensures lasting peace...This bill is transformative in its ability to ensure that we keep our promise - to the women and children of Afghanistan, to our partners and allies in peacekeeping, and to a safer, and more secure world order.” The bill would also trigger oversight if troop levels dip below 8,000. The New York Times reported last week that there were 8,600 soldiers in the country currently, with further withdrawals planned. More from Colorado Politics here.
New Coronavirus Cases In The U.S. Soar To Highest Single-Day Total: Across the United States, 38,115 new infections were reported by state health departments on Wednesday — surpassing the previous single-day record of 34,203 set on April 25. Texas, Florida and California led the way, with all three states reporting more than 5,000 new cases apiece. Three states — California, Florida and Oklahoma — reported record highs in new single-day coronavirus cases, while hospitalizations hit a new peak in Arizona, where intensive care units have quickly filled. Even as case numbers climb, reports circulated that the federal government is poised to stop providing federal aid to testing sites in some hard-hit states, including Texas, prompting a top federal official to respond that testing was on the rise. More from The Washington Post here.
U.S. Sets Daily Record For New Coronavirus Cases: With numbers spiking across Southern states, the United States set a daily record for new COVID-19 cases Thursday. According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center, 39,972 new cases were recorded June 25, surpassing the previous record set April 24, which saw 36,291 new cases. The U.S. continues to lead the world in both reported cases and deaths from the coronavirus. As of early June 26, the U.S. has recorded 2,422,310 cases and 124,416 deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the case numbers are almost certainly vastly understated. "Our best estimate right now is that for every case that was reported, there actually were 10 other infections," Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the CDC, said during a call with reporters Thursday. At least two states that had resisted stringent measures to control the spread of the virus are adjusting public health policies to address their surging numbers. More from NPR here.
Florida Reports Massive Single-Day Increase Of 9,000 Coronavirus Cases: Florida on Friday reported nearly 9,000 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours totaling 122,960 cases. Why it matters: The state is one of many that are experiencing a fresh surge of infections. The single-day confirmed cases increase was the most for any state since the pandemic began. By the numbers: The record surpassed the Florida's single-day record from this week at 5,511. Deaths in Florida increased 1.2%, reaching 3,366, the report shows. Total hospitalizations in Florida rose 1.5%, to 13,987.More from Axios here.
As Virus Surges, Younger People Account for ‘Disturbing’ Number of Cases: Younger people are making up a growing percentage of new coronavirus cases in cities and states where the virus is now surging, a trend that has alarmed public health officials and prompted renewed pleas for masks and social distancing. In Arizona, where drive-up sites are overwhelmed by people seeking coronavirus tests, people ages 20 to 44 account for nearly half of all cases. In Florida, which breaks records for new cases nearly every day, the median age of residents testing positive for the virus has dropped to 35, down from 65 in March. And in Texas, where the governor paused the reopening process on Thursday as hospitals grow increasingly crowded, young people now account for the majority of new cases in several urban centers. In Cameron County, which includes Brownsville and the tourist town of South Padre Island, people under 40 make up more than half of newly reported cases. More from The New York Times here.
Texas, Florida Governors Order Bars Closed, Impose New Restrictions As Cases Surge: A pair of GOP governors on Friday moved to impose new mitigation measures in their states amid record numbers of new coronavirus infections, with both Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordering bars closed and Texas placing new restrictions on other businesses the governor said were linked to the virus's resurgence. Texas and Florida are among around a dozen other states that have hit the brakes on reopening their economies amid a resurgence of the virus across the South and West affecting more than half of the states in the country. More from Politico here.
DHS Predicted A Summer Of Violence, Radicalization And Conspiracies: The Homeland Security Department warned its personnel in early April that months of nationwide lockdown restrictions may push people closer to violent extremism. Three weeks later, the federal agency already saw signs of it coming true. DHS officials warned that if people remained in “extended isolation,” they could face “increased exposure to violent extremists who are using social media, including disinformation spread on social media, to attempt to radicalize others to violence.” They also predicted that people would become more susceptible to disinformation and radicalism and would see more “conspiracy theories and grievances.” Social distancing rules could result in one benefit, DHS predicted: fewer targets for mass killings. In an April 7 internal draft memo obtained by Defense One, DHS officials forecast the possibility of increased radicalizations and violent activity, drawing upon a wide body of research showing the effects of isolation on individuals already susceptible to violent extremism. The memo was intended to help officials understand how social distancing rules could increase the potential for mass attacks once restrictions were lifted. More from Government Executive here.
Decoding The Confusing Messages Of The Coronavirus Epidemic In America: On June 21st the World Health Organization announced a record increase in coronavirus cases round the world: 183,000 new cases during the previous 24 hours, more than at the height of the pandemic in April. A fifth were in the United States, which faced—as Anthony Fauci, an infectious-disease expert, told Congress—a “disturbing surge” in infections. Five days before, Mike Pence, the vice-president, wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal pouring scorn on “alarm bells over a ‘second wave’ of coronavirus infections”. Pointing to falling numbers of deaths, he claimed that “panic is overblown…we are winning the fight against the coronavirus”. President Donald Trump later told Fox News the virus would just “fade away.” Such contradictory claims are more than playing with numbers. They reveal a changing pattern of infection which is not only confusing but, in the final analysis, worrying for the future of the pandemic. More from The Economist here.
