Policy Milestones

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Public News Service recognizes that we are merely one part of the puzzle when it comes to affecting change, but we also know that our coverage (with your support) has had a measurable impact! The following policy milestones from across the nation, demonstrate progress and victories on issues we have covered.

If you know of a milestone that we covered but not included here, submit it to our team!

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Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention

Opioid Epidemic in Oregon at Fever Pitch

February 2016 - U.S. Senate passes Addiction and Recovery Act, votes 94-1 in favor.

Animal Welfare

AZ Congressman Reintroduces Bill to Ban Exotic Animals in Circuses

March 2017 - Congressman Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ) today reintroduced bipartisan legislation that ends the use of wild and exotic animals in traveling circuses. Grijalva previously introduced the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act (TEAPSPA) in November of 2016. Thirty-four diverse countries around the world and 63 cities and counties in the United States already prohibit use of animals in circuses.

FDA Implements New Rules On Use Of Antibiotics

January 2017 - The FDA announced the full implementation of new policies redefining how antibiotics are used to treat food-producing animals. Beginning January 1, antibiotics similar to those used in human medicine that are medically important will no longer be used to promote growth in animals. All remaining uses of these antibiotics in farm animals will be for the purpose of fighting disease under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.

World's First Whale Sanctuary Announced

May 2016 - A group of marine mammal experts today announced new plans for a coastal North American cetacean sanctuary to give captive and rescued whales and dolphins a more suitable, safe habitat than tanks.

Fast-Food Chains Join Demand for Antibiotic-Free Meat

March 2016 - After 70 percent of its customers rated it a top issue in surveys, Chik-fil-A joined the ranks of food chains nationwide, such as Panera and Chipotle, that have made the demand for antibiotic-free meat.

Kroger Goes Cage Free

March 2016 - Kroger, the largest supermarket chain in the U.S. just announced it will also go cage-free by 2025.

Ringling Brothers to Give Elephants Early Retirement

January 2016 - Ringling Bros. now says it will retire all elephants from the circus by May of this year. The initial plan was to retire them by 2018.

Fast-Food Chain Pledges cage-free eggs by 2020

January 2016 - Fast-food giant Wendy's pledged to switch its U.S. and Canadian supply to chain to 100 percent cage-free eggs by the year 2020.

Wendy's To Switch To Cage-Free Eggs

January 2016 - One of the largest restaurant chains in North America, Wendy's, announced its commitment to improving animal welfare in its U.S. and Canadian supply chains by switching to 100 percent cage-free eggs by 2020.

NIH Ends Use of Research Chimps

November 2015 - The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced an end to the federal government's long and controversial history of bio-medical research on chimpanzees.

NIH To Retire Research Chimps

November 2015 - The National Institutes of Health is retiring all of its research chimpanzees. NIH retired most of its chimps two years ago, but kept 50 on hand in case they were needed for important research, as in the case of a public health emergency.

Sea World To Phase Out Killer Whale Show

November 2015 - Sea World San Diego announced today it will be phasing out the killer whale show, a controversial element of Sea World presentations and the target of years of investigation by animal rights organizations.

March 2015 - McDonald's announced a new policy to curb the overuse of antibiotics in raising the chickens that ultimately become McNuggets or other McDonald's products.

Court Rules Canada Lynx Protection Needed

May 2014 - A federal court in Montana has found the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 14-year delay in preparing a recovery plan for this threatened species was 'unreasonable'.

Court Rules Canada Lynx Protection Needed

May 2014 - A federal court in Montana has found the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had a 14-year delay in preparing a recovery plan for this threatened species.

Slaughterhouse Shuts Down After Animal Abuse Complaints

April 2014 - Southern Quality Meats, Inc. (SQM), a slaughterhouse in Mississippi, was caught last year jabbing and electro-shocking helpless mother pigs.

Denny's Requires Pork Producers to Reduce Gestation Crates

March 2014 - Denny's announced that it will require reports from its pork suppliers regarding their progress in producing pork without the use of gestation crates.

Elephant Trophy Imports Banned

March 2014 - The United States has suspended imports of sport-hunted elephant trophies from Zimbabwe citing questionable management practices and a lack of effective law enforcement.

Big Drug Company Stops Testing on Chimps

January 2014 - Merck & Co, announced they will stop testing on chimpanzees.

Big Names Cancel Sea World Concerts to Protest Orca Treatment

December 2013 - Three headliners canceled their performances at a SeaWorld music series, citing the recent documentary "Blackfish" that raises questions about the effects of captivity on whales.

Tyson Expands Animal Welfare Requirements

December 2013 - Tyson will expand its animal welfare requirements to its beef and chicken suppliers.

Cracker Barrel Bans Gestation Crates from Supply Chain

November 2013 - Cracker Barrel restaurants will remove gestation crates from its pork supply chain.

General Mills Eliminates Gestation Crates for Pigs

January 2013 - General Mills has announced to eliminate gestation crates - small cages used to confine breeding pigs - from its pork supply chains.

General Mills Eliminates Gestation Crates for Pigs

January 2013 - General Mills has announced to eliminate gestation crates - small cages used to confine breeding pigs - from its pork supply chains. The company stated on its website that \General Mills supports the development of pregnant sow housing alternatives" to gestation crates" while acknowledging "that the development and implementation of alternative systems may be a long-term process that could take up to 10 years."

Ag-Gag Struck Down

December 2009 - A federal judge struck down Idaho's controversial ag-gag law as unconstitutional. In response to a legal challenge brought by a coalition of animal protection, food safety, and civil liberties groups, Judge B. Lynn Winmill of the U.S. District Court for the district of Idaho held that the law violates the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. Based on today's ruling, Idaho's ag-gag law is no longer in effect.

SeaWorld Changes Orca Environments

November -0001 - After more than a year of public criticism of its treatment of killer whales, SeaWorld said that it will build new, larger environments at its theme parks and will fund additional research on the animals along with programs to protect ocean health and whales in the wild.

Nestle Announces Animal Welfare Program

November -0001 - Nestle has announced a new animal welfare program. The program addresses pig gestation crates, veal crates, egg-laying hen cages, forced rapid growth of chickens used for meat products, cutting of the horns, tails and genitals of farm animals without painkillers, promotion of Meatless Monday via on-package messaging.

Budget Policy & Priorities

Senate Rejects Billions in Trump Spending Cuts

July 2018 - The U.S. Senate rejected billions in spending cuts proposed by the Trump administration as two Republicans joined all Democrats in voting "no." The cuts in the rescissions package included $7 billion from the Children's Health Insurance Program.

Senate Rejects McCain OCO Amendment

June 2016 - Lawmakers in the U.S. Senate rejected an amendment put forth by Senate Committee on Armed Services Chair John McCain that would have added an extra $18 billion to the Pentagon's already hefty budget.

Census

Pres. Trump Reverses Course on Census Citizenship Question

July 2019 - Dropping a controversial plan to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census after the Supreme Court blocked it, President Donald Trump issued an executive order directing the Commerce Department to obtain citizenship data through means other than the US census. Trump repeatedly said in Rose Garden remarks that he's not backing away from attempting a count of US citizens, but acknowledged legal setbacks in inserting a citizenship question on the nationwide population survey.

Civil Rights

Prison Phone Industry Caps Exhorbitant Prison Phone Costs

October 2015 - The FCC passed rules that cap rates at 11 cents per minute for state and federal facilities and 22 cents per minute from jails.

Climate Change/Air Quality

Federal Judge Upholds 2015 EPA Smog Standards

August 2019 - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) issued a ruling upholding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's revised air quality standards for ozone - more commonly known as smog - against challenges from corporate interests and other states. The standards, set in 2015, strengthened previous ozone standards that EPA had determined did not adequately protect human health or the environment. A coalition of seven states and state air agencies and the District of Columbia stepped up to defend the rule alongside the EPA in Murray Energy Corporation v. EPA.

U.S. House Passes "Climate Action Now" Act

May 2019 - The U.S. House of Representatives voted 230-190 to pass H.R. 9, the Climate Action Now Act, which would ensure that America honors its commitments made under the 2015 international Paris Climate Agreement. The Climate Action Now Act would require that the federal government develop a plan to meet the climate pollution reduction targets set out in the Paris Climate Agreement and prohibit any federal funds from being used to advance the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Agreement. Despite President Trump's June 1, 2017 announcement that the U.S. would withdraw from the Agreement, Article 28 of the Paris Agreement states that the earliest possible effective withdrawal date by the U.S. cannot be before November 4, 2020, four years after the Agreement came into effect in the U.S. and one day after the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

EPA Reverses Decision, Will Now Regulate Polluting Glider Trucks

July 2018 - The Environmental Protection Agency reversed course and announced it would enforce stricter pollution controls on freight trucks known as "gliders," which emit dozens of times more soot and contaminants compared to those with new diesel engines. In a three-page memo to his deputies, acting administrator Andrew Wheeler said he would withdraw the "no action assurance" the agency had given the manufacturers of glider trucks on the last day that his predecessor, Scott Pruitt, headed the EPA. That letter assured firms that they would not have to limit their annual production to 300 vehicles through the end of 2019. The EPA initially proposed a rule last November to repeal tighter emissions standards for glider trucks, which had been set to take effect in January. An Obama-era regulation aimed at controlling soot and other pollutants, as well as greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change, the rule had the support of public-health advocates and some major trucking groups and engine manufacturers.

Fossil Fuels, Esp Natural Gas, Falls in 2017

March 2018 - Federal figures for last year show a continued decline in the use of coal nationally. The figures also show a surprising 7.7% decline in the use of natural gas as well. Observers point to increasing levels of energy efficiency, causing a decline over-all energy demand in spite of a growing economy.

Court Forces Feds To Implement Methane Gas Waste Rule

October 2017 - A federal judge ordered the Trump administration late Wednesday to implement an Obama-era rule that forces oil and gas companies to capture excess natural gas rather than burn it or vent it into the air. The Feds had been stalling key provisions of the Methane Waste Rule, but the judge said it was illegal because they tried to do it without taking public comment.

Senators Pass Amendment to Restore UN Climate Change Funding

September 2017 - In the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senators Chris Murphy and Tammy Baldwin passed an amendment to restore funding to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Trump Attempts to Roll Back Clean Air Protections Blocked by Court

September 2017 - A D.C. appeals court told the EPA agency it had to enforce the Obama-era methane rule and said delays were adding substantial levels of hazardous air pollutants such as benzene and formaldehyde into the air of communities near wells.

Praise As EPA Goes Ahead With Ozone Rule

August 2017 - The EPA has resisted industry pressure to stop planned limits on ozone. Clean air advocates say going ahead with the regulations will save thousands of lives in Virginia and other states.

EPA Reverses Decision to Delay Smog Rule After Lawsuits

August 2017 - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reversed a decision to delay an Obama-era rule requiring states to curb smog-causing emissions, one day after 15 states sued the agency over the move. The EPA announced the decision to go ahead with the so-called "2015 Ozone Designations" late on Wednesday, August 2 saying it showed the agency's commitment to working with states.

Growing US Climate Alliance Launches Climate Change Website

July 2017 - Momentum is growing in response to the Trump Administration's decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, with more members and the launch of a new website. Launched by New York, California and Washington, today the members include Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia, representing more than 33 percent of the U.S. population and $7.16 trillion in GDP. The new website includes information about the composition of the Alliance, member commitments, and guiding principles, while providing updates on the progress members are making to meet or exceed the emission reductions targets of the Paris Agreement.

Senate Rejects Repeal of Methane Waste Rule

May 2017 - Three Republicans joined Senate Democrats on Wednesday to reject an effort to overturn an Obama administration rule limiting methane emissions from oil and natural gas drilling. Only 49 senators voted to move forward with debate on legislation to undo the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rule, short of the 51 votes needed. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) joined all 48 members of the Democratic caucus in rejecting the resolution under the Congressional Review Act (CRA).

Powder River Basin Resource Council Notches Another Win With National Impact

April 2017 - Peabody Energy Corp., the largest private-sector coal company in the world, is replacing its reclamation self-bonds across the country, worth a total of $1.27 billion dollars.

Senators Introduce Bill to Rescind President's Anti-Climate Executive Order

March 2017 - More than 30 U.S. Senators introduced legislation to rescind President Trump's Executive Order to reverse several landmark U.S. initiatives to combat climate change. The Clean Air Healthy Kids Act would block federal agencies from implementing the actions outlined in President Trump's Energy Independence Executive Order. These actions include reevaluating the Clean Power Plan, which is currently on track to provide $54 billion in climate and health benefits each year, prevent thousands of premature deaths and asthma attacks in children, reduce electricity bills for homes and businesses, and create thousands of good-paying jobs.

BLM Finalizes Rules to Limit Gas Waste on Public Lands

November 2016 - A recent Colorado College poll found 80 percent of westerners, across party lines, support efforts to curb methane waste (venting and flaring) on public lands. Meanwhile, as the clock ticks down on the Obama administration's final days, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management finalizes rules to reduce natural gas waste on publicly owned lands. Some Congressional Republicans have promised to overturn the rules, which would otherwise go into effect days before Obama leaves office. The Interior Department's announcement quickly was followed by an oil and gas industry lawsuit. Industry groups argue operators already are cutting emissions and say new regulations would increase costs.

Wind Energy Costs Could Fall by 40 Percent by 2050

November 2016 - Researchers found advances in technology should continue to drive down wind energy costs by as much as 30 percent by the year 2030, and more than 40 percent by 2050. Ryan Wiser, the report's lead author, says reductions in up-front costs and increased performance output will be the biggest drivers.

Decision on the Clean Power Plan is a Victory for the Environment and Public Health

February 2016 - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied requests by industry and allied states to temporarily stay the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan.

BLM to Limit Methane Emissions

February 2016 - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposed rules to limit methane waste on public and tribal lands.

USDI Announces Moratorium of Coal Leases on Public Lands

February 2016 - U.S. Department of the Interior's announcement to stop new coal-mining leases on public lands.

Mercury Emissions "Loophole"? Closed

April 2014 - A loophole that allowed cement plants to not be subject to fines over toxic emissions if they were labeled the result of a malfunction or "upset" has been closed by a federal court ruling.

Coal Plants Agree to Install Cleaning Equipment

February 2014 - In a settlement with conservationists, PPL agreed to install pollution monitors to assure that the Colstrip and Corette coal-fired power plants are continuously complying with the law for particulate pollution.

Senate Rejects Congressional Review Act to Block New EPA Standards

June 2012 - The U.S. Senate voted to reject Sen. James Inhofe's Congressional Review Act (CRA), which sought to block the Environmental Protection Agency's Mercury and Air Toxic Standards.

Nationwide Standards Set In Place for Mercury and Toxic Air Pollution From Power Plants

December 2011 - More than 20-years in the making, the Environmental Protection Agency announced the first-ever nationwide standards for mercury and toxic air pollution from power plants.

Consumer Issues

Dept. of Ed. to Stop Using Private Debt Collectors

May 2018 - The Department of Education filed a motion this week announcing a plan to phase out the use of private debt collectors contracted to pursue defaulted student loan borrowers, and instead rely on current loan servicers. Private debt collectors aggressively pursue defaulted student loan borrowers while profiting from taxpayer dollars.

Court Ruling Favors CFPB Over Trump

January 2018 - The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau regained a measure of independence when a U.S. appeals court said the president's power to remove the agency's head is limited to specific reasons such as neglect of duty or malfeasance in office. The Washington-based appeals court concluded Wednesday that Congress meant to protect the agency from the ebb and flow of politics. Giving the president more latitude to fire the director "would put the historically established independence of financial regulators and numerous other independent agencies at risk," U.S. Circuit Judge Nina Pillard wrote for the majority. The decision is certain to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Issues New Rules for Payday Lending

October 2017 - Consumer advocates are praising a new rule issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It requires payday lenders to start verifying a borrower's ability to repay the loan before rolling it over into a new loan. The rule aims to prevent a situation where desperate people borrow more money just to repay prior loans, and get hit with fees that often exceed the amount of the original loan.

CFPB Releases New Rule to Regulate Pay Day Lenders

October 2017 - The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's finalized rules, the first nationwide regulation of the industry, which had largely been left to the states. Under the new rules, lenders will have to do a full-payment test before giving the loan, meaning the lender must determine whether the borrower can afford to repay the loan in full with interest within 30 days. Since payday lending customers are often in dire situations, this test will likely significantly curtail the industry.

Feds Issue New Rules on Prepaid Cards

October 2016 - Consumer groups are praising the new rules on pre-paid credit cards just released by the feds. The regulation, issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, goes into effect next fall and will make pre-paid card issuers follow many of the same rules that apply to credit cards.

Google Is Banning Payday Loan Ads

July 2016 - Beginning July 13, 2016, consumers will still be able to find payday lenders on a Google search, but ads appearing on the top and right-hand side of results will not show marketing from the industry.

Feds Propose Rules on Mandatory Arbitration

May 2016 - The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has proposed new rules to block credit card companies, banks and other companies from forcing customers to waive their rights to join class action lawsuits.

Criminal Justice

Supreme Court Rules Local Government Excessive Fines Unconstitutional

February 2019 - The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that states cannot impose excessive fees, fines and forfeitures as criminal penalties. The decision, which united the court's conservatives and liberals, makes clear that the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against "excessive fines" applies to states and localities as well as the federal government.

Bill To Reform Bail Introduced in Congress

July 2017 - Today, U.S. Sens. Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) and Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced a bipartisan bail reform bill, "The Pretrial Integrity and Safety Act of 2017" - to encourage states to reform or replace the practice of money bail, the requirement that individuals awaiting trial remain in jail unless they pay for their release. Across the country, state and local governments continue to have ineffective money bail systems that force individuals to pay amounts set arbitrarily, without consideration for the ability to pay, or an accurate assessment of the person's danger to the public or risk of not showing up to trial.

Justice Dept. to End Use of Private Prisons

August 2016 - The U.S. Justice Department has announced that it will end the use of private prisons for federal prisoners. The announcement follows a report that found private prisons are less safe and less effective than government run facilities. DOJ will not cancel current contracts but will review them as they come up for renewal. All federal private prison contracts expire within the next five years. There are currently 13 privately operated federal prisons holding close to 23,000 inmates.

Pfizer Cuts Off the Last Open-Market Source of Execution Drugs

May 2016 - Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced that it has imposed sweeping controls on the distribution of its products to ensure that none are used in lethal injections.

Supreme Court: Life Sentences For Juveniles Must Be Reviewed

January 2016 - About 2000 people sentenced to life without parole for acts committed as children may not have to spend the rest of their lives in prison, thanks to a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday.

Commonwealth Congressional Delegation Supports Obama Executive Action on Gun Sales

January 2016 - President Obama proposed executive actions that would tighten background checks and spend more federal dollars on mental health.

U.S. Releases Non-Violent Drug Offenders

November 2015 - In the largest one-time release of federal prisoners in U.S. history, more than 6,000 inmates have been freed early under a re-sentencing effort for people convicted of nonviolent drug crimes.

Feds Release Nonviolent Drug Offenders

November 2015 - In the largest one-time release of federal prisoners in U.S. history, more than 6,000 inmates have been freed early under a re-sentencing effort for people convicted of nonviolent drug crimes.

FCC Regulates Prison Phone Call Rates Nationally

October 2015 - After a decade of organizing, this morning the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 3-2 on rules to rein in the predatory prison phone industry.

Disabilities

SCOTUS Rules: Student May Bring Service Dog to School

February 2017 - Disability rights advocates applaud the February 22nd Supreme Court decision in Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools, which they say will provide students with better access to the court system to contest disability-related discrimination at schools.

Autism Funding Extended

November 2015 - The U.S. Senate acted to renew the nation's primary autism legislation.

Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault

Bill to Ensure Sex Abuse Allegations Get Reported To Police Passes U.S. House

January 2018 - The House passed legislation drafted by Senator Dianne Feinstein to require amateur athletics governing bodies like USA Gymnastics and other amateur sports organizations to report sex-abuse allegations immediately to local or federal law enforcement, or a child-welfare agency designated by the Justice Department. The bill further authorizes the U.S. Center for Safe Sport to ensure that aspiring Olympic athletes can report allegations of abuse to an independent and non-conflicted entity for investigation and resolution, and to make sure that all national governing bodies follow the strictest standards for child abuse prevention, detection and investigation.

President Signs Law Cracking Down on Truckers Involved in Human Trafficking

January 2018 - Today President Trump Signed Senate Bill 1532, the "No Human Trafficking on Our Roads Act," which requires the Department of Transportation to disqualify an individual who uses a commercial motor vehicle in committing a felony involving human trafficking from operating a commercial motor vehicle for life.

Protecting At-Risk Kids from Sex Trafficking

September 2010 - Continuing a long tradition of bipartisan leadership on behalf of abused and neglected children, both the House and the Senate passed a law Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act.

Education

Court Reinstates Education Debt Rule in Defeat for DeVos

October 2018 - An Obama-era rule designed to help students cheated by for-profit colleges get relief on their education debt finally took effect after efforts by the Trump administration to block it. A federal judge ordered immediate implementation of the rule, delayed last year by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, while a challenge from the for-profit college industry proceeds. The Department of Education that it will not seek a new delay. Attorneys general from 18 states and the District of Columbia successfully sued DeVos last year over her decision to block the rule, known as Borrower Defense to Repayment, from taking effect.

Judge Rules DeVos Unlawfully Delayed Student Borrower Protections

September 2018 - A federal judge has ruled that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' delay of a key student borrower protection rule was improper and unlawful. U.S. District Court Judge Randolph D. Moss sided with consumer advocates, two former students seeking relief from their loans, and Democratic attorneys general from 19 states and the District of Columbia, who challenged the Trump administration's postponement of Obama-era regulations-governing "borrower defense to repayment."

Fed Action Leads to Closure of ITT Tech Schools

September 2016 - I-T-T Technical Institute closed all 130 of its for-profit schools on Tuesday, including 15 locations in California, leaving 35-thousand students in limbo. The move came after the U-S Department of Education banned I-T-T from accepting new students with federal education loans - as did the state Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education,and the state Office of Veterans Affairs. ITT was accused of inflating graduation and job placement rates.

"No Child Left Behind" Scrapped

December 2015 - President Obama signed into law a bipartisan bill that finally does away with the failed "No Child Left Behind" legislation of the past.

Endangered Species & Wildlife

USFWS Reinstates Protections For Grizzly Bears Near Yellowstone

August 2019 - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service has reinstated Endangered Species Act protections for grizzly bears living near Yellowstone National Park. In the lower 48 there are six isolated regions of grizzly habitat, but the biggest population of bears live in Wyoming. That's why the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service removed protections for those roughly 700 bears last year. A judge ruled against that decision saying it was based on bad science and that the federal government has to look at the bear population in the lower 48 as a whole and not just consider isolated pockets.

US District Court Rules in Favor of Sage Grouse Protections

May 2018 - A U.S. District Court found in favor of environmental groups who said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wrongly denied protections to the sage grouse. Next, a hearing will decide if the agency must reconsider protections for the bird.

Court Affirms Dams Can Release Water to Help Northwest Salmon

April 2018 - A federal appeals court ruled that dams in the Northwest can release more water over their spillways in order to help young salmon traveling to the ocean this spring. The appeals court judges agreed with a district court judge that salmon populations remain in a "precarious" state.

Some Signs Of A Bee Rebound

August 2017 - After years of alarming spread, Colony Collapse Disorder losses are down by a quarter from 2016. Some of this may be related to restrictions on pesticides that impact bees. But whatever the cause, the U.S. Dept of Agriculture reports some signs that bees are doing better.

Two Big Retailers Phasing Out Neonicotinoids

May 2017 - Walmart and True Value decided to eliminate neonicotinoid pesticides. True Value will phase them out by Spring of 2018, Walmart says the bee killing pesticides aren't being sold in at least 80 percent of it's plants.

Fed Judge Moves Coastal Marten Closer to Endangered Species Status

March 2017 - In response to a lawsuit brought on by the Center of Biological Diversity and the Environmental Protection Information Center, a federal judge overturned an April 2014 decision by the U.S Fish and Wildlife service denying endangered species protection to coastal marten. It now must reconsider granting that protection. Coastal martens were believed extinct until 1996 because of historic fur trapping and loss of their old-growth forest habitats, but are now known to occur in three small, isolated populations in California and Oregon. The groups were represented by the public-interest law firm EarthJustice.

Retailers Selling More "Bee Friendly" Plants

August 2016 - New tests have found a drop in the number of garden plants pre-treated with pesticides that can hurt bees, and the groups that released them say people are more likely to shop at stores that carry "bee-friendly" products.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Confirms Critical Habitat for Marbled Murrelet

August 2016 - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reaffirmed that nearly 3.7 million acres of forest from Washington to California is critical habitat for the Marbled Murrelet. The service reviewed the acreage after a change in the definition of critical habitat. Marled Murrelet need continuous old growth forest in order to nest.

Service Distributes Nearly $50 Million to Support State Wildlife Conservation Projects

April 2016 - Species across the nation will benefit from almost $50 million in funding allocated to state wildlife agencies by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through the State Wildlife Grants (SWG) program.

Lifeline for Endangered Right Whale

January 2016 - The National Marine Fisheries Service provided a lifeline to the critically endangered right whale.

Spending Bill Leaves Sage Grouse Protections Intact

December 2015 - Conservation groups are celebrating a recent victory in the movement to protect the greater sage grouse, a small bird the size of a chicken - and then planning additional efforts in 2016.

CA Home Depot to phase out bee-killing pesticides

December 2015 - Home Depot has announced that it has removed neonicotinoid pesticides, a leading driver of global bee declines, from 80 percent of its flowering plants and that it will complete its phase-out in plants by 2018.

Navy Rethinks Training That Endangers Whales, Dolphins

November 2015 - The Navy is taking steps to protect whales, dolphins, sea turtles and other marine mammals from harmful sonar and may soon modify their training exercises accordingly, thanks to a lawsuit from conservationists.

SeaWorld Changes Orca Show

November 2015 - SeaWorld announces they will end the theatrical orca shows and put them on display in a more natural setting.

Energy Policy

Federal Judge Blocks Keystone Pipeline

November 2018 - In Montana, United States District Court Judge Brian Morris blocked construction of the controversial pipeline, saying that the administration failed to present a ?reasoned explanation? for the move and ?simply discarded? the effect the project would have on climate change. The pipeline would carry 800,000 barrels a day of petroleum from the Canadian oil sands to the Gulf Coast.

Court Orders EPA to Strengthen Coal Ash Rules

August 2018 - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued a decision 8/21/2018 holding that the first-ever federal safeguards set by the Obama Administration for coal ash dumps do not sufficiently protect communities and the environment from pollution from that toxic waste. The court's decision today sided with public interest groups by concluding that the Obama-era rule failed to adequately protect against pollution from unlined and inadequately lined ash pits, many of which are already leaking dangerous pollution into rivers and streams. The Court ordered EPA to revise the rule to properly address the health and environmental threats from these dump sites. The Court also agreed with public interest groups that EPA did not go far enough in regulating coal ash dumps, holding that EPA improperly exempted coal ash ponds at closed coal-fired power plants from regulation. Rejecting industry challenges to the rule, the Court further held that EPA acted within its authority to regulate coal ash ponds no longer actively receiving waste and located at operating plants.

Federal Judge Orders Environmental Review of Controversial Keystone XL Pipeline

August 2018 - A federal judge mandated 8/15/2-18 that the U.S. State Department go back and conduct a more thorough Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL pipeline alternative route, which was approved by the Nebraska Public Service Commission in November 2017.

Judge Restores Penalties for Automakers that Violate Fuel Standards

April 2018 - The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of NRDC, Center for Biological Diversity, and Sierra Club, and overturned a Department of Transportation attempt to indefinitely delay penalties on automakers for violating fuel standards. The Court's ruling restores the proper penalty, trued up to account for decades of inflation. The updated penalty impels automakers to clean up their fleets, rather than offering them a cheap license to burn more gas if they fail to keep pace with fuel economy targets. The fuel economy standards for model years 2012 to 2025 will reduce oil consumption by 3.1 million barrels of oil per day in 2030. This in turn reduces climate-harming greenhouse gas emissions, avoiding production of 570 million metric tons of carbon dioxide - the equivalent of taking 85 million cars off the roads, or 140 coal-fired power plants offline.

Zinke Says He May Back Off on Offshore Drilling

April 2018 - Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke assured the House Appropriations Committee that he plans to scale back his plan to expand offshore leasing in nearly all federal waters, after massive local and state opposition. "States matter, local voices matter, you matter, and governors matter," Zinke said, during testimony before the committee on the Department of Interior's fiscal 2019 budget. Members of both parties on the committee had criticized Zinke for his draft plan, and nearly all coastal governors, Republicans and Democrats alike, oppose it.

Court Rejects Delay of EPA's Methane Pollution Rule

July 2017 - The Trump administration cannot delay an Environmental Protection Agency rule limiting methane pollution from oil and natural gas drilling, a federal court ruled. The decision means the EPA must immediately start enforcing the rule.

