The North Shore of Lake Tahoe, along Lakeshore Boulevard, isn’t exactly a “low income” neighborhood. And yet, that is where the one and only office is located for a company that uses taxpayer handouts to “invest” in federally designated “low income” communities. For an elite few, cronyism apparently has its benefits. (Read more)
Nevada has made a slight improvement in education, according to a new report. The Silver State is no longer the worst in the nation when it comes to education. Apparently, we’re only the second worst. Since "business-as-usual" in education doesn't seem to be improving things, perhaps it's time to let parents take control, by giving them access to the most comprehensive school choice program in the nation, Education Savings Accounts. (Read more)
Taxes and fiscal:
The Clark County Commission unanimously agreed this week to alter the wording of a ballot measure asking voters if they want to keep the fuel revenue index tax. Prior to the index tax, motorists paid a 52 cent tax for every gallon of gasoline. Today, motorists pay 62 cents per gallon. If the ballot measure is approved, over the course of the next decade that amount will increase to more than 98 cents per gallon. (Read more)
In a 21-18 vote, the New Jersey Senate has agreed to hike the state’s minimum hourly wage from $8.38 an hour to $15 by the year 2021. The increase is a big win for the Service Employee International Union, which has been pushing hard for the increase. But it’s a major loss for entry-level and low-skilled workers. The move is expected to kill roughly 33,500 jobs, with 91.7 percent of those losses impacting workers in the retail and food service sector who don’t have college degrees. (Read more)
World leaders are quite clearly nervous now that Britain has voted to leave the European Union. However, leaders in Switzerland are showing optimism, having themselves decided to formally remain independent from the EU. “A big advantage of leaving the EU is free trade worldwide, not only between the member states, making it easier and cheaper for companies to export their goods to the rest of the world,” said Swiss MP Lukas Reimann. (Read more)
Last week was a busy week for the Education Savings Account lawsuits. Let’s take a look at what happened and what it all means.
In the Lopez case, the northern Nevada case which has the injunction, the Attorney General’s office (State’s attorney), on Tuesday, filed an unopposed motion with the Nevada Supreme Court seeking to postpone oral arguments until the last week of July. You may recall, oral arguments were set for July 8.
Resetting the oral argument to the last week of July was sought to allow the State’s counsel of choice, Mr. Paul Clement, who will be out of country on July 8, to present the State’s argument to the Court. Clement, outside counsel retained by the State is with the Bancroft law firm in Washington D.C., is a former United States Solicitor General and a renowned attorney who has argued upwards of 69 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. For sure, a tremendous asset to our ESA legal team!
The AG’s motion also emphasized that moving oral arguments until late July could accommodate the Court’s previously stated preference to hear arguments in both the Lopez and Duncan cases on the same day should the ACLU appeal in Duncan (they subsequently did).
The following morning, Wednesday, the Nevada Supreme Court granted the State’s motion in Lopez, rescheduling oral arguments for Friday, July 29 at 10 a.m. Arguments will take place at the Regional Justice Center, located at 200 Lewis Ave —17th Floor, in Las Vegas. Hey, if you’re thinking of going, let me know.
Then, on Friday, the ACLU finally filed its notice of appeal in Duncan, the ACLU case in southern Nevada which was dismissed by Judge Eric Johnson last month.
So, in summary, the Lopez case, and any decision lifting the injunction will be delayed. And if the court consolidates the two cases (a motion to do so still needs to be filed and granted) Duncan may proceed with a shortened briefing period. It’s not known yet if consolidating the arguments will further delay Lopez. But from reading the court exhibits filed with this motion (including email communications between the AG and the ACLU), it appears the ACLU is amenable to holding arguments for Duncan in late July.
Hopefully — fingers crossed — with this latest development, we are now on a single, expedited track to both decisions.
How does all this effect funding? Well… looks like November is the soonest.
When you really think about it, though, all the stars and planets would have had to align to fund in August. That’s not to say it couldn’t have happened. But, I am a realist. And, when you really think about it, any decision to meet August funding depended on the Justices returning a decision within a week. While that has happened before, it’s just not the norm.
