During the second week of the legislative session, the House began moving a bit faster as the first few bills came out of the committee system. We voted on three measures on the House floor, the most important of which by far was SB 24, the "Hospital Medicaid Financing Program Act," also known derisively as the “bed tax.” This tax, which was first passed three years ago, will reach the end of its authorization in July. It is a levy hospitals must pay as a percentage of revenue. The proceeds are then used, in combination with federal matching funds, to cover hospital healthcare obligations that the state has incurred through Medicaid. Many hospitals end up with roughly the same amount back from the state as they paid into the tax, some come out way ahead, and some come out behind. By the time all is said and done, this amounts to a roughly $450 million net flow of revenue into the industry. It is so critical for some hospitals that its termination would force between 10 to 15 institutions out of business. And with the state still struggling to compose recession budgets, there is no way such a sum could be made up for out of other revenues. In short, we are between the proverbial rock and a hard place: either re-authorize the tax or face terrible fiscal disarray and damage to Georgia’s healthcare system. SB 24 proposes to reauthorize the tax, but with a twist. It would give the state Board of Community Health the power to assess the tax as “provider payments” for a period of four years. This way the board would set and adjust the amount to be collected, subject to certain restrictions. While not a very complex measure, consideration of the bill did see a fair number of speakers. Because it involved delegating the responsibility of levying a tax, a power the state constitution assigns to the legislature, I voted "no." The bill nonetheless passed, by a bipartisan 147 to 18.
Currently, Madison temperatures hover between 30 and 65 degree while much of the Midwest tolerates temperatures in the minus to single digits, -9 today- to be exact. So far, it’s the coldest day of the year in Wisconsin; we’re talking at least an additional dozen “R’s” tacked on to BRRRRRRRR. I’m not sharing this for pity, well, maybe a little pity; I just think it’s worth noting what it takes to tolerate polar temperatures on a daily basis. Bundle up, here’s a peek through the frosty window at sub-zero tolerance.
Extreme temperatures obviously require more than warm woolen mittens, a lot more; think Michelin Tire Man in a down coat. It begins with the base layer: a camisole or t-shirt, a second layer: top and bottom long underwear and wool socks, a third layer: pants and shirt, a fourth layer: fleece or sweater, a fifth layer: coat and boots, and a sixth layer: hat or earmuffs, scarf and gloves. That gets you to the mailbox and, if need be, prepared to shovel out of snowdrifts. Staying indoors, as Artic winds blast across the prairie, requires donning the first four layers, or you eat PB&J to pay the power bill.
Constantly dressing and undressing, each time you step out the door, any door, and back in, reminds me of honeymooning at Sea Island; the main dining room in the Cloister requires men to wear a jacket for all meals, and women to be dressed appropriately, no beach or sports attire. Post-nuptial days are spent changing from bathing suits to dinner jackets for each meal. It’s a lot more fun on a honeymoon.
Not content with the proverbial practice of shooting himself in the foot, a security guard in Rio Claro, Trinidad and Tobago, took the exercise one leg’s length farther.
... farther upward, that is.
That’s right, the 33-year-old man, who remains unnamed – let’s call him “Dirk” – shot himself off with a concealed (and illegal) .38 caliber firearm while on patrol in his vehicle.
Supposedly, the real police found “Dirk” bleeding from the groin with his pistol in his right pocket.
The police had to rummage around a little before finding the other.... pistol.
I guess “Dirk” felt that it was better to bleed to death than admit the loss of manhood that he suffered at his own hand.
Police took “Dirk” to the hospital, but early reports are unclear as to whether the doctors were able to reunite “Dirk” with himself.
To add insult to injury (The horror! The horror!), “Dirk” will probably be charged for the discharge, since the weapon wasn’t registered with the government.
You have to register that with the government in Trinidad and Tobago?!?
In case “Dirk” ever gets back out on the streets, I’ve compiled a short list of possible, less-dangerous weapons that he could tote with him: a night stick, a bat, a whistle (to blow on), a hose, or maybe just a nice, solid piece of bone.
