Amid government shutdown, here are the lawmakers who didn’t receive a salary

After three days of a shutdown, lawmakers voted on Monday to end an impasse on a spending bill – paving the way for the federal government to reopen.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle blamed their counterparts for the shutdown. On Monday, Democrats climb onboard the plan after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the Senate would consider immigration proposals.  

While the government is shuttered, some lawmakers decided to forgo their paycheck or donated their salaries to charity. Here’s a look at who isn’t collecting a paycheck during the shutdown.

Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa.

From Pennsylvania, Rep. Lou Barletta officially asked for his pay to be withheld “until Congress has reached a funding agreement and the government is fully running again.”

Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn.

Blaming the Democrats for “play[ing] politics with our military and children’s health care,” Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., said she would have her salary withheld during the shutdown.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.

In a video posted to Twitter, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said that members of Congress should not be paid if the military is not during the shutdown. She signed a letter asking for her paycheck to be withheld.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, introduced legislation that would make sure military service members would be paid during the shutdown instead of lawmakers.

Brown also said he was donating his paychecks during the shutdown to an Ohio diaper bank, citing the lapse of federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) while Congress continues to fight over a spending bill.

“Senators should not be paid if they can’t do their jobs,” Brown said.

Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala.

Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., asked for his pay to be withheld during the shutdown, according to WPMI-TV.

Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo.

A Republican from Colorado, Rep. Mike Coffman formally asked for his pay to be withheld as the government remains shuttered.

Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va.

Blaming the Democrats for the shutdown, Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va., asked for her pay to be withheld until the government reopens.

Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla.

From Florida, Rep. Carlos Curbelo said he would donate his salary to TheDream.us during the shutdown. The organization, he said, helps Dreamers pursue higher education.

Rep. John Delaney, D-Md.

Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., said he would donate his paycheck during the shutdown to the Mercy Health Clinic, a nonprofit community clinic in Maryland that services low-income people.

Rep. Daniel Donovan, R-N.Y.

Saying that “men and women in uniform” should not be treated differently than “members of Congress and Senators,” Rep. Daniel Donovan, R-N.Y., requested that his pay be withheld during the shutdown. He encouraged his colleagues on the other side of the aisle to forgo their paychecks as well since “Senate Democrats blocked a funding bill” last week.

In announcing his decision about his paycheck, Donovan said, “I never have and never will vote to shut down our government.”

Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn.

Democratic Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty said she will not “accept one penny” of her salary as the government remains shut down.

Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb.

Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., is returning her salary during the government shutdown, a spokesman confirmed to Fox News.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, said, “The failure to pass a year-long budget, and allowing the government to shutdown, while playing political football with issues of humanity is inexcusable.” She said she will not accept a paycheck during the shutdown.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., asked for his pay to be withheld during the shutdown, saying if “our troops and first responders aren’t getting paid,” then congressional lawmakers shouldn’t either.

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii

According to a press release from Gabbard’s office, fellow Democratic Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa will also refuse to take a paycheck.

“If we cannot work together through the regular order to keep the government funded and functioning then we should put our salaries to good use supporting causes that help people and nurture the communities who need it most,” she said. “I intend to donate the salary I earn during the period that the government is shut down to charity.”

Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md.

Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., said he will donate his paycheck to pregnancy centers in his district during the shutdown.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.

Along with other Democratic senators, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp introduced legislation that would withhold the pay of congressional lawmakers during a government shutdown.

“Hard working North Dakotans like our farmers and ranchers do everything they can to support their families and makes ends meet. If they don’t get the job done in the field, they don’t get paid, and the same should be true for their representatives in Congress,” Heitkamp said in a statement.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., is donating his salary to the North Dakota National Guard Foundation, a spokeswoman told Fox News.

Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas

Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, said he has asked for his paycheck to be withheld during the shutdown.

“There’s no good reason why Members should receive pay during a [shutdown] while [federal] employees suffer,” Hurd said.

Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan.

Rep. Lynn Jenkins of Kansas asked for her pay to be withheld during the shutdown.

Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio

Citing military personnel who will not be receiving their paychecks during the shutdown, Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio, asked for his salary to be withheld.

Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah

Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, has requested that her paycheck be withheld during the shutdown.

Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J.

From New Jersey, Republican Rep. Tom MacArthur asked for his paycheck to be withheld during the government shutdown.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y.

“Until our military gets paid, I won’t get paid,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y. He formally requested that his pay be withheld during the shutdown.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V.

Along with some of his Democratic colleagues, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., introduced legislation that would withhold pay from members of Congress during the shutdown.