Methane Waste Rule Survives GOP Assault

May 2017 - The U.S. Senate failed on Wednesday to repeal a new rule that reduces waste of taxpayer-owned natural gas. The failed repeal of the BLM Methane Waste Prevention Rule marks the first victory over Trump's "anti-environment" agenda, and is a rare win against the American Petroleum Institute on one of its top priorities.

Boom for Electric Vehicles

April 2017 - Tesla says it will nearly double its global network of Superchargers this year from 5,400 to 10,000, including 1,000 new charging units in California

Conservation and Public Health Groups to Defend BLM Methane Rules in Court

December 2016 - More than a dozen conservation and public-health groups are making plans to defend the Bureau of Land Management's new methane waste rules in court, which are being challenged by two oil and gas industry groups and the states of North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. The groups recently petitioned a federal judge seeking to join the case on behalf of the B-L-M.

Feds Ramp Up Solar, Wind Energy on Public Lands

November 2016 - The Bureau of Land Management has finalized rules that encourage increased solar- and wind-energy production on public lands. The policies create a competitive process similar to how oil and gas leases are granted. The new rules also offer financial incentives to steer production away from key environmental, cultural and recreational resources.

B-L-M Pushes Renewable Energy on Public Lands

November 2016 - The Bureau of Land Management has finalized rules that encourage increased solar and wind energy production on public lands. The policies create a competitive process similar to how oil and gas leases are granted.

New Federal Initiative Aims to Help More Homeowners Afford Solar

July 2016 - The Obama Administration announced Tuesday plans to make solar an option for all homeowners by extending more zero-down loans.

Pause in Coal Program on Federal Land

January 2016 - The Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell recently announced a pause in coal leases on federal land and a review of the coal leasing program.

Obama Administration Rejects Keystone Pipeline

November 2015 - Progressive organizations say the project was designed to accommodate foreign and oil priorities at the expense of American consumers and the environment.

February 2015 - In his first presidential rejection of major legislation, President Barack Obama vetoed a bill to approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Solar Panels Finally on Top of the White House

May 2014 - The White House is finally on the solar grid in response to prodding by environmentalists.

The Wind Production Tax Credit is Extended One Year

January 2013 - Congress passed legislation that will extend the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for wind energy for one year.

Fuel Economy Reaches All-Time High

November -0001 - New vehicles achieved an all-time-high fuel economy in 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency announced in October, 2014. Model year 2013 vehicles achieved an average of 24.1 miles per gallon (mpg) -- a 0.5 mpg increase over the previous year and an increase of nearly 5 mpg since 2004. Fuel economy has now increased in eight of the last nine years. The average carbon dioxide emissions are also at a record low of 369 grams per mile in model year 2013.

Environment

Funding to Fight Wildfires Gets Overhaul in 2018 Budget

April 2018 - Starting in 2020, funding for wildfires will be stabilized without further eroding the U.S. Forest Service and other agency budgets. More than $20 billion will be set aside over 10 years to allow the Forest Service and other federal agencies to end a practice of raiding non-fire-related accounts to pay for wildfire costs, which approached $3 billion last year alone.

More GOP Lawmakers Bucking Party Line on Climate Change

August 2017 - The House Climate Solutions Caucus, which is a bipartisan panel, has more than tripled in size since January, driven in part by Trump's decision in June to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord.

EPA Reverses Decision to Delay Smog Rule After Lawsuits

August 2017 - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reversed a decision to delay an Obama-era rule requiring states to curb smog-causing emissions, one day after 15 states sued the agency over the move. The EPA announced the decision to go ahead with the so-called "2015 Ozone Designations" late on Wednesday, August 2 saying it showed the agency's commitment to working with states.

Conservation Groups Glad Methane-Waste Rule is Safe, for Now

May 2017 - Three Republicans siding with Democrats in the U.S. Senate narrowly halted a bid to overturn the Bureau of Land Management's natural-gas waste rule.

True Value and Walmart to Phase Out Bee-Killing Pesticides

May 2017 - Walmart and True Value have announced they will phase out pesticides that kill bees and have led to a decline in bees' numbers. The retailers said that will stop selling neonicotinoids and plans treated with the hazardous chemical.

Northern Access Natural Gas Pipeline Halted

April 2017 - The New York Department of Environmental Conservation has denied a water-quality permit for construction of the Northern Access Pipeline, a 99-mile, 24-inch pipeline proposed to carry natural gas through western New York State from Pennsylvania to Canada. Last year the DEC used denial of the same water quality permit to stop construction of the Constitution Pipeline in eastern New York.

Mine Land Restoration Groups Laud Introduction of Federal RECLAIM Act

March 2017 - The RECLAIM Act was introduced in both the House and Senate yesterday with bi-partisan support in both chambers. It would speed $1 billion in funding already available in the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund over the next five years to communities struggling with the impacts of the downturn of the coal industry and the scars of historic coal mining. If enacted, RECLAIM will speed as much as $300 million in funding from the Abandoned Mine Land Fund for projects that restore mine-scarred land and enhance local economic development in coal field communities.

Report Confirms Impact of Federal Coal Emissions

January 2017 - A new report from the federal Bureau of Land Management acknowledges that coal mined on public land accounts for 11 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. In early 2016 the Obama administration halted new leases for coal mining on public land as it conducted a review of the leasing program. Federal coal leases account for about 40 percent of all coal mined in the United States. Environmentalists say the report underscores the imperative to stop burning coal and transition to clean, renewable energies.

EPA Says Fracking Can Contaminate Drinking Water

December 2016 - The Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that hydraulic fracturing, the oil and gas extraction technique also known as fracking, has contaminated drinking water in some circumstances, according to the final version of a comprehensive study first issued in 2015. The original version said the agency had found "no evidence that fracking systemically contaminates water" supplies. That sentence has been deleted from the final study.

Study: National Retail Outlets Give Bees Some Relief

August 2016 - A campaign to protect declining bee populations is making progress. A new study conducted at garden centers across the U.S. found plants containing neonicotinoid pesticides dropped by more than half in just two years.

Supreme Court Rejects New Challenge to Obama Air Pollution Rule

June 2016 - The Supreme Court has declined conservative states' third request to overturn a sweeping Obama administration air pollution rule.

EPA Completes Analysis of Mercury Rule

April 2016 - The federal Environmental Protection Agency completed its analysis showing that reducing emissions of mercury and other toxic substances would have enormous health benefits.

EPA Finds Costs of Mercury Rule Reasonable

April 2016 - The Environmental Protection Agency has decided that its standards for mercury and other toxic substance emissions from coal and oil power plants reasonably considers costs for the power sector.

BLM Draft Rule Promotes Clean Air

January 2016 - Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced of rules to limit methane waste on public and tribal lands.

Supreme Court Rejects Bid to Throw Out Air Toxics Standards

January 2016 - The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Environmental Protection Agency's Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.

U.S. Bans Micro-beads

January 2016 - President Obama signed a law amending the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, which bans the use of synthetic plastic micro-beads in cosmetics.

Good News for Bees

January 2016 - Home Depot has announced that it has removed neonicotinoid pesticides, a leading driver of global bee declines, from 80 percent of its flowering plants and that it will complete its phase-out in plants by 2018.

Congress Extends Conservation Funding

January 2016 - Congress has included a three-year reauthorization of the expired Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which has been one of the country's most important tools for conserving fish and wildlife habitat for the past 50 years.

EPA Says 9th Circ. Has Power To Nix Dow Herbicide Approval

December 2015 - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency refused to back down from asking the Ninth Circuit to vacate registration for Dow's Enlist Duo weed killer.

Clean Air Standards Upheld

December 2015 - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected a bid by the coal mining industry and its allies to throw out the first-ever national limits on mercury and other toxic air pollution spewed by power plants.

Bill Filed to Create Grand Canyon National Monument

October 2015 - One point seven million acres adjoining the Grand Canyon's north and south rim would become part of a new national monument if a bill announced Monday becomes law.

Environmentalists Praise New EPA Power Plant Rules

October 2015 - Environmentalists are calling the Environmental Protection Agency's new rules for wastewater from power plants a victory.

March 2015 - McDonald's announced a new policy to curb the overuse of antibiotics in raising the chickens that ultimately become McNuggets or other McDonald's products. Within two years, farming operations supplying McDonald's USA restaurants will not be allowed to routinely administer medically important antibiotics to chickens, a practice that is commonplace, even when animals are healthy.

February 2015 - President Obama has promised (since 2013) that he would reject the Keystone pipeline if it would lead to a significant increase in carbon pollution.

Conservation for Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

January 2015 - Conservationists applauded President Obama for adopting a conservation plan that for the first time proposes to designate a large portion of the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness to protect it from development, though Congress has to decide whether to take action. ANWR is compared to Yellowstone and Yosemite as a place of "incalculable beauty."

Grants Will Help Clean Up Contaminated Sites

May 2014 - The EPA is investing $1.4 million in three Montana organizations working to clean up and re-develop contaminated sites across the state.

FEMA Assistance on the Way

April 2014 - FEMA granted Governor Mike Pence's appeal for federal assistance for the severe winter storms that impacted much of the state from January 5-9 this year.

Coal Train Traffic Impacts to be Considered

February 2014 - The Washington Department of Ecology announced it will include the impacts of coal train traffic in Montana as part of its review for a proposed coal export terminal at Longview, Washington.

Family/Father Issues

Universal Family Leave Bill Introduced in U.S. Senate

February 2017 - 27 Senators reintroduced the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, or FAMILY Act, to create a universal, gender-neutral paid family and medical leave program that provides all Americans with the paid leave they need to take care of their families without worrying about losing their jobs or a paycheck. Only 14 percent of American workers have access to paid family leave through their employer, and the United States is the only industrialized nation without a national paid leave program. Without a national paid family leave program, the U.S. economy loses almost $21 billion a year, women lose $324,000 and men lose $284,000 in wages and retirement benefits over a lifetime, and American businesses incur an additional 20 percent cost to recruit and retrain new workers to replace those who left in need of paid leave.

Gun Violence Prevention

Assault Weapons Ban, Background Check Bills Introduced in U.S. Senate

January 2019 - Democrats in the U-S Senate are trying again to tighten up gun laws by bringing back the federal assault-weapons ban and expanding federal background checks to include private and unlicensed sales. The new assault-weapons ban would allow owners to keep existing weapons and contains exemptions for 22-00 specific guns used for hunting, recreation and household defense. It also requires existing weapons to be stored in a safe or with a trigger lock.

Health Issues

Court Allows Nevada to Join ACA Appeal

February 2019 - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued an order granting Nevada's motion to intervene in a federal lawsuit regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The motion, filed in early February, asked the Court to allow the State of Nevada to participate in this suit that seeks to defend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In their motion, Nevada, Colorado, Iowa and Michigan sought to join 17 other states and territories in their appeal of a Texas judge's December ruling declaring the ACA unconstitutional. With their lawsuit, the states seek to defend the ACA to protect the infrastructure of their existing healthcare and the orderly operation of their healthcare systems, which would be thrown in disarray if the ACA were ruled unconstitutional.

Senator Cosponsors Bipartisan Alzheimer's Bill

November 2017 - Bipartisan legislation to create a public health infrastructure to combat Alzheimer's disease and preserve brain health was introduced by U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) Called the Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer's Act (S. 2076/H.R. 4256), it would create centers of excellence, and assist state and local governments in their efforts to promote awareness through education and dissemination of best practices. A companion bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

House Votes for 2-Year Extension of Funds for CHIP, Community Health Centers

November 2017 - Today House lawmakers voted for legislation that extends funding to Community Health Centers and the Children's Health Insurance program (CHIP). The bill, which passed by a vote of 242-174, extends funding to health centers for two years, marking an important step forward toward resolution of the crisis facing millions of vulnerable patients due to the expiration of the Community Health Center Fund (CHCF) nearly a month ago.

Senator Cortez Masto Co-sponsors Medicaid For All Bill

October 2017 - U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada) cosponsored a bicameral legislation led by U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and U.S. Representative Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.) to create a Medicaid-based public health care option on the insurance marketplace, which will provide Americans with a new high-quality, low-cost choice when purchasing health insurance.The State Public Option Act will allow states to create a Medicaid buy-in program for all their residents regardless of income, giving everyone the option to buy into a state-driven Medicaid health insurance plan.

Latest Obamacare Repeal and Replace Effort Stalls

September 2017 - U.S. Senate Republican leadership decided not to vote on the Graham-Cassidy replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), ending the bill's chances of becoming law.

Anti-Food Labeling Efforts Defeated

August 2017 - The Federal Drug and Food Administration will not be changing the May 2018 deadline for supermarkets, convenience stores, pizza chains, and other retailers that sell restaurant-type foods to display calorie information on their menus. Due to industry pressure, the deadline had been pushed back several times. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb also additional, practical guidance on the menu-labeling requirements would be available by the end of the year.

Help for Vets in Granite State, Elsewhere, Proposed

August 2017 - New Hampshire Congresswoman Annie Kuster authored a bill in the U.S. House to address a medical staff shortage for veterans. The bill would establish a pilot program that awards educational assistance to veterans with medical military training who will be placed as physician assistants in Veterans Affairs Medical Centers.

Trumpcare Dies In The Senate

July 2017 - Despite the best efforts of Republican leadership, the push to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act has failed to get enough votes to move forward in the U.S. Senate. The last version of the legislation to be considered would have cost about 21 million Americans their health insurance coverage over ten years.

Senate Attempts to Repeal and Replace ACA Pushed Back

June 2017 - Under intense public pressure the U.S. Senate GOP has taken the "Better Care Reconciliation Act" (BCRA) - the senate version of the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare - off the floor. Efforts with the same or similar legislation is likely to continue, but the task is proving very difficult. Critics note that under the bill more than twenty million Americans would lose health coverage, and the Medicaid funding would be cut by a quarter.

Texas Grand Jury Indicts Film-makers, Not Planned Parenthood

January 2016 - The Harris County Texas District Attorney's office has announced that Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast had been cleared in a two-month-long investigation.

March 2015 - McDonald's announced a new policy to curb the overuse of antibiotics in raising the chickens that ultimately become McNuggets or other McDonald's products. Within two years, farming operations supplying McDonald's USA restaurants will not be allowed to routinely administer medically important antibiotics to chickens, a practice that is commonplace, even when animals are healthy.

FDA Takes Aim at Farm Antibiotics

December 2013 - The FDA has issued two major proposals in an effort to cut back on antibiotics used on farms that can spur drug-resistant superbugs.

Organ Donation Laws Changed

November 2013 - Advocates in Illinois are applauding legislation that could change the lives of thousands of people living with HIV.

FCC to Review Cell Phone Exposure Safety Standards

June 2012 - The Federal Communications Commission says it's planning on reviewing its safety standards on cell phone exposure.

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act

June 2012 - The U.S. Supreme Court upheld almost all the provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

Human Rights/Racial Justice

Charlottesville Folks See Outpouring of Support at Nearly 1,000 Events Nationally

September 2017 - After a march by white-supremacists led to violence, thousands of people across the country came out to demonstrate their solidarity with Charlottesville.

Predatory Prison Phone Rates Reined In

October 2015 - The FCC voted 3-2 on rules to stop predatory phone pricing in prisons, an important victory for the tens of thousands of families who have struggled to have contact with loved ones who are in prison.

Hunger/Food/Nutrition

U.S. Senate Rejects Anti-GMO Labeling Bill

March 2016 - The US Senate has turned aside a bill that would have prohibited states from requiring the labeling of GMO foods.

Sign of Bipartisanship When It Comes to School Nutrition

February 2016 - The U.S. Senate released a bipartisan bill that would reauthorize child nutrition programs for the next five years.

New "No Paperwork" Option for Free School Lunch

May 2014 - Schools in high-poverty areas of Idaho have a new option for their lunch and breakfast programs.

Advisory Could Mean More School Breakfast

December 2009 - The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education issued an advisory that says instruction provided during the breakfast period can count towards learning time.

SNAP for Storm Victims

December 2009 - Replacement SNAP benefits for Household Misfortunne were extended for low-income families in Provincetown and Nantucket to replace food that spoiled or was lost during Winter Storm Juno in late January.

Immigrant Issues

Temporary Protected Status Extended to 2020 For Four Countries

February 2019 - DHS filed a notice that it was automatically extending TPS for El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti & Sudan due to the ongoing litigation, Ramos v Nielsen, spearheaded by TPS holders. The Federal Register Notice automatically extends TPS status and work authorization for TPS holders from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan through January 2020. There is no need to pay a fee or file any application; the extension is automatic. Similar extensions will be announced every nine months as long as the Ramos appeal continues.

Trump Asylum Rules Blocked Again

December 2018 - A federal court has again blocked the Trump administration's new asylum ban, that would have required people applying for asylum to do so only at ports of entry. The American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center, and Center for Constitutional Rights successfully sought the preliminary injunction in this case, East Bay Sanctuary v. Trump. The groups previously obtained a temporary restraining order that expired.

Federal Court in NY Rules for Sanctuary Cities

November 2018 - A federal judge ruled against the Trump administration's move to withhold grant funding from law enforcement agencies of so-called sanctuary cities, saying it was illegal and unconstitutional. Judge Edgardo Ramos, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, said the government "did not have lawful authority" to make states alert federal agents when an undocumented immigrant is going to be released from state or local custody and allow federal agents to question immigrants in custody about their legal status in order for states and cities to receive funding. Ramos blocked the government from enforcing those conditions on New York, New York City and the six states that also challenged the requirements: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington.

Court Upholds Case Protecting DACA

November 2018 - A federal appeals court upheld a ruling blocking the Trump administration from ending the Obama-era program that protects young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children from being deported. The ruling from a panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals means a nationwide injunction allowing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to continue will remain in effect. Challengers are likely to succeed in their argument that the planned phase-out is illegal, the court ruled.

Trump Signs Order to End Separations Condemned by Pediatricians

June 2018 - Following widespread outrage over the forced separation of children from their parents arrested on suspicion of entering the country illegally along the southern U.S. border, President Donald Trump on June 20th signed an executive order to end the practice.

Judge Issues Nationwide Injunction on Tying Local Police Funding to Immigration Enforcement

April 2018 - The Justice Department cannot require that local police departments help immigration agents in order to receive federal funding, a federal judge has ruled. The ruling is a significant victory for local governments that have opposed the Trump administration's stance on immigration and vowed to stay out of enforcement efforts. United States District Judge Manuel Real in Los Angeles issued a permanent, national injunction against the federal funding rules, giving the city an important win in a long-running legal battle with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the White House. A Justice Department spokesman, Devin M. O'Malley, suggested an appeal was likely.

Possible Trump DACA Deal

September 2017 - In a surprise to many President, Donald Trump announced that he had reached a possible deal with Congressional Democrats to forestall the deportation of the "dreamers" - undocumented people brought to the country as children. The deal has not been entirely fleshed out, but if as described it would represent a significant shift by an anti-immigration president in favor of a popular group of immigrants.

Federal Court Order Blocking Immediate Deportation of Iraqi Nationals in Michigan Extended Nationwide

June 2017 - The federal court that blocked the immediate deportation of Iraqi nationals in Michigan last week has extended its order nationwide. The move helps ensure that Immigration and Customs Enforcement does not deport individuals who face persecution, torture, and death in Iraq without having a chance to prove their lives would be in danger if returned to Iraq.

Federal Appeals Court in S.F. Blocks Immigration Order

February 2017 - The Ninth Circuit U-S Court of Appeals in San Francisco announced its verdict on whether to reinstate the travel ban on some refugees from conflict zones - and voted unanimously to keep the status quo in place and allow those travelers to enter the U-S.

Report Offers Legal Guidance on Sanctuary

January 2017 - About 400 counties, cities and states around the country, as well as churches, schools and hospitals, have taken steps to create sanctuary for immigrants in their communities. A new report from the public policy organization Demos and LatinoJustice PRLDEF offers guidance to state and local jurisdictions and institutions that want to protect immigrants threatened with deportation. The authors say U.S. Constitution and civil rights law supports a wide range of local pro-immigrants' rights policies, including policies that protect undocumented community members from draconian federal immigration enforcement.

Obama to Appeal Immigration Decision to Supreme Court

November 2015 - Immigration activists are praising President Obama's decision to appeal a case to the Supreme Court that could shield five million undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program Unveiled

August 2012 - The Obama administration has unveiled a new program that will allow children brought to the country illegally a way to gain a work permit and avoid deportation.

U.S. Will Stop Deporting Young Illegal Immigrants Born in U.S.

June 2012 - President Obama said the U.S. will stop deporting young illegal immigrants who entered the United States as children if they meet certain requirements.

Livable Wages/Working Families

Amazon Raises Minimum Wage

October 2018 - Amazon announced that it was raising the minimum wage it pays U.S. workers to $15 effective Nov. 1. Researchers and activists across the country had criticized the company for inadequately paying workers. Policy Matters Ohio reported early last year that an estimated one in 10 of the company's Ohio workers was receiving food aid from the government.

Bill Introduced in U.S. Senate to Protect Farmworkers

June 2018 - A group of Senate Democrats introduced a bill to strengthen critical protections for farm workers as they face long hours and exposure to heat. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 100 farm workers suffer injury each day and face the risk of missing work. Average farm workers are paid a salary at or near the federal poverty line with most not getting paid any overtime pay at all. The Fairness for Farm Workers Act amends the FLSA to grant overtime protections to farm workers who work more than 40 hours a week, and eliminates most remaining exemptions to the minimum wage for farm workers. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) will introduce companion legislation in the House later today.

Trump Admin Retreats On Tip Taking Plan

March 2018 - The Trump Administration had proposed a change under which restaurant owners would have been able to take the tips of their waitstaff, under the guise of dividing the tips equitably between all employees. But after intense public opposition arose, the White House backed down.

WV Teachers Strike Ends In Victory

March 2018 - After closing classrooms for nearly two weeks, West Virginia teachers won a 5% raise and a process to address health insurance costs. The defeat of conservative opponents - notably a GOP controlled Senate led by a probable candidate for governor - marks a clear victory for state unions and public employees. With teachers unions in other states considering their own work actions, the strike has been an unusual win for unions nationally and could inspire numerous imitations.

USDA Denies Poultry Industry's Request to Speed Up Lines

January 2018 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture has denied a petition by the National Chicken Council to remove the line speed limit on work at some slaughterhouses, a move that food safety advocates are calling a victory for workers and consumers.

U.S.D.A. Rejects Move to Speed Up Chicken Processing Production Lines

January 2018 - The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) rejected the National Chicken Council's petition for exemptions from rules stating that line speeds in poultry plants should not go beyond the already-fast rate of 140 birds per minute. Line speed regulations protect working people from employers who want to increase profits at the expense of workers' health and safety. The poultry industry's own data show that their workers are injured at twice the rate of the national average, and increasing line speeds would only make things worse.

Protests By Low-Wage Workers Derail Pudzer

February 2017 - Controversial labor secretary nominee Andre Puzder withdrew his name for confirmation following protests at fast-food restaurants and also media report about an incident of alleged spousal abuse.

New Overtime Protections for Salaried Workers

November 2016 - An updated rule established by the U.S. Department of Labor will bring overtime protection to 12.5 million American workers, including 351,000 Ohioans. The rule, slated to take effect December 1, requires that salaried employees who are paid less than $47,476 a year be paid time and a half for hours that they work beyond 40 in any given week.

Unions Strike Against Verizon for Increased Wages

June 2016 - The IBEW and CWA have declared victory for workers after ratifying a new contract with Verizon that includes pay raises and a halt to the outsourcing of jobs in the company's call center. Verizon will add 1,300 new call center jobs in the United States. The two unions, which represented nearly 40,000 workers, ended their strike after 45 days.

Supreme Court Tie Vote a Victory for Labor Unions

March 2016 - A 4 to 4 vote in the US Supreme Court ended a lawsuit seeking to prevent public employee unions from collecting dues from individuals who choose not to join the union but benefit from collective bargaining agreements.

Northeastern University Inspires Million Student March

December 2015 - Students from 120 college campuses took part in a "Million Student" march in November to call attention to three basic demands.

Media Reform

U.S. Senate Passes Bill to Restore Net Neutrality

May 2018 - The U.S. Senate has passed a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to block the FCC's overwhelmingly unpopular repeal of net neutrality. The measure passed 52 to 47 with Republicans Susan Collins (R-ME), John Kennedy (R-LA), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) voting yes. The last minute Republican support for the measure bodes well for its chances in the House, where net neutrality supporters plan to wage a fierce battle to force a vote

Charges Dismissed Against WV Journalist

September 2017 - Charges against PNS reporter Dan Heyman were dropped, when the Kanawha County prosecutor determined what Heyman had done was not a crime. Heyman had been arrested while asking federal Health Secretary Tom Price a question, but the prosecutor decided that did not match the charge of "disrupting a governmental process."

NM's Udall Defends, Celebrates Free Press in U.S. Senate

March 2017 - Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, blasted President Donald Trump on Wednesday on the U.S. Senate floor, for his administration's testy dealings with the news media. Udall's comments come during Sunshine Week (March 12-18), an annual observance of the importance of open government and a free press.

Net Neutrality Upheld

June 2016 - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled in favor of the FCC's Net Neutrality rules, agreeing that the agency can protect peoples' rights to connect and communicate. Former FCC Michael Copps commissioner called the move a victory for free speech and said the judges' unambiguous holding that the FCC has clear authority to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service should end legal challenges to the open internet.

Net Neutrality Guaranteed Place on Next Year's Ballot

April 2012 - AT&T shareholders voted on a proposal calling on the telecom giant to publicly commit to Net Neutrality on its wireless networks.

Duopoly Avoided In Wireless Marketplace

December 2011 - Consumer groups hailed the collapse of a plan by AT&T to take over T-Mobile and create what was criticized as a duopoly that would have reduced competition in the wireless marketplace and harmed consumers.

FCC Votes to Expand Broadband Internet Service to Rural Areas

October 2011 - The Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously to take $4.3 billion from an $8 billion subsidy for telephone connections in hard-to-reach rural areas.

AT&T Takeover of T-Mobile Blocked

September 2011 - The Justice Department has filed suit to stop the takeover of T-Mobile by AT&T, saying it would "substantially lessen competition" in the wireless phone market.

AT&T Takeover of T-Mobile Blocked

August 2011 - The Justice Department filed suit to stop the takeover of T-Mobile by AT&T, saying it would "substantially lessen competition" in the wireless phone market.

FCC Votes for Net Neutrality

December 2009 - The Federal Communications Commission rules in favor of so-called "net neutrality", insuring that the Internet remains equally available to all users/customers, small and large.

Mental Health

US House Passes Mental Health Reform Legislation

August 2016 - In July, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to pass (422-2) HR 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2016. The law would support the mental health workforce so more trained professionals are available to help and support integration of health and mental health care. The measure is now making its way to the Senate.

Senate Next to Take Up Mental Health Legislation

July 2016 - The House approved legislation that provides help for millions of Americans living with a mental health condition.

Congress Moves Mental Health Bill (HR 2646) Forward

November 2015 - Congress has taken the first crucial step in moving forward comprehensive, bipartisan mental health legislation.

Feds Release Nonviolent Drug Offenders

November 2015 - In the largest one-time release of federal prisoners in U.S. history, more than 6,000 inmates have been freed early under a re-sentencing effort for people convicted of nonviolent drug crimes.

Senate Passes Bill Addressing Veteran Suicide

February 2015 - The U.S. Senate passed legislation aimed at reducing America's soaring suicide rate for military veterans. It includes third-party evaluations of mental health and suicide prevention efforts in the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Defense Department.

Funding for the Suicide Prevention Hotline

December 2009 - Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-TALK), the state's only nationally accredited suicide prevention hotline will receive a $60,000 grant from United Way. This will ensure 24/7 operation.

Native American Issues

Senate Passes Bill to Help Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

December 2018 - The U.S. Senate passed Savanna's Act. According to the National Institute of Justice, more than 80 percent of native women have experienced violence, almost half within the last year. Savanna's Act would require the U.S. Department of Justice to better collect and report crime data and increase access to federal crime databases that track missing persons across Indian Country. It would also create standard guidelines for responding to cases of missing and murdered indigenous women, laying out a clear framework for cooperation between tribal, federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

EPA Announces $2 Million to Assist Tribes' Brownfields Efforts

January 2017 - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has selected Kansas State University (KSU) to receive approximately $2 million in funding over the course of five years to provide technical support to tribes addressing environmentally contaminated land across the country. The university will help tribes with technical support around cleaning up these lands, known as brownfields.

Obama Administration Halts Dakota Access Pipeline

September 2016 - The Obama administration says it will halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in the Midwest. The Standing Rock Sioux Nation has been protesting construction of the pipeline for the last few months because they say it puts their sacred lands and drinking water at risk. Tribes and people across the nation have offered their support for the Standing Rock Nation.

