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Council Members Call For More Openness in San Jose's Permit Process

Two San Jose council members say their city makes it too tough on small business owners who want to open shop or expand.

CPUC to File Revised PG&E Penalty

The California Public Utilities Commission is set to file a revised penalty proposal Monday for PG&E’s part in the fatal San Bruno gas line explosion.

State Senate Leader Drops Carbon Tax Proposal, Unveils New Cap-and-Trade Plan

One of Governor Jerry Brown's more controversial budget proposals has gained new support. The state Senate's top Democrat Darrell Steinberg said on Monday he now favors the idea of using climate pollution fees to help fund high-speed rail.

Should California Lawmakers Be Allowed to Work a Second Job?

The suspension last month of three Democrats from the state Senate for legal problems has put ethics front and center in Sacramento. Lawmakers have proposed scores of new bills, and legislative staffers have tackled extra ethics training. But there's one issue that hardly anyone is talking about: four in 10 lawmakers have some sort of outside job or income.

PBS NewsHour

As another report urges action, how can U.S. overcome obstacles to effective climate policy?

Clean Air Regulations Impact Coal Burning Plants

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JUDY WOODRUFF: This week’s latest U.N. report on climate change warns of the urgent need for global action in the next five to 15 years, if countries want to ward off the worst impacts of rising emissions.

It also lays out numerous scenarios of what could be done. But those options come with different costs, and in the U.S., there’s been opposition in Congress and often reluctance among much of the public to some big changes.

We look at the economic and political challenges with Robert Stavins. He’s a lead co-author of the report. He’s an environmental economist at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. And Maura Cowley, she’s the executive director of the Energy Action Coalition, which includes 30 youth-led groups.

And we thank you both for being with us.

Robert Stavins, let me start with you.

This report stresses the urgency of doing something now, implementing new policies. Give us an example of a policy that the United States needs to implement in the near term.

ROBERT STAVINS, Harvard Kennedy School of Government: Well, Judy, what’s become clear is that, for this country, for the United States, the only approach that conceivably would achieve meaningful emissions reductions, such as those that are talked about in the new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, would be an economy-wide carbon pricing system.

That might be a cap-and-trade system, as has been denigrated, and obviously passed the House, but not the Senate, or it could perhaps a revenue-neutral carbon tax, but something that would be pervasive throughout the economy and send the right price signals.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And is this something you think, in today’s political environment, lawmakers could embrace?

ROBERT STAVINS: Well, in today’s political environment, what is feasible is what is happening in the United States, and that is that the administration is taking some action under existing regulations and through executive orders.

It’s hard to do much more than that. However, it’s possible they will actually be proposing a cap-and-trade system, a tradable permit system, under one of the regulatory initiatives — initiatives for power plants.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me just pick up with that with Maura Cowley, because the last few decades, you look at whenever Congress has been asked or seriously considered action to try to get polluters to pay for their pollution, for carbon emission, it’s failed. And lawmakers who voted for it often went on to lose at the polls in November.

How do you surmount that kind of opposition, that kind of problem?

MAURA COWLEY, Energy Action Coalition: Well, I think you surmount that by taking action on climate change and reaching out to young voters.

Right now, young voters are the largest voting bloc in the country, soon to outnumber the baby boomers at the polls. And over 73 percent of young people say they will vote against an elected official who doesn’t take action on climate change. So if you want young people to vote for you, taking action on climate change is the right way to go.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But are you saying, in most states, in most congressional districts right now, young people hold the preponderance of votes?  Because I still hear lawmakers saying young people aren’t turning out. MAURA COWLEY: Well, young people elected Barack Obama in 2008 and turned out again in record numbers in 2012. So I think young people, the millennial generation is here to stay when it comes to voting.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Robert Stavins, there are also a number of politicians, I think in particular Republicans, who question the science, even, question whether carbon emissions contribute to pollution. How do you address that kind of opposition or doubt?