“In West Virginia, we know that when you don’t do your job, you don’t get paid. If Congress can’t come together to fulfil one of our most basic constitutional obligations, then we don’t deserve to get paid either,” he said in a statement.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., was one of a few Democrats who co-sponsored legislation that would withhold pay for members of Congress during the shutdown.

“If members of Congress can’t figure this out and keep the government open, then none of us should get paid,” McCaskill said. She is reportedly donating her salary to charity.

Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla.

Ahead of the shutdown, Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., promised to return her salary.

Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C.

On Twitter, Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., said he “forfeited” his pay during the shutdown.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio

As he did in 2013, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, will donate his salary to charity during the shutdown, WJW-TV reported.

Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C.

Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., asked for his pay to be withheld during the shutdown. He said he also co-sponsored legislation that would prohibit his fellow lawmakers from receiving a paycheck during a government shutdown.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., will donate her salary every day of the government shutdown, she told WZZM-TV. She also reportedly supported legislation that would prohibit members of Congress from being paid during shutdowns.

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y.

“Members of Congress should live by the same laws as our constituents,” said Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., in announcing she would forgo her pay during the shutdown.

Rep. Scott Taylor, R-Va.

A former Navy SEAL, Rep. Scott Taylor, R-Va., announced that he would donate his salary during the shutdown to military and veterans’ charities daily.

Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C.

Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., said he would forgo his paycheck during the government shutdown, saying it’s the “least” he could do as the 100,000 active duty service members in North Carolina would not be paid.  

Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C.

Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., asked for his salary to be withheld during the government shutdown.

“If my constituents are feeling this pain, Members of Congress should as well,” he said in a tweet.

Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind.

In a statement, Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., said he would donate his salary to the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation during the government shutdown.

Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y.

Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., formally asked for his paycheck to be withheld during the government shutdown. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @K_Schallhorn.

Davos elite tap Cate Blanchett, Elton John, Shah Rukh Khan for human rights awards

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) – Film star Cate Blanchett, singer-songwriter Elton John and Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan received awards at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Monday for their work raising awareness about human rights issues.

Blanchett, an Australian, received a Crystal Award for her work with people who have fled their homes. British singer-songwriter John received his for his charitable work with his AIDS foundation. Indian Khan’s was in recognition of his work championing the rights of children and women in India.

The Crystal Award is given, by the WEF to artists who make a positive change in society.

The awards were presented at a ceremony in the village of Davos, in the Swiss Alps, where some of the world’s top policy makers and executives have begun gathering for the annual meeting.

Blanchett, who has won two Oscars, was named a goodwill ambassador for United Nations refugee agency UNHCR in May 2016. As part of her role, the actor has traveled to Lebanon and Jordan to meet refugees displaced by the Syrian conflict.

She warned of the consequences if more was not done to help people forced to flee their homes.

“Lost generations of uneducated, disenfranchised and displaced children not only represent a vast loss of potential but also a threat for future global security and prosperity,” she said.

More than a million people have fled parts of Africa and the Middle East to Europe in the last few years.

Reporting by Alexis Akwagyiram in Davos Editing by Jeremy Gaunt

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Rupert Murdoch wants Facebook to pay for the news


Rupert Murdoch, the executive chairman of News Corporation, today issued a statement calling for Facebook and Google to subsidize the news traveling through their platforms.

In the statement, Murdoch calls on Facebook to pay a carriage fee, as cable companies do with pay TV, to trusted publishers that are posting their content on the social media platform:

I have yet to see a proposal that truly recognizes the investment in and the social value of professional journalism.

The time has come to consider a different route. If Facebook wants to recognize ‘trusted’ publishers then it should pay those publishers a carriage fee similar to the model adopted by cable companies. The publishers are obviously enhancing the value and integrity of Facebook through their news and content but are not being adequately rewarded for those services.

This comes fresh on the heels of a change to Facebook’s Newsfeed algorithm, which prioritizes posts from friends and family over those from publishers and content providers. Facebook said that the change was meant to increase wellbeing among users, offering a more proactive way to build a community and positive sentiment across the network.

But Wall Street didn’t react well to the change, which Facebook predicted would decrease time spent on the network, which ultimately will decrease the time users spend looking at advertisements.

As part of the announcement, Facebook’s Newsfeed Chief Adam Mosseri didn’t have many concrete suggestions for publishers worried about decreased visibility on the world’s biggest social media platform, simply saying publishers should try “experimenting … and seeing … what content gets more comments, more likes, more reshares.”

This also follows an ongoing situation around news credibility on social networks like Facebook. The spread of fake news across the internet, most noticeably on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, may very well have changed the course of the 2016 election. Whether it was sparked and spread by foreign actors like Russia or domestic political groups, it has forced Facebook to try and remedy the situation over the past year.