Oceans

Feds Designate New Whale Habitat in Pacific

October 2019 - The federal government proposed a new rule today to designate 302,961 square nautical miles in the Pacific Ocean as critical habitat for three populations of endangered humpback whales. The move could help protect migrating whales from ship strikes, entanglement in fishing gear, and oil spills. The announcement by the National Marine Fisheries Service follows a court-approved agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity, Turtle Island Restoration Network and Wishtoyo Foundation to issue new protections. The groups had sued the Trump administration for failing to protect two Pacific Ocean humpback populations listed as endangered and a third as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

U.S. House Votes To Ban Offshore More Drilling in Pacific Atlantic and Eastern Gulf

June 2019 - The U.S. House of Representatives passed three amendments to the FY20 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies funding bill (H.R. 3052) that block the expansion of offshore oil drilling activities in the Atlantic, Pacific and eastern Gulf of Mexico for fiscal year 2020. The House also voted for an amendment that would block funding for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to issue permits for seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic Ocean.

Sardine Fishery Closed For Third Year to Protect Population

April 2017 - Today, federal fishery managers voted to keep the U.S. West Coast Pacific sardine fishery closed for the upcoming commercial season. With an estimated 86,586 metric tons (mt) of sardine remaining, and 150,000 mt necessary for fishing to occur, this will be the third year in a row there are not enough sardines to support a fishery. Had the decision gone the other way, the fishery would likely collapse to near extinction and greatly impact animals like sea lions that feed on sardines.

Philanthropy

"Giving Tuesday" Gains Traction

November 2012 - Nonprofit organizations' efforts to create a new identity for the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving appeared to pay off.

Poverty Issues

Winter Heating Help

October 2015 - After a push from U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, the Obama Administration in October released funding for critical heating assistance for low-income families.

Public Lands/Wilderness

President Trump Signs Public-Lands Bill; Budget Fight Begins

March 2019 - Decades in the making, President Donald Trump signed a historic public-lands package adding one-point-three million acres of new wilderness and creating five new national monuments. The bill also reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has used fees from offshore drilling in federal waters to fund outdoor recreation amenities across the country since the 1960s - like parks, pools, boat ramps and public-lands access.

House Passes Reauthorization of Land and Water Conservation Fund

February 2019 - Following an overwhelming vote in the Senate, the House of Representatives voted 363-62 to pass the largest piece of public lands legislation in a decade. The package of bills includes permanent reauthorization for the Land and Water Conservation Fund which has been expired for almost five months, costing America's national parks, forests, public lands, and cities more than $360 million. The legislation also protects millions of acres of public lands by establishing 1.3 million acres of new wilderness, new mining withdrawals, new national monuments, national park expansions, and the creation of multiple national park units.

House Sends Bipartisan Public Lands Package to President's Desk

February 2019 - A massive package of public lands bills awaits the president's signature following a vote by the U.S. House of Representatives, making reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and other key measures supported by sportsmen and women and a host of other outdoors users suddenly within reach.

Senate Committee Approves Bill to Reauthorize Land and Water Conservation Fund

October 2018 - The Land and Water Conservation Fund, which funds National Parks, local playgrounds, and other public projects nationwide expired Sept. 30. Two days later (10/2) the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted to move a bill forward to permanently reauthorize the fund.

National Park Service Backs Off Plan to Raise Fees

April 2018 - A proposed plan to increase entry fees at 17 national parks across the country has been scrapped after widespread public opposition.he National Park Service (NPS) announced in October 2017 it was considering the fare hike in order to generate revenue for desperately needed maintenance projects. The plan would entail increased rates at 17 of the 59 parks during peak visitation season, with prices at $70 per private vehicle, $50 per motorcycle and $30 per person on bike or foot. Following the announcement, NPS offered a month-long period for the public to comment on the proposal. But after receiving over 109,000 comments from people opposing the plan, NPS has decided not to move forward with it.

ANTIQUITIES Act Introduced to Protect Monuments

January 2018 - Legislators introduced the America's Natural Treasures of Immeasurable Quality Unite, Inspire, and Together Improve the Economies of States Act (ANTIQUITIES Act) of 2018. This bill, co-sponsored by more than a dozen U.S. Senators, codifies into law the boundaries for over 50 national monuments established through the Antiquities Act since 1996, ensuring that that onggoing access for hunting, tourism, research, conservation, cultural uses, education, and other activities will continue. The legislation also validates that only Congress has the authority to reduce or diminish national monuments designated by presidents through the Antiquities Act of 1906.

Conservation Groups Sue to Protect Antiquities Act

December 2017 - Three days after President Donald Trump issued a proclamation taking an axe to Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah, conservation organizations filed a lawsuit attacking the order as an abuse of the president's power. Following in the footsteps of the Native American Tribes who have already sued the President, Earthjustice is representing nine conservation organizations in a suit charging that the president violated the 1906 Antiquities Act and the U.S. Constitution by eviscerating the monument.

Bill Author Backs Off Proposal to Sell Off Public Lands

February 2017 - After an outcry from outdoor enthusiasts and conservation groups across the country, Utah Senator Jason Chaffetz today decided to withdraw a bill he introduced last week, H.R. 621 that had the explicit aim to sell Federal lands.

Obama Expands Two National Monuments in California

January 2017 - California Coastal National Monument and Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument at the Oregon border have more space to recreate. The newly protected areas include the Orange County Rocks, the Cotoni-Coast Dairies in Santa Cruz County, and Trinidad Head. The new designations include some 6,200 acres on the California coast and another 47,000 at the border with Oregon, 5,000 of which are in California.

American Lands Council Sees Membership Drop by Almost Half

October 2016 - County memberships in the American Lands Council, a national group working to transfer publicly owned lands to states, have dropped by as much as 45 percent, according to an investigation by the Western Values Project.

Senate Makes Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent

April 2016 - The U.S. Senate passed an energy bill that would permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Senate Defeats Attack on Antiquities Act

February 2016 - A move to gut the Antiquities Act and effectively block a U-S president from declaring new national monuments died in the U-S Senate on Tuesday.

Land and Water Conservation Fund Revived in Omnibus Spending Bill

December 2015 - The Land and Water Conservation Fund is back from the dead because Congress included it in the omnibus spending bill that is supposed to get a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives today.

Sagebrush Landscape Plans Unveiled

May 2015 - The Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service unveiled a set of plans to manage sagebrush landscapes in Utah and across the West.

Central Coast Heritage Protection Act Introduced

May 2014 - The congresswoman representing the Central California coast has proposed legislation, the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, to increase wilderness protection for a large area of the Los Padres National Forest.

Land and Water Conservation Funding Approved

January 2014 - Congress voted to restore funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Land Added to McDowell Sonoran Preserve

November 2012 - The City of Scottsdale completed a 20-year project to add 10 square miles of land to the city's McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

EIS Recommends Moratorium on Mining Claims Near Grand Canyon

October 2011 - An environmental impact study of uranium mining near the Grand Canyon recommends a 20-year moratorium on new mining claims.

Rural/Farming

In Boon for ND Farmers, E15 Fuel Now Available Year Round

June 2019 - The Environmental Protection Agency announced its policy change to allow E15 fuel to be sold year-round across the country. E15 is a gasoline blend containing 15 percent ethanol, and is sometimes marketed as Unleaded 88. Previously, E15 would disappear in the summer months which begins on June 1st.

NM Hemp Farmers Breathe Easier with Federal Legalization

December 2018 - After years of lobbying both nationally and locally for the legalization of hemp, the 2018 Farm Bill includes new provisions for growing hemp as an industrial crop. Hemp farmers no longer need fear the Drug Enforcement Administration, removing any suggestion that hemp is a Schedule I substance.

FDA Issues New Food Safety Rules

December 2015 - FDA issues new food safety rules, which for the first time include standards regarding the "growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of fruits and vegetables" meant for people to eat.

COOL Stands While Meatpackers Continue Fight

January 2014 - A Federal Appeals Court ruling denied a preliminary injunction against enforcing COOL and found that the meatpacking industry was unlikely to succeed on the merits of its claims.

Salmon Recovery

Bypassing Congress to achieve Klamath Basin dam removal plans

February 2016 - The U.S. Interior and Commerce Depts., plus the states of Oregon and California and the utility PacifiCorp have signed an agreement to move forward with removing four Klamath River dams.

Senior Issues

Medicare Cost Projects Decline

February 2013 - Projections for the cost of the Medicare program have fallen by a half-trillion dollars since the last estimate three years ago. The Congressional Budget Office now expects Medicare to spend $500 billion dollars less by 2020.

Smoking Prevention

Smoking Prevention Policies

February 2015 - The CDC announced that the percentage of Americans exposed to secondhand smoke has fallen by more than half since 1999, demonstrating - they say - both the effectiveness of and continuing need for comprehensive smoke-free laws that apply to all workplaces and public places, including restaurants and bars. To date, 24 states, Washington, DC, and hundreds of cities have enacted such laws, protecting about half the U.S. population.

Social Justice

Photojournalists Acquitted In Felony/Free Speech Trial

December 2017 - Photojournalist Alexei Wood was accused of participating in a riot while covering violent protests during the inauguration of Donald Trump. But he was acquitted along with five others facing felony charges in the first of a series of related trials. The jury seemed to accept defense arguments that Wood and the others had not actually destroyed property or attacked people.

Virginia Voters Rebuke Trumpism

November 2017 - In what could well be seen as a stinging rebuke for the right-wing stance of the president, in spite of a very ugly (and many would say racist) campaign, voters in Virginia chose Democrat Ralph Northam for governor, and returned all of the state-wide seats to Democrats. Many of the the losing candidates closely followed a Trump script.

The US Treasury Department is cracking down on corporate inversions.

April 2016 - In response to the proposed merger between pharmaceutical giants Allergan and Pfizer, the Treasury Department proposed new rules that would "wipe out" the massive tax benefits of the largest corporate inversion in our nation's history.

Prison Phone Calls

October 2015 - After a decade of organizing, this morning the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 3-2 on rules to rein in the predatory prison phone industry.

FCC Regulates Prison Phone Call Rates

October 2015 - Nationally: After a decade of organizing, this morning the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 3-2 on rules to rein in the predatory prison phone industry.

Sustainable Agriculture

Vermont's GMO Law Changes Labels Nationally

June 2016 - A first-of-its-kind law in Vermont takes effect July first, requiring all G-M-O foods to say so on the label. The groundbreaking law may only be in Vermont but it has already changed labels on food sold across the country.

Chickens Cleared Legally

April 2014 - Goshen officials reversed an earlier decision and will allow residents to raise chickens at their homes, which supporters say are an easy, fresh food source and promote sustainability.

Toxics

U.S. House Passes PFAS Action Act

January 2020 - The U.S. House passed a bill to tackle a group of toxic chemicals — known as perfluoroalkyls (or PFAS for short) — used in clothing, firefighting foam, and more. PFAS are ending up in our drinking water. In fact, more than 95% of the U.S. population has PFAS in their bodies. These chemicals are especially dangerous to children and have been linked to cancer, thyroid disease, and many other serious health problems.

U.S. House Passes Anti-PFAS Legislation

July 2019 - Along with the National Defense Authorization Act 220-197, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Dingell-Kildee amendment to designate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as hazardous chemicals under the Superfund law, despite the Trump administration's threats to veto the entire defense policy package if it includes two specific provisions related to PFAS. The administration opposes military cleanup of agricultural water sources contaminated with PFAS and the phase-out of firefighting foam containing them.

FDA Bans Seven Cancer-causing Food Additives

October 2018 - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration effectively banned seven cancer-causing chemicals including synthetically derived benzophenone, eugenyl methyl ether and pulegone. All legally listed under the catch-all "artificial flavorings" dded to a variety of food and beverages for artificial flavoring?from ice cream and baked goods, to gum and beer. The chemicals are added to give items cinnamon, floral, mint and other flavors. The decision comes in response to legal action brought by the Natural Resources Defense Council and a coalition of health, consumer and environmental groups: Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, Center for Environmental Health, Center for Food Safety, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Earthjustice, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Working Group and WE ACT for Environmental Justice.

Court Orders E.P.A. to Ban Chlorpyrifos, Pesticide Tied to Children's Health Problems

August 2018 - A federal appeals court ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to bar within 60 days a widely used pesticide associated with developmental disabilities and other health problems in children, dealing the industry a major blow after it had successfully lobbied the Trump administration to reject a ban. The order by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit came after a decade-long effort by environmental and public health groups to get the pesticide, chlorpyrifos, removed from the market.

EPA Reverses Itself, Will Now Enforce Pesticide Rules

June 2018 - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency signaled that it will implement critical safeguards for agricultural workers that protect against exposure to pesticides. This news comes just two weeks after New York, California and Maryland filed a lawsuit challenging the EPA's prior refusal to publish the rules, which were issued during the Obama administration. The rules require employers to educate farm workers on safe pesticide handling.

New Fed Rule Protects Consumers from Formaldehyde in Wood Products

June 2018 - Using excessive amounts of formaldehyde on manufactured and imported wood products became illegal this month, following a long battle at the Environmental Protection Agency. This issue came into focus in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, when people became sick from the wood paneling in emergency trailers supplied by FEMA.

House Passes Overhaul of Toxic Substances Control Act

May 2016 - On May 24th, the House of Representatives passed a major overhaul of the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act.

Walmart Promises to Offer Safer Products

February 2014 - Walmart has unveiled its sustainable chemicals policy "Implementation Guide".

Blood Mercury Levels Drop in Women

November 2013 - A new EPA study shows that blood mercury levels in women of childbearing age dropped 34 percent between a survey done in 1999-2000 and follow up surveys conducted in 2001-2010.

Procter & Gamble to Phase Out Phthalates and Tricolosan

September 2013 - Proctor & Gamble announced it would remove phthalates and triclosan from all the products it sells.

Walmart Will Phase-in Safer Chemicals

September 2013 - Walmart will begin disclosing chemicals in many product categories while phasing out approximately ten chemicals from products they sell in favor of safer alternatives.

Water

Judge Reinstates Clean Water Rule in 26 States

August 2018 - A federal judge in South Carolina has issued a nationwide injunction on the Trump administration's delay of the Clean Water Rule. The decision in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina means the Clean Water Rule is now the law of the land in 26 states where district court judges have not stayed the regulation. The Trump administration finalized its delay of the Clean Water Rule, also known as Waters of the U.S., or WOTUS, rule in February. The regulation redefined which wetlands and small waterways are covered by the Clean Water Act.

Women's Issues

Equal Pay Act Reintroduced in U.S. House

January 2019 - The issue of equal pay for equal work is front and center in Congress as House Democrats reintroduced the Paycheck Fairness Act. It comes exactly ten years after President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which modernized and improved on the Equal Pay Act of 1963. It would prohibit employers from low-balling the salaries of job applicants based on what they made at their last job. The act would also protect against retaliation for discussing pay with colleagues. And it would also require the feds to collect and publicize wage data.

Bill Filed To Increase Hiring of Women in Foreign Military and Police Training Programs

September 2016 - U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), both senior members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced the Enhancing Military and Police Operations through Women's Engagement and Recruitment Act (EMPOWER) of 2016, which would require the State Department to increase the recruitment, retention and promotion of women in its foreign military and police training programs.

ACLU Hails Supreme Court Ruling on Abortion

June 2016 - Pro-choice groups are celebrating after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down key parts of a Texas law regulating abortion clinics. In a 5-to-3 decision, the court ruled that the regulations in House Bill 2, passed in 2013, placed an "undue burden" on women seeking care at abortion clinics.

F.D.A. Eases Requirements on Abortion Pill Label

March 2016 - The Federal Food and Drug Administration has changed the labeling requirements for mifepristone, a medication that induces abortion.

Abortion Ban Overturned

April 2014 - A federal judge in April overturned a North Dakota law banning abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

Five New Femals in Senate

November 2012 - Five new women were elected to the Senate bringing the total of women in the chamber to 20.


A r i z o n a

N e w s

C o n n e c t i o n

Arizona News Connection

Animal Welfare

Animal Rights Laws Upheld

March 2015 - Arizona Governor Doug Ducey came out in support of animal rights by vetoing a bill that would have reduced, and in some cases eliminated, criminal penalties for acts of animal-cruelty involving livestock. The action follows approval of House Bill 2150 in the House and Senate. Martha German with Arizona Humane Voters, among the organizations that opposed the bill, says under the legislation, abandoning some animals would no longer have been a crime. German says the bill also would have ended current law requiring that sick or injured animals receive medical care, and that some acts of animal cruelty, now prosecuted as felonies, would be treated as misdemeanor crimes. The Humane Society at the state and national level, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund also oppose the bill.

Arizona Game and Fish Commission Permits Replacement of Mexican Gray Wolves

January 2012 - The Arizona Game and Fish Commission has reversed a policy adopted in December, and will now permit replacement of endangered Mexican gray wolves lost to illegal actions.

Children's Issues

Arizona Makes Large Gains in Insured Children

September 2017 - 15-thousand kids in Arizona gained health insurance in 2016 - leaving 119-thousand still uninsured. That's an 11 percent drop from last year - the fourth largest drop in the nation, according to a new report. Researchers from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families say that the percentage of kids who now have health insurance in Arizona and in the U-S as a whole are at a historic high, and they largely credit the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Report: Arizona Insures 30% More Kids, Still 47th in Nation

October 2016 - Arizona cut the number of uninsured kids by 30 percent between 20-13 and 20-15, according to a new report by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. The nation as a whole posted a record with less than five percent of all children remaining uninsured. Researchers credit the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act for insuring more adults, who then signed their kids up as well.

New Child Protection Focus for AZ

May 2014 - Following a three-day special session, Governor Jan Brewer has signed bills creating a new Arizona child welfare agency and providing tens of millions in additional funding.

New Promises to Investigate Child Abuse and Neglect Cases

January 2014 - Governor Brewer has abolished Child Protective Services and is creating a new, stand-alone office that reports directly to her.

More Children to be Covered by KidsCare Health Insurance

April 2012 - 22,000 low-income Arizona children will be added to the KidsCare health insurance program under a deal between the federal government and three large hospital groups.

State Task Force Recommends Ways to Improve Child-Welfare System

November 2011 - A state task force has recommended 10 changes to Arizona law to improve the child-welfare system.

Citizenship/Representative Democracy

Arizona Voters Reject State Control of Judges and Federal Land

November 2012 - Arizona voters rejected giving the governor more control over the commission that nominates judges in the state. They also turned down a proposition to have the state take over federal lands. But voters for the first time approved a mechanism to allow exchanges of state trust lands for federal lands.

Arizona Must Accept Federal Voter-Registration Forms

August 2012 - A federal judge has ordered the state to accept federal voter-registration forms, even though they don't comply with a 2004 Arizona law requiring proof of citizenship. The ruling says state law cannot be applied to the federal forms.

Redistricting Approved by Supreme Court

November -0001 - The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Arizona's voter-approved Independent Redistricting Commission. The high court's five-to-four ruling affirmed the commission as constitutional. The five-member Independent Redistricting Commission was created through a ballot initiative in 2000 to redraw Arizona’s congressional and legislative districts to reflect the results of the most recent census. It consists of two Democrats, two Republicans; a fifth member, usually an Independent, is selected by the other four members. Previously, redistricting was done by the Legislature. The Supreme Court ruled against the Republican-controlled Arizona Legislature, which had filed a lawsuit claiming the redistricting commission violates the U.S. Constitution.

Civil Rights

Maricopa County Complies with Racial Profiling Prevention Strategy

May 2014 - A federal judge says the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office is in compliance with his April 17th order regarding racial profiling.

Prison Healthcare Lawsuit Settled

November -0001 - The Arizona Department of Corrections has chosen to settle rather than fight a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Arizona, and others, over the healthcare services provided to prison inmates. Under the settlement, the Department of Corrections has agreed to meet more than 100 health care performance measures – including providing prisoners with serious mental illnesses in solitary confinement more time outside their cells, and also more mental health treatment. The lawsuit alleged that the lack of medical treatment in the prison system has led to needless deaths.

Warrants Needed for Cell Phone Searches

November -0001 - The ACLU of Arizona is applauding the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that will require police to obtain a warrant to search a cell phone or smart phone. The unanimous ruling is seen as a major victory for the privacy rights of all Americans, as protected under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Nine out of ten Americans own a cell phone or smart phone.

Medical Neglect Case Moves Forward

November -0001 - A U.S. Court of Appeals ruling allows a lawsuit filed by the ACLU against the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC), alleging inadequate medical care, to move forward as a class-action lawsuit representing all 33,000 inmates in the state's ten prisons. The suit alleges that the lack of adequate medical treatment in the prison system has led to needless deaths.

Climate Change/Air Quality

Salt River Upgrades to Reduce Air Pollution

May 2014 - Salt River Project has finished a $470 million upgrade to reduce nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions at its Coronado Generating Station in northern Arizona.

Consumer Issues

New Law Will Protect AZ Consumers Against Identity Theft

August 2018 - A law taking effect August 3 will limit fees on credit reporting which had previously hindered consumers from being able to unfreeze accounts.

Consumer Benefits on Four-Year Anniversary

November -0001 - The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which celebrates its fourth birthday in 2015, has recovered billions. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau regulates and investigates banks, credit unions, payday lenders and pawn shops, as well as credit bureaus and debt collectors. The bureau has recovered five billion dollars and received about 400-thousand consumer complaints.

Criminal Justice

Defense Lawyers Challenge Law Limiting Contact with Crime Victims

May 2017 - A coalition of individuals who provide criminal defense counsel to the accused in Arizona filed a federal lawsuit today to block the enforcement of a statute that restricts their constitutionally protected freedom of speech. The challenged law prohibits criminal defense lawyers and other people working on the defense team from speaking to the victim of a crime without using the prosecutor's office as a conduit for the communication. If the crime victim was killed or incapacitated, the communication ban extends to close relatives of the victim. No other state has a similar statute.

Governor Signs Reform of Forfeiture Laws

April 2017 - Gov. Doug Ducey today signed into law HB 2477, legislation that will meaningfully reform civil asset forfeiture practices. With the enactment of HB 2477, police and prosecutors will be required to report publicly what property they have seized. They will also have to go through an approval process before making any purchases with the proceeds of seized property. In addition, the forfeiture reforms in HB 2477 make it easier for Arizonans to challenge the seizure of their property, force the government to make a solid case if a seizure is contested, and eliminate loopholes that currently allow local law enforcement agencies to circumvent state law related to forfeiture.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio Voted Out

November 2016 - The sheriff who gained notoriety for draconian immigration measures has lost his job. Sheriff Joe Arpaio, of Arizona's Maricopa County, was defeated Tuesday in his bid for a seventh consecutive term by his Democratic challenger, Paul Penzone, a 21-year veteran Phoenix police officer.

FCC Takes a Look at Prison Phone Contract Reform

December 2012 - After more than a decade of effort by media reform groups, the Federal Communications Commission finally took a step forward on reforming the prices families pay to stay in touch by phone with incarcerated loved ones.

Inmate Work Rates May be Recalculated

November -0001 - Inmates serving time in Arizona prisons could get a pay raise if state lawmakers approve a bill being considered in the 2015 legislative Session which starts in January. State Senator John Kavanagh introduced Senate Bill 1002, which would update how much inmates can be paid for jobs within the prison and with cities, towns and counties. Kavanagh says the current rate, which pays up to 50 cents per hour, was set in law in the 1970s.

Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault

Arizona Names Task Force to Identify Untested Rape Kits

January 2016 - Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey names a task force to identify the number of untested Sexual Assault Evidence Kits, also known as rape kits, sitting in law enforcement evidence rooms across Arizona.

Education

Judge Finds Ban on Mexican-American Studies Program Unconstitutional

August 2017 - A U.S. District Court judge ruled that an Arizona law passed to stop Mexican-American studies classes in Tucson schools was enacted for racial and political reasons and is therefore unconstitutional. The case stems from a long-ranging battle that started in 2010 when then-state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne objected to statements made by a speaker in a Tucson classroom.

Education Advocates Sue for More Funding

May 2017 - Four Arizona public school districts and education advocates filed a lawsuit Monday against the State of Arizona and the School Facilities Board for inadequate capital funding after lawmakers cut $2 billion since 2009 from the funds schools use to maintain buildings, buses, textbooks and technology to balance the state budget.

Education Lawsuit Settled; Schools To Get $625 Million

October 2015 - Gov. Doug Ducey signed a trio of bills settling a K-12 funding dispute, if the voters agree, that would clear the path for other education initiatives.

Bill to Increase Private School Tax Credits Vetoed

April 2011 - Gov. Brewer vetoed a bill to increase private school tax credits at the expense of the state's general fund.

Endangered Species & Wildlife

Arizona's California Condor Population Continues to Grow

October 2018 - Four more captive-raised California condors were released in to the wild in northern Arizona in September. In the 1980s the birds were on the brink of extinction, but recovery efforts have helped populations rebound. At least 85 condors live along the Arizona-Utah border.

Court Says US Fish and Wildlife Must do More for Endangered Wolves

April 2018 - A federal judge ruled U.S. Fish and Wildlife management guidelines put a too-low cap on population numbers for Mexican Gray Wolves and too severely restricted their habitat. The department must propose revisions to its management plan.

Arizona Turtle Gets Endangered Species Protection

September 2017 - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces protections for Arizona's Sonoyta mud turtle, a Hawaiian bird known as the 'i'iwi and a Southeast fish called the pearl darter under the Endangered Species Act. Today's action came in response to two 2011 settlement agreements with the Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians under which the Fish and Wildlife Service made protection decisions for hundreds of vulnerable species over the past six years. With these three newly designated species, 188 species have been protected as threatened or endangered under the agreement. Eleven additional species have been proposed for protection and await decisions expected by the end of the year.

Judge Requires Feds To Study How to Protect Ocelots

June 2017 - In a victory for conservation groups, a federal judge in Tucson has approved a settlement that forces federal agencies to figure out how to avoid accidentally killing endangered ocelots. Wildlife Services, a program within the U-S Department of Agriculture, regularly lays metal traps that snap shut on an animal's leg to deter predators that feed on farm animals.

Conservation Advocates Sue Over Trump Border Wall

April 2017 - The Center for Biological Diversity and Congressman Raul Grijalva sued the Trump administration over its proposed border wall and other border security measures, calling on federal agencies to conduct an in-depth investigation of the proposal's environmental impacts. The lawsuit seeks to require the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to prepare a supplemental "programmatic environmental impact statement" for the U.S.-Mexico border enforcement program. The program includes Trump's proposed wall as well as road construction, off-road vehicle patrols, installation of high-intensity lighting, construction of base camps and checkpoints, and other activities. These actions significantly impact the borderlands environment stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, which is home to millions of people, endangered species like jaguars and Mexican gray wolves, and protected federal lands like Big Bend National Park and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

Elusive Jaguar Spotted in Arizona

March 2017 - A jaguar caught on a wildlife camera in the Dos Cabezas mountains may bring new hope for the species. It's the third big cat caught on camera prowling the state since 2012 but researchers don't know if it is female, and could be part of a breeding pair. If so that would be a first in many years.

Feds Move to Protect Ocelot in Arizona, Texas and New Mexico

August 2016 - Federal officials have released a plan for restoring and protecting populations of the endangered ocelot that lives in portions of Arizona, Texas and New Mexico. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says loss of habitat and over-hunting have caused the number of ocelots in the United States to fall to critical levels.

Court Rules For AZ Conservation Groups in Lead Ammo Case

January 2016 - A federal appeals court rules that the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club and Grand Canyon Wildlands Council can move forward with a lawsuit to ban hunters' use of lead ammunition in Arizona's Kaibab National Forest.

Butterfly to be Considered for Endangered Species Status

January 2016 - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has selected three rare insects, including the Great Basin silverspot butterfly from New Mexico, to be evaluated for possible protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Habitat Designated for Jaguars

March 2014 - Nearly 1,200 square miles of southern Arizona and New Mexico have been designated as protected habitat for jaguars.

Mexican Gray Wolf Population Rises

January 2014 - The latest count of Mexican gray wolves in Arizona and New Mexico shows an increase from 75 to 83 over the past year.

Mexican Gray Wolf Numbers Rise

February 2013 - The number of endangered Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest grew from 58 to 75 in the past year, to their highest population ever since the recovery program began in 1998.

Energy Policy

Tribes Sign Solar Agreement

January 2018 - The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) and Salt River Project officials are scheduled to sign a long-term solar agreement for Kayenta II on Friday in Phoenix that will result in providing additional solar energy for residents of the Navajo Nation.The agreement also lays the foundation for future renewable energy development on the Navajo Nation.The announcement of Kayenta II, which will produce 27.3 megawatts, coincides with an agreement in which the parties commit to working together to pursue the development of additional renewable energy projects on the Navajo Nation, recognizing that the Kayenta Solar Projects are the platforms for such further ventures.The agreement targets the development of at least 500 megawatts of renewable energy projects over the next 5 to 10 years within the Navajo Nation to further support their goal of charting their own energy future.

Coal-Fired Power Plant to be Shuttered for Pollution Reasons

July 2013 - Operators of the West's largest coal-fired power plant are proposing to close one of its three 750-megawatt generators by 2020. The proposal is in response to an expected EPA mandate to cut emissions at the plant and clear haze over Grand Canyon and other national parks.

