Court Refuses to Revisit

Campaign Finance Case

The Federal Election Commission must begin work on writing tougher campaign finance rules to govern the 2006 elections after a federal appeals court declined to intervene in a challenge.

In a one-page order, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit declined to reconsider a decision requiring the FEC to write new rules to carry out a 2002 campaign finance law. The FEC requested the full court's review in August after a three-judge panel upheld U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly's 2004 ruling striking down several FEC rules interpreting the new law.

Commissioner Michael E. Toner said Friday's order means the FEC must start drafting tougher rules on political donations, including how Internet activity will be regulated. The FEC could still appeal to the Supreme Court, but it has not indicated whether it will do so.

The law, approved by Congress and signed by President Bush in 2002, bans congressional and presidential candidates and national party committees from raising corporate and union money. It also bans unlimited donations from any source.

GOP Plan Allows States

To Hike Medicaid Costs

House Republicans are taking a cue from the nation's governors when it comes to reducing Medicaid.

Like the governors, they are proposing that states be allowed to charge people more when they receive care.

"Common-sense reform will ensure that Medicaid can save and prolong millions more American lives for years to come," Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) said. "If we succeed, we will make Medicaid better and poor people healthier. If not, the safety net will rot away."

Barton's committee, the Energy and Commerce Committee, is looking to reduce government spending by as much as $14.7 billion over the next five years. Most of the savings are expected to come from Medicaid, which provides health care for about 53 million poor and disabled people.

The House legislation would give states the option of charging higher co-payments. States, within limits, can require some beneficiaries to share in the costs of their health care. Typically, the current co-payment ranges from 50 cents to $3. The House bill would raise that gradually to a maximum of $5 per service in 2008. Afterward, co-payment increases would match those in health care inflation.

Hearing Set on DeLay's

Request for New Judge

A retired Texas judge will decide next week whether State District Judge Bob Perkins should continue presiding over former House majority leader Tom DeLay's trial on money-laundering and conspiracy charges.

C.W. Duncan, a former state district judge, will preside at a Nov. 1 hearing on DeLay's request that Perkins leave the case because he has contributed money to candidates and Democratic causes that oppose DeLay.

Perkins referred the decision to B.B. Schraub, presiding judge of the third administrative judicial region. Schraub yesterday assigned the case to Duncan. The hearing will be in Perkins's Austin courtroom.

-- From News Services