Facebook’s original entry into the world of media, the launch of Instant Articles in 2015, has spurred voracious consumption of news on the platform. Pew says that around two-thirds of U.S. adults get their news from social media sites, with 20 percent saying they do so often.

This has disenfranchised many publishers who require a direct connection with readers to maintain credibility. If all articles look the same, and many ‘readers’ are looking at an entirely different ‘front page’ on Facebook, establishing the one and only truth of any matter becomes more difficult.

And let’s not forget that the media industry is in its own, continued transformation as century-old print publications try to move digital.

Murdoch, one of the most successful people in news media, doesn’t see much progress with new business models such as subscriptions and pay walls, but does see an opportunity in making the pipes pay.

An unrealistic proposal

However, on closer inspection his suggestion is disingenuous. To publicly issue a carefully scripted statement with a questionable insinuations (Facebook is equated to a cable provider) and very few details is more mud-slinging than muckraking. We’re not saying Facebook shouldn’t be paying somebody something, but this isn’t a realistic solution and I don’t think Murdoch really believes it is either.

Carriage fees are pretty simple. Your cable provider pays a fee per subscriber to networks like ESPN and AMC in order to carry their programming; these fees vary from under a dollar for specialty or less popular networks (AMC, FX) to more than $6 (ESPN, by far the most expensive). The idea is that you as a subscriber are paying for access to these channels, and then paying for the convenience of having them delivered to your TV by the cable company. The $40-50 is really only routed through the cable companies for convenience (yours and theirs).

But while that makes sense for a cable provider with millions of subscribers in a single region of the US, all paying $50 or more for the privilege of watching live TV, it’s a poor match for the likes of Facebook.

Facebook’s “viewers,” just off the top of my head:

  • are all over the world in different regions and jurisdictions
  • don’t choose what they see (nor does Facebook, arguably)
  • pay nothing
  • are already monetized indirectly by both Facebook and publishers

If Facebook pays a carriage fee for the privilege of carrying content from the Hindustan Times, and it shows up as a Facebook Instant Article in an American’s news feed because a British PR firm paid for it to be promoted, because it wants to drive subscribers, and it does… who exactly owes whom what? Who is paying what, for what? Who determines what is “trusted,” and what would happen to sources that aren’t “trusted”? Should Facebook literally pay every site a fee for every one of its billion (or however many) users, for the possibility that someday, some item may show up in any of those users’ feeds?

You can see that this quickly descends into chaos. Murdoch’s suggestion is a horse and buggy solution for a company working on self-driving cars.

Clearly something else is needed. Facebook, raking in cash and confident that companies like Murdoch’s can’t survive without the reach that social media provides. Why would it as an ostensibly objective platform for users to post content attempt what is “trusted” and then pay them for the title?

Supposedly, trusted publishers pay for promotion on the platform and receive value in the form of readers, who view their ads and may eventually buy a subscription. Of course, Facebook undermines this value proposition all the time and publishers are upset at their emasculation and inability to dictate terms as many have for decades.

No one has a solution for the very real problem of modern media monetization, but Murdoch’s suggestion is worse than most. Publishers lost the last few rounds by clinging to the past, they’re not going to win the next one or even force a draw by doubling down and making empty threats with non-existent leverage.

You can read Murdoch’s full statement below:

Facebook and Google have popularized scurrilous news sources through algorithms that are profitable for these platforms but inherently unreliable. Recognition of a problem is one step on the pathway to cure, but the remedial measures that both companies have so far proposed are inadequate, commercially, socially and journalistically.

There has been much discussion about subscription models but I have yet to see a proposal that truly recognizes the investment in and the social value of professional journalism. We will closely follow the latest shift in Facebook’s strategy, and I have no doubt that Mark Zuckerberg is a sincere person, but there is still a serious lack of transparency that should concern publishers and those wary of political bias at these powerful platforms.

The time has come to consider a different route. If Facebook wants to recognize ‘trusted’ publishers then it should pay those publishers a carriage fee similar to the model adopted by cable companies. The publishers are obviously enhancing the value and integrity of Facebook through their news and content but are not being adequately rewarded for those services. Carriage payments would have a minor impact on Facebook’s profits but a major impact on the prospects for publishers and journalists.

Featured Image: Drew Angerer/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Rupert Murdoch wants Facebook to pay for the news


Rupert Murdoch, the executive chairman of News Corporation, today issued a statement calling for Facebook and Google to subsidize the news traveling through their platforms.

In the statement, Murdoch calls on Facebook to pay a carriage fee, as cable companies do with pay TV, to trusted publishers that are posting their content on the social media platform:

I have yet to see a proposal that truly recognizes the investment in and the social value of professional journalism.