ROBERT STAVINS: Well, Judy, in my view, the climate skepticism that you’re referring to that exists among some people in the Republican Party, particularly the more conservative parts of the Republican Party, really doesn’t have to do with climate change itself. It really has to do with political polarization that’s been taking place, as the Republican Party has moved gradually to the right for a whole set of structural reasons.

And so what we have now is an ideological divide. So, tragically, the debates in the United States, the political debates on climate change, are more akin to the debates on an issue like abortion than they are on debates which are fundamentally about the science and thinking about what’s wise and best for the country and best for the planet.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, continuing in that — in that line of thinking, Maura Cowley, you know, you’re — as we said, you’re the head of this grassroots group representing different — different organizations of young people, but the polls right now in this country, we looked at them, show, while a majority of Americans say, yes, we think climate change is real, but doing something about it ranks near the bottom.

They’re more concerned about the jobs, about the economic, about — in some cases, about health care than they are — climate always seems to come up dragging up the rear.

MAURA COWLEY: Yes, but I think right now what we’re seeing across the country in terms of extreme weather is really starting to change attitudes about climate change, from superstorm Sandy, to Hurricane Katrina, the droughts in California, the wildfires in Colorado.

People are waking up to the realities of climate change and they’re demanding that their leaders take action. We have had hundreds of people getting arrested over the Keystone XL pipeline. Right now, students at Washington University…

JUDY WOODRUFF: You mean part of your coalition?

MAURA COWLEY: Yes.

And we have students at universities, Washington, Saint Louis — Washington University in Saint Louis right on a multiday sit-in, demanding that their university sever ties with Peabody Energy, or Peabody Coal, one of the largest polluters in the world.

And so there’s a rising, swelling momentum right now against the fossil fuel industries and to demand that our leaders take action on climate change.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Robert Stavins, how much of the responsibility lies with the United States and other developed countries and how much with the developing countries, which are now increasing their use of fossil fuels as they expand their economies?

ROBERT STAVINS: Well, that’s a very important issue.

And let’s not denigrate the American population and assume that they’re foolish because of their unwillingness to take on action and to take on costs. We have to recognize, first of all, we’re asking a current generation of people in the United States to take on costs — or in all countries — to take on costs to benefit future generations, because the worst impacts of climate change are going to be off in the future, not this year or next year.

And then, in addition, what you brought up is the global distribution issue, and that is, you know, the United States has now been surpassed by China as the world’s largest emitter. In terms of the cumulative greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the United States is still in first place, but at current rates of economic growth, China is going to surpass us even in the stock in the atmosphere within a decade or two, depending on various factors.

If we look overall at developed compared to developing countries, the OECD countries, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, essentially the industrialized world, emissions in these countries are flat to declining. The rapid growth is in the large, rapidly growing, emerging countries, China, India, Brazil, Korea, South Africa, Mexico, and Indonesia.

They need to be involved. If they don’t get on the climate policy train, it’s not leaving the station. A different question, though, is whether or not they have to pay for their tickets.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, and it’s a much bigger subject than we can deal with right now.

But, Maura Cowley, in talking to the American people, how important is it that they understand that this is a shared responsibility with other countries?

MAURA COWLEY: Yes, I think it’s critical that they understand that the United States needs to help lead the international community to take action on climate change.

And right now, we’re seeing people across the country really demanding President Obama take — step up and enact strong regulations to regulate carbon right here in the United States. And doing that would send a major signal all across the globe that we are serious about climate change, that we are ready to take action. And it would help ease the path forward, so that all of those other countries would join us.

JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, we are going to leave it there.

Maura Cowley, we thank you very much.

Robert Stavins, thank you very much.

ROBERT STAVINS: Thank you.

The post As another report urges action, how can U.S. overcome obstacles to effective climate policy? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Federal debt collectors halt program to seize unpaid Social Security

Photo by of Tetra Images/Flickr

Photo by of Tetra Images/Flickr

People with old Social Security debts are getting a reprieve — for now.

