Weather Alert  

"Coastal Flood Warning" ...Coastal Flood Warning remains in effect from 7 PM to 11 PM EST this evening... * locations...low lying areas along western Long Island Sound. * Tidal departures...3 to 4 ft above astronomical tides in the evening. * Timing...minor to moderate coastal flooding around the times of astronomical high tide...between 7 PM and 11 PM. Minor coastal flooding is possible with the Tuesday morning high tide cycle. * Coastal flood impacts...flooding of vulnerable Waterfront and shoreline roads and adjacent properties due to height of storm tide and wave action. Inundation of 1 to 2 ft in the lowest lying spots. Road closures may be needed. Isolated structural damage may be observed along the immediate shoreline. * Shoreline impacts...elevated water levels in combination with 3 to 5 ft of surf are expected to cause beach erosion and splashover along the shoreline this evening. Precautionary/preparedness actions... A coastal Flood Warning means that flooding is expected or occurring. Coastal residents in the warned area should be alert for rising water...and take appropriate action to protect life and property. ...Western l.I. Sound water levels for this evening... Coastal............time of......forecast total......flood..... Location...........high Tide.....Water level........category.. ...................................(Mllw/mhhw)................ Kings Point NY.......859 PM.....9.9-10.5/2.2-2.7.....Min-mod.. Stamford CT..........821 PM......9.4-9.9/1.6-2.1.....Minor.... Glen Cove NY.........900 PM.....9.6-10.1/2.1-2.7.....Min-mod.. , "High Wind Warning" ...High Wind Warning now in effect until 6 am EST Tuesday... * winds...northeast 30 to 40 mph with gusts up to 60 mph. Gusts 65 to 70 mph possible over Twin Forks of Long Island. * Timing...the strongest winds are expected tonight. * High wind impacts...damaging winds will blow down trees and power lines. Numerous power outages are expected. Travel will be difficult...especially for high profile vehicles and on elevated roadway and bridges. Precautionary/preparedness actions... A High Wind Warning means a hazardous high wind event is expected or occurring. Sustained wind speeds of at least 40 mph or gusts of 58 mph or more can lead to property damage. , "Storm Warning" ...Storm Warning remains in effect until 1 am EST Tuesday... * winds and seas...northeast winds 25 to 30 kt with gusts up to 50 kt. Seas 5 to 9 feet. Precautionary/preparedness actions... A Storm Warning means sustained winds or frequent gusts of 48 to 63 kt are expected or occurring. Recreational boaters should remain in port...or take shelter until winds and waves subside. Commercial vessels should prepare for very strong winds and dangerous sea conditions...and consider remaining in port or taking shelter in port until winds and waves subside. -- Monday Jan.23 17,07:48 PM

Health Care Vs. The Commerce Clause

The constitutionality of President Obama's principal health care reform, known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, has been debated in front of the nine justices of the Supreme Court last week.

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The Supreme Court heard three days of debate last week over the constitutionality of “Obamacare,” the popularized title for President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).  The sticking points with PPACA come from what everyone is referring to as the “individual mandate,” the portion of bill that would require all Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty beginning in 2014.  Opponents of the mandate are calling the measure unconstitutional, citing the Commerce Clause of the 10th amendment.   The ruling will determine three things: whether PPACA is constitutional at all, what elements make it unconstitutional, and whether a viable version of the bill can operate without all of its parts.  


The interpretation of commerce clause effectively determines the scope of the federal government, and historically this law has been used to define the limits of federal power in a variety of cases.  In 1942, the Court ruled in Wickard v. FIlburn that a federal regulation of wheat production for home use was constitutional because it would prevent over-production and unstable interstate markets.  The first time the Court used the law to limit the power of the federal government was in the 1995 ruling of United States v. Lopez, where the Court found the federal law mandating “gun-free zones” on school grounds  unconstitutional.  
In terms of PPACA, opponents, even those who would argue that there are inequities in the current health care system that ought to be addressed, and that congress has the scope of power to regulate the health care system (which constitutes more than one-sixth of the national economy), say that the individual mandate goes too far and breaches the Commerce Clause.  A popular turn of phrase among Justices and pundits alike has been, “What’s next, the government mandating the purchase of broccoli?”
Simon Lazarus, of the National Senior Citizens Law Center and a proponent of the bill, told Politico he doesn’t believe the disagreement is based on upholding a strict interpretation of the Commerce Clause.  “This challenge is about the idea that the mandate is some kind of enormous interference with individual liberty,” Lazarus said.  
Much of the news reports coming from the debate suggested that the Court was generally of the view that the individual mandate might fall out of reach of the Commerce Clause.  Justice Samuel Alito provided the analogy of burial insurance, since after all, everyone will have to be buried or cremated at some point.  Many have already countered this analogy saying that, unlike health insurance, there is no burial insurance crisis in the nation.  More so, providing proper health care to living people should be more concerning than providing burials for the deceased.
Paul Begala, columnist for Newsweek, countered Chief Justice John Roberts assertion that the mandate could open the doors for Congress to force American citizens to purchase other things in preparation of an emergency situation, like cell phones.  “I don’t know the answer to that question,” Begala writes, “But I do know this: Congress can force each of us to buy a gun,”  referring to the Second Militia Act of 1972, by which all males between the ages of 18 and 34 were required to arm themselves with guns and other supplies, and were conscripted to local militias.  
The judge everyone is tuned into appears to be Associate Justice Kennedy, who challenged Solicitor General Donald Verilli to find the limiting factor that would prevent the government from requiring people to buy other things.  Kenndy’s line of questioning has been described less as an attack on Obamacare, and rather as looking for reassurance of the intent and impact of the bill.  Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, among the most liberal on the bench, has pointed out that Congress already requires you to pay for Medicare and Social Security, whether we think we need it or not.
Brace yourself for a ton of speculation until the Court announces its ruling in June.  Until then, the Court will spend the next two months privately deliberating the constitutionality of the individual mandate.  It is still unclear whether the bill can be effective without the individual mandate in place, or what Congress’s next step would be if the Court finds it unconstitutional.
Share your thoughts on the health care overhaul or your personal experiences at our Long Island Lounge forum.