The time has come to consider a different route. If Facebook wants to recognize ‘trusted’ publishers then it should pay those publishers a carriage fee similar to the model adopted by cable companies. The publishers are obviously enhancing the value and integrity of Facebook through their news and content but are not being adequately rewarded for those services.

This comes fresh on the heels of a change to Facebook’s Newsfeed algorithm, which prioritizes posts from friends and family over those from publishers and content providers. Facebook said that the change was meant to increase wellbeing among users, offering a more proactive way to build a community and positive sentiment across the network.

But Wall Street didn’t react well to the change, which Facebook predicted would decrease time spent on the network, which ultimately will decrease the time users spend looking at advertisements.

As part of the announcement, Facebook’s Newsfeed Chief Adam Mosseri didn’t have many concrete suggestions for publishers worried about decreased visibility on the world’s biggest social media platform, simply saying publishers should try “experimenting … and seeing … what content gets more comments, more likes, more reshares.”

This also follows an ongoing situation around news credibility on social networks like Facebook. The spread of fake news across the internet, most noticeably on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, may very well have changed the course of the 2016 election. Whether it was sparked and spread by foreign actors like Russia or domestic political groups, it has forced Facebook to try and remedy the situation over the past year.

Facebook’s original entry into the world of media, the launch of Instant Articles in 2015, has spurred voracious consumption of news on the platform. Pew says that around two-thirds of U.S. adults get their news from social media sites, with 20 percent saying they do so often.

This has disenfranchised many publishers who require a direct connection with readers to maintain credibility. If all articles look the same, and many ‘readers’ are looking at an entirely different ‘front page’ on Facebook, establishing the one and only truth of any matter becomes more difficult.

And let’s not forget that the media industry is in its own, continued transformation as century-old print publications try to move digital.

Murdoch, one of the most successful people in news media, doesn’t see much progress with new business models such as subscriptions and pay walls, but does see an opportunity in making the pipes pay.

An unrealistic proposal

However, on closer inspection his suggestion is disingenuous. To publicly issue a carefully scripted statement with a questionable insinuations (Facebook is equated to a cable provider) and very few details is more mud-slinging than muckraking. We’re not saying Facebook shouldn’t be paying somebody something, but this isn’t a realistic solution and I don’t think Murdoch really believes it is either.

Carriage fees are pretty simple. Your cable provider pays a fee per subscriber to networks like ESPN and AMC in order to carry their programming; these fees vary from under a dollar for specialty or less popular networks (AMC, FX) to more than $6 (ESPN, by far the most expensive). The idea is that you as a subscriber are paying for access to these channels, and then paying for the convenience of having them delivered to your TV by the cable company. The $40-50 is really only routed through the cable companies for convenience (yours and theirs).

But while that makes sense for a cable provider with millions of subscribers in a single region of the US, all paying $50 or more for the privilege of watching live TV, it’s a poor match for the likes of Facebook.

Facebook’s “viewers,” just off the top of my head:

  • are all over the world in different regions and jurisdictions
  • don’t choose what they see (nor does Facebook, arguably)
  • pay nothing
  • are already monetized indirectly by both Facebook and publishers

If Facebook pays a carriage fee for the privilege of carrying content from the Hindustan Times, and it shows up as a Facebook Instant Article in an American’s news feed because a British PR firm paid for it to be promoted, because it wants to drive subscribers, and it does… who exactly owes whom what? Who is paying what, for what? Who determines what is “trusted,” and what would happen to sources that aren’t “trusted”? Should Facebook literally pay every site a fee for every one of its billion (or however many) users, for the possibility that someday, some item may show up in any of those users’ feeds?

You can see that this quickly descends into chaos. Murdoch’s suggestion is a horse and buggy solution for a company working on self-driving cars.

Clearly something else is needed. Facebook, raking in cash and confident that companies like Murdoch’s can’t survive without the reach that social media provides. Why would it as an ostensibly objective platform for users to post content attempt what is “trusted” and then pay them for the title?

Supposedly, trusted publishers pay for promotion on the platform and receive value in the form of readers, who view their ads and may eventually buy a subscription. Of course, Facebook undermines this value proposition all the time and publishers are upset at their emasculation and inability to dictate terms as many have for decades.

No one has a solution for the very real problem of modern media monetization, but Murdoch’s suggestion is worse than most. Publishers lost the last few rounds by clinging to the past, they’re not going to win the next one or even force a draw by doubling down and making empty threats with non-existent leverage.

You can read Murdoch’s full statement below:

Facebook and Google have popularized scurrilous news sources through algorithms that are profitable for these platforms but inherently unreliable. Recognition of a problem is one step on the pathway to cure, but the remedial measures that both companies have so far proposed are inadequate, commercially, socially and journalistically.