Two New Solar-Power Plants Planned

July 2012 - The Interior Department has designated two Arizona sites for solar-power plants to be quickly permitted and built.

Lawsuit Challenging Arizona's Clean Elections System Thrown Out

March 2012 - A judge has thrown out the latest lawsuit challenging Arizona's Clean Elections system of public campaign finance.

Pheonix Sky Harbor Airport Implements Solar Panels

February 2012 - A massive solar panel project just completed at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport will provide up to 51-percent of the energy for two parking garages and the rental car center.

Salt River Project Purchasing From Local Wind Power Source

July 2011 - Salt River Project has agreed to purchase power from a Navajo Nation wind generation project planned west of Flagstaff.

Commercial Charging Station Open in Tempe

June 2011 - The first commercial charging station for electric vehicles is open for business in downtown Tempe.

Support for Solar Power Usage Increasing

June 2011 - Surveys by Arizona's two largest utilities have found widespread support for increasing the use of solar power.

Salt River Project Increases Goal for Renewable Energy Use

May 2011 - Arizona's second-largest utility, Salt River Project, has increased its goal for energy production from renewable sources and conservation to 20-percent by the year 2020.

Free Training and Certification in Renewable-Energy Industry

March 2011 - Another federal grant is providing free training and certification for 500 Arizonans to help them find jobs in the renewable-energy industry.

New Solar Generating Station Announced

February 2011 - The state's job outlook improved in February, with a new solar generating station announced for Gila Bend, and a solar equipment plant for Surprise.

Solar Panels to Cover 70% of Buckeye School District Energy Needs

January 2011 - Buckeye schools will soon have solar panels on every one of its six campuses and district office without having to spend any money.

AZ Tops for Renewables in Schools

November -0001 - Arizona ranks third in the nation in terms of solar energy being used in public schools. That's the finding of a new report from the Solar Energy Industries Association titled "Brighter Future: A Study on Solar in U.S. Schools." Steven Church is the energy education coordinator with Tempe School District Number 3. He says using solar as an energy source is a valuable teaching tool for students, and saves some money. The report concludes that 226 public schools in Arizona have some type of solar unit. The research also shows that solar savings in the Grand Canyon State amount to more than nine-million dollars per year.

Environment

New Mexico Protests for Clean Energy

May 2012 - New Mexico organized a protest at Public Service Company of New Mexico's annual shareholder meeting in Albuquerque to deliver a message.

Ban on New Uranium Mining Near Grand Canyon Extended

June 2011 - A ban on new uranium mining in the vicinity of Grand Canyon National Park has been extended until December, and may last much longer.

New Recycling Center Opened Near Phoenix

January 2011 - A new, state-of-the-art recycling center has been opened northwest of Phoenix by Waste Management.

Environmental Justice

Victory for Navajo and Uranium Cleanup

April 2014 - The Navajo nation will get $1-billion from a U.S. Justice Department settlement to clean up contamination from abandoned uranium mines on the reservation.

GLBTQ Issues

Phoenix Law Bans GLBTQ Discrimination

February 2013 - The Phoenix City Council has voted to outlaw discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents in housing, employment and public accommodations. Gay-rights advocates said the city is playing "catch-up" with at least 166 other U.S. cities and counties that have adopted similar laws.

Two Former AGs Support Marriage Equality

November -0001 - Two former Arizona Attorneys General are part of a recently formed organization supporting marriage equality in the Grand Canyon State. Former Attorneys General Terry Goddard and Grant Woods are among more than 150 attorneys who have come together to form "Arizona Lawyers for the Freedom to Marry." Goddard, who served as attorney general from 2003 to 2011, says his legal opinion is that marriage is a fundamental right for all Americans. There are multiple court cases in play which hope to overturn Arizona's voter-approved ballot initiative, Proposition 102, which amended the state constitution to define a marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

Gun Violence Prevention

Gun Law Vetoed - Again

April 2014 - Governor Jan Brewer has again vetoed a bill that would have allowed guns in public buildings and events.

Health Issues

Court Awards Planned Parenthood Legal Fees From the State

August 2017 - Planned Parenthood Arizona (PPAZ) and other providers were awarded nearly $613,000 for legal fees and costs from a case stemming from Arizona's 2015 "abortion reversal" law. Before the law was repealed last legislative session to avoid a continuing court battle, state law forced doctors to tell patients they could reverse their abortion. Planned Parenthood Arizona and the ACLU sued the state of Arizona to protect doctors from being forced to commit malpractice.

McCain Votes "No" on Healthcare Repeal; Measure Dies

July 2017 - The Senate rejected legislation to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, with Arizona Senator John McCain casting a decisive "no." Senate Republicans had unveiled a "skinny repeal," a narrow measure to roll back parts of the Affordable Care Act. It would leave 15 million more Americans without insurance next year, the Congressional Budget Office said.

Feds Reject Most of Governor Ducey's Medicaid Reforms

October 2016 - The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services rejected key parts of Governor Doug Ducey's requests to change the medical system for low-income families in Arizona. The governor wanted the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, known as 'ACCESS,' to stop providing non-emergency rides to doctor appointments, require enrollees to be actively looking for work, place a lifetime limit of five years on benefits, and introduce a health-care premium for people with incomes below the poverty line.

Pro Choice Victory as Judge Ends Battle Over Abortion Medication

September 2016 - A federal district court has ended the legal challenge to an unconstitutional Arizona law which would have forced a woman who decided to end her pregnancy with medication abortion to use an outdated, inferior method. Women will now be able to use the most up-to-date methods.

AZ Meets ACA Sign-up Target

May 2014 - A surge of late enrollments has resulted in nearly a quarter million Arizonans signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, either private insurance through the federal exchange or expanded Medicaid coverage.

Medicaid Expansion Inked

June 2013 - Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law the largest expansion of Arizona's Medicaid program in history. The expansion will provide health coverage to an additional 350,000 people.

AZ Senate Okays Medicaid Expansion

May 2013 - The bill will allow the state to accept federal funding to extend health care coverage to about 350,000 Arizonans.

Gov. Brewer Continues to Champion Medicaid Expansion

March 2013 - Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer is broadening her efforts to expand Medicaid in the state, despite opposition from Republican legislative leaders and the state GOP.

One-Cent Sales Tax Permanently to Benefit Education, Health Care, and Transportation

August 2012 - The Arizona Supreme Court has put a measure on the ballot to make the state's temporary one-cent sales tax permanent.

Arizona Children Receiving Health Coverage Under Government-Funded Plan

June 2012 - 22,000 Arizona children will get health coverage under a temporary plan funded by the federal government and the state's hospitals.

Federal Officials Rejects Proposed Cuts to Arizona's Medicaid Program

October 2011 - Federal officials have rejected several proposed cuts to Arizona's Medicaid program, including a special fee on smokers and a cap on enrollment for low-income parents.

Federal Review Pending for Medicaid Cuts

June 2011 - A state plan to cut 135,000 people from AHCCCS, Arizona's Medicaid plan, has been put on hold pending further federal review.

Group Sues State of Medicaid Cuts

May 2011 - Three public-interest law groups are suing the state over its plans to cut up to 250,000 people from Arizona's Medicaid program.

ACA Enrollment Climbs

November -0001 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that nearly 73,000 Arizonans selected plans through the Health Insurance Marketplace during the first month of Open Enrollment, which started November 15th. Urias says 53 percent re-enrolled in a Marketplace plan, while 47 percent signed up for the first time.

Housing/Homelessness

Bill to Criminalize Panhandling Fails State Senate

January 2017 - SB 1051 (Aggressive solicitation, approaching stopped vehicle) failed to pass through the Senate Judiciary committee this morning. If passed, this bill would have criminalized panhandling within ten feet of a car parked at an intersection. The bill did not receive a single vote.

New Approach Moves 35 Homeless into Phoenix Housing

December 2012 - Thirty-five chronically homeless Phoenix people are moving into homes through a local Housing First program being funded for the first time by federal housing vouchers.

Public Interest Firms Holding Mortgage Lenders Responsible

May 2012 - Public interest law firms are suing to prevent state lawmakers from putting more than half of a $98-million settlement paid by mortgage lenders into the state's general fund.

Arizona Banks Participate in Foreclosure-Prevention Program

March 2011 - Major Arizona banks have agreed to begin offering mortgage loan modifications for homeowners struggling to make their payments.

Grant to Help Housing and Homeless Programs

January 2011 - The federal government has renewed a $22.5 million grant for programs that provide housing and support services for homeless people and families in Maricopa County.

December 2010 - Some Arizona banks are teaming up with Habitat for Humanity to help the non-profit obtain foreclosure homes. Some banks are providing grants so Habitat can buy the homes. Others are donating the properties.

President Announces Home Ownership Plan

November -0001 - The President came to Arizona to announce plans to cut mortgage insurance premiums charged by the Federal Housing Administration. The Arizona Association of Realtors estimates the move should put hundreds of thousands of potential first-time homeowners into the market.

Hunger/Food/Nutrition

Bill Passes Eliminating Fingerprint Requirements for Food Stamps

May 2017 - House Bill 2091, which waives the fingerprint requirement for food-stamp eligibility. The bill had faltered last week, when it was not included in the state budget, but was revived as supporters successfully argued it would save the state $3 million. "They've had six people caught in six years," said Sen. Bob Worsley, R-Mesa. "It's a waste of money."

AZ Congressman Introduces Bill to Have Doctors Learn About Nutrition

March 2017 - Congressman Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ) today reintroduced legislation for the third consecutive Congress that would encourage a stronger focus on nutrition and disease prevention in continuing medical education. The Education and Training (EAT) for Health Act directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue guidelines that ensure federally employed primary care providers learn more about the role nutrition can play in preventing cancer, diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. While physicians are already required to earn a set number of continuing medical education credit hours each year, Grijalva's bill would help ensure that federally employed providers spend a portion of those hours learning about nutrition.

Immigrant Issues

U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Revive Driver's License Ban for DACA Recipients

March 2018 - The United States Supreme Court decided today to let stand a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that barred Arizona from denying driver's licenses to people protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative. A coalition of civil rights organizations challenged the state after then-Gov. Jan Brewer signed an executive order in 2012 mandating that DACA recipients be denied driver's licenses.

Federal Lawsuit Over Arpaio Workplace Raids Settled

January 2018 - The parties in a federal lawsuit challenging former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's workplace raids have reached an agreement to end the case. The final settlement provides, among other things, that previous rulings by U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell finding the practices of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and Maricopa County Attorney's Office unconstitutional will not be appealed. In addition, the county agreed to pay plaintiffs $995,157.46 in attorneys' fees and costs. The settlement brings to a close a three-year legal battle to put an end to the workplace raids that tore apart countless families in Maricopa County. In total, the Sheriff's Office conducted a total of over 80 workplace operations, leading to the arrest of at least 806 employees. Under the settlement, Judge Campbell's orders will remain in effect. Those include a March 2017 order enjoining the MCSO, now under the leadership of Sheriff Paul Penzone, from relying on information or documents submitted to an employer solely as part of the federal I-9 employment verification process and declaring it unconstitutional for any defendant, including MCAO, to use such information or documents in any investigation or prosecution for a violation of Arizona's identity theft or forgery law. In addition, the MCSO unit that had led the workplace raids was disbanded shortly after the lawsuit was filed in 2014, and remains disbanded today.

Civil Rights Group Sues Motel 6 for Discrimination

January 2018 - Motel 6 violated the civil rights of Latino immigrants and other guests by alerting federal authorities that they had rented rooms at two Phoenix locations, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in the name of eight plaintiffs affected by the motel practice. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona by MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), says the hotel's practice of voluntarily giving Latino guests' personal information to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents without a warrant violates federal and state civil rights laws barring discrimination based on national origin, and protections against unreasonable searches. The lawsuit also alleges that the motel violated state consumer fraud protections.

Former Sheriff Arpaio Convicted Of Contempt of Court

July 2017 - Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio found guity of criminal contempt of court. In a verdict filed Monday morning, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton said evidence demonstrated Arpaio's "flagrant disregard" for another federal judge's order that halted his signature immigration round-ups. The sentencing phase will begin Oct. 5. Arpaio, 85, faces up to six months in confinement, a sentence equivalent to that of a misdemeanor.

Federal Court Slams Border Holding Facilities

November 2016 - A federal district court today found that U.S. Customs and Border Protection is violating the constitutional rights of people detained in holding facilities in Arizona and ordered the government to take steps to improve conditions in these facilities, known as hieleras. This is the latest turn in a legal challenge filed in June 2015 by the National Immigration Law Center, the American Immigration Council, Morrison & Foerster, the ACLU of Arizona, and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights.

Feds Charge Sheriff Arpaio with Criminal Contempt

October 2016 - Longtime sheriff of metropolitan Phoenix Arpaio has been charged with criminal contempt of court for ignoring a judge's order in a racial profiling case, leaving the 84-year-old lawman in a tough spot two weeks before election day as he seeks a seventh term.

Lawsuit Over "Show Me Your Papers" Law Ended

September 2016 - The Arizona Attorney General's Office today issued an opinion establishing guidelines for the implementation of two remaining provisions of the state's 2010 racial profiling law, SB 1070.

Groups Hail Court's Decision to Hear Obama Immigration Case

January 2016 - Arizona immigration activists rallied to praise the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to hear a case challenging President Obama's executive order easing some immigration rules.

Appeal to be Filed in "Show Me Your Papers" Lawsuit

October 2015 - The legal fight continues against Arizona's controversial immigration enforcement law Senate Bill 1070.

DA Looks at "Driving While Brown" Allegations

March 2014 - The Suffolk County D.A. is widening his probe into local police traffic stops.

Border Patrol Issues Guidelines to Save Lives

March 2014 - The U. S. Border Patrol has issued new guidelines for use-of-force that are designed to reduce deadly encounters between agents and people along the border.

Another Court Strike Against SB 1070

September 2013 - Yet another part of Arizona's controversial immigration law, SB 1070, has been struck down.

Courts Again Reject part of SB 1070

March 2013 - An injunction against part of Arizona's SB 1070 immigration law has been upheld by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The court agreed that the section of the law targeting obstruction of traffic by day laborers is an unconstitutional infringement on commercial speech.

3 Sections of SB 1070 Struck Down

June 2012 - The U.S. Supreme Court struck down three sections of Arizona's controversial SB 1070 immigration law and left open the possibility of declaring a fourth section unconstitutional.

Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Accused of Racial Discrimintation

December 2011 - A report from the U.S. Justice Department accuses the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office of rampant discrimination against Latinos in its police and jail operations.

Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Immigration Screening Priviledges Revoked

December 2011 - The Department of Homeland Security has revoked the authority of Maricopa County sheriff's detention officers to perform immigration screening of county jail inmates.

Arizona Residents Strongly Favor Path to Citizenship

November 2011 - A poll from Arizona State University found that Arizonans strongly favor allowing undocumented immigrants who have been living in the state for many years to earn citizenship.

SB 1070 Immigration Bill Defeated

November 2011 - The author of Arizona's SB 1070 immigration bill, Senate President Russell Pearce, was defeated in a recall election.

Justice Department Investigating Targeted Enforcement Against Latinos

August 2011 - Facing a federal lawsuit, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has agreed to release records being sought in a racial-profiling probe after refusing for nearly a year.

Arizona Governor Vetoes "Birther" Bill

April 2011 - Arizona Governor Jan Brewer issued a number of vetoes, including the so-called "birther" bill that would have required a candidate to submit a long-form birth certificate to get on the ballot.

Injunction Help Against SB 1070 Immigration Law

April 2011 - A federal appeals court upheld an injunction against key parts of Arizona's SB 1070 immigration law. Supporters of the law say they'll ask the Supreme Court to overturn the ruling.

Lawmakers Reject Bills That Crack Down on Undocumented Immigrants

March 2011 - State lawmakers have rejected five bills intended to further crack down on undocumented immigrants.

"Birthright-Citizenship" Bill

February 2011 - Opponents of a "birthright-citizenship" bill scored a temporary victory when the measure was held in a state senate committee when it became apparent it didn't have the votes to pass.

Livable Wages/Working Families

Arizona Teachers Head Back to School With Bigger Paychecks

August 2018 - After a teacher walkout last spring and last-minute action by the state legislature, the state's educators are set to see a 20 percent raise over three years. As the 2018 school year begins, teachers are bringing home slightly higher paychecks than last year, though many say there's still more work to be done for the state's education budget.

Minimum Wage Rises Again

January 2018 - Millions of Arizonans are getting a bump in pay starting today - when the minimum wage goes up from 10 dollars to 10.50 an hour. Beginning 2016, the minimum wage jumped from 8.05 to 10 dollars in the wake of the passage of Proposition 206.

Arizona Minimum Wage Initiative Passes

November 2016 - Hundreds of thousands of Arizonans will get a raise Jan. 1. Arizona voters have approved Proposition 206 to boost the state's minimum wage and to require employers to provide paid sick time. Prop. 206, also called the Healthy Working Families Initiative, proposed raising the state's current $8.05 per hour minimum wage during the next several years to: $10 per hour in January; $10.50 in 2018; $11 in 2019; and $12 in 2020. Starting in 2021, the minimum wage would be adjusted annually based on cost of living.

AZ Passes $12 Minimum Wage

November 2016 - Hundreds of thousands of Arizonans will get a raise Jan. 1. Arizona voters have approved Proposition 206 to boost the state's minimum wage and to require employers to provide paid sick time. Prop. 206, also called the Healthy Working Families Initiative, proposed raising the state's current $8.05 per hour minimum wage during the next several years to reach $12 per hour. Starting in 2021, the minimum wage would be adjusted annually based on cost of living.

Arizona Raises Minimum Wage

November 2012 - The state industrial commission says Arizona's minimum wage will rise to $7.85 an hour in January, well above the federal minimum of $7.25.

Mental Health

Funding for Mental Illnesses Increased

May 2012 - The new state budget restores $39-million dollars in funding for Arizonans with serious mental illnesses.

Public Lands/Wilderness

Judge Upholds Uranium Ban For Now

December 2017 - Environmental groups and tribes fighting uranium mining on the rim of the Grand Canyon are praising a federal court's decision to uphold a 20-year ban on new mines - while acknowledging that the area still is at great risk. A panel of judges on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Obama-era ban, which was designed to protect the air and watershed from mining waste pollution. The Trump administration has indicated a willingness to lift the ban, which covers more than a million acres on the north and south rims of the Grand Canyon, but environmental groups have vowed to challenge any such move.

Salt River Project Gives 400K To Future Forests Program

November 2017 - Salt River Project's Board of Directors has approved a $400,000 contribution to The Nature Conservancy in Arizona, paid over four years, to support forest restoration on the Verde River watershed. Launched recently by The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Forest Service to transform the way forests are managed, the Future Forests Project will also create skilled jobs and attract new investment by creating a reliable flow of wood that supports rural economies.

Feds Decide to Leave Grand Canyon Parashant Alone

August 2017 - People who prize Arizona's public lands are breathing a sigh of relief that Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument is off the chopping block - after the feds announced Friday that no changes will be made. Twenty-six national monuments are under review and the fear was that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke would recommend Grand Canyon Parashant be downsized, like he did with Bear's Ears in Utah

Interior Secretary Bans New Uranium Mining Near Grand Canyon

January 2012 - Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has signed the order banning new uranium mining claims near the Grand Canyon for the next 20 years.

Arizona State Parks Pertnering with Local Governments to Remain Open

March 2011 - Partnerships with local governments are keeping several Arizona State Parks from closing. Parks officials warn that the partnerships are not a permanent solution to funding shortfalls.

Grand Canyon Hopes to Reuce Aircraft Noise

February 2011 - The National Park Service is seeking public comment on a draft plan to reduce aircraft noise at the Grand Canyon.

Legislation Would Help Fund Firefighting

November -0001 - Treating major wildfires as natural disasters and spending more money on improving forest health are goals of proposed federal legislation. The Wildfire Disaster Funding Act of 2015 would update how the federal government funds suppression efforts. The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources is considering the legislation.

Senior Issues

Slimmer Caregiver Tax Credit Passes AZ House

February 2018 - A bill to give caregivers an income tax credit passed the Arizona House with some changes and is now waiting to be heard in the Senate. According to AARP, caregivers spend roughly $7,000 a year on their loved one's care. The bill would give a $500 tax credit for an individual and up to a $1000 for a couple. House Bill 2087 had originally called for $1,000 for an individual and $2,000 for a couple.

Governor Signs Bill to Reduce Hospital Bills for Seniors

June 2017 - Governor Sandoval signed a bill to make sure seniors get the lower Medicare rates from the hospital if they're injured in an accident and someone else is at fault. Previously, some hospitals in Nevada were going after the patient for the full amount of the bill, not the lower Medicare rates - on the assumption that the victim would hire a lawyer to go after the responsible party's insurance company.

Retirees Attracted to Federal Lands

January 2010 - Older Americans are three times more likely to retire in areas of Utah and other Western states that have protected public lands such as Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon.

Smoking Prevention

Smoking with Kids in Car May be Banned

April 2015 - Tempe could become Arizona's first city to ban smoking with children in the car.

Social Justice

FBI Redefines Legal Definition of Rape

January 2012 - The Obama administration has announced that the FBI has redefined the definition of rape it uses in the Uniform Crime Report.

Remote Arizona Reservations Receiving High-Speed Internet Access

March 2011 - Four remote Arizona reservations will be getting cutting-edge Internet access, thanks to federal stimulus funds.

Teen Pregnancy Prevention

Long-Action Birth Control Effective for Teens

January 2010 - Young women in Arizona and elsewhere who use long-acting, reversible contraception also known as "LARC" have rates of pregnancy, birth, and abortion that are much lower than the national rates for sexually active teens. That's the finding of a study, the "Contraceptive CHOICE Project," funded by the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation. The five-year study involved 14-hundred girls ages 15 to 19, who had chosen to use an Intrauterine Device (I-U-D), contraceptive implant, or other form of birth control. Study participants experienced rates of pregnancy, birth, and abortion that were all less than half the national rates.

Urban Planning/Transportation

AZ Ups Penalties for Wrong-way Drivers

August 2018 - Arizona has been show to have some of the most unsafe roadways in the country. New laws taking effect in August will increase fines and penalties for wrong-way drivers.

Arizona Initiates Texting While Driving Restriction

June 2018 - A new law is set to go into effect in Arizona which will restrict teen drivers from texting behind the wheel. Arizona is one of the last states not to ban texting while driving. It is also one of most dangerous states for pedestrian and traffic safety. This is the first time the state has introduced any restrictions on texting while driving.

Phoenix City Council to Address Pedestrian Safety

April 2018 - Phoenix City Council voted to speed up the review process for plans to address high rates of pedestrian deaths on city streets. The move will allow design plans to be approved in coming months. Arizona currently has the highest rate of pedestrian deaths in the nation.

New System To Track Wrong Way Drivers To Be Tested In Phoenix

November 2015 - This week the Department of Transportation announced that's where they're going to test a new prototype system to track wrong-way drivers.

Bridges in Prime Shape

January 2010 - Arizona's bridges are among the best in the nation when it comes to condition. Doug Nintzel with the state Department of Transportation says a report from the American Road and Transportation Builders Association shows that just over three-percent of Arizona's approximately eight-thousand bridges are structurally deficient. He says that's the fourth lowest rate in the nation

Water

Controlled Floods Planned in Grand Canyon to Increase Fish Habitat

May 2012 - The Interior Department has given the go-ahead for a series of controlled floods in the Grand Canyon.

Women's Issues

Arizona Will Improve Access to Tampons for Incarcerated Women

February 2018 - After weeks of public pressure to improve access to feminine hygiene products for incarcerated women, the Arizona Department of Corrections announced a new policy late Wednesday afternoon. Now, ADC will provide at least 36 free pads or tampons to female prisoners every month. The department had previously insisted that 12 pads were enough, until formerly incarcerated women, their allies and a social media campaign (#LetItFlow) collectively shamed ADC into action.

State Restrictions on Medications that can End a Pregnancy Blocked

April 2014 - A federal appeals court has blocked new state restrictions on the use of medications that can end a pregnancy.

Medicaid Funding Stays at Clinics

August 2013 - An Arizona law stripping Medicaid funding from doctors and clinics that perform abortions has been struck down by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The law would have stopped reimbursements for contraceptives, cancer screenings, treatment for sexually transmitted diseases and annual women's exams.

Abortion Law Struck Down

May 2013 - A U.S. Appeals Court struck down an Arizona law banning abortions after 20 weeks. It's an issue expected to be challenged, with state leaders vowing an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Medicaid Funding Restrictions Overturned

February 2013 - A federal judge has ruled that a 2012 Arizona law restricting funding to abortion providers is unconstitutional.

Study Finds Free Birth Control Dramatically Lowers Rates of Pregnancy

October 2012 - A large study has concluded that free birth control leads to dramatically lower rates of abortion and teen pregnancy.

FBI Redefines Legal Definition of Rape

January 2012 - The Obama administration has announced that the FBI has redefined the definition of rape it uses in the Uniform Crime Report.


A r k a n s a s

N e w s

S e r v i c e

Arkansas News Service

Campaign Finance Reform/Money in Politics

Campaign Finance Reforms Approved by Voters

November -0001 - Voters approved a set of campaign finance and ethics reforms through a ballot initiative, “Arkansas Elected Officials Ethics, Transparency and Financial Reform Amendment, Issue 3.” It bans director corporation and union campaign contributions to candidates, forbids lobbyist gifts to lawmakers and imposes a two-year wait on lawmakers before they can become lobbyists.

Criminal Justice

FCC Takes a Look at Prison Phone Contract Reform

December 2012 - After more than a decade of effort by media reform groups, the Federal Communications Commission finally took a step forward on reforming the prices families pay to stay in touch by phone with incarcerated loved ones.

Health Issues

Private Option Means More Health Coverage

April 2013 - On Apr. 23, Gov. Mike Beebe signed into law bills to create a unique "private option" for the state that will make 250,000 more people eligible for health coverage. It allows Arkansas to use the federal money available for expanding Medicaid to purchase private insurance policies instead.

Hunger/Food/Nutrition

Arkansas Schools Boosts Participation in Federal School Breakfast Program

March 2017 - The annual School Breakfast Scorecard ranks Arkansas seventh in the nation for the number of low-income students who participate in both breakfast and lunch programs. The report from the Food Research and Action Center shows more than 155,000 kids regularly ate breakfast in Arkansas schools during the last school year, an increase of almost three percent over the previous year.

Money on Way to Fight Hunger and Obesity in Arkansas

June 2016 - Arkansas is on the receiving end of a big grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with the goal of helping low-income residents eat more fruits and vegetables.

Arkansas School Breakfast Program has Made Strides By Making Sure Kids Get Something to Eat.

March 2016 - Arkansas has made a lot of progress in increasing the number of low-income students eating breakfast at school.

AR is Tops for Breakfast in Schools

March 2014 - According to the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance and their national partners Share Our Strength, the state has been one of the best for increasing the number of children getting breakfast in schools.

Livable Wages/Working Families

Census Bureau Reports Drop in Arkansas Poverty Rate, Increase in Median Income.

September 2017 - 2016 Census Bureau numbers show Arkansas' poverty rate of 17.2 percent moved the state from 47th in the nation to 44th. The state's median household income of $44,334 moved one spot -- from 50th to 49th nationally.


B i g

S k y

C o n n e c t i o n

Big Sky Connection

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention

Voters Legalize Medical Marijuana

November 2012 - Voters voted again to legalize marijuana for medicinal use.

Budget Policy & Priorities

Call for Constitutional Convention Stalls in State Legislature

March 2017 - Montana will not join the calls from 28 other states to form a convention and add a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. The resolution stalled in the House.

Campaign Finance Reform/Money in Politics

"Corporations Are Not People"

November 2012 - Just like Colorado voters, Montanans voted to remove undue corporate influence from elections and declared that "corporations are not people."

Citizenship/Representative Democracy

August 2012 - The people of Montana won the right to vote on I-166 this November when Montana's Supreme Court rejected an attempt by opponents to remove it from the ballot. The initiative would ban corporate spending on elections, in order to uphold a section of the state constitution struck down by a court ruling related to the U.S. Supreme Court decision on corporate election spending.

Climate Change/Air Quality

Settlement Announced to Clean Up Colstrip Coal Ash Ponds

July 2016 - The dirty coal ash ponds at Colstrip that have been polluting the aquifer for decades will be replaced with a safer system by 20-22 part of a settlement filed in court on Thursday.

Colstrip 1 and 2 to Shut Down within Six Years

July 2016 - The two companies that own Colstrip 1 and 2, two of the four generating units at the Colstrip Power Plant east of Billings, have agreed to shut them down by 2022 to settle a lawsuit brought by environmental groups.

July 2012 - More than 6,600 in 60 days. That's how many Montanans commented on the Environmental Protection Agency's Carbon Pollution Standard - which limits carbon pollution from new coal-fired power plants. About 2 million comments were submitted nationwide - the largest response ever for an EPA public-comment period. A vast majority of comments showed support for the rule.