The Social Security Administration had been participating in a program in which thousands of people were having their tax refunds seized to recoup overpayments that happened more than a decade ago.

On Monday, Acting Social Security Commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin said she was suspending the program while the agency conducts a review.

Social Security recipients and members of Congress complained that people were being forced to repay overpayments that were sometimes paid to their parents or guardians when they were children.

The Social Security Administration says it has identified about 400,000 people with old debts. They owe a total of $714 million.

So far, the agency says it has collected $55 million, mainly by having the Treasury Department seize tax refunds.

Colvin said she was suspending the program “pending a thorough review of our responsibility and discretion under the current law to refer debt to the Treasury Department.”

“If any Social Security or Supplemental Security Income beneficiary believes they have been incorrectly assessed with an overpayment under this program, I encourage them to request an explanation or seek options to resolve the overpayment,” Colvin said.

The program was authorized by a 2008 change in the law that allows Social Security and other federal agencies, through the Treasury, to seize federal payments to recoup debts that are more than 10 years old. Previously, there was a 10-year limit on using the program.

In most cases, the seizures are tax refunds.

The Washington Post first reported on the program.

Democratic Sens. Senators Barbara Boxer of California and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland complained about the program in a letter to Colvin.

“While this policy of seizing tax refunds to repay decades-old Social Security overpayments might be allowed under the law, it is entirely unjust,” the senators wrote.

After Colvin’s announcement, Boxer said in a statement, “I am grateful that the Social Security Administration has chosen not to penalize innocent Americans while the agency determines a fair path forward on how to handle past errors.”

There are several scenarios in which people may have received overpayments as children. For example, when a parent of a minor child dies, the child may be eligible for survivor’s benefits, which are often sent to the surviving parent or guardian.

If there was an overpayment made on behalf of the child, that child could be held liable years later, as an adult.

Also, if a child is disabled, he or she may receive overpayments. Those overpayments would typically be taken out of current payments, once they are discovered.

But if disability payments were discontinued because the child’s condition improved, Social Security could try to recoup the overpayments years later.

“We want to assure the public that we do not seek restitution through tax refund offset in cases when the debt in question was established prior to the debtor turning 18 years of age,” Social Security spokesman Mark Hinkle said in an email. “Also, we do not use tax refund offset to collect the debt of a person’s relative. We only use it to collect the overpaid benefits the person received for himself or herself.”

Hinkle said the debt collection could be waived if the person was without fault and repayment would “deprive the person of income needed for ordinary living expenses or would be unfair for another reason.”

The post Federal debt collectors halt program to seize unpaid Social Security appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Anything in Washington becomes political, even the Boston bombing

Running shoes are laid out in a display at the Boston Public Library to commemorate the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.
         Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Running shoes are laid out in a display at the Boston Public Library to commemorate the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

The Morning Line

Today in the Morning Line:

  • Boston bombing and the year of surveillance scrutiny
  • US-Russia tensions flare over Ukraine
  • Get those taxes in!
  • Health law’s good week
  • Landrieu runs as the insider

Boston bombing – one year later: It’s been a year since the Boston bombing, and while at first, it didn’t look like a political story, just nine days afterward it became one. The Boston Globe reported that U.S. senators were saying Russia had warned about one of the bombers on “multiple” occasions. Back then, FBI officials insisted they only contacted them once. And an inspectors’ general report, reported on by the New York Times last week, backs them up. The spelling of the bomber’s name and whether the Department of Homeland Security should have been more on top of it were questions aimed at then-DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano eight days after the bombing. Boston also raised questions of privacy — a store surveillance camera helped identify one of the bombers, for example. It’s a reminder that ANYTHING in Washington can and will become political, and of just how big a story surveillance and privacy have been over the past year. Just look at Monday’s Pulitzer winners. Vice President Biden heads to Boston for a noon ET memorial event, where he will speak. President Obama participates in a closed-press moment of silence at the White House for Boston at 2:40 p.m. ET.