There has been much discussion about subscription models but I have yet to see a proposal that truly recognizes the investment in and the social value of professional journalism. We will closely follow the latest shift in Facebook’s strategy, and I have no doubt that Mark Zuckerberg is a sincere person, but there is still a serious lack of transparency that should concern publishers and those wary of political bias at these powerful platforms.

The time has come to consider a different route. If Facebook wants to recognize ‘trusted’ publishers then it should pay those publishers a carriage fee similar to the model adopted by cable companies. The publishers are obviously enhancing the value and integrity of Facebook through their news and content but are not being adequately rewarded for those services. Carriage payments would have a minor impact on Facebook’s profits but a major impact on the prospects for publishers and journalists.

Featured Image: Drew Angerer/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Vermont Legalizes Recreational Pot – Rolling Stone

Vermont made history today, becoming the ninth state to legalize marijuana and the first to do so through the legislative process. Last week, both houses of the state legislature passed H. 511, a bill that made it legal for adults 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of bud or five grams of hash, and to cultivate up to two mature plants and four immature plants at home. Today, as promised, Republican Governor Phil Scott signed the bill. “I personally believe that what adults do behind closed doors and on private property is their choice, so long as it does not negatively impact the health and safety of others, especially children,” Governor Scott wrote in a press release.

“It’s an exciting time, we’re witnessing history,” says Justin Strekal, political director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML. So far, all other cannabis legalization measures have gone through ballot initiatives approved by citizen voters, rather than by lawmakers themselves. Vermont just set a precedent for other states to follow suit, such as New Jersey this coming year (as per Governor Phil Murphy’s campaign pledge) and potentially New York, New Hampshire and New Mexico. “It’s truly a bipartisan effort, and at the end of the day, opposition to prohibition is a bipartisan issue,” Strekal adds. “Look at Vermont’s legislature. They have a Republican governor signing the bill.” With Vermont’s passage of H. 511, one in five Americans will now live in a state where weed is legal.

Moreover, this particular bill uniquely positions Vermont to make a statement to Attorney General Jeff Sessions – who recently rescinded federal guidance to protect state-compliant cannabis operations – while rendering the state immune from crackdown, Strekal says. By definition, the pro-legalization bill stands in opposition to the Attorney General’s reefer madness, but because it doesn’t provide for a commercial cultivation or retail program, there will be no canna-businesses to draw the scrutiny of Sessions,

However, the bill’s exclusion of a commercial program has also drawn criticism from a number of lawmakers and activists. “I’m a supporter of a well regulated tax-and-regulate system for responsible adult use,” says Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman, who’s been working on cannabis law reform for 20 years. Ideally, such a system would offer licenses to small businesses and provide a system for ensuring consumers have safe access to clean, clearly marked cannabis, he says. Meanwhile, the tax money would go to to services like highway safety education and prevention and treatment for drug addiction. “This bill doesn’t generate those revenues or bring the underground economy above board to be regulated,” says Zuckerman.

So while Vermont won’t have a commercial system in place when legalization goes into effect July 1st, Governor Scott created a commission through executive order to research how a tax-and-regulate system would play out and if it’s the right path for the state. The commission will also look into highway safety and youth drug education.

Whereas a previous iteration of the bill, which Scott vetoed last spring, would have set up a commission by law, some worry the Governor’s own, handpicked commission may be biased against tax-and-regulate. Scott’s commission includes only two legislators and zero caregivers, patients, or cannabis industry folk.

“The commission he put together is certainly frustrating,” says Zuckerman, who adds that the commission has already dismissed evidence comparing cannabis and alcohol highway safety issues, evidence showing that states with regulatory structures see a decrease in alcohol consumption, and evidence that states with regulatory structures see improvements in the opioid crisis. “Not including those kinds of statistics is a fairly biased methodology in whatever their results might be,” Zuckerman says. “I’d also say that a tax-and-regulate system fits well within the Governor’s statements about what Vermont needs: economic development, attracting young people to Vermont, and protecting those most vulnerable.” At a cannabis business fair in the state Capitol last week, he notes that many business entrepreneurs were between the ages of 25 and 40 — exactly the demographic the Governor says he wants to attract.

Arguments against tax-and-regulate focus on the consequences for youth, impaired driving, and workplace safety. “Most of us who are advocating for cannabis reform don’t disagree with those comments,” says Zuckerman. “The question is how we can best manage it in society so we reduce youth access and impaired driving of all types and improve communications both with people that they should not be high at work and with employers.” If someone consumes cannabis the night before work, even if it shows up in a drug test, they shouldn’t be punished any differently than someone who consumes wine or beer the previous night with dinner, he adds.