December 2011 - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has unveiled the final Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule, which is aimed at reducing emissions of mercury, acid gases and other toxics emitted from coal-burning power plants. Montana set limits on mercury in 2006.

November 2011 - A coalition of clear air advocates, including NPCA and Sierra Club Montana, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have filed a legal settlement that establishes firm, enforceable deadlines for action on plans to clean up regional haze pollution in 43 states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands. If approved by the court, the consent decree will require states and the EPA to issue enforceable plans to curb haze-causing pollution from the nation's largest and oldest coal-fired power plants. Yellowstone National Park is listed as one of the sites affected by haze.

Consumer Issues

February 2012 - Senator Jon Tester is raising concerns about the rising levels of lead in lipstick, and wants the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ramp up efforts to protect women and children from lead exposure. Testing recently revealed that the maximum level of lead found in lipstick more than doubled between 2009 and 2011.

Criminal Justice

Death Penalty Drug Ruled Unconstitutional

October 2015 - The death penalty is at a stalemate in Montana, after a judge blocked the use of a particular lethal injection drug on Tuesday.

December 2011 - A report by the Death Penalty Information Center shows a drop in new death sentences and executions nationwide. The report notes that it's part of a trend over the past 10 years. A bill to abolish the death penalty in Montana is planned for 2013, after the State Senate said 'yes' to a similar bill earlier this year.

Education

Gov. Bullock Signs Public School Funding Bill

March 2019 - Gov. Steve Bullock signed a $77 million funding package for Montana public schools into law this week. The public school funding bill outlines an inflationary increase over the next two years to the K-12 public school system, in which more than 12,000 educators serve more than 150,000 students.

MT Court Strikes Down Tax-Credit Program for Private Schools

December 2018 - The Montana Supreme Court struck down a state-run program that gives tax credits to people who donate to private-school scholarships, saying the program violates a constitutional ban against giving state aid to religious organizations. The justices ruled 5-2 that the program giving tax credits of up to $150 for donations to organizations that give scholarships to private-school students amounts to indirect aid to schools controlled by churches. There is a ban in the Montana Constitution on any direct or indirect state aid to such schools, regardless of how large or small the amount is, the opinion by Justice Laurie McKinnon said.

Senator Tester Introduces Bill to Attract More Teachers to Montana

October 2015 - College students who agree to work in rural schools will be able to get money for college if a new bill proposed by Montana Senator Jon Tester becomes law.

Endangered Species & Wildlife

Judge Returns Yellowstone Grizzlies to Endangered Species List

October 2018 - The U.S. Fish and WIldlife Service must return grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park to the Endangered Species List, a federal judge in Missoula has ordered. The Yellowstone-area grizzly was removed from federal protections under the Endangered Species Act last year. Grizzlies in the lower 48 have been listed as threatened since 1975.

Yellowstone Grizzlies: Court Blocks ID, WY Trophy Hunts

August 2018 - Just two days before the start of the season, a U.S. District Court judge granted wildlife advocates' motion for a temporary restraining order to block planned grizzly bear trophy hunts in Idaho and Wyoming for at least 14 days. This came after a hearing regarding a high-profile case over the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services' 2017 decision to strip grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem of vital Endangered Species Act protections, and provides the court time to deliberate on the merits of the case.

Montana Only State Without Grizzly Hunting Plan in 2018

March 2018 - While Idaho and Wyoming pursue plans to allow grizzly bear hunting outside Yellowstone National Park, Montana wildlife officials say they don't regret deciding against holding a hunt this year. Montana made the decision not to allow hunting of grizzlies in February.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Reconsidering Grizzly Bear Delisting

December 2017 - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is opening up public comment on its decision to take Yellowstone-area grizzly bear off the Endangered Species List earlier this year. The reconsideration of grizzly bear status comes in the wake a federal court ruling that retained protections for wolves in the Great Lakes. The court found the agency needed to study how a species' loss of historical habitat affects its recovery.

Petition Drive Launched to Stop Wolf Killings in Montana Near Yellowstone

January 2016 - The Endangered Species Coalition launched an online petition to encourage Montana and Idaho wildlife officials to stop the killing of gray wolves.

Northern Rockies Fisher One Step Closer to Endangered Species Protection

January 2016 - The Northern Rockies Fisher, a cat-sized carnivorous weasel related to wolverines and otters found only in the border area of Idaho and Northern Montana, is one step closer to protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Energy Policy

Colstrip Units to Shut Down at End of 2019

June 2019 - Two aging Montana coal plants, part-owned by Puget Sound Energy, will cease operations by the end of 2019, more than two years before the previously announced phaseout date. The plants, Colstrip 1 and 2, were built in the mid-1970's and cannot compete with natural gas and renewable energy.

'Save Colstrip' Plan Falls Through on Last Day of Montana Legislature

April 2019 - Lawmakers ended the 87-day session 4-25-2019 by voting against amendments drawn up to commit customers of NorthWestern Energy to covering debts associated with the utility's potential purchase of Colstrip Power Plant generation and transmission lines. The proposal was billed as a way to keep Colstrip Power Plant operating as the coal-fired generator's other utility owners left; the proposal failed to pass both chambers of the Legislature.

Colstrip Bailout Bill Dies in Montana

April 2019 - Montana lawmakers failed to pass legislation that would have enabled NorthWestern Corp. to pass on $75 million in costs to customers associated with acquiring an additional 150-MW share in the beleaguered Colstrip power plant without oversight from the state Public Service Commission. The bill, proposed by Republican Sen. Tom Richmond, died in the House on a 60-37 vote April 16, and lawmakers failed to revive it before the session ended April 26. The failure of the bill, one of the most controversial pieces of legislation in this year's legislative session, could seal the fate of the troubled coal plant as states in the region attempt to move away from coal-fired generation.

Colstrip Gets $10 Million to Transition Away from Coal

December 2017 - In a major settlement, Washington state's Puget Sound Energy will provide $10 million dollars to Colstrip to help the community transition away from coal energy. Colstrip is home to coal-fired plants that are currently being phased out.

Initiative to Increase Renewable Energy in Montana Approved to Get Signatures

November 2017 - An initiative to increase the the amount of renewable energy utility companies in Montana use has been approved to start getting signatures in order to get on the 2018 ballot. The initiative would require public utility companies to gradually increase their use of renewable energy from the current level of 15 percent to 80 percent by 2050.

Missoula to Pull City's Money from Wells Fargo Over Dakota Access Pipeline

April 2017 - The city of Missoula is pulling its money from Wells Fargo over the banking institution's investment in the Dakota Access Pipeline. The resolution passed 12-0. In the past, Missoula has passed a resolution in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

Wind and Solar Advocates Praise Governor's New Energy Plan

June 2016 - Governor Steve Bullock's new energy plan calls for a doubling of solar power by 20-25, and for the creation of a state energy infrastructure authority to facilitate more renewables. It also directs state agencies to look at putting solar on their own buildings and begin scouting public property suitable for solar arrays.

Montana Clean Air Advocates Laud Court Decision on Clean Power Plan

January 2016 - Clean air advocates are hailing a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. to leave President Obama's Clean Power Plan in place while the suit against it goes forward.

September 2012 - There's strong support in 11 western states for developing renewable energy on public lands - and ensuring at least some of the rents or royalties from developers are used locally for conservation and recreation purposes. That's according to a new bipartisan poll (commissioned by The Wilderness Society).

Montana's Renewable Energy Standard Leads by Example

December 2010 - Montana's renewable energy standard is an example of how states are taking a leadership role to keep the U.S. competitive in an expanding global market.

Environment

US to Place 20-Year Ban on Mining Near Yellowstone National Park

September 2017 - The U.S. government plans to speed up the approval of a 20-year ban on gold mining claims on forested public lands in Montana, near Yellowstone National Park. The prohibition could even extend to other metals and minerals.

Tongue River Railroad Plan Withdrawn

November 2015 - The Tongue River Railroad Company (TRR) today requested that the Surface Transportation Board (STB) temporarily suspend permitting efforts for the construction and operation of its proposed rail line along the Tongue River in southeast Montana.

Judge Orders State to Pay Legal Fees in Environmental Case

October 2015 - Montana must pay nearly $171,000 in legal fees and expenses to the attorney who represented three Butte residents in their effort to get a mostly dry, mine waste-contaminated channel.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Rules for New Power Plants Issues

September 2013 - The White House and EPA issued long awaited rules restricting how much greenhouse gas pollution new power plants can emit.

Coal Railroad Impacts to be Studied

March 2013 - The Surface Transportation Board (STB) has agreed to study the impacts of the proposed Tongue River Railroad from the mine to the ports on the West Coast.

June 2012 - Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil has withdrawn its application to the state of Montana to haul more than 200 megaloads of oil sands equipment over Lolo Pass and through northwestern Montana into Canada. The company said it's already brought in all the loads it needs for the first phase of its oil sands project via other routes, despite initially saying the route on the small highways was the "only option."

June 2012 - The Surface Transportation Board announced that the controversial Tongue River Railroad (TRR) must reapply for a permit to haul coal from the isolated Otter Creek coal tracts in southeastern Montana. The coal is destined for markets in China and other Asian countries, through ports on the West Coast. The STB order says environmental analysis and data needs to be gathered before reapplying for a permit. The TRR was first proposed about 30 years ago to haul coal for different purposes than plans in existence today.

November 2011 - The U.S. State Department announced the environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline project will undergo a reevaluation - along with consideration of rerouting the pipeline to avoid environmentally sensitive areas.

July 2011 - Imperial Oil and Exxon Mobil announced they would seek additional alternate routes for shipping oversized loads along small highways in Idaho and Montana. Specifically, they'll plan to use four-lane highways, instead of rural two-lane roads, and find ways to reduce the size of the shipments. Originally, the companies claimed there were no other possible routes. Grassroots small business organizations and environmental groups had protested the use of small highways for the projects.

July 2011 - The Montana District Court issued an order granting a motion to halt mega-load shipments by Imperial Oil along Montana state highways. The court held that the Montana Department Transportation violated the Montana Environmental Policy Act by failing to consider alternative routes, failing to consider decommissioning the highway modifications needed for the project and failing to conduct an independent evaluation of the proposal.

April 2011 - Judge Dayton ruled that there is "sufficient likelihood of irreparable harm" to warrant a restraining order to halt all further permitting of Exxon's modules (known as megaloads), along with all road work and utility line modification to facilitate Exxon's project until the lawsuit is resolved. Unfortunately, test load will be allowed to proceed.

January 2011 - District Court Judge Joe Hegel has ruled that a lawsuit against the State of Montana and Arch Coal can go forward. The suit alleges the state should have taken environmental, economic and public health concerns into account before leasing the coal tract.

January 2011 - North America's largest nonprofit cycling organization formally wheeled into the ranks of big rig opponents. The board of Adventure Cycling voted overwhelmingly to oppose the use of rural highways for massive oil industry modules. They say those are bike-friendly mountain highways in Idaho and Montana - that would be far less bike-friendly if the roads become industrial shipping routes.

Environmental Justice

Feds Force Review of Coal Companies' Reclamation Funds

January 2016 - Feds act in response to bonding complaint by Powder River and WORC.

GLBTQ Issues

Homosexuality Removed From State Crime Law

April 2013 - Governor Steve Bullock signed Senate Bill 107 - which decriminalized homosexuality. The law had been on the books for decades, and while not enforced, it was seen as discriminatory.

Health Issues

Report Shows Medicaid Expansion Helping Montana's Economy

May 2018 - The report finds that Medicaid expansion brings in a lot of money from outside the state and stimulates economic activity the tune of roughly 5,000 jobs and $270 million of personal income. It also finds Medicaid expansion saves the state money in a variety of ways.

Some Rural Montana Hospitals Struggling, Solutions Discussed at Rural Health Summit

May 2016 - Senator Jon Tester is hosting a Rural Health Summit today in small town in central Montana called Ennis, about 60 miles southwest of Bozeman. The summit brings together officials from Washington and from the rural hospitals that dot the state.

Montana Enrolls 58,000 in Health Insurance

February 2016 - Montana is making a serious dent in its number of uninsured residents.

Montana Expands Medicaid

November 2015 - Starting today, tens of thousands of low-income Montanans will qualify for affordable health insurance on the state health care marketplace.

275 New Doctors and Health Professionals for MT Thanks to ACA

December 2013 - Montana saw nearly 275 more doctors and other health professionals on the job in rural areas over five years because of the National Health Service Corps.

Livable Wages/Working Families

MT Raises Minimum Wage in 2019

January 2019 - Montana's roughly 8,000 minimum wage workers saw a 20-cent-per-hour pay bump at the start of 2019. That means workers earning Montana's minimum wage of $8.30 cents per hour saw that rate increase to $8.50 an hour.

November 2011 - The Montana Board of Regents is expected to give its stamp of approval this month to contracts recently ratified by MEA-MFT members in the Associated Faculty of Montana State University. They're the first faculty contracts ever at the campus.

Media Reform

Montana Governor Signs Net Neutrality Into Law

January 2018 - Governor Steve Bullock made Montana the first state to implement net neutrality since the FCC rolled back net neutrality protections. Bullock says his executive order could serve as a blueprint for other states.

Native American Issues

Saylish and Kootenai Water Compact Introduced in U.S. Senate

May 2016 - U.S. Senator Jon Tester introduced a bill Thursday to ratify the water compact between the State of Montana and the Confederated Saylish and Kootenai tribes, also known as the CSKT. If passed by both houses of Congress, it would resolve the tribes' water rights claims against the federal government, avoiding the threat of extended, costly litigation.

Wild Bison Free to Go Home

June 2013 - The Montana Supreme Court cleared the way for the return of wild bison to their historic prairie habitat on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, reversing a lower court ruling that had blocked state plans to transfer bison to the Fort Belknap tribes for more than a year.

Public Lands/Wilderness

MT Leg Increases Funds for State Parks

June 2019 - Montana's trails and outdoor recreation got a boost, legislators increased the voluntary motor vehicle registration donation from $6 to $9 which is estimated to generate an additional estimated $1.8 million for our trails, state parks and fishing access sites every year.

House Passes Lands Bill Including LWCF, Yellowstone Mineral Withdrawal

March 2019 - The massive public lands package is headed to the president's desk, meaning the renewal of the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund and a permanent ban on mining claims north of Yellowstone are close to reality.

Interior Secretary Zinke Approves Ban on New Mining Claims Near Yellowstone

October 2018 - Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke approved a 20-year ban on new mining claims on public lands north of Yellowstone National Park, in the Paradise Valley, as two proposed gold mines raise concerns the area could be spoiled.

No Changes to Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument

August 2017 - Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has announced there will be no changes made to the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. In April, President Donald Trump ordered a review of it, along with 26 other national monuments.

Governor Announces Push to Improve Access to MT Public Lands

June 2016 - Governor Steve Bullock announced a series of measures to improve access to Montana public lands. Bullock has created the position of Public Access Specialist, in the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.

Forest Jobs Act Headed to Senate Floor

December 2013 - The U.S. Senate floor is the next stop for the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act from Montana Senator Jon Tester.

Rocky Mtn. Front Heritage Act Heads to Senate Floor

November 2013 - The Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act unanimously passed out of mark-up in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee - with no changes.

Winter Travel Rules for Yellowstone Finalized - Tight Controls on Pollution

October 2013 - The National Park Service has finalized its winter travel plan for Yellowstone National Park, saying it's based on 15 years of research, experience and public input.

November 2012 - Conservation is just as important as gun rights, according to a new poll of sportsmen by the National Wildlife Federation. Nearly half said those two priorities have equal weight in their minds. And given a choice between prioritizing oil and gas production or protecting public lands, 35 percent chose the fuel and 49 percent chose the public lands.

November 2012 - Wide open spaces and outdoor recreational opportunities mean more jobs and fatter paychecks in Big Sky County. A new report, "West is Best," makes connections between protected federal lands and economic prosperity in Big Sky Country.

December 2011 - Ask first, and the job gets done. That's one of the successful components of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP), according to a new report from the U.S. Forest Service - which finds the program's goals in Montana are being met. And the new U.S. House budget bill recommends fully funding it for another year.

June 2011 - Montana Senator Max Baucus has re-introduced a bill for full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, with a 1.5 percent provision added by Senator Jon Tester that will be dedicated to additional access to hunting and fishing opportunities on public lands.

June 2011 - U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has signed the "check" - which means millions are on the way the Southwestern Crown of the Continent Restoration Project in Montana.

May 2011 - Montana Senator Jon Tester's (D) "Forest Jobs and Recreation Act" was examined by a Senate Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee yesterday. A hearing is seen as a positive step for the legislation, which would designate wilderness as well as working forest projects.

April 2011 - A new report from Headwaters Economics takes a look at oil, gas and coal development, and the role of those industries in state economies for Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. The findings show that the economic benefits to states are limited - accounting for less than three percent of both total employment and total personal income.

February 2011 - The America's Great Outdoors initiative has been unveiled, after months of public listening sessions around the country. The first stop on that tour was in Montana, to learn more about local efforts to preserve landscapes, recreation access and water quality. Blackfoot River Valley rancher, and chair of the Blackfoot Challenge's Forestry Committee, was on hand when the plan was unveiled this week in Washington, D.C., and he says it's obvious that officials really did listen to what locals had to say.

January 2011 - A U.S. District Judge has upheld the Forest Service "travel plan" for the Badger-Two Medicine area of the Lewis and Clark National Forest. Motorized groups sued because ATV, dirt bike and snowmobile access was banned in most of the area. The Blackfeet Tribe lists it as a sacred site.

Rural/Farming

"Big Thaw" For Popular Conservation Program in Montana

April 2013 - The big freeze on the Conservation Stewardship Program is thawing, thanks to a move by Congress to restore program funding. It's a popular program for active agricultural lands in Montana - covering more than 600,000 acres.

Changes in Animal ID Rule Welcomed

December 2012 - The U.S.D.A unveiled its final rule for the program, acknowledging concerns highlighted over the years by family operations and sustainable agriculture-focused groups.

April 2012 - The Labor Department is dropping plans to unnecessarily restrict young people from working on farms and ranches. In September, the Labor Department announced proposed restrictions that would limit the work teens could do on farms and ranches owned by anyone other than their parents - and although the agreed upon goal is safety - it caused problems for family operations.

January 2012 - The biggest obstacle for many beginning farmers and ranchers in Montana is buying land. A new program through the Farm Service Agency can make it easier by offering loan guarantees when retiring farmers agree to carry the sale contract for a beginner.

Senior Issues

March 2011 - The Montana House of Representatives by a 59 - 31 vote amended HB 2 to restore current state funding of the Montana Veterans' Home and keep it open as a public institution. There was a proposal to cut funding and turn it over to a private company, which would have resulted in layoffs, and many say, a lower quality of care.

Sustainable Agriculture

Tester Amendment Protects Small Farms and Processors

December 2010 - Montana Senator Jon Tester's amendment to the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act passed both the U.S. House and Senate. Senator Tester's amendment protects small farms and small processors from expensive federal regulations. These regulations are unnecessary in light of existing local public health laws and the direct relationship of local farmers to local consumers.

Teen Pregnancy Prevention

November 2011 - The percentage of Montana births to teens has dropped about a percentage point over a year. At the same time, more parents say they're having "the talk" with their children.

Toxics

Montana's Senators Back Toxic Control Update

April 2013 - Legislation to update the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act is now on the congressional docket, introduced by Montana's Senators Baucus and Tester, along with 25 other senators.


C a l i f o r n i a

N e w s

S e r v i c e

California News Service

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention

Governor Signs Bill Requiring Drug Companies to Collect Old Prescriptions and Needles

September 2018 - Governor Jerry Brown signed groundbreaking legislation by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), along with Assemblymembers Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) and Adam Gray (D-Merced), to create the first statewide drug and medical needles take-back program funded by the pharmaceutical industry. Senate Bill 212 requires manufacturers of pharmaceutical drugs and medical needles to establish, implement and fund take-back programs for safe and secure collection and disposal of their products. This is the first statewide measure in the nation to include both prescription medications and medical needles.

CA AG Files Suit Against Pharmaceutical Company for Price Fixing on Opioid Addiction Meds

September 2016 - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced that California, along with 34 other states and the District of Columbia, has filed a lawsuit against Indivior, a British pharmaceutical company, and MonoSol, an Indiana film technology company, for antitrust violations.

Governor Signs Bill on Unused Prescription Drugs

August 2016 - Senate Bill 1229 has been signed by Governor Jerry Brown. The bill allows, but does not mandate, a pharmacy to host a "secure drug tack-back bin" in their store as a safe way to dispose of expired or unneeded pharmaceutical drugs.

Law to Fight Doctor-Shopping in CA Takes Effect Today

July 2016 - Starting today, all doctors in California must be registered for access to the state's prescription database.

Animal Welfare

CA Lawmakers Move Multiple Animal-Welfare Bills Forward

April 2019 - A slew of animal protection bills have moved forward in the California Legislature including proposals to limit animal abuse, hunting, poisoning and trapping. Senate Bill 580 would force people convicted of such serious crimes as aggravated cruelty, bestiality and hoarding to undergo mental-health evaluation and get treatment if necessary. Assembly Bill 1788 would ban certain types of commercial rat poison that also harm wild animals that eat the carcasses. Other bills would ban trophy hunting of bobcats and commercial trapping of other animals for fur; forbid the use of certain endangered animals in circuses, and criminalize the sale of most fur products. Opponents of many of these bills say they represent government overreach.

Bill Introduced to Ban Animal Dissection in CA Schools

February 2019 - California could become the first state in the nation to ban the dissection of animals in K-12 schools, if a bill introduced in the state Legislature were to pass. Assembly Bill 1586, called the Replacing Animals in Science Education (or RAISE) Act would encourage schools to adopt newer teaching methods such as 3-D computer modelling programs to teach biology.

U.S. Supreme Court Allows CA Ban on Foie Gras to Stand

January 2019 - The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the latest challenge to California's ban on foie gras, a delicacy produced from the enlarged livers of ducks and geese that have been force-fed corn. The court declined to hear an appeal by producers of foie gras, including the Association des Eleveurs de Canards et d'Oies du Quebec, a Canadian nonprofit that represents duck and goose farmers. In doing so, the high court left intact a 2017 ruling by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the law. Animal rights groups contend that the force-feeding process is painful, gruesome and inhumane. California enacted the law in 2004 but it did not go into effect until 2012. The Supreme Court in 2014 rejected an earlier appeal brought by producers and restaurants.

Voters Increase Requirements for Farm Animal Confinement

November 2018 - California voters approved a measure that will ban sales of meat and eggs from animals kept in enclosures that fall below a minimum number of square feet. Proposition 12, which was backed by the Humane Society, will apply to California and out-of-state producers alike. The measure also requires producers to keep egg-laying hens in "cage-free" housing by 2022.

CA Bans Bullhooks

August 2016 - Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill to ban the use of bullhooks to control elephants in captivity. Across the U.S., lawmakers are banning fireplace poker-like weapons called bullhooks, recognizing that these weapons' only purpose is to beat elephants into submission.

CA Biotech Firm to Pay $3.5 Million, Accused of Animal Cruelty

May 2016 - A biotech firm with facilities in California will pay three point five million dollars in a settlement with the U-S-D-A for violating the federal animal welfare act.

CA Law for Better Treatment of Hens Stands

March 2014 - An attempt by six states to overturn a California law that requires more humane treatment of egg-laying hens and higher food safety standards will face legal opposition from The Humane Society of the United States.

Judge Upholds Shark Fin Sales Ban

January 2013 - A federal judge has upheld the state's ban on shark fin sales, rejecting the claim that the law discriminates against Chinese Americans.

April 2011 - A CANS story discouraging parents from giving kids live bunnies for Easter was aired nationally on America in the Morning. Animal shelter officials say the pets often end up back at the shelter.

U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Challenge to California’s Foie Gras Ban

November -0001 - California’s landmark ban on force feeding ducks to produce foie gras will stay in effect. The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a request by a handful of foie gras proponents to review the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’s 2013 ruling upholding the law, and the right of the people of California to prohibit the sale of certain food items, solely because they are the product of animal cruelty.

Budget Policy & Priorities

Governor Newsom Signs Budget With Progressive Priorities

June 2019 - California will increase its spending on public education, expand healthcare services and stash away more money than ever for an economic downturn under the state budget signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom - a plan that was stalled for two weeks over how it would address the state's growing housing crisis. The $214.8-billion budget is the largest in state history. The majority of its provisions take effect in July, though some new services won't be funded until next January in an effort to lower the short-term cost.

Governor's Budget Aims to Lower Premiums, Expand Medi-Cal

January 2019 - The State of California would invest hundreds of millions of dollars to improve access to healthcare and health insurance under Governor Gavin Newsom's first budget. It includes 200-million dollars to allow undocumented low-income adults ages 18 to 26 to access Medi-Cal. Previously, only undocumented children have been included. Newsom's budget proposal would also reinstate the individual mandate that requires people to have health insurance. It uses the fees from the mandate to increase subsidies on Covered California plans for middle-income families, those with incomes between 250- and 600-percent of the federal poverty level.

Voters Save The Gas Tax

November 2018 - Voters rejected Proposition 6, arguably the most contested ballot measure. If passed it would have repealed the gas tax increase approved last year by Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers.

New Ballot Measure Would Extend Prop 30 Income Taxes on Wealthy

February 2016 - Teams are hitting the streets today gathering signatures for a ballot measure this fall that would extend part of Proposition 30, which raised income taxes on the wealthy and raised the sales tax by a quarter of a percent.

Children's Issues

Calif. Cuts Number of Uninsured Children by More than Half

October 2016 - California has made the biggest recent gains in the country in getting children signed up for health insurance, according to a new report. Researchers at the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families found the Golden State cut its number of uninsured children by 55 percent between 2013 and 2015, just after the Affordable Care Act went into effect.

California Leads the Nation in Insuring Latino Children

January 2016 - California leads the nation in enrolling Latino children in health insurance, thanks in large part to massive outreach efforts and to the state's enthusiastic embrace of the Affordable Care Act.

Childhood Obesity Rates Drop

February 2013 - Childhood obesity rates are beginning to decline. A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds there are fewer obese young children in Los Angeles County.

December 2010 - A new state law requires California insurers sell "child-only" policies if they want to continue selling in the larger individual market.

Citizenship/Representative Democracy

May 2011 - A study from PEW finds California's cash-strapped counties and local governments could save millions of dollars on their elections if they provided election materials online, instead of mailing to each individual voter. A new state laws allows for voter info guides and sample ballots to be delivered this way. The PEW study reveals California counties spent up to 46-percent of their total election costs mailing paper sample ballots in the 2008 general election.

Easier to Register to Vote

November -0001 - Lawmakers approved a bill to automatically register to vote all eligible residents who obtain a driver's license.

Civil Rights

Civil Rights Groups Sue CA To Force Improvements to Medi-Cal

July 2017 - Advocates filed a class-action civil rights complaint against the state of California on Wednesday, alleging that low reimbursement rates have led to a shortage of doctors who take Medi-Cal, a problem that disproportionately affects low-income communities of color. Lawyers for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center filed the suit in Alameda County Superior Court.

California to Stop Suspending Licenses for Traffic Fines

June 2017 - Californians will no longer face losing their driver's licenses because of unpaid traffic fines starting July. Gov. Jerry Brown said the punishment doesn't help the state collect unpaid fines and can send low-income people into a cycle of job losses and more poverty.

Privacy Law Signed to Require Police to Get Court Order to Search digital data

October 2015 - California will now require police to get a court order before they can search messages, photos and other digital data stored on phones or company servers.

Climate Change/Air Quality

CA and Automakers Sign Agreement To Lower Emissions

July 2019 - As the Trump administration prepares to roll back emission standards for light-duty cars and trucks, a consortium of automakers and California have agreed on a voluntary framework to reduce emissions that can serve as an alternative path forward for clean vehicle standards nationwide. Automakers who agreed to the framework are Ford, Honda, BMW of North America and Volkswagen Group of America.The framework supports continued annual reductions of vehicle greenhouse gas emissions through the 2026 model year, encourages innovation to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles, and provides industry the certainty needed to make investments and create jobs. This important commitment means that the auto companies party to the voluntary agreement will only sell cars in the United States that meet these standards.

Judge Rules Against Oil Drilling in Carrizo Plain National Monument

July 2019 - The California Bureau of Land Management has agreed with conservation groups that plans for a new oil well and pipeline in Carrizo Plain National Monument failed to comply with federal environmental laws. The decision said the local BLM office must consider potential harm to California condors, other imperiled wildlife and the climate. The decision sends the BLM's environmental review back to the agency's Bakersfield Field Office for a new analysis, including a consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

California Court Affirms Communities' Right to Fight Permits for Dirty Power Plants

April 2019 - A California state judge has affirmed the constitutional right of residents concerned about air and climate pollution to challenge power plant siting decisions in their local Superior Court. In 2013, Earthjustice, Communities for a Better Environment and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a 2001 law limiting judicial review of the California Energy Commission's power-plant approvals to the California Supreme Court. The 4-3-19 decision in Alameda County Superior Court sides with the groups, agreeing that Superior Courts have jurisdiction to hear appeals of the Energy Commission's licensing decisions.