Ukraine tensions: President Barack Obama and Russian leader Vladimir Putin spoke by telephone Monday night on the crisis in Ukraine. According to a White House readout of the talk: Putin requested the call, and Mr. Obama expressed “grave concern” for what he sees as Russia’s support for pro-Russian militias inciting unrest in Eastern Ukraine. The international community worries the destabilization could hurt the chances of the planned May 25 Ukraine elections going smoothly. In a readout from the Kremlin, Russia denied any involvement, saying U.S. allegations were based on “inaccurate information.” But it said the “protests … are the result of the Kiev authorities’ unwillingness and inability to take into account the interests of the Russian and Russian-speaking population.” Both sides seemed to agree to meet again in Geneva Thursday. There are those in the U.S. calling for President Obama to do more. The conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page’s headline Tuesday is “Putin acts, Obama assesses.” Jane Harman, the former Democratic congresswoman who was chairwoman of the House Intelligence Committee, said on MSNBC that President Obama and Europe, particularly Germany, weren’t doing enough. And Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter’s former national security adviser, said the U.S. should be arming the Ukrainians (and making sure Putin knows but keeping it quiet otherwise), because Putin was going forward with a “de facto piecemeal invasion of Ukraine.” The White House did confirm that CIA Director John Brennan was in Kiev over the weekend, which rankled Moscow.

Health law’s good week: The administration got a Congressional Budget Office report Monday it has to like. The CBO found the Affordable Care Act will cost about $104 billion less than expected. And this headline from the Wall Street Journal: “CBO Projects Lower Premiums in Health-Insurance Exchanges.” With this being tax day, though, one other health care story to watch — how many people actually wind up having to pay the health care mandate penalty — and how many people, especially young people, are surprised by it.

Tax day – How taxed are we, anyway?: Today’s tax day (the last day to file your taxes), and Americans feel they are overtaxed — 52 percent say so, per Gallup. That’s why this is always a political winner. It’s hard to make the case that people should be “patriotic,” as Vice President Biden did. Paul Waldman points to a chart showing the U.S. is 32nd on the list of taxes by percentage of gross domestic product of developed countries at 24.1 percent of GDP. The only two Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries behind the U.S. are Chile and Mexico. Denmark is the most taxed at 47.7 percent of GDP, followed by Sweden, France, Belgium, Finland, Italy, Norway, Austria, the Netherlands and Hungary, rounding out the top 10.

Landrieu, the insider: Mary Landrieu, D-La., is out with a one-minute ad that plays up her chairmanship of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “For years she’s forced Washington to respect Louisiana,” an announcer says, adding, “As the new chairman of the Energy Committee… she holds the most powerful position in the Senate for Louisiana.” It’s a fascinating ad given that in this climate, when “Washington” is so toxic, Landrieu is running on her Washington credentials. … Landrieu is polling in the low-to-mid 40s and down a couple of points on average. … BUT there has not been much good polling in these races yet AT ALL. A look around at other races shows Democrats within striking distance or in close races — even in Kentucky and Georgia. Republicans still have the edge for Senate control, but the CW that it’s a done deal isn’t quite the case yet. Democrats start with a disadvantage with the expanded playing field, but the races still have to play out.

Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1865, President Abraham Lincoln died after being shot at Ford’s Theatre the night before. What agency did Lincoln establish a few hours before he was assassinated? Be the first to Tweet us the correct answer @NewsHour, @rachelwellford, @DomenicoPBS, and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. Congratulations to Charlie Bilics @chuckle47 for getting yesterday’s answer – William Seward and Andrew Johnson.

LINE ITEMS

  • Tucked into the president’s agenda Tuesday is a meeting with pastors to “discuss the importance of taking action to pass commonsense immigration reform in the Oval Office” at 11:30 am ET. Of course, immigration faces a dead end in the House this year unless something changes. But the administration has signaled it could slow deportations. The L.A. Times reported last week that “leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus voiced confidence Wednesday that if the Republican-led House fails to undertake immigration reform this year, the administration will act by executive action.”

  • Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., running for the Senate, had a little trouble saying what he’d replace the Affordable Care Act with, since he says he’d repeal it and wants Arkansans to have “have quality, affordable access to health care.”

  • John Sununu on the criticism that Scott Brown isn’t from New Hampshire: “Jean Shaheen, by the way, was born in Missouri!”

  • For many Americans, lying and politics are synonymous. Well, the Supreme Court will decide by June if they can be. They hear arguments April 22.

  • Jonathan Chait looks at one of the other potential consequences of Republicans taking over the Senate — blocking the Obama Supreme Court nominee who could shift the court’s balance.

  • Chelsea Clinton says she could run for office one day.

  • North Carolina State House Speaker Thom Tillis, who leads the GOP pack in early polls and fundraising, will be skipping a major upcoming debate ahead of the May 6 primary. The Raleigh News & Observer profiles one of his competitors, obstetrician Greg Brannon.

  • Sen. Joe Manchin. D-W.Va., tells Politico he’s “absolutely” weighing another run for governor in 2016 if he finds his brand of moderates in short supply in the Senate before his term expires in 2018.

  • The League of Conservation Voters and the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund are uniting to form the LeadingGreen coalition for fundraising and contributing directly to candidates.

  • Keep ‘em coming: Republican Curt Clawson, who’s running to replace former Rep. Trey Radel in Florida’s 19th district and who secured the endorsement of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Monday, released “Quiet” earlier that day. The spot is reminiscent of this ad from Massachusetts’ 6th district’s Richard Tisei last cycle, whose strong 2014 poll numbers we reported on yesterday.

  • But we suppose this ad from one of Speaker John Boehner’s challengers on the right has to take the cake for most unconventional.

  • The Nevada GOP abandoned some controversial social issues in its party platform and endorsed Gov. Brian Sandoval for re-election.

  • Some Wisconsin Republicans are fighting for their right to secede

  • The week after the House passed the Ryan budget, progressive candidates in several states are holding events to drum up support for increasing taxes on America’s wealthiest, per the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

  • A group of House Republicans is traveling to Afghanistan to analyze the security situation there.

  • Keep an eye on the Rundown blog for breaking news throughout the day, our home page for show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.

TOP TWEETS

For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

Sign up here to receive the Morning Line in your inbox every morning.

Questions or comments? Email Domenico Montanaro at dmontanaro-at-newshour-dot-org or Terence Burlij at tburlij-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter:

The post Anything in Washington becomes political, even the Boston bombing appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

The race factor in this year’s elections

Attorney General Eric Holder told the audience at the annual National Action Network convention in New York April 9 that
         he and the president had faced "ugly and divisive adversity." Photo by J. Countess/Getty Images

Attorney General Eric Holder told the audience at the annual National Action Network convention in New York April 9 that he and the president had faced “ugly and divisive adversity.” Photo by J. Countess/Getty Images

The Morning Line

Today in the Morning Line:

  • The race factor – Why Obama, Holder, Clinton are speaking out
  • Study finds whites vote Republican when told of demographic changes
  • Rand Paul going Sister Souljah
  • Hillary Clinton being vetted like it’s 2015

The race factor: Last week, we noted the importance of women in elections and why Democrats were targeting them. Today, we look at the race factor and the importance of minority voters. The man in charge of trying to get Democrats elected to the House, Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, was asked on CNN how much race motivates the Republican base. “Not all of them, no, of course not, but to a significant extent, the Republican base does have elements that are animated by racism,” he said. “And that’s unfortunate.” Greg Walden, head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, called the comments “wrong and unfortunate,” citing instead “executive overreach” for the virulent opposition from the conservative base to the Obama administration.