Much of the issue rests largely on normalization, Zuckerman says. Currently a kid can go to the grocery story with their parents and be exposed to aisle of alcohol, but they’re also at risk of buying weed off the street from a drug dealer. A legal, regulated system exposes kids less than the current underground system does.

The hope is that a tax-and-regulate system will pass during next year’s legislative session, and that the commission will produce a report by December, says state Senator Dick Sears. “With Massachusetts and other New England states such as Maine moving this direction, I suspect there will be some support [for tax-and-regulate].” State Senator Tim Ashe echos Sears and Zuckerman’s sentiments in favor of a regulatory system: “For us this is a step in that direction,” he says. “We hope it will encourage those with lingering concerns, who will see [that] what we’ve done is normalize the behavior of tens of thousands of people across the state.”

In the meantime, with adult-use cannabis dispensaries expected to open in Massachusetts this summer, Matt Simon, New England political director at Marijuana Policy Project, predicts Vermonters will trek over the border to buy legal weed, nevermind that bringing it back home is technically a federal violation. “I don’t anticipate a federal checkpoint on Interstate 91, I don’t think that’s the best use of limited resources,” he says.

However consumers are getting their weed, Simon and other cannabis law reform advocates hope Vermont’s new policy will put a dent in the state’s opioid crisis. “Vermont was absolutely ravaged by it, it was one of the hardest hit states,” says Simon. Research shows that cannabis access is directly associated with reduced rates of opioid use and abuse, opioid-related overdose deaths, treatment admissions, traffic fatalities and hospitalizations.

Meanwhile, some advocates worry that Vermont’s new legalization bill puts into stark relief the need to expand the state’s medical marijuana program. With the passage of H. 511, medical marijuana patients and adult-use consumers can grow the same number of mature plants, points out Eli Harrington, co-founder of Heady Vermont. “We want to improve the medical laws, so what I’m pushing for is to create a medical cultivator license,” he says. “The best next step for us is having medical cultivator licenses so you can start licensing small growers and then they can start selling [cannabis] through the regulated, medical program, and then through the larger adult use program to the whole 21 plus public.”

Still, despite the needed improvements to Vermont’s cannabis policy at large, Harrington says the legalization bill is a good step forward, showing that lawmakers have finally caught up with what’s been Vermonters’ will for decades. “We’ll update it and fix it as we go,” he says. “The bigger picture is that it’s great for grassroots democracy.”

Busy Philipps Gets Emotional Over Heath Ledger Death

Like many, Busy Philipps is remembering Heath Ledger on the 10-year anniversary of his death.

The 28-year-old Brokeback Mountain star was found dead on Jan. 22, 2008 in his apartment. A toxicology report revealed a fatal mix of prescription drugs in his system. Ledger was survived by his partner at the time, Michelle Williams, and their young daughter, Matilda (now 12). Philipps is Williams’ longtime best friend and was close with Ledger before his passing.

In videos posted to her Instagram story on Monday, Philipps cries while driving in her car as the song “Time to Pretend” by MGMT plays in the background.

RELATED: Heath Ledger Died 10 Years Ago Today — Friends and Family Remember His ‘Desperate’ Final Weeks

“I was just driving and I was thinking about my friends Heath who died 10 years ago and this song came on, ‘Time to Pretend,’” she says in post. “It came out after he passed away and I remember when it came out, because [I thought] it made me think of him. I just thought he would have liked this song. And for some reason, every time I hear this song… it’s weird.”

RELATED: Michelle Williams Has a New Boyfriend — But Is She Engaged?

Williams previously called Philipps the “love of my life.”

“I’m so in love with her,” Williams told PEOPLE in 2016 about her best friend. “She’s proof that the love of your life does not have to be a man! That’s the love of my life right there.”

According to Daily News, Philipps was the only friend staying with Williams and her family in the wake of Ledger’s death.

Ledger, the Australian-born star of 10 Things I Know About YouThe PatriotBrokeback Mountain, and The Dark Knight, among others, was beloved for his rugged handsomeness, as well his low-key demeanor. He was often seen skateboarding down streets of his Brooklyn neighborhood, and strolling with Matilda.

Considered one of the most compelling actors of his generation, he brought a deep soulfulness to his roles, especially in Brokeback Mountain, opposite Williams and Jake Gyllenhaal, for which he was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar.

Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Sons Duke, Drake Play Baseball

The Gaines boys have inherited the baseball bug.

Chip and Joanna’s sons Drake, 12, and Duke, 8, are taking after dad when it comes to their favorite sport. And all three of them just received a very special gift that will no doubt help their love of the game (and skills) grow.