Another 1.48 Million Americans File For Unemployment Benefits: More than three months into the COVID-19 crisis in the U.S., countless Americans are still unemployed. According to the U.S. Labor Department, weekly initial jobless claims data showed yet another week of claims exceeding 1 million. Another 1.48 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending June 20, exceeding economists’ expectations for 1.32 million. The prior week’s figure was revised higher to 1.54 million from the previously reported 1.51 million claims. While last week’s report marked 12 consecutive weeks of deceleration, more than 47 million Americans have filed for unemployment insurance over the past 14 weeks. More from Yahoo Finance here.
Lack Of Childcare Keeping Women Unemployed: One part of the problem is that working parents with kids at home have few options for safe and affordable child care during the coronavirus pandemic, Politico's Megan Cassella and Eleanor Mueller report. The issue is disproportionately affecting women. In May, the unemployment rate jumped by 7.6 percentage points for men, but nearly 10 percentage points for women. The problem could slow down the recovery even more, and at the same time, erode decades of gains for women in the workplace. “Within the child care industry, too, a staggering 93 percent of jobs are held by women,” Megan and Eleanor report, and nearly half are Black, Asian or Latino. “Making sure the sector stays afloat — or even strengthens — could have an outsized impact on the economic well-being of those demographics.” More from Politico here.
Dow Tumbles 730 Points As COVID-19 Flare-Ups Force States To Push Back Reopening: Rising coronavirus infections roiled investors on Friday, sending stocks into a sharp decline as big-economy states like Texas and Florida paused their reopening to stop the disease’s spread. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 730 points, about 2.8 percent, to 25,015, The Standard & Poor’s 500 dropped 2.4 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite fell 2.6 percent. All three indexes were on track weekly losses. The S&P was off 2.7 percent, the Dow 3.3 percent and Nasdaq more than 1 percent lower for the week as the trading session headed into its final minutes. All 11 sectors of the S&P were in the red, led downward by financials, energy and communication services. Shares of social media favorite Facebook plunged by more than 8 percent on news that packaged goods giant Unilever would suspend advertising on the site, Instagram and Twitter through the end of 2020 due to the “polarized atmosphere” on social media platforms. More from The Washington Post here.
Obamacare Must 'Fall,' Trump Administration Tells Supreme Court: In a filing with the U.S. Supreme Court, the Trump administration has reaffirmed its position that the Affordable Care Act in its entirety is illegal because Congress eliminated the individual tax penalty for failing to purchase medical insurance. Solicitor General Noel Francisco, the government's chief advocate before the Supreme Court, said in a brief that the other provisions of Obamacare are impossible to separate from the individual mandate and that "it necessarily follows that the rest of the ACA must also fall." Shortly after the brief appeared on the court's docket late Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement: "President Trump and the Republicans' campaign to rip away the protections and benefits of the Affordable Care Act in the middle of the coronavirus crisis is an act of unfathomable cruelty." In a speech on the lawsuit Thursday, Vice President Pence said he was proud of the ACA and denounced the administration's position. "It's cruel, it's heartless, and it's callous," he said. More from NPR here.
A Step Toward Permanent Telehealth Policy: Regulations giving home health agencies more flexibility to use telehealth during the pandemic would be extended permanently under a proposed rule released by the agency Thursday afternoon. The proposal was released alongside a routine update of the Home Health Prospective Payment System for 2021, which will boost Medicare payments to home health agencies by $540 million, a 2.6 percent increase over current levels, according to CMS. As long as the usage is outlined on the plan of care and tied to a specific goal, the rule allows home health agencies to continue utilizing remote patient monitoring, phone calls, two-way audio-video and similar technologies to connect Medicare patients and clinicians, Politico's Tucker Doherty writes. The rule allows agencies to continue reporting related costs as allowable administrative costs, but usage cannot be considered a visit for the purpose of patient eligibility or payment. CMS Administrator Seema Verma touted the proposal as “one of many system upgrades we’re making to ensure our Medicare program runs smoothly for our beneficiaries & providers.” More from Politico here.
How The United States' Massive Failure To Close The Digital Divide Got Exposed By Coronavirus: Three out of every four Americans who lack broadband access have the infrastructure in their neighborhood but haven’t connected to it. Most just don’t have the money. Unlike in other wealthy nations, the federal government has imposed no cost controls to make broadband more affordable. The result: massive inequality in one of the modern world’s most basic utilities. “The digital divide in America is largely urban,” said Gigi Sohn, a lawyer and former Federal Communications Commission staffer under Obama. “It’s largely low-income and it’s largely minority communities. Even if you account for income, people of color are disproportionately impacted negatively. They’re on the wrong side of the digital divide.” More from Government Executive here.
Treasury Updates the Coronavirus Relief Fund Frequently Asked Questions: The Department of Treasury has updated its guidance on the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) for state, territorial, local, and tribal governments. Through the CRF, the CARES Act provides payments to state, local, and tribal governments navigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. More from US Treasury here.