California Beats Self-Imposed Climate Change Goals

July 2018 - California has beaten its self-imposed goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, achieving a milestone in the state's fight against climate change. The California Air Resources Board announced Wednesday that total statewide carbon emissions fell to 429 million metric tons in 2016, a drop of 12 million tons from the year before. The decline means California met the Legislature's goal of reducing emissions to 1990 levels, and did so a full four years before the target year of 2020. Gov. Jerry Brown and other state officials said the results proved the state's portfolio of anti-carbon laws and regulations is succeeding - and showed California can fight climate change while still enjoying a significant economic boom. They pledged to continue to fight efforts by President Donald Trump's administration to roll back strict emission rules imposed by the Obama administration.

Chevron Fined For Air Quality Violations at Bay Area Refineries

April 2018 - The Bay Area Air Quality Management District announced Chevron USA Inc. agreed to pay $170,000 to settle air quality violations at its refinery in Richmond. The settlement covers 25 Notices of Violation issued for air quality violations at the Richmond Oil Refinery during 2014 and 2015. The violations addressed in this settlement included flaring events during which hydrogen sulfide limits were exceeded, failure to take samples during flaring events, a public nuisance violation for odors and failure to properly monitor for hydrocarbon leaks at cooling towers.

Experts Predicts CA Can Reach Net Zero Emissions by 2050

January 2018 - California could reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 - that's the prediction by a panel of clean-energy experts gathered in Sacramento. The panel is part of the "Right to Zero" campaign by the environmental legal nonprofit Earthjustice. Transit agencies up and down the state are committing to convert to zero-emissions buses. The ports of L.A. and Long Beach are committing to convert all of their port equipment and trucks with zero-emissions technology. The campaign is also supporting a bill that would commit the state to achieving clean energy generation by 2045, and a bill that bans the sale of fossil fuel-burning vehicles. They also are fighting three natural gas-fired power plants proposed for the Golden State, because natural gas, although cleaner than coal, is still a polluting fossil fuel and puts residents at risk with methane leaks.

Southern California Ports Adopt Clean Air Plan

November 2017 - The nation's largest port complex approved a plan to slash air pollution by encouraging the phase-out of diesel trucks in favor of natural gas and, ultimately, zero-emissions trucks and cargo-handling equipment over the next two decades. A move in the right direction, though natural gas is a fossil fuel implicated in climate change.

Cap and Trade Extended by Governor

July 2017 - Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today signed AB 398 by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), which extends and improves the state's world-leading cap-and-trade program to ensure California continues to meet its ambitious climate change goals. The move was criticized by some progressive groups as not going far enough, while Republicans called it a gas tax in disguise.

CA Supreme Court Upholds Cap and Trade Law

June 2017 - The California Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to consider a challenge by business groups of the state's cap-and-trade law, a ruling that environmentalists hailed as ending a legal fight that had cast a cloud over the program. The state supreme court did not issue a written opinion on the program itself but declined take up the case on appeal from a lower court.

CPUC Sets New Rules for Natural Gas Leaks

June 2017 - After over two years of development, the California Public Utilities Commission adopted a series of new standards today that require natural gas utilities to implement 26 separate best practices to find, fix and prevent natural gas pipeline leaks and venting. The groundbreaking rule covering gas utilities is the most comprehensive in the nation and a companion to a March 2017 rule adopted by the California Air Resources Board that requires reduction of leaks from oil and gas extraction.

Court Upholds CA Cap and Trade Program

April 2017 - A state appeals court on Thursday ruled California's high profile market system for reducing greenhouse gas emissions does not amount to an illegal tax, a decision that could lift a pall over the so-called cap-and-trade program's marketplace for buying and selling pollution allowances.

SCAQMD Adopts New Air Quality Plan

March 2017 - The South Coast Air Quality Management District today adopted a 21st century blueprint for clean air, calling for stringent regulations combined with incentives to provide healthful air for the region?s 17 million residents. It specifically targets nitrogen oxides.

Governor Signs Climate Solution Act

September 2016 - Climate-change groups are applauding a new bill, just signed by Governor Jerry Brown, that would make it state policy to promote the role of land and soil in scrubbing the air of excess carbon. The Natural and Working Lands Climate Solution Act (Senate Bill 13-86) writes into law that agencies must consider ways to promote good soil health on forests, farms, rangelands, wetlands, deserts, parks and other open spaces.

Governor Brown Signs Law Restricting "Super Pollutants"

September 2016 - Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today signed SB 1383 by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), which establishes the nation's toughest restrictions on destructive super pollutants including black carbon, fluoridated gases and methane. If followed worldwide, these acts would help cut the projected rate of global warming in half by 2050.

Two Major Climate Change Bills Pass

August 2016 - Two major climate change bills passed the Calilfornia Legislature, and are expected to be signed by the Governor. SB 32 by Senator Fran Pavley will help keep California a climate leader by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. AB 197 by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia ensures that the policies we set to meet this target are driven by equity with legislative oversight, agency accountability, and data transparency at the California Air Resources Board.

California Air Resources Board Passes New Rules on Oil, Gas Well Safety

July 2016 - Regulators with the California Air Resources Board (ARB) at a hearing on Thursday removed a major loophole from proposed new rules on oil and natural gas facilities in an effort to prevent another disaster like the massive gas leak at Aliso Canyon last fall. The proposed rules require more inspections of all surface facilities, existing and new, including those offshore.

Consumer Issues

Expose Reveals Cell Phone Industry's Own Scientists Predicted Harm

April 2018 - An investigative report in The Nation lays out the history of industry-funded research into the question of whether radiation from cell phones is hazardous to human health. It shows that the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association's own scientists concluded in 1999 that a danger exists. The cover story interviewed many sources PNS has been talking with for years.

Bill Filed to Protect CA Renters

February 2018 - Following failure of a bill that would have expanded rent control, a trio of California lawmakers introduced legislation aimed at adding other protections for renters. Democratic Assemblymen David Chiu of San Francisco, Richard Bloom of Santa Monica and Rob Bonta of Alameda want to make it harder to evict tenants and extend timelines before evictions could occur.

Bill Introduced in State Assembly to Fight Predatory Lending

February 2018 - California Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) introduced AB 2500, the Safe Consumer Lending Act, a bill to protect California families from abusive high-cost installment loans. The legislation would extend California's current interest rate cap for consumer loans between $2.500 to $10,000. Under the proposed law, a $10,000 loan with a 12 month repayment plan would carry a maximum interest rate of 20%. Currently, California has no APR limit for installment loans of $2,500 to $10,000, which gives predatory lenders the opportunity to charge borrowers interest rates of 100% APR or more.

Consumers Win In Deal With CPUC

January 2018 - Consumers can finally say goodbye to paying for the San Onofre nuclear plant under the terms of a new agreement relieving customers of an additional $873 million in charges. The agreement adds to a previous settlement approved by the CPUC in 2014. The CPUC moved to reconsider the reasonableness of that agreement in light of evidence showing pervasive impermissible private contacts between SCE executives and former CPUC President Michael Peevey.

California Publishes Guidelines on Cell Phone Use

December 2017 - For those worried about exposure to non-ionizing radiation from cell phones, the State of California has issued guidelines to mitigate or reduce potential effects. While a definitive link is elusive, there is some evidence long-term heavy cell phone use can lead to brain tumors, reduced infertility or low sperm count, and other negative health impacts.

Governor Signs Bill on Transparency on Ingredients in Cleaning Products

October 2017 - Governor Brown signed into law yesterday the Cleaning Product Right to Know Act of 2017 (SB 258). The new law requires cleaning products - for the first time - to disclose the bulk of their ingredients, particularly chemicals of concern, on their labels and online. In a first for any product category, chemical ingredients in fragrances - previously a black box to consumers - will also have to be disclosed.

Governor Signs Bill to Increase Transparency in Drug Pricing

October 2017 - Working to increase transparency in prescription drug pricing, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today signed legislation - SB 17, requiring pharmaceutical companies to give notice before hiking prices. SB 17 requires drug manufacturers to provide a 60-day notice if prices are raised more than 16 percent in a two-year period. The bill applies to drugs that have a wholesale price of more than $40 for a 30-day supply. SB 17 also requires health plans and insurers to file annual reports outlining how drug costs impact health care premiums in California.

Bill to Make Doctors on Probation Inform Patients Passes State Senate

June 2017 - By a vote of 30-4, the California Senate passed SB 798, the Medical Board sunset review bill. The legislation includes a provision that requires doctors to notify their patients when they have been put on probation by the Medical Board for dangerous misconduct. SB 798 will now be taken up by the California Assembly. The bill must pass the state legislature this year in order to reauthorize the Medical Board of California.

Governor Signs Out of State Arbitration Bill

September 2016 - California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1241, placing limits on agreements requiring workers to waive their rights to challenge employers in the court system. The bill specifically bans arbitration clauses which force California residents out-of-state.

Governor Signs Smart TV Privacy Law

October 2015 - The first-in-the-nation bill to address privacy concerns as new smart TVs get equipped with voice recognition features.

Criminal Justice

CA Senate Passes Bill To Train Police To Avoid Deadly Use Of Force

May 2019 - The California Senate approved legislation requiring officers across the nation's most populous state to be trained in ways to avoid using deadly force, one of two measures intended to deter shootings by police. Senators unanimously passed the proposal requiring that policies on deadly force be standardized statewide, sending it to the Assembly. It also requires officers to learn ways to de-escalate confrontations, alternatives to shooting suspects and how to interact with those with mental illness or addictions.

Judge Lets Law on Access to Police Records Stand

March 2019 - The California Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to a new law implemented at the start of the year unsealing and allowing public and media access to certain types of records related to police conduct. The law is intended to end years of secrecy that have made it impossible for the public to find out when a police officer had been found to engage in misconduct on the job. The secrecy was so strong that even prosecutors and defense attorneys struggled to find out about any past behavior by an officer that might compromise a criminal case.

Governor Signs Criminal Justice Reform Package

September 2018 - Gov. Brown signed two research-based criminal justice reforms to improve rehabilitation and reduce the odds of re-offending. Senate Bill 1391 prohibits 14- and 15-year-olds from being tried as adults in criminal court and subsequently sent to adult prison. The bill reverses laws passed in the 1990s that allowed for sentencing the youngest teens to the adult criminal justice system. Senate Bill 1050 extends services and support for exonerated people released from prison after their wrongful convictions are overturned. Since 1989, there have been a total of 192 exonerations in California. SB 1050 guarantees access to Medi-Cal, CalFresh and work training programs to assist exonerees to transition back to society. Today Governor Brown also signed SB 439, which excludes children age 11 and younger from juvenile court jurisdiction to promote the rights, health and well-being of the child by curbing premature exposure to incarceration, and SB 1393, which return judicial discretion on sentencing related to five-year enhancements for serious felony convictions.

Governor Signs Bill to Give Judges Discretion in Sentencing

September 2018 - Gov. Brown signed another major reform rooted in evidence-based policy and cost-effective approaches to criminal justice. Senate Bill 1393, the Fair and Just Sentencing Reform Act, will eliminate automatic penalties that have contributed to the state's mass incarceration crisis and failed 'tough on crime' policies by returning discretion in sentencing of serious felonies to judges.

Governor Signs Bill to Reform Cash Bail

August 2018 - Taking action to revamp California's bail system, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. 8/28/2018 signed Senate Bill 10, the California Money Bail Reform Act, which preserves the rights of the accused, while prioritizing public safety. The new law - which will take effect on October 1, 2019 - establishes a new system for determining a defendant's custody status while they await trial based on an assessment of risk to public safety and probability of missing a court date rather than their ability to pay cash bail.

California Attorney General Backs Changing Money Bail System

February 2018 - Judges must consider suspects' ability to pay when they set bail amounts, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra ruled, adding momentum to ongoing talks aimed at finding a better way to make sure suspects show up in court. Judges should only keep suspects in jail awaiting trial if they are dangerous or are likely to flee, Becerra said. He sided with a recent appeals court ruling that the state's bail system unconstitutionally discriminates against poor suspects who languish in jail. Bail is money or property that can be forfeited if suspects fail to appear for trial.

Governor Brown Signs Law To Ban Charging the Innocent for Cost of Counsel

July 2017 - Today, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 35, that would end the practice of requiring innocent defendants to reimburse the courts for the cost of appointed counsel. In the future only those who are convicted will be charged.

Orange County Jail Dumps Controversial Contractor

March 2017 - Orange County supervisors voted Tuesday to cancel a contract with a jail kiosk operator over concerns that family members and friends of inmates were being charged too much to use the company's services, including posting bail money and adding funds electronically to commissary accounts. In recent years, the Federal Communications Commission and attorneys general for six states have accused the contractor, Virigina-based Global Tel-Link Corp., of charging excessive rates on jailhouse phone calls. In Orange County's jail, the company charged for use of their kiosks and online payments system, including $8 to deposit $51 into an inmate's commissary and from 5 to 8 percent for most bail payments.

Proposition 57, Gov. Jerry Brown's push to loosen prison parole rules, is approved by voters

November 2016 - Proposition 57, the governor's plan to further shrink the state's prison population, was supported by almost two-thirds of voters in Tuesday night returns. The ballot measure changes the state's prison and legal systems in three significant ways. The least controversial element will reverse a law approved by voters in 2000 that sent more juvenile defendants to adult courtrooms. Those young defendants will now only be charged as adults with a judge's approval. The most controversial parts of Proposition 57 involve the prospect of parole for felons who have not been convicted of one of California's designated "violent" crimes, and the creation of new good-behavior credits that all state prisoners would be eligible to earn.

Governor Signs Asset Seizure Bill

September 2016 - Governor Brown signed SB 443, authored by Senator Holly Mitchell and co-authored by Anderson, which will require a conviction before law enforcement can seize one's property if that property is valued at less than $40,000.

Governor Signs Bill On Proof of Innocence

September 2016 - Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1134, which ensures that when innocent people are convicted, there is a fair and reasonable path to clear their names if new evidence is later found to support their claims of innocence.

Governor Signs Bill Decriminalizing Prostitution for Minors

September 2016 - Governor Jerry Brown signed multiple bills which protect young child sex trafficking victims from further exploitation, including Senate Bill 1322, which decriminalizes prostitution for minors in the state of California.

CA Gets New Online Reporting for Police Use of Force

September 2016 - Following last year's launch of an unprecedented criminal justice open data initiative, OpenJustice, and the passage of Assembly Bill 71, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today launched a web-based tool that allows California law enforcement agencies to digitally report law enforcement or civilian uses of force.

Anti-Death Penalty Proposal Qualifies for the Ballot

July 2016 - The Justice That Works initiative is officially on November's ballot in California as Proposition 62. Prop 62 will replace the death penalty with life in prison without parole.

Supreme Court Rejects Case on Assault Weapons Ban California Gun Control Remains in Place

December 2015 - California's gun strict laws are safe, for now, after the Supreme Court on Monday rejected a case that could have overturned the Golden State's ban on assault weapons and high capacity ammunition.

Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault

Bill to Fight Sexual Harassment Introduced in State Senate

March 2018 - Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) has introduced wide-ranging legislation to close loopholes in law that discourage or prevent victims from speaking out, allow employers to avoid sexual harassment and discrimination laws, and leave employees vulnerable to sexual harassment at work. Senate Bill 1300 provides guidance to the courts on the "severe or pervasive" legal standard for sexual harassment litigation, so that it is fairly applied in court to protect victims. SB 1300 also prohibits non-disparagement clauses and "sneaky releases" that prevent victims from speaking out about abuse, strengthens sexual harassment training requirements, and holds employers accountable for preventing harassment in the workplace.

Governor Signs "Rape on the Night Shift" Bill

September 2016 - Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1978 today, a landmark bill authored by Asm. Lorena Gonzalez to protect women whose jobs working the nightshift in empty buildings have made them particularly vulnerable to sexual assault.

Early Childhood Education

Poll Shows Supporter for Kindergarten Readiness Act

April 2014 - A Field Poll found overwhelming support for making universal preschool in California available to all four-year old children.

Education

CA Assembly Passes Child Savings Accounts

May 2019 - The California State Assembly has passed a ground breaking effort to reduce wealth inequality for all California children by a vote of 75-0. This effort complements Governor Newsom's effort to expand child savings accounts similar to the program he started in San Francisco as Mayor. AB 15 will create a statewide child savings account program by tasking the Scholar Share Investment Board to operate a master 529 account, owned by the state. Each child born in California will automatically be enrolled in the account at birth and receive an initial seed deposit of at least $25. Savings from the account could be used for a number of different higher educational purposes such as tuition at a college, university, trade school or graduate program; room and board; books; computers; and other related qualified expenses.

California Senators Vote to Replace No Child Left Behind Act

December 2016 - A bill to replace the No Child Left Behind Act passed in the Senate Wednesday in a landslide.

CA Voters Pass Props 55 and 58

November 2016 - Supporters of public education say they're thrilled that voters passed both Propositions 55 and 58 by overwhelming margins. Prop 55 extends a tax on the wealthy for 12 years in order to send about 8 billion dollars to public education annually, while lowering sales taxes. Proposition 58 also passed, making it much easier for schools to offer bilingual education, by repealing parts of a 1998 law that mandated all children be taught in English-only classes unless their parents requested a waiver each year.

Prop 51 On School Bonds Passes

November 2016 - Voters have passed Prop 51, which authorizes $9 billion in general obligation bonds: $3 billion for new construction and $3 billion for modernization of K-12 public school facilities; $1 billion for charter schools and vocational education facilities; and $2 billion for California Community Colleges facilities.

University of California to Make $5 Million in Loans to Undocumented Students

February 2016 - The University of California has just announced five-million dollars in loans to undocumented students.

Endangered Species & Wildlife

California Court Approves Ban on Federal Wildlife Poisoning, Trapping

April 2020 - A federal animal-killing program must restrict its use of bird-killing poisons in Northern California and stop setting strangulation snares and other traps in places like the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The agreement, approved by a San Francisco federal court, also directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services to analyze the environmental impacts of its killing of coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions and other wildlife in California’s "Sacramento District." This 10-county region covers Colusa, El Dorado, Lake, Marin, Napa, Placer, Sacramento, Solano, Sonoma and Yolo counties.

Court Blocks Trump Administration Plans to Strip Sage-grouse Protections

October 2019 - A federal judge blocked Trump administration plans allowing expanded drilling, mining, livestock grazing and other destructive activities across 51 million acres of greater sage-grouse habitat in seven western states: Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, California and Oregon. Conservation groups requested the injunction in April, saying the plans approved by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt would gut protections for the birds' dwindling populations and destroy their habitat.

Safer Fishing Gear to Replace West Coast Drift Gillnets

September 2019 - Dolphins, whales, sharks and sea lions on the West Coast may be less likely to die in fishing nets now that authorities have approved a new type of fishing gear. The Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to approve deep-set buoy gear, to replace the huge drift gillnets made of mesh that are used by commercial fishing operations to catch swordfish.

California Bans Fur Trapping

September 2019 - California Gov. Gavin Newsom signs bill that makes it illegal to trap animals or sell their fur, making California the first state in the U.S. to impose a fur trapping ban. The Wildlife Protection Act of 2019 puts an end to a longstanding practice that was entwined with California's frontier roots but that has steadily declined in recent decades with the rise of conservationism.

Conservation Groups Sue To Protect Endangered Species in Northern California

July 2019 - Conservation groups are filing suit against the U-S Fish and Wildlife Service to force a long-delayed decision on whether to list the Siskiyou Mountain salamander as an endangered species. A coalition of environmental groups petitioned for protections early last year but the agency has missed multiple deadlines and has yet to make a finding.

Groups Ask State To Protect Mountain Lions

June 2019 - The Center for Biological Diversity and Mountain Lion Foundation formally petitioned the California Fish and Game Commission today to protect mountain lions under the California Endangered Species Act. The petition seeks protections for gravely imperiled cougar populations in Southern California and on the Central Coast, including the Eastern Peninsular Range, Santa Ana Mountains, San Bernardino Mountains, San Gabriel Mountains, Santa Monica Mountains, and north along the coast to the Santa Cruz Mountains. Some Southern California lion populations could disappear in little more than a decade, according to a March 2019 study. Researchers at UC Davis, UCLA, and with the National Park Service predicted that if inbreeding depression occurs, the Santa Ana population could go extinct within 12 years and the Santa Monica population within 15.

Recovery Plan Released For Endangered Frog

February 2019 - In response to legal action by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finalized a recovery plan for the endangered Southern California population of mountain yellow-legged frogs. The plan calls for a wide array of recovery actions and research efforts to deal with the multitude of threats to the survival of this highly endangered frog. Once the 1900s mountain yellow-legged frogs have disappeared from nearly all of their former range in Southern California. By the 1990s fewer than 100 were thought to remain in a handful of isolated headwater streams. Predation by introduced fish, primarily non-native rainbow trout, is one of the best-documented causes of the frogs' decline. Another primary threat is habitat damage from recreation and other factors.The recovery plan prioritizes the continuation of captive-breeding efforts and augmentation of existing populations, as well as reestablishing populations in areas historically occupied by the frogs.

Court: Gray Wolves Can Keep California Endangered Species Protection

January 2019 - A state court judge upheld protection for gray wolves under the California Endangered Species Act. The ruling rejected a challenge from the Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of the California Cattlemen's Association and California Farm Bureau Federation. Ranching groups had challenged gray wolves' endangered status based on the erroneous claim that the wolves in California are the wrong subspecies. They also wrongly argued that the listing was improperly based on a single wolf's presence, and that wolves can't be endangered in the state as there are plenty elsewhere in the world.

California Protects Humboldt Martens as Endangered

August 2018 - In response to a petition from conservation groups, the California Fish and Game Commission voted 8/23/2018 to protect the Humboldt marten under the state Endangered Species Act. The Environmental Protection Information Center and Center for Biological Diversity petitioned for the secretive carnivore's protection in 2015. A relative of minks and otters that dwells in old-growth forests, fewer than 200 of the cat-like animals survive in California in Del Norte, Humboldt and Siskiyou counties. Humboldt martens have lost more than 95 percent of their historic habitat to logging.

Bill to Phase Out Driftnets Passes Key Committee

May 2018 - SB 1017, a bill that would transition California away from the use of large-scale driftnets successfully cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill will potentially be up for a full Senate floor vote next week. SB 1017, authored by Senator Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, would: Implement a driftnet permit buyback program; end the use of driftnets after the 2023 fishing season (new entrants into the swordfish fishery will be directed toward the use of lower impact fishing gears for a modernized fishery). This is the first time a bill of this type has passed out of the Appropriations Committee.

Court Rules in Favor of Bi-State Sage Grouse

May 2018 - A U.S. district court ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2015 wrongly denied Endangered Species Act protection for the bi-state sage grouse, which lives in parts of California and Nevada. The next step will be a court hearing to determine when the agency must reconsider federal protection for the bird, a genetically unique and isolated sage grouse species that inhabits the Mono Basin on the California-Nevada border and faces multiple threats to its survival.

Sardine Fishery Closed For Third Year to Protect Population

April 2017 - Today, federal fishery managers voted to keep the U.S. West Coast Pacific sardine fishery closed for the upcoming commercial season. With an estimated 86,586 metric tons (mt) of sardine remaining, and 150,000 mt necessary for fishing to occur, this will be the third year in a row there are not enough sardines to support a fishery. Had the decision gone the other way, the fishery would likely collapse to near extinction and greatly impact animals like sea lions that feed on sardines.

Davis Co-Op Wins Award For Protecting Raptors

July 2016 - The advocacy group Raptors Are The Solution gave an award to the Davis co-op for switching from rat poison to traps in order to protect owls, hawks, and other wildlife. It was presented at the co-op in downtown Davis, where they also received an award State Senator Lois Wolk's office.

Sea World Ends Killer Whale Breeding

March 2016 - SeaWorld will end killer whale breeding, the company announced, after years of controversy over keeping its orcas in captivity.

Bill Introduced in CA Senate to Protect Bees from Toxic Pesticides

March 2016 - A new bill aims to slow the collapse of bee colonies by making certain pesticides available only to trained professionals.

Lead Ammo Banned

September 2013 - The state Legislature has passed a bill that would ban the use of lead ammunition for hunting.

Gray Wolf Gets Protections

December 2010 - The California Department of Fish and Wildlife released a draft plan Wednesday to protect the gray wolf, which recently established the first pack in California in decades.

Energy Policy

LA to Retire Three Gas-Fired Power Plants, Go Renewable

February 2019 - California took a huge step toward the goal of running entirely on renewable energy, as the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power announced that it's retiring three natural gas power plants. The L-A D-W-P, which is the largest municipal utility in the nation, says it will close the Haynes, Harbor and Scattergood gas-fired plants near the L-A International Airport.

Puente Power Plant Proposal Officially Dead

December 2018 - NRG withdrew its application to the California Energy Commission for approval of the Puente Power Plant, which had been proposed for construction on the Oxnard coast. On October 5, 2017, the Energy Commission Committee issued a Statement recommending denial of the project due to its significant environmental impacts and violations of local and state laws and regulations. The Statement supported the community's preference for clean energy sources and recommended an expedited study to analyze the feasibility of such alternatives.

Governor Brown Signs Bills to Block Offshore Oil Drilling

September 2018 - Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed legislation - SB 834 by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) and AB 1775 by Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) - to block new federal offshore oil drilling along California's coast, and announced the state's opposition to the federal government's plan to expand oil drilling on public lands in California. SB 834 and AB 1775 block the Trump administration's plan to expand offshore oil drilling by prohibiting new leases for new construction of oil and gas-related infrastructure, such as pipelines, within state waters if the federal government authorizes any new offshore oil leases.

Oil Company Criminally Liable for 2015 Spill Near Santa Barbara

September 2018 - Plains All-American Pipeline was found guilty of several charges in connection with the 2015 rupture of its severely corroded coastal oil pipeline today after a four-month trial. The spill near Refugio State Beach leaked more than 120,000 gallons of oil, killed hundreds of birds and marine mammals and blackened Santa Barbara area beaches for miles. A jury found Houston-based Plains guilty of a felony for failing to properly maintain its pipeline, and several misdemeanors, including failing to timely call emergency response agencies. The spill shuttered seven offshore drilling platforms that were served by the pipeline, Line 901. Plains has applied to build a new pipeline in the same location. ExxonMobil is also seeking permits to transport oil by tanker trucks so it can restart its three offshore platforms.

Governor Signs Bill for 100% Clean Energy Goal

September 2018 - California Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 100 (SB100) into law, setting the fifth largest economy in the world on a path to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. SB100 builds on California's clean energy leadership by establishing bold new clean energy targets for the state. California is now the largest global economy to commit to 100 percent renewable energy.

Alisa Canyon Blowout Settlement Announced

August 2018 - California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, along with the California Air Resources Board (CARB), Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer (City Attorney), and the County of Los Angeles (County) announced a $119.5 million settlement with the Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) over the unprecedented natural gas leak from a ruptured well at its Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility in Porter Ranch, California.

LA Utility Invests $100 Million in Effiency

June 2018 - The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power - the nation's largest municipal utility - voted to invest $100 million over five years to improve energy efficiency in lower-income rental housing, ensuring those who most need electricity bill savings will see some relief. This is the largest single allocation of energy efficiency funding aimed at affordable apartments in California as well as the biggest nationally for one metropolitan region served by a municipal utility. LADWP also allocated $10 million for new shared solar facilities, further ensuring benefits from California's clean energy economy can reach all residents, including renters.

California Moves to Require Solar on Most New Homes

May 2018 - California became the first U.S. state to require solar panels on almost all new homes, sending the clearest signal yet that rooftop power is moving beyond a niche market and becoming the norm. Most new homes built after Jan. 1, 2020, will be required to include solar systems as part of energy-efficiency standards adopted by the California Energy Commission. While that's a boost for the solar industry, critics warned that it will also drive up the cost of buying a house by almost $10,000. Solar shares surged upon the decision, while homebuilders fell.

Conservation Groups Sue Over Oil Rig Planned in National Monument

April 2018 - Los Padres ForestWatch and the Center for Biological Diversity appealed the Trump administration's approval of a new oil well and pipeline in Carrizo Plain National Monument. It is the first well the Interior Department has approved in the monument since it was established in 2001. The appeals, filed with the Interior Board of Land Appeals in Virginia and the Bureau of Land Management's California director, show that the oil well and pipeline would harm threatened and endangered wildlife and mar scenic views. The fossil fuel development would violate several laws, including the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act, as well as the monument's resource-management plan.

Groups Sue to Keep Methane Waste Rule

December 2017 - Two new lawsuits have been filed in federal court to stop the Trump administration from deep-sixing rules meant to reduce pollution, fight climate change and preserve public resources. A dozen conservation groups and the state attorneys general of California and New Mexico have sued to reinstate the methane waste rule, which would force oil and gas companies to install equipment to capture excess methane gas at their wells instead of venting it or burning it off. The BLM suspended the rule until January 2019, arguing that it is too big a burden on industry.