“There are baseball gloves and then there are family heirlooms!” Chip writes in a tweet sharing three customized leather mitts the Waco-based family received. “Thank you @MarucciBaseball can’t wait to make some memories with these beauties.”

RELATED: Fixer Upper Widow Lists Her Chip and Joanna Gaines-Designed Bungalow for $349K After Finding ‘Happily Ever After’ with New Husband

The Fixer Upper couple’s oldest child, Drake, proved he could match his dad’s skills on the field and his cheeky humor on a recent episode of Fixer Upper, that saw him pitching in a big game and joking about which Gaines man had the better looks. Now, it seems the couple’s youngest, Duke, who’s also a bit of a bookworm according to Chip’s recent Instagram post, has a field of dreams of his own.

Chip was a standout second baseman himself in high school, and after graduating and playing at North Lake Junior College, was recruited to play for Baylor University. Sadly, his college ball dreams didn’t come through after the coach who called him up retired.

“[Baseball] got me in the front door at Baylor. As God would have it, I was not destined to be the next great baseball player, but I was destined to enjoy Baylor University and the dear friends that I met there,” the HGTV star told Baylor Magazine. 

The family may soon have enough members to start a league of their own, as Chip and Joanna announced in early January that they were expecting their fifth baby. They also have two daughters, Ella, 11, and Emmie Kay, 7.

‘Stranger Things’ Season 3 Details: Expect to See More of Dustin and Steve’s Friendship

It’s been a busy start to 2018 for the cast of Stranger Things, and they haven’t even started shooting season three yet. From partying at the Golden Globes to dominating the carpet at the SAG Awards, the cast has been celebrating their season two success before they return to Hawkins, Indiana this spring.

They’ve certainly earned the break—once filming begins, it’ll be non-stop work until the show returns in late 2018 or early 2019. “If we could make it [return] faster, then we would,” Executive Producer Shawn Levy explains. “But we’re going to make it well. We’re going to do it right.” The good news is that the Duffer Brothers and Levy have already planned out all of the story lines for season three. “We’re there,” Levy tells us. “It’ll be an eight or nine episode season. The number of episodes will be dictated by the amount of story that excites us. We now know what is going to happen in season three to every character.” Now that the season’s storyline is worked out, they’re in the process of figuring out the specific details of each scene in each episode.

While Levy is hesitant to reveal more beyond that, he will say that Will Byers is in need of a break after last season’s trauma from the aftermath of the Upside Down. “We’re going to give Will a break,” he says. “We’re not going to put Will through hell for a third season in a row. He’ll be dealing with stuff, but he won’t be at rock bottom the way we forced the amazing Noah Schnapp to play.” Of course, after battling the Shadow Monster one would assume Dustin or Hopper might be next in line to suffer the consequences. “You might assume that,” Levy teases, “but you would probably end up being wrong. We’re [going to be] dealing with forces of evil that are new.”

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PHOTO: Jackson Lee Davis/Netflix

Still, not everything will completely change heading into season three. After last year’s surprising—but welcome!—friendship between Dustin ([Gaten Matarazzo])(/about/gaten-matarazzo) and Steve (Joe Keery), Levy says you’ll definitely “get some Steve/Dustin action.” As for Matarazzo, he hopes there will be more light-hearted scenes with Steve and Dustin in season three, though he also wants to see their relationships evolve. “In season two, it was all very cute and there was a funny factor to it because it was unexpected, but now that it is expected, I want to see them connect more and be more familiar with each other,” he says. “I want them to have a connection like they’ve really had a connection for a year—like they’re brothers.” Matarazzo points out that Dustin doesn’t have a brother and his father is gone, so Dustin wants an older male figure in his life to look up to. “He’s never had that, so I feel like Steve is definitely someone in that sense who could be that person to him.”

And just as Dustin’s relationship with Steve will mature, could rebel Billy be the instigator for a more sexually liberated Mrs. Wheeler next season? “There was clearly a connection there,” Levy says. “Karen has some unhappiness that is brewing. I think that makes her vulnerable to all kinds of things in season three.” Perhaps those new “forces of evil” that Levy referred to earlier?

One thing still TBD is the future of Paul Reiser’s Dr. Owens, who managed to survive the chaos that engulfed Hawkins Lab at the end of season two. Levy says they’re “not commenting” on Reiser’s possible return, mainly because “I don’t have a clear cut answer for you yet.” In other words, stay tuned.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg shocks Sundance crowd with her own #MeToo story

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has three words for the women who shared their stories of abuse to spark the #MeToo movement: “It’s about time.”

Before Ginsburg slipped on her iconic judicial robe, the 84-year-old feminist from Brooklyn confessed she had her own brush with sexual harassment and gender inequality.