Federal Regulators Weaken Wall Street Rules: Venture capital funds soon will be eligible for a huge new pot of Wall Street money, after federal regulators yesterday weakened rules that were put in place after the financial crisis. Driving the news: Many banks had been banned from balance sheet investing in venture capital funds due to the Volcker Rule, which was part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform package passed in 2010. That prohibition will now expire on Oct. 1, based on an announcement from a group of agencies that included the SEC and FDIC. An argument in favor of this deregulation is that the Volcker Rule disproportionately hurt smaller, regional venture capital funds that had relied on local banks for fund capital. An argument against this deregulation is that venture capital hasn't lost any of its high risk profile. More from Axios here.
Trump To Sign Executive Order To Overhaul The Federal Hiring Process: President Trump on Friday will sign an executive order to overhaul requirements federal agencies use when evaluating job candidates, seeking to downplay the importance of college degrees. The order will require agencies to increase the use of skill assessments and interviews with subject matter experts to determine an applicant's qualifications, rather than simply looking at educational achievements. Degree requirements will not go away entirely, and certain positions—such as those in medical, legal and certain technical fields—will still require advanced degrees. The goal of the order, Trump administration officials said on Friday, is to create a broader pool of potential federal employees and a more equitable hiring process. The executive order will “modernize recruitment and hiring in federal government to look for specific skills and knowledge, rather than asking for college degrees and years of experience alone,” said Ivanka Trump, adviser to the president. “This will ensure that we’re able to hire based on talent and expand the universe of qualified candidates.” More from Government Executive here.
The Lasting Normal For The Post-Pandemic City: Two images of the post-pandemic city have emerged. One is the urbanist’s utopia of widened sidewalks, ample bike lanes, parking lots converted to green spaces and extended networks of pedestrianized boulevards. The other is a dystopia of empty streets and boarded-up shops, a barren cultural landscape in which the diversity, energy, and pageantry of Barcelona’s La Rambla, Paris’s Champs Elysees, London’s Piccadilly Circus, and New York’s Times Square have been replaced by a tableau of socially-distanced and masked citizens, scurrying quickly between their jobs and their homes. This is a city where theaters and museums are shuttered, where restaurants and cafes are closed down or sparsely populated with socially distanced diners, where there are no people milling on the streets, no children playing in playgrounds, no pickup basketball or soccer games. This is Boston without the Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots, Bruins, or its eponymous Marathon. The post-coronavirus reality is likely to lie somewhere in between. There will be more bike lanes, but there will also be more driving due to the lingering fear of trains and transit. There will be fewer families but more young people. There will also be fewer luxury towers, less foreign wealth, less hyper-gentrification, and less sterility. Many existing shops and creative venues will shutter, but new ones will open. Artists, musicians and creatives are incredibly resilient; they will find their way back to urban areas drawn by lower rents, and they will apply their creativity and their sweat equity to revive them as they always have. More from CityLab here.
Gentrification And Disinvestment 2020: COVID-19 exposed deep economic and social fault lines nationwide, with profound implications for how we attract investment to our poorest communities and the impact that investment has on low- and moderate-income (LMI) and minority populations. The pandemic also made clear what was already going on before it: While a small number of cities were booming, most were not. NCRC’s 2019 report on gentrification and cultural displacement identified a small group of boomtowns that experienced large scale gentrification and notable displacement of longtime minority communities. But they were rare. Most cities and towns were struggling. Their problem was stagnation and disinvestment, not gentrification or displacement. Most LMI communities in most places remained mired in poverty and lacked critical investment. Widespread protests in 2020 against systemic racism and police brutality erupted in a nation that was already suffering not only from a pandemic but also from the brutality of chronic poverty and economic distress. More from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition here.
Facebook Will Label Violating Posts From Public Figures Going Forward: Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook will start labeling posts it deems newsworthy but that also violates its policies, marking a major about-turn from the company’s previous hands-off stance. In a town hall that was streamed live Friday, Zuckerberg said the company will also remove content that incites violence or attempts to suppress voting — no matter who says it. “There are no exceptions for politicians in any of the policies that I’m announcing today,” he said. More from The Washington Post here.
Politicians Ignore Far-Out Risks- They Need To Up Their Game: In 1993 this newspaper told the world to watch the skies. At the time, humanity’s knowledge of asteroids that might hit the Earth was woefully inadequate. Like nuclear wars and large volcanic eruptions, the impacts of large asteroids can knock seven bells out of the climate; if one thereby devastated a few years’ worth of harvests around the globe it would kill an appreciable fraction of the population. Such an eventuality was admittedly highly unlikely. But given the consequences, it made actuarial sense to see if any impact was on the cards, and at the time no one was troubling themselves to look. Asteroid strikes were an extreme example of the world’s willful ignorance, perhaps—but not an atypical one. Low-probability, high-impact events are a fact of life. Individual humans look for protection from them to governments and, if they can afford it, insurers. Humanity, at least as represented by the world’s governments, reveals instead a preference to ignore them until forced to react—even when foresight’s price-tag is small. It is an abdication of responsibility and a betrayal of the future. More from The Economist here.