Moreover, when you also consider that the closely related Duncan case would be simultaneously working its way through the Supreme Court’s briefing process, it seems not at all certain the Court would have turned around a decision too quickly. After all, justices might be thinking of the potential for new legal insight from Duncan. Courts don’t frequently just toss their “preferences” out into the universe. So this may be a big hint they want to consolidate.
A brief reminder: A few days still exist for you to get your applications turned in. Don’t let all the legal maneuvering dissuade you from applying for the program if you were thinking on it. This is just how the wheels of justice turn. Remember, applications must be stamped received in the Treasurer’s office by 5 p.m. on June 30th to be considered for this enrollment period.
Next week, I will be at the new David O. McKay Academy locations providing information on ESAs and helping with applications and document scanning. Details are still being finalized, so be sure to visit our Event page on NevadaESA.com for more information.
Stay Strong! And, #LetOurChildrenSuceed
Energy policy is arguably the most important factor affecting the strength of Nevada’s economy. Abundant and affordable energy directly lowers consumer energy bills — but it also reduces production and operating costs that factor into virtually all goods and services traded in our economy. Rising energy costs, by contrast, bring the economic pain of a tax hike to virtually every corner of the state. The Nevada Energy Policy Guide is a step-by-step outline to reining in Nevada’s sky-high energy costs. (Read more)
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy is the latest state prosecutor to target non-profit think tanks that have conducted research critical of man-made global warming. Healy has issued a subpoena for 40 years of internal company documents and communications between Exxon Mobile and think tanks on the national and state level. Healy’s actions are part of a multistate effort among a number of attorneys general to “investigate” Exxon for “trying to cover up global warming” science. (Read more)
According to a report on government waste, compiled by Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), more than $35 million have been used to fund research projects that have virtually nothing to do with American national interests. Among this long list of wasted money, was $170,000 used to fund a study titled “Walking with Coffee: Why Does it spill?” In addition to studying why walking might increase coffee spillage, the study also had some solid advice for folks who suffer from frequent spillage incidents around the office: put a lid on your cup. (Read more)
Taxes and fiscal:
Exactly how burdensome is the federal tax code? Well, Americans will spend more than 8 billion hours and $409 billion complying with the tax code in 2016. With more than 2.4 million words in the tax code, and 7.7 million words in related regulations, it’s pretty safe to say “very burdensome” is the correct answer. (Read more)
Public sector employees:
According to government reports, 99 percent of federal employees are rated “fully successful” or higher on their job performance. Of course, the system isn’t exactly objective. Managers who rate their employees less than “fully successful” must undergo appeal attempts, union grievances and respond to the Merit Systems Protection Board. This process can often cost agencies tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. And as a result, the official reports tend to show a successful and efficient government workforce — even if the reality is something else altogether. (Read more)
Taxes and fiscal:
It has been more than three years since the IRS admitted to harassing conservative non-profits ahead of the 2012 presidential election — and now we finally know how many organizations were actually targeted. A staggering 466 organizations were singled out by IRS officials for extra scrutiny because of their political orientation, according to a report filed by the tax agency itself. Keep in mind, when the story first broke, the IRS officially claimed no such harassment had taken place. (Read more)
Green-energy mandates, officially known as “Renewable Portfolio Standards,” are laws that require a certain percentage of a state’s energy production to be from renewable sources, such as wind or solar. While there are some marginal economic benefits to greater reliance on green energy, these benefits are overshadowed by the substantially more expensive cost of production. In 2016 these mandates will reduce Nevada’s economic growth by $1.7 billion, and reduce the state’s employment growth by 11,000 jobs. (Read more. And learn how to RSVP for NPRI’s June 15th energy policy luncheon by clicking here.)
It’s bad enough that taxpayers are on the hook for trillions of dollars in unfunded liabilities, thanks to overly-generous public employee retirement pensions — but now we might be on the hook for private sector pensions as well. Lawmakers are working to pass legislation that would “protect” the health and pension benefits of a private sector union, the United Mine Workers of America. And by “protect,” of course, they mean “bailout.” (Read more)
Teacher unions are not designed to protect students, taxpayers or parents. But don’t take our word for it: Albert Shanker, the longtime president of the United Federation of Teachers union, infamously explained that “when school children start paying union dues, that’s when [we’ll] start representing the interests of school children.” (Read more)
Tech giant Google is allegedly manipulating its online search engine to give favorable treatment to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. While there doesn’t seem to be any direct connection between the tech giant and the Clinton campaign, an in-depth study shows that Google alters search results to hide terms and articles that might be damaging to the presidential hopeful. (Read more)
“School’s out for summer!”