“Every woman of my vintage knows what sexual harassment is, although we didn’t have a name for it,” Ginsburg told a crowd during a forum to promote her new documentary “RBG” at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, on Sunday. “The attitude toward sexual harassment was simply, ‘Get past it. Boys will be boys.’”

Clutching a microphone between both hands, Ginsburg told NPR legal correspondent and longtime friend Nina Totenberg, who was leading the discussion, about an incident that allegedly occurred when she was a law student at Cornell University in the early 1950s.

She shared concerns with her chemistry instructor over her “abilities” ahead of a big test. The teacher comforted her and told her he’d give her a practice exam to make her more comfortable with the material.

“The next day – on the test – the test is the practice exam. And I knew exactly what he wanted in return,” Ginsburg said. “That’s just one of many examples.”

Ginsburg didn’t just ignore the professor’s inappropriate gesture, she said. After the exam, Ginsburg walked straight up to the instructor and allegedly confronted him.

“I went to his office and I said, ‘How dare you! How dare you, you –“ Ginsburg said. “And that was the end of that.”

When Ginsburg began teaching at Rutgers Law School in 1964 she said that she quickly realized she was being treated differently than her male colleagues.

Since Rutgers was a state school, Ginsburg knew she’d be taking a pay cut — but when the dean told her how much of a cut, she was astonished. She asked how much a male colleague who had been out of law school about the same amount of time of her was being paid.

“Ruth, he has a wife and two children to support. You have a husband with a good paying job in New York,” the dean responded.

“That was the very year the Equal Pay Act had passed,” Ginsburg said. “That was the answer that I got.”

In response to the dean’s remarks, a group of women employed at Rutgers worked together to file an Equal Pay Act complaint, which the university later settled.

Ginsburg recalled another example of gender inequality in 1972 when she was a professor at Columbia University. A feminist told her the school issued lay-off notices to 25 women in the maintenance department, but not a single man received a notice.

“And she said to me, ‘What are you going to do about it?'” Ginsburg recalled.

Ginsburg told the university’s vice president for business’ office the school was violating Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits workplace discrimination based on religion, national origin, race, color or sex.

Columbia eventually found a way to avoid laying off anyone, Ginsburg said.

A lot has changed since then, Ginsburg explained, as she shared her final thoughts on the #MeToo movement that’s sweeping the nation.

“For so long women were silent, thinking there was nothing you could do about it,” Ginsburg said. “But now the law is on the side of women or men who encounter harassment, and that’s a good thing.”

Right now, Ginsburg said she’s not concerned about the potential backlash the #MeToo movement might cause women.

“Let’s see where it goes. So far, its been great,” Ginsburg said. “But when I see women appearing every place, in numbers, I’m less worried about backlash than I might have been 20 years ago.”

How Kumail Nanjiani Found ‘Perfect’ Woman in Emily V. Gordon

Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon‘s romantic comedy The Big Sick was one of the biggest hit films of 2017, and now the actor is opening up about how he found true love with his wife.

“When I was younger, I had this list of ‘the perfect women will have these qualities,’ and then you grow up and you realize that stuff doesn’t matter,” Nanjiani, 39, says in his debut with the feminist media brand MAKERS. “What matters is the real connection.”

Luckily for the Silicon Valley star, Gordon, 38, has “all that stuff that was on shallow teenage Kumail’s list” — and much more.

“With Emily, I got the real connection,” he says about his wife, who co-wrote The Big Sick with him.

Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon

Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon

Frederick M. Brown/Getty

In his MAKERS interview, the star also opened up about the importance of having more women in positions of power and behind the scenes.

“Here’s the big thing: having more women writers, more women directors, more women executives, more women in positions of power — you don’t just do that to make a more equal society. You do that because the product will be better,” he says.

To donate to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which will provide subsidized legal support to women and men in all industries who have experienced sexual harassment, assault, or abuse in the workplace, visit its GoFundMe page. Learn more about Time’s Up, an organization of women in entertainment combating sexual harassment and inequality, on its website.

The actor also urged those in Hollywood and in other industries to truly listen to the women who have been speaking out on sexual misconduct in the workplace.

“I think of how scary it was for me starting comedy in Chicago, and then how much scarier it would have been if I was a woman starting comedy there because it really was such a boys’ club,” he says. “It was very aggressive. It was very locker room.”

RELATED VIDEO: Kumail Nanjiani and Wife Emily Reveal Secrets About Ray Romano: ‘He Doesn’t Love Elevators’

Going forward, “I think the most important thing that we can do right now is listen to women who have been talking for f—ing centuries,” he adds. “I think it’s time for us to shut up and listen.”