Environmental Groups Settle Lawsuit Over Panoche Valley Solar Project

July 2017 - The Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Panoche Valley Solar LLC have entered into a settlement agreement concerning the size and location of a solar project currently under development in California's Panoche Valley. The agreement will help advance renewable energy in the state, create local jobs, and protect the environment. Once final, the settlement will permanently conserve more than 26,000 acres for wildlife habitat. Initially, 247 MW of solar generation was planned for development in the Panoche Valley, but now approximately 100 MW is instead proposed for development at a site in Imperial County, California.

LADWP Puts Hold on Gas Plants

June 2017 - The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP), the largest publicly owned utility in the country, announced that it will pause a $2.2 billion investment in gas plants until it can do a clean energy analysis. This is a clear signal that the DWP sees clean energy and energy efficiency as a strong competitor to gas. This hold comes after a year of the community advocating at the utility for greater investments in clean energy and energy efficiency.

CA Joins Lawsuit to Defend Energy Efficiency Regs

April 2017 - California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, with the California Energy Commission and six Attorneys General, filed a motion late yesterday to intervene in a lawsuit in order to defend energy saving light bulb regulations. In March, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) challenging energy efficiency regulations for lamps (light bulbs). California defends these laws to safeguard their massive energy savings.

Oil Company Abandons Last Offshore Rig in CA Waters

April 2017 - Local environmentalists and community members are celebrating the announcement that Venoco has quitclaimed its oil and gas leases offshore near Santa Barbara. The leases include those supporting operations from Platform Holly and the Ellwood Pier. Holly is the last offshore rig in CA waters. The California State Lands Commission will take over the process of plugging the wells and decommissioning the structures. The Ellwood Onshore Facility (EOF), which processes oil and gas from Platform Holly, will also likely be decommissioned. The environmental community has been united against Venoco's controversial projects for decades. At various times, the oil company has used Platform Holly for Acid Well Stimulation (acidizing) and in recent years has sought authorization to expand drilling from Holly using slant drilling techniques, reaching more than four miles into a Coastal Sanctuary.

Local Board Blocks Oil Train Proposal

March 2017 - The San Luis Obispo Board of Supervisors today voted to reject Phillips 66's proposed oil train offloading terminal. The project was denied with a 3-1 vote, with one supervisor recusing himself in a conflict of interest. Phillips 66 had appealed the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission decision to reject their controversial oil train project last October, which came after a nearly three-year review process. More than 25,000 Californians have opposed the project in comments and petitions, and more than 45 cities, counties, and school boards have sent letters urging the County to deny the crude-by-rail proposal. The Board of Supervisors' denial was the second community victory in less than a week, after a Superior Court judge ruled that Phillips? legal challenge to the earlier Planning Commission decision was premature.

Calif. Tops Nation for Energy-Efficiency Jobs

January 2017 - California is number one in a dynamic industry that has created almost 1.9 million jobs nationwide, according to a new report. The report, by the group Environmental Entrepreneurs, indicates that policies in California, like targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, are paying off.

Governor Signs Bill Promoting Green Energy

October 2016 - Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1110 (Phil Ting, D-San Francisco) which sets a new standard for consumer protection in the green energy market, one that all retail suppliers will have to include in their marketing and advertising materials.

Governor Signs Bill to Rein in CPUC

September 2016 - Governor Brown signed a bill, SB 215, that limits meetings between utilities and regulators, establishes new disclosure requirements for contacts between Commissioners and self-interested Wall Street and industry representatives, and increases penalties for violations.

California Releases Proposed New Rule to Curb Leaks at Oil and Natural Gas Facilities

May 2016 - Oil and gas facilities, including storage wells like the one that created a disaster this winter at Aliso Canyon, will have to undergo rigorous new inspections, if a groundbreaking proposal released by the California Air Resources Board goes into effect.

Environmental Groups Praise Criminal Indictments on Santa Barbara Oil Spill

May 2016 - Environmental groups are applauding the criminal indictment of the company responsible for the massive oil spill last may in Refugio, about an hour north of Santa Barbara.

California Offshore Oil Fracking Permits Halted While Federal Government Performs Environmental Review

January 2016 - The U.S. federal government will stop approving offshore oil fracking operations off California's coast while it studies how damaging the practice is to the health of wildlife and the environment.

The California Public Utilities Commission Decided to Keep Net Metering

January 2016 - In a big win for rooftop solar in California, the state Public Utilities Commission rejected big fee increases and cuts to reimbursement rates on changes sought by the big three utility companies.

Water Rules Drafted in Response to Drought

November -0001 - The State Water Resources Control Board put out a framework on how the mandatory water cuts can be achieved. Also the California Energy Commission approved new standards for water appliances.

Environment

Judge Rejects Oil Company's Request to Frack Off SoCal Coast

April 2019 - Environmental groups have won another round in the battle over fracking in federal waters off the coast of California. A judge has denied an oil company's request to frack in the Santa Barbara Channel. The company, called D-COR LLC, had asked for an exception to a moratorium put in place last December. That ruling forbids the Trump administration from approving permits for fracking or acidizing in the Pacific until proper environmental review is done.

New Bill To Defend Against Trump Environmental Rollbacks

December 2018 - California's first state Senate bill of the new session - S-B One - is an effort to combat the Trump administration's environmental rollbacks, by requiring state rules to be at least as strict as those in place before January 2017, when President Barack Obama left office. The current administration has already repealed dozens of environmental rules, from protections for wetlands and smaller streams, to regulating the release of greenhouse gasses from oil and gas wells on federal land.

Judge Orders CA Ag Officials to Stop Using Pesticides

February 2018 - A judge has ordered California agricultural officials to stop spraying pesticides on public and private property to control insects that threaten the state's $45-billion agriculture industry. Farmers and other property owners will still be able to use chemical insecticides, and the state can continue to use non-chemical means of pest control. But it will have to suspend spraying pesticides on vegetation in parks, school properties and even homeowners' backyards. The challenge remains for the state Department of Food and Agriculture to control dozens of crop-damaging pests such as the Asian citrus psyllid, which carries bacteria that have decimated the citrus industry in Brazil and Florida.

Governor Signs Bill to Plug Old Oil Wells

October 2017 - Governor Brown has just signed a bill to monitor and cap California's old, abandoned and leaking oil wells. Senate Bill 44, the Coastal Oil Well Clean Up and Remediation Act, will require the California State Lands Commission to monitor and plug old "orphaned" oil wells in California waters when the original oil company that operated the well no longer exists and cannot be held responsible. It also directs up to $2 million dollars annually, derived from state mineral leases, to a fund set aside for the remediation of improperly abandoned legacy wells. With this fund, the Commission will begin to identify leaking, abandoned wells and prioritize capping the highest risk wells first.

Lake Tahoe Restoration Act Passes U.S. Senate

September 2016 - The U.S. Senate passed the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act of 2015, which was included in the underlying text of the Water Resources Development Act. The legislation authorizes $415 million over 10 years for forest fuels management, environmental and watershed restoration, stormwater management and other projects. It now moves to the House of Representatives.

Bill to Help the Salton Sea Signed into Law

August 2016 - Senate Bill 1416, by Senator Jeff Stone (R-LaQuinta), which would establish a check-off box on State Income Tax forms to help restore the Salton Sea, passed the Senate and was signed by the Governor.

Feds Move to Clear the Way for Renewable Energy and Protect the California Desert

November 2015 - The future of more than 10 million acres of public land in the southern California Desert is laid out in a plan released by the Bureau of Land Management Tuesday.

Monterey Shale Oil Targets Drastically Reduced

May 2014 - Energy Information Administration say they are cutting their estimate of how much oil can be drawn out of California's massive Monterey Shale formation by a whopping 96 percent.

Victory for Lake Tahoe Ecosystem

January 2014 - Developers and environmentalists have settled a lawsuit that blocked a major redevelopment of Lake Tahoe's Homewood Mountain Resort.

Fracking Halt Won't be Halted in CA

April 2013 - Three bills that would halt fracking in California passed the Assembly Natural Resources Committee, despite intense pressure from the oil industry.

October 2012 - California Air Resources Board says more truckers are driving cleaner trucks. After inspecting more than 4,000 trucks at 40 locations statewide, the California Air Resources Board says truckers have gotten the message about obeying state air pollution laws.

September 2012 - A judge ruled the state may not include aerial spraying in eradication efforts against the Light Brown Apple Moth. While environmental groups are pleased with that part of the ruling, they say that restriction isn't enough. Health and environmental groups argue the rest of the approved plan involves applying harmful and untested pesticides in order to control a minor agricultural pest that has not been proven to damage California crops.

March 2012 - A victory for farm workers and those who live near strawberry fields. The manufacturer of a controversial strawberry pesticide is pulling its product out of California and other U.S. markets. Arysta LifeScience Inc. says it will no longer sell the fumigant Midas (methyl iodide.) The announcement comes as an Alameda County Superior Court judge was about to issue his decision in a lawsuit aimed at stopping the use of the chemical.

December 2011 - Environmental groups may have lost a regulatory battle to keep the controversial pesticide methyl iodide off the California market, but it now appears they may be winning the ground war against the chemical. Only six California growers have used methyl iodide to kill pests and weeds before planting crops like chili peppers, strawberries and walnut trees. That's compared to more than 8,500 soil fumigations that took place in California in 2009.

February 2011 - A newly-approved pesticide used in strawberry fields may be banned. Lawmakers are discussing alternatives to methyl iodide after hearing from critics who say the California Department of Pesticide Regulation ignored the recommendations of a science-review panel that found the chemical unsafe to farmworkers and the water supply.

Environmental Justice

Governor Signs Bill to Help Disadvantaged Communities Access Funds For Clean Energy

September 2018 - California Gov. Jerry Brown signed first-of-its-kind legislation designed to level the playing field for disadvantaged communities seeking funding for climate change and clean energy projects funded either by California Climate Investments or other sources. Signed along with a group of other climate bills during the Global Climate Action Summit, SB 1072 was authored by Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino) and cosponsored by The Greenlining Institute and the Trust for Public Land.

Bill to Help Disadvantaged Communities Go Green Passes State Assembly

August 2018 - By a bipartisan 48-9 vote, on 8/29/2018 the California Assembly passed legislation designed to level the playing field for disadvantaged communities seeking funding for climate change and clean energy projects funded either by cap-and-trade dollars or other sources. SB 1072 previously passed the Senate in slightly different form and faced no organized opposition. The measure helps develop technical assistance guidelines covering areas like greenhouse gas quantification and grant-writing. It also provides further assistance by establishing regional climate cooperatives -- local hubs staffed by local experts that will answer questions, convene stakeholders, foster partnerships and help to develop project ideas. Taken together, these programs will provide a crucial boost to rural towns, high-poverty areas and other communities for whom the grant process may be daunting. The bill now goes back to the Senate for concurrence.

California Energy Commission Takes A Step Back on Puente Power Plant

June 2017 - The California Energy Commission has decided to allow the California Independent System Operator (CalISO) to study the feasibility of clean energy alternatives to the proposed Puente Power Project in Oxnard. The proposed natural gas plant is slated for construction on the coast in Oxnard, a community of color already disproportionately impacted by pollution and power plant construction.

Governor Signs Environmental Justice Bills

September 2016 - Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today signed legislation that directs $900 million in cap-and-trade funds to greenhouse gas reducing programs that benefit disadvantaged communities, support clean transportation and protect natural ecosystems.

Coastal Commission Votes to Oppose Power Plant

September 2016 - The California Coastal Commission voted today to oppose the siting of a gas-fired power plant on the coast in Oxnard. Community groups had opposed the Puente Project on the basis that they already have three fossil fuel burning power plants polluting the air in this low-income city.

CA Supreme Court Upholds Ban on Suction Dredge Mining

August 2016 - A victory for environmental groups and tribes on Monday as the California Supreme Court upheld the 2009 ban on suction dredge gold mining in state rivers.

GLBTQ Issues

July 2011 - Governor Jerry Brown signs bill to require all CA public schools include gay history education in their curriculum.

Gun Violence Prevention

U.S. Top Court Rejects Challenge to California Gun Waiting Period

February 2018 - In a blow to gun rights activists, the U.S. Supreme Court turned away a challenge to California's 10-day waiting period for firearms purchases that is intended to guard against impulsive violence and suicides. The court's action underscored its continued reluctance to step into the national debate over gun control roiled by a series of mass shootings including the most recent at a Florida school. One of the court's most conservative justices, Clarence Thomas, dissented from the decision to reject the case and accused his colleagues of showing contempt toward constitutional protections for gun rights.

S.F. Sues Feds Over Faulty Gun Checks

December 2017 - The City of San Francisco has joined New York City and Philadelphia in a lawsuit to force the Defense Department to improve its system for reporting military service members with disqualifying convictions or dishonorable discharges to the FBI's firearms background-check system. The move comes after the revelation that the man who killed 26 people in a Texas church last month had been convicted of domestic violence while in the Air Force but since the DOD hadn't put that into the database, he was allowed to buy weapons.

CA Assembly Passes Bill Supporting Gun Violence Research

September 2017 - California State Assembly passed SB 536, a firearm violence research bill that will make information related to Gun Violence Restraining Orders available to researchers affiliated with the newly established University of California Firearm Violence Research Center or other nonprofit educational institutions or public agencies focused on the study and prevention of violence.

Bill to Restrict Guns from People Convicted of Hate Crimes Passes Assembly

May 2017 - With bipartisan support, the California Assembly passed The Disarm Hate Act, to keep guns out of the hands of people convicted of hate crimes. AB 785 by Assembly Member Reginald Jones-Sawyer (D, Los Angeles). Existing California law prohibits people convicted of violent crimes like assault or battery from owning guns for ten years, but that same statute does not apply to violent hate crime convictions. Those convicted of a violent hate crime get to keep their guns. This bill changes that.

L.A. City Council Targets "Bad Apple" Gun Dealers

June 2016 - The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to have L-A-P-D work with a nonprofit to identify "bad apple" gun dealers who sell the majority of guns used in crimes. Los Angeles will now become the only city in California to trace gun sales in this manner.

No Concealed Weapons on School Campuses

October 2015 - SB707 prohibits people with concealed weapons permits from carrying firearms on school and college campuses.

Health Issues

LA Considers Regulating 5G Towers

March 2019 - Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn asked the Department of Regional Planning to prepare the County's first-ever ordinance regulating the installation of cellular towers in communities. The cellular industry is rolling out 5G service and installing hundreds of thousands of new cell towers in neighborhoods nationwide. Since 2015, Los Angeles County's Department of Regional Planning has reported a 300% increase in the number of applications it has received for new cell towers. Currently, the County has no ordinance regulating cell tower installation and has instead relied on outdated regulations on television and radio towers.

Judge Kills Lawsuit Against CA Drug Price Transparency Law

September 2018 - A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit seeking to block a California law requiring pharmaceutical companies to give advance notice before big price increases. U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr., ruled 9/6/2018y in Sacramento that the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America failed to show that the court has jurisdiction to hear the case. He gave PhRMA 30 days to refile. The law requires 60 days' notice to raise national wholesale prices above a certain threshold. PhRMA says California's law illegally tries to dictate national health policy. The group also says the bill is unconstitutionally vague and violates the First Amendment by forcing drug companies to justify price increases.

Court Reinstates CA Aid-In-Dying Act, For Now

June 2018 - A California appeals court granted emergency motions by the two terminally ill adults and a physician for an "automatic stay" to immediately suspend a lower court's judgment invalidating the End of Life Option Act. The appeals court also granted a motion by Attorney General Xavier Becerra for a "discretionary stay" of the lower court ruling. The rulings reinstate the law, effective immediately. Similar to laws in Washington, D.C. and six states, the California law gives mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or less to live the option to request prescription medication they can decide to take to end unbearable suffering and die peacefully in their sleep.

Governor Vetoes 5G Cell Tower Expansion

October 2017 - Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed SB 649, a measure that would have gutted local control and put the interests of the wireless industry over those of California residents. A broad coalition of cities, counties, environmental, labor and consumer advocates opposed SB 649 by Sen. Ben Hueso (D-San Diego). The bill would have given wireless providers unfettered ability to install bulky cellular equipment on any street light or traffic signal as well as public libraries and other public buildings without permission from local governments, input from the public or fair compensation for city and county residents.

Governor Brown Signs Health Bills

October 2017 - Governor Jerry Brown has signed two important health consumer protection bills, AB 156 and SB 133, aimed at protecting California consumers from the Trump Administration's attempts to undermine the Affordable Care Act, inject uncertainty into the individual market, disrupt people's health care and make it more difficult for people to sign up for coverage. The bills signed into law ensure patients don't have to disrupt their care, even when forced to switch plans, and that California consumers have a full 12 week open enrollment period to sign up for coverage.

Single Payer Passes State Senate

June 2017 - The California Senate passed the single-payer bill June 1 by a vote of 23-14 with three members not present. The bill now heads to the state assembly. If it passes there, it will move to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature. However, several hurdles remain. It is not clear if Brown supports the effort, and the governor has questioned how the state would pay for it. A recent legislative analysis found the bill would cost the state $400 billion per year, more than double the current state budget of $125 billion. Lawmakers want to add a 15 percent payroll tax to pay for it and hope to get about $200 billion from existing federal, state and local funding, according to the legislative analysis.

State Senate Passes Bill to Ban Drug Company Gifts to Doctors

May 2017 - The California Senate passed a bill Thursday that would ban drug companies from giving gifts to doctors. Sen. Mike McGuire said his bill prohibiting perks such as airline tickets and lavish meals would lower drug costs in part because doctors who receive such gifts are more likely to prescribe expensive drugs. The Senate voted 23-13 to send the bill to the Assembly. Drug companies spend more than $1.4 billion a year on gifts to California doctors, said McGuire, a Democrat who represents a district west of Sacramento.

Judge Says Berkeley Can Keep Cell Phone Warnings in Landmark Ruling

April 2017 - Berkeley won a major decision in a federal appeals court. The court denied a request by the CTIA-The Wireless Association to block Berkeley's landmark cell phone "right to know" ordinance. Berkeley's ordinance, which has been in effect since March 21 of last year requires cellphone retailers in the city to provide consumers with the following notification: To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radiofrequency (RF) exposure guidelines. If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.

Some CA cities Making Strides in Tobacco Control

January 2017 - The American Lung Association's California chapter graded cities and counties on their tobacco-control initiatives, and noted a lot of progress. More than 20 received an overall "A" average, though the list doesn't include any of the 10 largest cities. San Francisco scored a "B," Los Angeles got a "C," and Anaheim got an "F."

California Legalizes Recreational Marijuana

November 2016 - At the stroke of midnight, recreational use of marijuana became legal in California. But there are a few important details about the new law. It is now legal for adults over 21 to possess up to one ounce of marijuana or eight grams of concentrated cannabis for personal use.

California Passes Proposition 56 Tobacco Tax

November 2016 - After voters twice turned back attempts to raise the state's tobacco tax over the last decade, California passed Proposition 56, which would increase the cigarette tax by $2 per pack.

California passes Proposition 52 to Make Medi-Cal Funding Permanent

November 2016 - Californians have chosen to make permanent the hospital fee program that helps fund Medi-Cal, the state's subsidized healthcare program for low-income residents. Early election returns show the measure passing with more than 70% of the vote. Proposition 52 will hobble state lawmakers' ability to change or end the hospital fee program. Through the program, hospitals pay to generate a federal contribution to Medi-Cal that results in a net benefit to the hospitals. During the fiscal year that ended in June 2016, the program generated $4.4 billion in federal funding for Medi-Cal.

Governor Signs Bill to Protect Very Ill Children

September 2016 - Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 586 (Hernandez) which will help prevent potentially life-threatening disruptions in care during an upcoming restructure of state program California Children's Services (CCS), which currently coordinates healthcare for California's medically fragile kids.

Governor Signs Bill Banning Surprise Medical Bills

September 2016 - After over 40 years of legislative gridlock on the issue, Governor Brown signed AB 72 (Bonta, et. al.) shielding consumers from surprise out-of-network medical bills when they follow the rules of their plan and visit in-network facilities.

Bill On Consumer Notice of Unreasonable Premium Hikes Passes Assembly

August 2016 - SB 908 passed the State Assembly. It now takes two simple steps to make sure consumers know their rights.

CA Bills To Help Healthcare Consumers Pass Key Committees

June 2016 - In a big win for consumers, a bill passed the State Assembly Health Committee late Tuesday to force pharmaceutical companies to justify how much they charge for prescription drugs and disclose large price hikes ahead of time. The same committee also passed S-B 908, which requires health insurers to provide notice to consumers if a rate hike has been deemed unjustified by state regulators.

Medical Aid in Dying Becomes Legal in California

June 2016 - Starting June 9th, medical aid in dying, also known as assisted suicide, became legal in California. Mentally competent, terminally ill patients will be able to seek a prescription from their doctor that will allow them to die peacefully in their sleep.

35 CA Counties Expand Medical Programs for Undocumented Adults

May 2016 - Dozens of California counties are expanding their indigent care as of today to include the undocumented.

Undocumented Children Eligible for Full Medi-Cal

May 2016 - Starting today, about 170-thousand undocumented children in California are newly eligible for full scope Medi-Cal insurance. It?s part of the Health4All program that would extend coverage to children in low-income families who qualify.

Anthem Blue Cross Fined $415,000 for Lack of Responsiveness to California Consumers

May 2016 - The California Department of Managed Health Care fined Anthem Blue Cross $415,000 for failing to identify, process, and resolve consumers' complaints in a timely manner.

Medical Marijuana Law Takes Effect

January 2016 - California's medical marijuana industry is growing up fast, so to speak - because a new law professionalizing the growth, sale and taxation of the plant goes into effect on Friday, January first.

California Latino Advocates File Civil Rights Claim Over Medi-Cal

December 2015 - California is violating the civil rights of Latinos by under-funding Medi-Cal, the state's healthcare program for low-income families and the disabled- according to a federal civil rights complaint filed this week.

Anthem, Blue Shield Fined Over Misleading Provider Directories

November 2015 - California Department of Managed Health Care announced it issued fines against Blue Shield of California and Anthem Blue Cross for inaccurate provider directories.

Right to Die Approved in CA

October 2015 - Governor Brown signs ABx2 15: "Right to die" law.

Medical Marijuana Regulations Passed

October 2015 - The Governor signed a trio of bills aimed at bringing order and oversight to California's medical marijuana industry nearly 20 years after the state became the first to legalize pot for medical use.

Children's Dental Care Coverage Made Easier

January 2014 - The board of California's health exchange, Covered California, has voted to reinstate the requirement that insurers include children's dental coverage.

May 2012 - The City and County of San Francisco recently updated its website to include precautionary health warnings about cell phone radiation. Burlingame is the only other municipality in the U.S. that has adopted such warnings on their websites.

September 2011 - The San Francisco Department of the Environment has announced that the nation's first cell phone ordinance is now in effect. The Department will conduct extensive outreach in October to distribute materials and educate local cell phone retailers about the ordinance. Retailer compliance with the ordinance is required by the end of October.

August 2011 - Burlingame became the second city in California and the United States to adopt precautionary health warnings regarding cell phone use. The guidelines adopted by the Burlingame City Council on August 15, 2011, state that the World Health Organization lists cell phones as "possibly carcinogenic," and that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandates that all cell phone manuals caution users to hold the phone a short distance from the body. Although the ongoing research and debate within the scientific community about the health effects of cell phones is recognized, the Council makes six recommendations to minimize "exposure to cell phone emissions."

June 2011 - A state bill that would require most hospitals have a policy in place to provide education about breastfeeding to new moms, has passed its first hurdle. Proponents say breastfeeding has been shown to help prevent the onset of chronic health conditions and diseases and that for many women, especially low-income women, assistance in hospitals may be the only help that they receive.

June 2011 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has launched an initiative to support a program that helps reach the nation's underserved Hispanic/Latino communities and educate them about the availability of health services and insurance. A program launched in California four years ago by L.A. Care Health Plan, has already trained nearly 70 Health Promoters.

March 2011 - California regulators have asked Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to set up a process so its customers can opt out of smart meters if they have concerns about the devices' potential health effects. Dozens of people and advocacy groups have claimed the radio frequencies and radiation from the wireless electricity and gas meters was harming people's health.

Physician Shortage Plan Unveiled

November -0001 - Democrats in the CA State Senate introduced SB 22, which would address the dire shortage of primary care physicians in California. This bill would establish a nonprofit public benefit corporation, to be known as the California Medical Residency Training Foundation. The bill would also create the Graduate California Medical Education Trust Residency Training Fund in the state treasury. It would fund grants to create new graduate medical residency training programs.

Cell phone warning measure approved in Berkeley

November -0001 - Berkeley City Council moved forward with a consumer warning measure. It would highlight the possible risks of cellphones, including details about keeping phones away from the body when not in use.

Housing/Homelessness

Governor Signs Slew Of Bills To Increase Housing Stock

October 2019 - Governor Gavin Newsom has signed multiple bills to address the housing crisis, in addition to providing $2.7 billion in the budget. Those include SB 329, which says landlords can no longer discriminate against people based on how they pay rent. AB 761 (Nazarian) will make state armories for homeless shelters available during the most dangerous hot times in summer. AB 1197 (Santiago) creates a CEQA exemption for supportive housing and navigation centers in Los Angeles. AB 1255 (R. Rivas and Ting) creates a surplus land database. AB 1482 (Chiu), a major victory for millions of renters trying to stay afloat, will make rent gouging and no-cause eviction illegal across the state. AB 1486 (Ting), the Public Lands for Public Good bill, will strengthen the state's surplus land act to transform unused public land into affordable housing. AB 1763 (Chiu) provides a density bonus to affordable housing developers when they build 100% affordable developments. Also, AB 1783 (Robert Rivas) Agricultural Employee Housing Development and SB 6 (Beall) Residential Development: Available Land.

California Assembly Passes Rent-Cap Bill

May 2019 - In a dramatic victory for tenant advocates, the California Assembly narrowly passed a statewide rent-cap proposal amid mounting pressure for lawmakers to protect renters from the steepest of increases in a hot rental market. If the bill clears the Senate, California could become the second state in the nation this year to limit annual rent hikes, covering millions of properties not covered by local rent control rules.

Bill Filed to Encourage More "Granny Flats"

December 2018 - State Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) is renewing his effort to resolve part of the state's housing crisis by introducing SB 13, a bill that would reduce development impact fees and eliminate other barriers for homeowners who want to construct accessory dwelling units (ADUs) on their property. In addition to impact fees, other remaining barriers to ADU construction include owner-occupancy requirements, ADU permit reviews, and setbacks.

Proposition 1 Passes: Affordable Housing And Home-Purchase Assistance For Veterans

November 2018 - Voters have approved a ballot measure to authorize the sale of $4 billion in bonds to fund housing programs, infrastructure work and matching contributions to a local housing trust fund.

Proposition 2 Passes: Using Mental Health Dollars For Low-Income Housing

November 2018 - Proposition 2 was approved by California voters. It allows the state to use $2 billion in bonds to build housing for homeless people that includes mental health care. The money for the bonds was originally approved to pay for mental health services, not housing.

Governor Signs Bill To Help Spur Creation of More "Granny Flats"

October 2017 - Following up on a major reform bill from last year that streamlined the development of accessory dwelling units (ADUs), Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 229, legislation by Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) to clarify that limits on sewer and water connection fees and charges apply to special districts and water corporations, as well as cities and counties. Wieckowski says, "SB 229 furthers the important work of SB 1069 by making clarifications to carry out the intent of last year's bill and encourage the development of these units free of excessive fees."

Governor Signs Affordable Housing Bill

September 2017 - Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 2, which creates a new, reliable source of funding for affordable homes through a $75 fee on the recording of certain types of real-estate documents, excluding sales of residential and commercial property. For transactions that involve the recording of multiple documents, the fee is capped at $225. It's estimated that the bill will generate roughly $250 million each year and create 57,000 jobs over five years.

Governor Brown Signs Affordable Housing Package

September 2017 - Gov. Jerry Brown has finalized lawmakers most robust response to California?s housing affordability problems in recent memory. The "15 good bills" Brown signed into law include a new fee on real estate transactions and a $4-billion bond on the 2018 ballot that together could raise close to $1 billion a year in the near term to help subsidize new homes for low-income residents.

Governor Signs "Housing First" Bill

September 2016 - Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1380, making California a "Housing First" state and establishing a Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council. Authored by Senator Holly Mitchell, SB 1380 requires all state programs targeted to end homelessness to incorporate the core components of Housing First.

Governor Signs Law To Encourage More Affordable Housing

September 2016 - Today, Governor Brown signed AB 2031 (Bonta, D-Oakland). AB 2031, sponsored by the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California (NPH) and supported by Housing California, gives cities the authority to bond against their "boomerang funds" (former redevelopment funds) for affordable development without voter approval.

Governor Signs Two Bills To Help Homeless Students

September 2016 - On September 21, two bills meeting the needs of homeless higher education students became law. AB 801 (Bloom, D-Santa Monica), co-sponsored by Housing California, creates the Success for Homeless Youth in Higher Education Act.