Remember singing those lyrics as child? Better yet, as a parent?
I sure do.
I know it’s that time of year when parents are looking to recharge and switch off the early morning alarms, homework, car-loops, lunch boxes, backpacks and the like. So, before parents completely turn off their get-the-kids-to-school routines, I thought I should give an ESA update. And, don’t worry, I will still be out there over the summer with Heels in the Field doing outreach and keeping you up-to-date on the country’s #1 educational choice program!
Over the past month, NevadaESA.com has added well over 300 people to the email list. So, this summer kick-off is going to cover the gamut.
Most Asked Questions:
- If I applied during a previous enrollment period, do I need to reapply? No. The Treasurer’s office asks families not to reapply. The office will pick up where the program left off before the injunction. Letters were in the hopper to parents who submitted applications in 2015. They will go out once the injunction is lifted (I have faith). Applications received after the injunction (2016) will be processed and notices will go out when the injunction is lifted (still having faith).
- When I applied during the 2015 enrollment period, my child was under age 7. Now he is 7 years old. Do I need to do 100 school days and reapply? No and no. The Treasurer’s office has stated it will pick up where the program left off before the injunction. Letters of acceptance to the families of 5 and 6 year olds were ready to be sent. They will be sent once the injunction is lifted (I have faith).
- Once the injunction is lifted (again, I have faith), will funding be retroactive? No. There will be no “back- pay,” so to say. Funding applies to forward expenses. Any costs incurred between applying and the start of funding is the parent’s responsibility.
- What can I do to help? Spread the word about ESA and NevadaESA.com. When parents are informed about the various educational choices available to them, they are empowered to become effective advocates for their children. Remember, I am happy to come talk in your homes, churches, sports practices, civic groups, place of work, etc… No group is too small or too large.
- Nevada law requires enrollment in a public school for the 100 school days immediately preceding an ESA application for program eligibility. Do not apply before 100 school days.
- Holidays, in-service days, and school breaks are not counted towards the 100 days.
- The 100 school days can cross school years. So, you could earn some days in the 2015-16 school year and the rest in the 2016-17 school year. However, you must be continuously enrolled.
- *** The 100-school-day requirement is waived for 5 and 6 year olds *** Your child must be 5 years old by September 30, 2016 to be eligible for the 2016-17 school year.
- *** The 100-school-day requirement is waived for active duty military families ***
- The Treasurer is now accepting applications through June 30th. Applications must be stamped received in the Treasurer’s office by 5:00 p.m. on June 30th to meet the deadline.
- Due to the injunction in the Lopez case, applications will not be processed. You will not receive notice of receipt from the Treasurer’s office. I recommend mailing your application certified-return-receipt. Keep your receipt as proof of delivery.
- You may also hand-deliver your application to the Carson City office at 101 N. Carson Street, Suite 4, or the Grant Sawyer office in Las Vegas, located at 555 E. Washington. Ask for a copy of the stamped application, or take a picture on your phone. Keep for your records.
- I will have Heels in the Field on June 14th for an ESA information and application assistance event at TCMI Church located at 5101 N. Rainbow, off Rancho Drive across from the Santa Fe Station Hotel & Casino at 6:30 p.m. Thank you, Karla Raypon-Severson, for all your hard work. [link to flyer]
- Be sure to check NevadaESA.com for summer events. I will be in the field all summer.
- In the Lopez case, the northern Nevada case with the injunction, the Nevada Supreme Court has set oral arguments for Friday, July 8, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. for one hour. Arguments will take place in Las Vegas at the Regional Justice Center, located at 200 Lewis Avenue on the 17th Floor.
- On May 18, 2016, Judge Eric Johnson dismissed with prejudice, meaning the case can’t be refiled, the Duncan case in southern Nevada brought by the ACLU. The ACLU has until July 1st to file a notice of appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court.
As we have learned this past year, when it comes to lawsuits, the cases are always fluid — meaning things change often. Motions are filed, extensions are granted, hearings are rescheduled, etc.… So, be sure to look for my updates.