Speaking out: President Barack Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder — the nation’s first black attorney general — in a speech before Al Sharpton’s National Action Network last week said he and the president had faced “unprecedented, unwarranted, ugly and divisive adversity.” Mr. Obama, for his part, speaking before the same group Friday, said voting rights had become more “threatened” today than at any time “since the Voting Rights Act became law nearly five decades ago.” Even former President Bill Clinton, aka Bubba himself, called out the Supreme Court for its ruling rolling back parts of the Voting Rights Act. “We all know what this is about,” Clinton said, adding, “Is this what Martin Luther King gave his life for?”

How have they voted? Part of the Democratic alarm bells is because of what an important pillar minority voters are to Democratic electoral prospects — and how poorly Democrats have fared with white voters, a group that continues to show up in stronger numbers in midterms. Latinos and Asians are growing rapidly in the U.S., and African-Americans continue to vote overwhelmingly Democratic. But whites, especially in midterms, outpace their population at the polls. Democrats generally need to get above 40 percent with them to fair well. Whites comprise 63 percent of the country, but in 2012 made up 72 percent of the electorate. Democrats got just 39 percent of them, a historic low for a Democrat to win with. (Mondale got 34 percent, but was blown out). In midterms, whites make up an even higher percentage. In 2010, when Republicans won the House, whites were 77 percent of the electorate, and Democrats got just 37 percent; in 2006, when Democrats took control of both chambers, whites were 79 percent of the electorate, but with the backdrop of the Iraq war, Democrats were able to pull off a near-split with 47 percent. Blacks are 13 percent of the population and were the same share of the electorate in 2012, but in 2010 dropped to 11 percent. Hispanics are 17 percent of the country yet made up just 10 percent of the voting populace in 2012 and were an even lower 8 percent in 2010. Asians are 5 percent of the population but made up only 3 percent in 2012, and 2 percent in 2010.

Factor those numbers out to what they mean to some key Senate races this fall:

chart (1)

PERCENT MINORITY
Georgia: 45 percent (31 percent black, 9 percent Latino, 4 percent Asian)
Louisiana: 40 percent (32 percent black, 5 percent Latino, 2 percent Asian)
Virginia: 36 percent (20 percent black, 8 percent Latino, 6 percent Asian)
North Carolina: 35 percent (22 percent black, 9 percent Latino, 3 percent Asian)
Colorado: 30 percent (21 percent Latino, 4 percent black, 3 percent Asian)
Arkansas: 26 percent (16 percent black, 7 percent Latino, 1 percent Asian)
Michigan: 24 percent (14 percent black, 5 percent Latino, 3 percent Asian)

Us vs. Them: Speaking of changing demographics, a new study by researchers at Northwestern University finds that when whites are told about racial minority groups potentially becoming a majority of the population in coming years, they are more likely to vote Republican. Chew on that… By the way, with Congress out on recess for the next two weeks, Democrats will be working to paint themselves as the “fair shot” party.

2016 – Rand Paul going Sister Souljah: GOP hopefuls got an early chance to test their messages for retaking the White House this weekend in New Hampshire. The Freedom Summit, sponsored by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation and Citizens United, drew a wide swath of today’s conservatives, from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee to Donald Trump. But Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., stole the show. Paul tapped into one of the party’s most deep-seated problems: expanding their tent. “The door’s not going to open up to the African-American community, to the Hispanic community, until we have something to offer,” he said. He urged the party to take note that minorities are overrepresented in American prisons. But mention of the more establishment-backed Jeb Bush’s line last week that illegal immigration comes from “an act of love” generated boos from the crowd. In Iowa, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., spoke Friday night at the GOP spring fundraising dinner about uniting the party, but notably, he did not meet with any state activists during his trip. … In the week ahead, former Sen. Rick Santorum is addressing two Charleston GOP groups in South Carolina Monday, while Cruz heads to The Citadel Tuesday for a Free Enterprise Foundation dinner. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaks about the legacy of the Civil Rights Act Thursday at the University of Minnesota.