Printed in the January 31, 2013 edition
This will be my last foray into the whole gun debate issue and so I would like to address a common objection to “ordinary” citizens owning “military” grade weaponry. I received this question from a friend recently: “How do sovereign people adequately defend themselves from their government that has vastly superior weapons?” The assumed “gotcha” response is that it such defense is obviously futile and thus demonstrating such futility ipso facto there can be no legitimate reason for a citizen to posses such weapons. This was not my friend’s intent in asking this question though; he raised a legitimate question and was seeking a thoughtful answer.
To answer this we must first ask: What is the objective of such people defending themselves? Is it to achieve an outright resounding victory or is it to merely resist? Although the former objective may be the desire clearly the difference in weaponry would make that an unlikely immediate outcome. However, resistance is a different matter. Resistance does not require equivalent weaponry, merely minimally repulsive weaponry. The truth of this is found throughout a history replete with stories of rebelling forces that were vastly outgunned and outmanned resisting against superior forces for years on end. For example, the American Indian (various tribes) resisted the growing incursions of the United States into their various territories for decades. They did ultimately lose that battle, however there was resistance. Had they been completely disarmed the resistance of the Indians would have lasted days rather than decades.
The inaugural week is not about fashion, but this is a lifestyle column, and like Joan Rivers, Tim Gunn and Women’s Wear Daily I can’t pass up the opportunity to address what the First Lady wore to the inauguration ceremony. Let me just say, the blue silk coat, designed by menswear designer Thom Browne, was a spot-on choice; it fit Mrs. Obama like the grape colored J.Crew gloves she paired with it. The coat has it all: style, fabric, color, proportion and fit. As a seamstress, I appreciate the elements of a well-made garment. I want that coat.
The fashion world reports regularly on the First Lady wearing Target, and J. Crew apparel; I admire that. But I’d be willing to bet a most treasured possession, my grandmother’s 1936 portable Singer sewing machine, that her off-the-rack choices are altered to fit her. The First Lady and her stylist understand that she can wear anything, as long as it fits her well. Her clothing reflects the proper proportions for her body type, that is, the precise hemline, jacket length, sleeve length, skirt fullness, and pant leg width, etc. She proves the point that anyone can look great, without breaking the bank, if clothes are well proportioned and fit you properly, regardless if you’re a size 6 or size 16. Men, this goes for you too; the law of fit and proportion applies to everyone.
I can hear you, “at 5’11” the First Lady would look good in a Muumuu.” Contrary to popular belief, tall people and fashion models don’t look good in everything they put on. Designers design clothing specifically for runway models, women of all body types, and the First Lady. Mrs. Obama’s designer clothing is designed and made for her, not a runway model. The key to her fashion success, whether couture or off-the-rack, is the same as yours or mine– a good tailor.
Best of the Best
Chris Hudson Couture: For couture clothing
The pansies, violas, kales and mustards are strutting their stuff in the city containers and you all need to check them out. To be fair to the “supporting staff,” there are a fair number of euphorbias, ferns, and foxgloves also looking good. But this time we are going to talk about the big, bright and colorful cast of characters – pansies and violas. Although it may well be too late to find any of these special plants in garden centers, you decide which ones you like best now and ask for them to be available next season.
Hands-down winner – and my personal favorite – is Sorbet Lemon Chiffon. This dainty, soft yellow viola has outperformed every other pansy/viola I have ever used. It “weighs in” at 6 inches by 6 inches – not very big by most standards. But what it does is bloom, bloom, bloom – and is not bothered by extreme cold or the increasing warmth of early summer days. Then there is its buttery yellow color which coordinates so well with red, orange, blue, purple, white – well, maybe not the orange – but you get the idea.
A new viola for me this year is Penny Marlies. I fell in love with the subtle purple and gold colors. While other pansies have an “in your face” attitude, Marlies seems to say “I’m classy and don’t need to shout.” Just add some plants with texture, like Red Russian Kale, and it will be the star of the show.