Depending on how quickly the Nevada Supreme Court turns out a decision in Lopez, the Treasurer’s office is gearing up for an August funding. Now, I’m going to be very honest here, any hope for an August funding is going to require swift action by schools, vendors and parents.
- Please, have the necessary documents to complete your application or registrations scanned, uploaded and ready to go on your computer. So when asked to upload them, it’s a quick click and done. I am happy to help you scan. I have portable scanners… and I do travel.
- Be sure to monitor your email daily once the injunction is lifted (I really do have faith). Check your junk email to make sure you haven’t received an email from the Treasurer’s office.
- Once the injunction is lifted (have I told you, I’m moving forward with faith that everything is going to turn out just right?), the Treasurer’s office has asked that parents, schools and vendors give the office a few weeks to get the system back online, register participating entities and input the more than 2500 paper applications waiting before making calls. The office will send emails as they are ready to proceed.
Stay Strong! And, #LetOurChildrenSucceed
Government’s attempts to centrally plan Nevada’s Energy future has created a mess for ratepayers. Renewable Portfolio Standards, crony “green-energy” subsidies and NV Energy’s utility monopoly have resulted in ever-increasing energy costs for the state. As a consequence, ratepayers are in desperate need of sound policy solutions. Join NPRI on June 15th for a policy luncheon outlining how rational energy policy can bring superior future economic success to the Silver State. (RSVP here)
Over half of the 23 healthcare co-ops created by Obamacare have gone bankrupt, leaving little doubt that the program is in need of substantial reform. The latest co-op to declare insolvency, Ohio’s InHealth Mutual, is the 13th — leaving nearly 22,000 consumers with a mere 60 days to find new health coverage. Despite $129 million in taxpayer-backed loans, the company reported an underwriting loss of more than $80 million. (Read more)
Socialism doesn’t work. Thanks to the central planners in Caracas, the nation of Venezuela is in an apocalyptic economic freefall. Due to inflation, food items such as McDonalds French-fries cost hundreds of dollars, and basic living supplies such as sugar, toilet paper and fuel are so scarce that rioting is almost non-stop in major metropolitan areas. Moreover, the economic collapse brought on by the nation’s socialist policies have resulted in widespread violence, the world’s highest murder rate and tyrannical martial law throughout the nation’s population centers. (Read more)
They descended on Nevada legislators in 2013, promising new jobs in the state’s depressed areas and higher tax revenue for state government. “They” included the head national lobbyist for one of the nation’s biggest firms targeting the government-subsidized investment industry, Advantage Capital Partners, and the legislation’s sponsor, State Senate Republican Minority Leader Michael C. Roberson. And the result was $112 million in taxpayer money being spent for, essentially, zilch. (Read more)
A record number of Americans are no longer working, or even looking for work, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. In May, the number of Americans not participating in the labor force climbed to nearly 95 million. To put that number into perspective, that is almost 15 million more people not looking for work since the tail end of the “great recession” in 2009. (Read more)
I hope everyone has a fantastic and safe Memorial Day weekend. Please take the time to remember those who have sacrificed everything for our freedom.
God bless our men and women in uniform, their families and all those heroes who have come before them.
Enjoy the Memorial Day weekend!