2016 – That’s why they’re here: On the Clinton beat, Rosalind Helderman examines Hillary Clinton’s mutually beneficial relationship with Boeing. It’s the kind of vetting story that reads more like April of 2015, not 2014. … Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is earning his fundraising chops traversing the country — speaking in Wisconsin on Saturday and headed to Kentucky for Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes on Thursday. He’ll also soon be in Florida, Michigan, Maine and Pennsylvania.

Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1865, John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. Trivia Question: Who else did Booth and his co-conspirators plan on killing that night? Be the first to Tweet us the correct answer @NewsHour, @rachelwellford, @DomenicoPBS, and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out.

LINE ITEMS

  • Obama’s day and week: The president hosts an Easter Prayer Breakfast at 9:30 a.m. ET. For clues about what he might say, look to last year. He noted his trip to the Holy Land and what Jesus means to him as a Christian. On Tuesday, he hosts a Passover seder. On Wednesday, he heads to Pennsylvania for an economic speech in a town that has seen an economic revitalization. He appears with Vice President Joe “Son of Scranton” Biden. On Thursday, the Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride rolls to the White House. On Friday, he meets with the head of the American Legion.

  • George Will gives us this briefing book fact: Since 1978, just one Republican has been elected to the Senate from Michigan– Spencer Abraham — and he served just one term.

  • How’s health care playing in Virginia? The Washington Post takes a look and finds Republicans holding their ground against expanding Medicaid.

  • Exit interview: HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was interviewed on Meet the Press. On Fox, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., signaled a fight ahead for Sylvia Mathews Burwell’s nomination. The Senate easily confirmed her to be budget director. “There’s no doubt she was a good choice for OMB,” Scott said. “That does not necessarily make her a good choice for HHS.”

  • In spite of the very real opportunity for Republicans to pick up a Senate seat in North Carolina, internal party divisions are creating a complicated and expensive campaign.

  • The Senate Intelligence Committee is investigating how McClatchy news service obtained the classified conclusions of its report on the CIA’s interrogation and detention programs, which they reported on Thursday. Committee chair Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has also referred the investigation to the Department of Justice.

  • Republicans in Massachusetts have lost 92 straight elections. Could Richard Tisei snap the streak? A new Emerson College poll shows the Republican tied at 44 percent with Democrat John Tierney in a rematch.

  • A U.S. District Court judge in Ohio is striking down Ohio’s ban on recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states.

  • Since opening a one-man lobbying shop in DC nine years ago, Google surged to second in corporate lobbying expenditures — just behind GE — in 2012 and fifth in 2013.

  • Former state ethics commission officials are accusing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie of interfering with the agency, having the director pushed out when she was investigating a member of Christie’s staff.

  • Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, out with a book on how to amend that Constitution, wades into the gun control fight.

  • The reauthorization of the Ex-Import Bank is causing a riff between GOP leadership and House conservatives.

  • Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wis., announced his retirement Friday. Petri’s retirement is seen as a victory for the tea party, who view the 18-term representative as a moderate.

  • More than two-thirds of Tennessee’s legislators have signed a pledge to repeal the state’s income tax, and now the state chapter of Americans for Prosperity is attacking GOP Gov. Bill Haslam for not signing on.

  • On Friday, we pointed out the importance of Republicans needing to take back the Senate decisively if they wanted to hold onto it in 2016. The New York Times picks up on that.

  • Afghanistan saw the first results from its election. A runoff is likely between Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, both of whom have been moderates and more pro-Western than Karzai of late.

  • Pro-Russian militias overtook some police stations in Eastern Ukraine. The West is placing blame squarely on Russia’s Putin, raising the potential of even stronger economic sanctions.

  • Keep an eye on the Rundown blog for breaking news throughout the day, our home page for show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.

TOP TWEETS

For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

Sign up here to receive the Morning Line in your inbox every morning.

Questions or comments? Email Domenico Montanaro at dmontanaro-at-newshour-dot-org or Terence Burlij at tburlij-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter:

The post The race factor in this year’s elections appeared first on PBS NewsHour.