On the News With Thom Hartmann: First New Gun Law Since Sandy Hook Massacre Set to Pass Today, and More

In today’s On the News segment: Today New York is expected to pass the toughest gun control law in the nation – and the first new gun law since the massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is shying away from strong filibuster reform, and more.

You need to know this. Today New York is expected to pass the toughest gun control law in the nation – and the first new gun law since the massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school. Under the new provision, which passed the state Senate Monday night, and will be taken up by the state Assembly today, any assault weapons with a “military rifle” feature will be banned. Also, every single assault weapon sale, whether through a private dealer or not, will be subject to a background check – and internet sales of assault weapons will be banned altogether. The legal limit for ammo clips will be reduced from ten to seven bullets – and residents who own high-capacity magazines will have one-year to sell them out of state before they are in violation of this new law. Those who refuse could face a misdemeanor for possession of high-capacity ammo clips. There are also provisions to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill who have made violent threats. New York’s passage of tough gun control laws sets the stage for the national debate. According to the New York Times, President Obama will push for comprehensive gun control – and even endorse 19 specific executive actions he will take on his own – without Congress – to prevent weapons of war from ending up in the hands of the deranged. Among the President’s options include – restrictions on gun imports from overseas, better sharing of mental health records between federal agencies, and tougher background checks. This fight is just getting started – and the safety of future generations is on the line. Stay tuned.

In screwed news…Republican election rigging efforts just received a big boost from one of the most prominent members of the Republican Party. RNC Chairman, Reince Priebus, threw his support behind an idea that’s making the rounds in many blue states, like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which are now under the control of Republicans. That idea would change how the state counts its Electoral Votes – awarding those votes based on Congressional districts won – rather than winner take all. And since those Congressional districts were gerrymandered by Republican state legislatures – it would give the Republican presidential candidate a huge advantage. In fact, had Electoral Votes been counted in this way last election – Mitt Romney would be our President, despite President Obama winning handedly in every single battleground state. This is a blatant attempt by Republicans to rig the election – and should be an idea isolated to the fringe of the Party. Yet here’s what RNC Chair Reince Preibus said about it in an interview with the Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel, “I think it’s something that a lot of states that have been consistently blue, that are fully controlled red, ought to be looking at.” So, reacting to a changing American demographic, calls for more progressive social reforms, and the collapse of the primary Republican ideology of Reagan’s trickle-down economics, Republicans have now pinned their best hopes of winning future elections, not on a new direction within the Party, but instead just rigging future elections.

In the best of the rest of the news…

President Obama is getting fed up with Republican intransigence over the debt limit. In a press conference on Monday, the President blasted Republicans for threatening to blow up the dead limit. Pointing out that raising the debt limit does not authorize more spending, but simply pays the bill on money Congress has already spent, the President said, “We are not a deadbeat nation.” He also reiterated that he will not negotiate over the debt-limit and put spending cuts on the table, in exchange for an increase in the debt-limit, saying, “House Republican will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy. The financial well-being of the American people is not leverage to be used.” Let’s hope the President stands firm – and doesn’t give in to the economic terrorists within the Republican Party.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is shying away from strong filibuster reform. In an interview with Las Vegas PBS, Reid threw his support behind modest filibuster reform – but he stopped short of endorsing the Merkley-Udall plan, which would require a filibustering minority to speak on the floor of the Senate the entire time they wish to obstruct legislation. Under Reid’s plan, the minority would still be able to use a silent filibuster to block debate on legislation. But once debate has started, then Republicans would have to talk on the floor the entire time they wish to filibuster before a final vote is called. A spokesman for Senator Jeff Merkley said the Reid plan falls short, saying, “[T]his approach does nothing to take on the core problem we face in the Senate: routine obstruction by the secret, silent filibuster…Senator Merkley will continue his discussions with Leader Reid, and continue pushing for a real talking filibuster in any final package put together.” If Democrats hope to accomplish anything in the Senate these next two years, and actually be able to present passed legislation to the American people when the midterms come around in 2014, then it’s crucial for Harry Reid to take Senator Merkley’s advice, and pass strong filibuster reform.

And finally…Indiana Republicans are taking their cues from Glenn Beck. Two Indiana State Republicans have introduced legislation to outlaw the implementation of the UN’s Agenda 21 initiative – which is a modest, non-binding measure to encourage nations to support more sustainable environments. But according to Glenn Beck, who is currently promoting a new book titled “Agenda 21”, this initiative is the UN’s attempt to enact one-world government, and force us all into some sort of dystopia. There’s no proof whatsoever to back up Beck’s claims – but that hasn’t stopped Republican lawmakers in Georgia, Tennessee, and now Indiana, from taking action against it. The question we all have to face now is – what happens to our two-party American political system – when one party has flown over the cuckoo’s nest, and is basing their legislative agenda on paranoid conspiracy theories promoted by Glenn Beck?

And that’s the way it is today – Tuesday, January 15, 2013. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.