Sharon J. Rossie
In case you missed it in the news this week:
The Nevada Supreme Court has finally set a date to hear oral arguments in the remaining case against Education Savings Accounts. The court sent a notice to lawyers on both sides of the issue that the justices would meet on July 8th, at Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas, to hear one hour of argument. (Read more)
After Obamacare was passed, lawmakers suddenly realized that they would be subjected to some of the same arbitrary and burdensome rules that average Americans face. In an effort to circumvent the hurdles and restrictions with which other individuals contend, Congress decided to attempt an administrative fix by categorizing themselves as a “small business” — thereby making congressmen, and their staff, eligible for federal subsidies. (Read more)
In a documentary about the country’s struggles with gun control, Katie Couric and director Stephanie Soechtig, toured the nation looking for “reasonable” gun control policy proposals. Critics of the documentary, however, blasted the film after it came to light that an interview between Couric and a group of Second Amendment advocates was intentionally edited in an attempt to discredit the pro-gun argument, and boost the film’s anti-gun narrative. (Read more)
Voter and election fraud:
Southern California has a problem with voter fraud — and it’s not always that difficult to spot. One voter who died in 2006, somehow managed to cast ballots in 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2014 as well. Another woman who died in 1988 has been voting for 26 years, including in the 2014 election. (Read more)
Veteran and military affairs:
This video of a teary-eyed West Point graduate has been making the rounds on social media — and with good reason. This young man’s story, and his devotion to American freedom, is a heartwarming reminder of why our men and women in uniform are among the best this country has to offer. (Read more)
Real educational choice for parents and children is one step closer to becoming a reality in Nevada, after a Clark County District Court Judge dismissed the ACLU’s lawsuit against the state’s Education Savings Account program. Even though an injunction remains on the program as the Nevada Supreme Court hears another challenge to the law, Wednesday’s news was a big step in the right direction. (Read more)
Welfare and public assistance:
When Maine decided to place limits on welfare, critics argued the reforms would leave the state’s impoverished families devastated and hungry. In reality, it has done exactly the opposite. One woman who had found herself trapped in a never-ending cycle of government assistance has since pulled herself from poverty — and she credits the state’s limits on welfare for her new lease on life. “Nothing feels as good as earning your own money,” she told the Daily Signal. (Read more)
A libertarian nonprofit group is seeking damages from the U.S. Virgin Islands’ chief law enforcement officer. Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker had joined with Democrat attorneys general in 17 states who have been pursuing racketeering charges against Exxon Mobil and various non-profit think tanks, for their denial of man-made global warming. Attorneys representing the Competitive Enterprise Institute filed a motion in Washington D.C. against Walker, citing a law that protects policy groups from harassment and politically-motivated legal action. (Read more)
Civil asset forfeiture:
Congress is finally taking a small step toward reforming policies that allow law enforcement agencies to confiscate the property of citizens without due process. Newly proposed legislation would raise the burden of proof from a “preponderance of evidence” to “clear and convincing” evidence, which makes it more difficult for the government to use asset forfeiture moving forward. While it is not a full restoration of private property rights or due process, it is at least a shift in the right direction after decades of systematic abuse by various agencies. (Read more)
Security and privacy:
There might be one upside to the TSA’s abysmal performance in recent months: Airports are now considering booting the agency from their property, and replacing them with private security firms. Management from the three major airports in New York are fed up with TSA’s long lines, inconsistent performance standards and repeated security lapses. As a result, they’re thinking about firing the feds, and turning to the private sector for their security needs. (Read more)
Alright, am I the only one who forgot to cook dinner and had a hard time falling asleep last night!?
Just in case you missed it: Yesterday, District Court Judge, Eric Johnson, dismissed the ACLU case challenging the constitutionality of Nevada’s Education Savings Account program.
I will tell you, I cried tears of joy. For so long, Nevada families have been on an emotional rollercoaster, and I was completely overwhelmed when I heard the news. I just bawled like a baby. And now, I admit, I’m still floating a few feet off the ground.
Okay, sure, there’s still an injunction and there is still a long road ahead — but I am taking this win as an opportunity to stop, smell the flowers and live in the moment.
Last night, after finally getting pork chops on the table, I sat down to really review Judge Johnson’s ruling and get an email to everyone on this list. But my mind just couldn’t stay focused. I kept thinking about all the families with which I’ve spoken, all the families that are praying for this opportunity and everyone else who is waiting and holding strong. By midnight, I still hadn’t gotten through the order. Nor had I written one word.
Then, as I read — for the hundredth time— these words, “This Court concludes Plaintiffs have not alleged facts establishing its claim that the Legislature's creation of the ESA program violates Article XI, section 10, prohibiting the use of public funds for a sectarian purpose. Plaintiffs' claim is dismissed,” it occurred to me, I wasn’t doing anyone a service by trying to rush through things. Not at all.
Since January, Nevada’s parents have been staying strong, keeping patient and digging their heels in for strength. Yesterday, however, Judge Johnson gave us all an opportunity to exhale a deep breath, smile from ear-to-ear and celebrate. So, please, pardon my indulgence, but I just need to exhale for a minute.
Let’s take a day or two and embrace this moment. Tomorrow’s road will be there…well, tomorrow.
In fact, starting next week, NevadaESA.com and several fabulous partners will hold three ESA/tax scholarship community information meetings. While these events have been in the planning for weeks, their timing on May 24th , May 25th and May 31st provides tremendous opportunity for families to get the “latest from the greatest”!
Representatives from the Treasurer's and Attorney General's office, plus Donna Wix from the Department of Education, will all be present to provide updates, information and answer your questions on the programs and ESA lawsuits. I will also be there to answer questions, and help parents with applications and document scanning.
Not only could these events be the last chance to get large numbers of families informed in time to apply for the Education Savings Accounts and the Tax Scholarships for the start of the upcoming 2016-17 school year, it is also a great opportunity to ask the experts about the road ahead, and what we should learn from the judge’s ruling.
Also, we can take the time to say, “thank you” to those officials and their teams who have worked so hard for Nevada families and children. Imagine how they will feel seeing the actual faces of the parents and children for which they are fighting. I can’t think of a better way to say, “THANK YOU!”
Whether you have already applied for an ESA, — you don’t need to reapply — are sitting on the fence, or seeking to learn about Nevada’s educational choice opportunities for the first time, I invite you to attend these public events. And, please, let’s spread the word to other families.
It’s that time of year again — end-of-school-year plays, concerts, awards and graduation ceremonies. And also, ESA and tax scholarship application time!
I know parents and schools are running dizzy with all the festivities. And, then, in a blink, it will be summer and families will be embracing vacations, slower days and relaxing family evenings. That’s why our team has been working hard to get parents informed, prepared, and updated on Nevada’s educational choice opportunities.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been to Pahrump, a few homes, a fundraiser and several Vegas-area schools providing information and helping parents complete applications and scan documents. We’ve also been working really hard with some spectacular partners to organize three community information events — two in the Las Vegas area and one in Reno.
Tuesday, May 24th — Historical West Last Vegas
Reconciliation Apostolic Ministries
911 G Street
Las Vegas, Nevada 89106
Wednesday, May 25th — Henderson
Henderson International School
1165 Sandy Ridge Ave.
Henderson, Nevada 89052
Tuesday, May 31st — Reno
Bishop Manogue Catholic High School — Small Gym
110 Bishop Manogue Dr.
Reno, NV 89521
Representatives from the Treasurer's and Attorney General's office, plus Donna Wix from the Department of Education and I, will all be present to provide updates, information and answer your questions on the programs and ESA lawsuits. Application assistance and document scanning help will also be available.
These events may be the last opportunity to get large numbers of families informed in time to apply for the Education Savings Accounts and the Tax Scholarships for the start of the upcoming 2016-17 school year. An order is expected as soon as today, possibly, in the Duncan case (the one brought in southern Nevada by the ACLU), and these public events also offer unparalleled opportunities for schools, families and whole communities to receive, firsthand, the latest information from knowledgeable experts.
I'm reaching out to everyone on this email list to help me distribute information about these events to the community. Whatever you can do, your help is needed. Maybe you can distribute fliers in your surrounding community, take fliers to football practice and other parent gatherings, or just forward this email to everyone you know.
Let’s work together to empower Nevada families so all can secure the best educational opportunities for their children — whether they choose a traditional public school, charter school, private school or home-based learning. And, to all you social media gurus, I am indebted to you always for all your posts on #LetOurChildrenSucceed. Any way you can help, I am deeply grateful.
And, be sure to keep yourself up-to-date. Attend one or all of the information events — and bring some friends. Make sure to come by and introduce yourself!
Also, let your neighbors know the state Treasurer is accepting ESA applications through June 30th. Applications must be stamped and received in the office by 5:00 pm by June 30th. While those application can’t be processed while the injunction in Lopez is still in effect, they can, as soon as that injunction is lifted. Until then, parents won’t receive notice of receipt from the Treasurer’s office. I recommend sending applications certified, return-receipt-requested. That way you’ll have proof of delivery, should that be needed later. Please, please, hold on to your receipt.
For families seeking the tax scholarship, the Education Fund of Northern Nevada is accepting applications until June 1st. Dinosaurs and Roses are accepting applications from current scholarship families and will open applications to new families on May 20th.
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