Bill to Require CA Renters to Pay Up During Evictions Pulled Before Vote

May 2016 - Assemblyman Mike Gatto killed his controversial bill on evictions ahead of a scheduled vote in the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

Bill to Fight Housing Discrimination Introduced in State Senate

February 2016 - A bill to make it illegal for landlords to discriminate against people with Section 8 housing vouchers was introduced in the California State Senate on Tuesday.

Human Rights/Racial Justice

New Racial Profiling Board Meets For First Time

July 2016 - California is taking concrete steps to fight racial profiling with the first meeting of the new Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board today in Los Angeles.

Hunger/Food/Nutrition

November 2012 - Voters shot down a requirement to label all Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO's) after Monsanto & co. spent $46 million on advertising against the measure.

January 2011 - Wal-Mart has made a commitment to promote good nutrition by selling healthier foods in its stores and lowering the price of fresh fruits and vegetables. The retailer is also promising to provide more support to California groups that help low-income adults make healthy and affordable choices at the supermarket.

Immigrant Issues

Judge Rules for CA in Sanctuary Cities Case

October 2018 - A U.S. judge in California struck down an immigration law that the Trump administration has used to go after cities and states that limit cooperation with immigration officials. The ruling, by Judge William Orrick, also directed the U.S. Department of Justice to give California $28 million that was withheld over the state's immigration policies. It was at least the third decision by a U.S. district court judge in recent months declaring the immigration law unconstitutional.

CA Supreme Court Rules for Immigrant Children in Visa Fight

August 2018 - 8/16/2018 made it easier for some immigrant children who are abused or abandoned by a parent to seek a U.S. visa to avoid deportation. It was not immediately clear how many children the ruling would affect. State judges cannot require that children drag an absentee parent living abroad into court in their visa application process, the justices said in a unanimous decision. Immigration rights advocates had warned that such a requirement would make it nearly impossible for the children to fight deportation. That's because courts in California cannot establish authority over a foreign citizen and the parent may want nothing to do with a child claiming abuse, and would refuse to participate in a court proceeding in the U.S., immigration groups said in court documents.

CA Sues Trump Administration Over Plans for Border Wall

September 2017 - The state of California filed a lawsuit in a federal district court challenging the Trump administration's plans to build a wall along the state's border with Mexico. The 53-page complaint was filed by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a former member of Congress, and the California Coastal Commission, which is a state agency that oversees the use of certain public lands, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

CA A-G Joins Legal Challenge to Trump Immigration Order

February 2017 - California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed court papers today joining the legal challenge to President Donald Trump's immigration orders, supporting Washington state's lawsuit that contends the travel restrictions targeting people from Muslim-majority countries are unconstitutional.

Covered CA Moves to Open Up To Undocumented Immigrants

September 2016 - Covered California submitted one of the first 1332 waiver requests under the Affordable Care Act, for the purpose of allowing all Californians, regardless of immigration status, to use the state health insurance marketplace to purchase a health plan with their own money.

Immigrant Rights Advocates Cheer Supreme Court Decision to Take Case

January 2016 - Immigrants rights groups in California are cheering the announcement Tuesday that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case that could end the threat of deportation for millions of undocumented immigrants across the country.

Undocumented Children to Get Medi-Cal

November 2015 - Governor signed SB4: The plan extends California's health care program for the poor to cover immigrant children from low-income families, regardless of their legal status.

Livable Wages/Working Families

State Supreme Court Hands Victory To Union In Community College Case

November 2019 - A victory in court for workers at Antelope Valley Community College could have major statewide implications. Workers challenged a district decision to change their work schedules without having them vote on it as outlined in their contract. The Public Employment Relations Board ruled against the district - and this week, the State Supreme Court let that decision stand.

Governor Signs Bill to Give Many Gig Workers Employee Status

September 2019 - California businesses will be limited in their use of independent contractors under a closely watched proposal signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom, a decision that is unlikely to quell a growing debate over the rules and nature of work in the 21st century economy. Legislators gave final approval to the sweeping employment rules in Assembly Bill 5 before adjourning for the year. The new law "will help reduce worker misclassification - workers being wrongly classified as independent contractors rather than employees, which erodes basic worker protections like the minimum wage, paid sick days and health insurance benefits," Newsom wrote in a signing message released by his office.

CA Supreme Court Rules Employers Must Pay for Off The Clock Tasks

July 2018 - California's Supreme Court ruled that employers must pay workers for the time they spend completing off-the-clock tasks, such as locking up after work. The decision, issued this week, marks a win for labor advocates who say requiring hourly workers to spend minutes doing unpaid tasks amounts to wage theft. Business groups say the ruling will embolden frivolous lawsuits and cost companies money. A federal law, called the Fair Labor Standards Act, generally allows companies to avoid compensating employees for time spent on duties the law describes as trivial or too difficult to track. In its majority opinion, the California Supreme Court said the federal rule does not apply in the state when it comes to certain off-the-clock tasks performed by employees.

CA Nurses Win Favorable Contract

February 2017 - The recent victory by National Nurses United/California Nurses Association at Kaiser Permanente after a 17 month struggle has secured a good contract for 1200 Los Angeles nurses. Another 550 nurses at 21 Kaiser hospitals across northern and central California just became NNU/CNA union members. The nurses haven't had a raise in six years.

Governor Signs Bill on Paid Parental Leave

September 2016 - Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 2393 (Campos), a bill that would provide classified school employees with up to twelve weeks of paid parental leave. AB 2393, which expands paid parental leave to school bus drivers, cafeteria staff and teaching assistants.

Governor Signs Bill Creating New Retirement Accounts

September 2016 - Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed SB 1234 by Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), that will create new retirement savings accounts for the nearly seven million workers who do not have one. Under the new law, workers who do not have a workplace retirement plan will automatically contribute 3 percent of wages to a new retirement account, the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Trust. This fund will invest in a diversified portfolio that focuses on long-term financial growth. Workers can change their contribution levels at any time, or choose not to participate. The legislation prohibits the state or employers from incurring any liabilities associated with the new program.

Governor Brown Signs Farmworker Overtime Bill

September 2016 - Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed historic legislation that would expand overtime pay for California farmworkers.

Farmworker Overtime Bill Passes Legislature

August 2016 - The California legislature voted to become the first state in the nation to end 80 years of excluding farmworkers from equal rights to overtime pay. The bill now goes to the Governor's desk.

California Governor Signs $15 Minimum Wage Bill

April 2016 - Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law giving California the nation's highest statewide minimum wage of $15 an hour by 2022.

Deal Struck to Raise CA Minimum Wage Statewide

March 2016 - Lawmakers and labor unions have struck a tentative deal to raise the statewide minimum wage to $10.50 an hour next year and then gradually to $15.

California's Minimum Wage Goes Up

January 2016 - Tens of thousands of minimum wage workers in California will be making an extra dollar an hour starting on Friday.

Ballot Measure to Raise Minimum Wage

December 2015 - The Fight for $15 movement is taking its case to the voters'filing on Tuesday to put a measure on the ballot to raise California's minimum wage from 9 dollars an hour to 15 by the year 2020.

Minimum Wage Pay Raise Approved in LA

November -0001 - Los Angeles City Council votes to move forward with a plan to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2020

Media Reform

Governor Signs Net Neutrality Bill

September 2018 - California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 822, the strongest and most comprehensive state-level net neutrality bill in the country. The bill passed the state legislature with overwhelming and bipartisan support, and could unleash a wave of similar efforts in other states, with serious implications in the fight to restore net neutrality nationwide.

State Lawmakers Pass Bill to Restore Net Neutrality

August 2018 - State lawmakers voted to pass a bill restoring net neutrality protections 8/31/2018. If signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, it would ensure all California broadband customers have equal access to content on the internet. The law would be the strictest for internet providers in the United States, and put California at odds with the federal government.

CA Net Neutrality Bill Resurrected

July 2018 - Two weeks ago, the strongest state-level net neutrality bill was gutted in a committee hearing by Assembly member Miguel Santiago, which led many observers to believe the bill was dead thanks to the power of giant telecoms like Comcast and AT&T. But the move sparked an unprecedented public outcry from Californians, who made thousands of phone calls, flooded social media, and crowdfunded more than $14,000 in order to put up a billboard in Chairman Santiago's district. 7/5/2018, in a win for the open Internet, Santiago announced that all of SB 822's core protections are being restored and that he's now a co-author of the bill.

CA State Senate Approves Restoration of Net Neutrality

May 2018 - The California State Senate just voted 23-12 to pass SB 822, the strongest and most comprehensive state level net neutrality legislation in the country. The bill passed despite fierce lobbying from big ISPs like AT&T and Comcast, who laid siege to Sacramento with an army of contract lobbyists and flooded the Capitol with misinformation in an all out attempt to kill the bill. SB 822 passed in large part due to mass mobilization by California residents in support of net neutrality. The bill heads next to the State Assembly, where it will likely get a vote early this Fall. More than 53,000 California residents sent letters to the Senate Energy committee calling on them to advance SB 822.

California Joins Lawsuit to Fight for Net Neutrality

January 2018 - The legal fight against the Federal Communications Commission's recent repeal of so-called net neutrality regulations began with a flurry of lawsuits filed to block the agency's action. One suit, filed by 21 state attorneys general, including California, said the agency's actions broke federal law. The commission's rollback of net neutrality rules were "arbitrary and capricious," the attorneys general said, and a reversal of the agency's longstanding policy to prevent internet service providers from blocking or charging websites for faster delivery of content to consumers.

Native American Issues

CA Bans Redskins as School Names

October 2015 - California public schools will be barred from using the Redskins name for sports teams and mascots under the legislation.

Oceans

Fishery Council Votes No on Permitting a West Coast Pelagic Longline Fishery

November 2019 - The Pacific Fishery Management Council voted overwhelmingly not to move forward with further consideration of permitting a West Coast-based pelagic longline fishery on the high seas (beyond 200 miles from shore) at this time. Pelagic longlines are a harmful fishing method that has been prohibited off the West Coast for decades due to excessive bycatch of unintended species including marine mammals, sea turtles, seabirds, marlins, and sharks. The federal agency NOAA Fisheries has been extensively pressuring the Council to expand the use of pelagic longlines inside and outside the West Coast Exclusive Economic Zone, and yesterday's vote was a solid rejection by the Council of this federal proposal.

Trump Administration Drops Appeal of Ruling To Protect Whales, Dolphins

April 2019 - The Trump Administration dismissed its appeal of a U.S. District Court ruling that found the administration's fishery agency illegally tried to block regulations designed to protect endangered and threatened marine species like whales, dolphins and sea turtles. In October a federal judge ruled in favor of Oceana in a lawsuit challenging the National Marine Fisheries Service's decision to withdraw a proposed rule that would have placed strict limits on the number of protected species that can be killed or injured in the California-based swordfish drift gillnet fishery. The National Marine Fisheries Service will now consult with the Pacific Fishery Management Council, the entity which recommended the hard caps to the Fisheries Service. That consultation is tentatively scheduled for November.

Lawsuit Challenges Federal Secrecy on Pacific Bluefin Tuna Protection Denial

February 2019 - The Center for Biological Diversity sued the Trump administration for refusing to release public records on its denial of protection for imperiled Pacific bluefin tuna. After the National Marine Fisheries Service denied Endangered Species Act protection to the Pacific bluefin in 2017, the Center sought records about the decision. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, comes after the administration refused to fully comply with that Freedom of Information Act request. The Pacific bluefin, a powerful fish that commands top prices at auctions in Japan, has been overfished to less than 4 percent of its historic population. Most Pacific bluefin caught by commercial and sport fishers haven't reached reproductive age, further undermining their recovery.

Judge Orders Feds To Set Catch Limit for Anchovy

January 2019 - A district court judge directed the National Marine Fisheries Service to promulgate a new federal rule to establish a new catch limit for anchovy that complies with the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The court has directed the Fisheries Service to do this within 90-days of the Court's instant Order, which is Thursday, April 18, 2019. The action by the court holds the feet of the National Marine Fisheries Service to the fire to require compliance with the nation's fisheries law (the Magnuson-Stevens Act), a responsibility the Fisheries Service has been avoiding since the judge's original court decision one year ago today. In response to a lawsuit filed by Oceana as represented by Earthjustice, the judge ruled in January 2018 that the Fisheries Service must use the best available science when establishing catch limits for the central sub-population of northern anchovy to prevent overfishing.

Judge Halts Offshore Fracking Pending Review

November 2018 - A federal judge issued an order declaring that the federal government violated environmental protection laws when it approved permits for fracking and acidizing (otherwise referred to as "well stimulation treatments," from platforms offshore California. The judge agreed with the Environmental Defense Center and Santa Barbara Channelkeeper that the government failed to conduct adequate consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding potential impacts to threatened and endangered species. The judge also held that the federal government must provide the California Coastal Commission with an opportunity to review fracking and acidizing before allowing such practices. Accordingly, the court issued an injunction prohibiting the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement from approving any plans or permits for the use of well stimulation treatments offshore California.

Fishery Council Protects Seafloor from Bottom Trawling Fishing

April 2018 - The Pacific Fishery Management Council unanimously voted to protect more than 140,000 square miles of seafloor habitat, including corals, sponges, and rocky reefs, off the U.S. West Coast. Once implementing regulations are issued by NOAA Fisheries, the Council's action will more than double the spatial extent of seafloor protections off the U.S. West Coast. The decision means the areas will be protected from bottom trawling fishing vessels, which in the past have destroyed deep-sea coral gardens, sponge beds, underwater canyons, and high relief structures like rocky reefs that provide homes for commercially and recreationally important fish species including more than 90 species of rockfish off California, Oregon, and Washington. Corals and sponges also provide habitat for a myriad of other ocean creatures including octopus and sea stars. As heavy gear contacts the ocean floor it can topple, crush, and remove slow-growing, living seafloor structures which can take hundreds of years to recover, if ever.

Authorities To Close Pacific Sardine Fishery Again

March 2018 - The commercial sardine fishery will remain closed for the July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019 fishing season. The decision is considered a victory by advocacy groups like Oceana. Despite a new draft assessment of the Pacific sardine population off the U.S. West Coast. The results of the scientific assessment showing the Pacific sardine population has continued to decline and is now at 2% of peak population levels observed in 2006 - a 98% population decline - conservationists were not confident the National Marine Fisheries Service and Pacific Fishery Management Council would follow the science. This will be the fourth consecutive commercial fishery closure for sardine. The Council first voted to close the sardine fishery in 2015.

Court Victory for Conservation Groups on Anchovy Catch Limits

January 2018 - A conservation group is declaring victory, as a U.S. District Court judge in Northern California has ruled that the federal government's allowable catch for northern anchovies, set in November, is far too high. The Pacific Fishery Management Council will now have to revise the catch limit downward, to protect other species that feed on anchovies. Geoff Shester, California campaign director and senior scientist with the nonprofit group Oceana, said the federal fishery managers opted to protect commercial fishing interests and have ignored current science that shows the anchovy population is collapsing.

Governor Signs Bills on Ocean Acidification

September 2016 - Governor Brown signed into law two bills designed to protect our oceans and marine environments: SB 1363 (Monning) and AB 2139 (Williams).

Marine Protected Areas Grow Bigger Fish

February 2013 - A study of the first five years of the state's first MPAs is encouraging. Scientists found bigger and better fish in the marine sanctuaries, which is evidence these underwater parks are working.

North Coast Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) Complete Underwater Parks Network

December 2012 - The final region for the Marine Life Protection act was finalized.

May 2011 - Northern California's newest underwater state parks celebrated their one-year anniversary of having greater protections under the Marine Life Protection Act. Not only are the fish in the protected areas expected to increase in numbers, but a park ranger says the MPAs are just beginning to attract divers, beach-goers, kayakers, birders, and tide-poolers who know wildlife viewing is best in protected areas.

December 2010 - The California Fish and Game Commission voted in December to adopt a network of marine protected areas that stretch from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border. Conservationists have been working for many years to create the plan for the underwater parks.

Public Lands/Wilderness

Big California Public Lands Package Introduced in Congress

April 2019 - More than a million acres of public lands would be protected if three new bills just introduced in Congress become law. The Central Coast Heritage Protection Act would designate 245-thousand acres of wilderness in the Los Padres National Forest and the Carrizo Plain National Monument. It would safeguard rivers and create the new Condor National Scenic Trail.

Sand To Snow National Monument Spared

August 2017 - The Sand to Snow National Monument in the southern California desert will not be reduced or rescinded - a decision announced by U-S Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Wednesday. Six other national monuments in California and others around the country remain in the crosshairs.

President Obama to Declare Three New Monuments in Southern Calif.

February 2016 - The southern California desert will soon have three new national monuments - Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, and Castle Mountains.

Point Arena Stornetter Public Land Protected

March 2014 - President Obama used Antiquities Act to protect Point Arena Stornetta Public Land on CA coast.

The New Year May Bring New Protections for Pinnacles National Monument

December 2012 - The U.S. Senate has approved legislation that would make it a national park, and now all that's left is for President Obama to sign the bill.

April 2012 - President Obama has named California's former military base, Fort Ord, as the country's newest National Monument. The designation will protect the 14-thousand acres of coastal land in Monterey County, while also recognizing the service of the generations of military personnel who trained on the base. Local groups and veterans groups have worked hard to get the designation.

February 2011 - There's a "silver lining" in the recession in CA and across the country. The poor economy is allowing public land trusts to buy more land for conservation. These public trusts have been snapping up large tracts of land or buying conservation easements - agreements in which landowners essentially promise not to allow development on their land in exchange for money - while developers have been sitting on the sidelines or going out of business.

January 2011 - Legislation to protect California's San Gabriel Mountains and Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia in San Diego County were introduced on the first day of the 112th Congress. CANS featured a story of how a local church supports protection for the San Gabriel Mountains because they consider the area sacred and a place where they go to retreat. A San Diego County businessman says the protection will also help the desert tourism economy.

Rural/Farming

California Ends Sale of Toxic Pesticide Chlorpyrifos

October 2019 - Farmworkers' groups are celebrating the end of at least a decade-long battle to ban a toxic pesticide in California after the state Environmental Protection Agency announced a new deal with manufacturers of chlorpyrifos. The pesticide no longer will be sold to growers in California after Feb. 6. Nayamin Martinez, director of the Central California Environmental Justice Network, said studies have linked chlorpyrifos to serious health effects in kids.

Salmon Recovery

February 2011 - Salmon are returning to CA. For the first time in 3 years, there's been an increase in salmon in the Delta and there may actually be a full fishing season this year. While this is good news, conservationist point to the need to continue to fight for responsible water policies in California so that these fish will have sufficient reproductive success.

Water to be Released for Salmon

November -0001 - A judge ruled that water can be released into the Trinity River, to benefit the salmon run upstream in the Klamath River. Two central valley water districts were suing to block the water release.

Senior Issues

Governor Sings California Survivors Bill of Rights

September 2016 - Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1150, the California Survivors Bill of Rights, to allow banks and mortgage companies to talk with widows or widower's who may not be named on the loan.

Smoking Prevention

CA Senate passes Several Anti-Smoking Laws

March 2016 - With final approval in the state Senate today, the California Legislature has taken historic action to combat tobacco use.

CA Legislature Votes to Raise Smoking Age, Clamp Down on E-Cigarettes

March 2016 - The California State Assembly took historic action to curb smoking in the Golden State.

Smoking Age Goes Up, E-Cigs Re-Classed

March 2016 - Lawmakers gave the first full-house approval to bills that would raise the state smoking age to 21.

Social Justice

First-ever Presidential Memorandum Calls for Hiring Diversity in Federal Agencies

January 2017 - In the Obama administration's last days, President Obama called for Department of the Interior, the Forest Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as other agencies, to be more inclusive in hiring practices and community outreach.

New Calif. Law Helps Protect Child Victims of Sex Trafficking

January 2017 - Starting this week, a new state law is in effect aimed at protecting minors who are part of the sex trade. Law enforcement officers can no longer arrest them for prostitution, which shifts the focus onto getting help for these juveniles instead of locking them up.

Low-wage Workers Win Minimum-Wage Increase in Calif.

January 2017 - Low-wage workers won a victory with California's minimum-wage increase, in effect starting this week. California's minimum wage is now $10.50 an hour, up from $10, and will ultimately rise to $15 an hour by 2022.

Dark Money Targeted in New Law

May 2014 - The California state legislature passed SB 27, a bill to make dark money nonprofits reveal their secret funders by becoming campaign committees when they spend over $50,000 on California campaigns.

Sustainable Agriculture

California Moves Toward Restricting Pesticide that Feds Refused to Ban

August 2017 - California regulators has moved one step closer to placing big restrictions on the use of a pesticide that President Donald Trump's EPA refused to ban earlier this year. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation just released an updated draft risk assessment for chlorpyrifos. It's one of the most widely-used pesticides in the state, applied to golf courses and about 50 crops, including almonds, grapes, walnuts, oranges and cotton. But Cheryl Watson with Cal EPA says chlorpyrifos is a dangerous neurotoxin that can float toward schools and homes in low-income farm communities.

Organic Victory in the New Farm Bill

January 2014 - The new Farm Bill includes reinstating the National Organic Certification Cost Share program.

Toxics

Monsanto Ordered To Pay 80 Million For Man's Cancer

March 2019 - Eight days after a U.S. jury found that Roundup weed killer was a substantial factor in a California man's cancer, it has awarded him $80 million in damages. The six-person jury in San Francisco returned its verdict in favor of Edwin Hardeman, 70, who said he used Roundup products to treat poison oak, overgrowth and weeds on his property for years. Agribusiness giant Monsanto, which was purchased by German giant Bayer last June, is facing thousands of similar lawsuits nationwide. This case could help determine the fate of the lawsuits, Hardeman's attorneys say. Bayer said in a statement that it will appeal the verdict.

Landmark CA Bill Would Ban Toxic Chemicals in Cosmetics

March 2019 - Lawmakers in California just introduced a first-in-the-nation bill to ban toxic chemicals in makeup and other cosmetics sold in drug stores and elsewhere in the state. Currently, it is legal for companies to sell cosmetics containing dangerous chemicals ? as long as they list them on the label and report them to the state. Assembly Bill 495 would make it illegal to sell these products if they contain mercury, lead, formaldehyde, asbestos, phthalates, even Teflon - any of about 20 items from California's list of Prop 65 toxics.

Judge Upholds Verdict in Roundup Weedkiller Cancer Case

October 2018 - A judge upheld the Roundup weedkiller verdict in a landmark cancer case. San Francisco superior court judge Suzanne Bolanos reduced the punitive damages by more than $200 million, but declined to overturn the jury's finding that Monsanto's glyphosate-based weedkiller caused the plaintiff's cancer.

CA Supreme Court Rules Against Monsanto, Allows Glyphosate To Be Listed As Carcinogen

August 2018 - The California Supreme Court 8/15/2018 refused to hear a challenge to a key provision of the state's landmark chemical consumer-disclosure law, Proposition 65, brought by Monsanto. The chemical maker was seeking to force California to remove glyphosate, found in the company's Roundup products, from the Proposition 65 list of carcinogens. This decision leaves in place lower court decisions upholding a provision of the voter-approved initiative that allows outside expert scientific findings to be considered when adding chemicals to the public list of carcinogens.

Roundup Lawsuit to Move Forward

July 2018 - A federal judge found sufficient evidence to move to trial hundreds of lawsuits alleging that Monsanto Co.'s glyphosate-containing weed-killer Roundup causes cancer. More than 400 farmers, landscapers, and consumers, whose lawsuits have been consolidated before the Northern California federal district court in San Francisco, allege that Monsanto?s weed-killer caused them to develop non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a blood cell cancer.

CA Sues EPA Over Dropped Ag Worker Protections

May 2018 - Joining the Attorneys General of New York and Maryland, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its decision to suspend critical safeguards for agricultural workers. The Agricultural Worker Protection Standard is a regulation first implemented by the EPA in 1992 to reduce the number of illnesses and injuries to agricultural workers nationwide from exposures to pesticides

New Limits on Pesticides

January 2014 - California farmers must restrict their use of a tear gas-like pesticide applied to strawberries and other crops under new rules designed to protect farmworkers and people who live, work and go to school near agricultural fields.

August 2012 - Johnson & Johnson plans to remove trace amounts of potentially cancer-causing and other dangerous chemicals from nearly all its adult toiletries and cosmetic products worldwide within 3 1/2 years. The health care giant late last year pledged to remove "chemicals of concern" from its baby products sold around the world. That change came after a large coalition of health and environmental groups began pressing J&J more than three years ago to make its personal care products safer.

Gov. Brown Directs Regulators to Find Alternatives to Harmful Flame Retardants

June 2012 - Governor Jerry Brown wants the state to reduce the amount of flame retardants in furniture because the chemicals can be toxic. Brown has issued a directive to state regulators to find a better way to meet fire safety standards. Flame retardants are found in everything from high chairs to couches. Brown says there's a growing body of evidence that suggests these chemicals harm human health and the environment.

Hair-Smoothing Treatment Makers Will Disclose Toxins

January 2012 - The maker of a popular hair-smoothing treatment has agreed to warn stylists and salon-goers that its products cause exposure to a cancer-causing chemical as part of a legal settlement announced by California Attorney General Kamala Harris. Health advocates are calling on the FDA to remove keratin hair straighteners from the national market.

California Safety Review Board Weighs in on Formaldehyde

March 2011 - The cosmetics industry's safety review board has weighed in on the popular Brazilian Blowout. They've concluded that cosmetic products containing formaldehyde should not exceed 0.2% because of health and safety reasons. Some of the hair-straightening products far exceed those levels, with some containing nearly 12-percent formaldehyde.

Water

Governor Signs Bill to Fund Drinking Water Improvements

July 2019 - Governor Gavin Newsom signs Senate Bill (SB) 200 establishing a Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund to close the funding gap and address a crisis that affects more than one million people in communities across the state. The fund will provide $130 million annually to enable the State Water Board to provide critical, ongoing operations and maintenance support for small community water systems that are unable to meet safe drinking water standards. Until now, no such funding source existed.

Lawsuit Forces Trump Administration to Protect Eight California Rivers

August 2018 - The Trump administration agreed to a settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity 8/17/2018 that requires two federal agencies to prepare long-overdue management plans to protect eight "wild and scenic" rivers in Southern California. Under the agreement the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management must complete plans by 2024 for 100 miles of waters in the Amargosa River, Owens Headwaters, Cottonwood Creek, Piru Creek, North Fork San Jacinto River, Fuller Mill Creek, Palm Canyon Creek and Bautista Creek. Designated by Congress in 2009 under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the waters wind through three national forests and other public lands and provide essential habitat for imperiled fish, birds and other wildlife. In March the Center filed suit in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to ensure protections for these California rivers.

Bill Introduced to Protect Desert Water

July 2017 - A bill introduced Wednesday in the California Legislature aims to protect water resources in the state's deserts. Assembly member Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) introduced Assembly Bill 1000, known as the California Desert Protection Act, to strengthen safeguards for desert groundwater so that water transfers don't negatively impact natural or cultural resources.

Deal to Remove Dams Moves Forward

April 2016 - Endangered salmon blocked for nearly a century from hundreds of miles of the Klamath River in Oregon and California are expected to return as dam deal moves forward.

Conservation Groups Praise Drought Measures in President's Budget Proposal

February 2016 - California conservation groups are cheering President Obama's new budget proposal for fiscal year 2017 - because it fully funds important anti-drought measures.

Drought Legislation to Penalize Wasters

November -0001 - Governor Brown announced he will propose legislation in response to the drought to give local water agencies new powers to enforce water restrictions and penalize those who waste water. It will also take any monies from fines on water wasters and put the funds toward conservation programs.

Women's Issues

Birth Control Pill To Be Prescribed in CA Pharmacies

April 2016 - Women in California no longer need their ob-gyn to prescribe the pill, the patch or other popular forms of birth control.


C o l o r a d o

N e w s

C o n n e c t i o n

Colorado News Connection

Census

Census Outreach To Help Local Governments Becomes Law

May 2019 - HB 1239 creates the 2020 census outreach grant program to help local governments and other agencies including school districts and nonprofits to support the accurate counting of Colorado's population for the 2020 census.

Children's Issues

More Kids Gaining Health Coverage Under ACA

September 2017 - The number of Colorado kids without health insurance hit an all-time low of four percent last year, according to new analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. The center found that between 2013 and 2016, an estimated 51,000 more Colorado kids gained coverage.

Colorado Reports Significant Progress Reducing Childhood Poverty

September 2016 - Childhood poverty has decreased significantly in Colorado since its peak in 2011, according to new data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. After the 2008 financial crisis, the poverty rate in Colorado grew to 18 percent, or nearly one in five kids. Since then, however, the rate has come down to 15 percent, one of the biggest drops in the country.

February 2011 - Senator Keith King drafted an amendment which restored funding to the state Smart Start program for the rest of the school year.

Citizenship/Representative Democracy

First Openly-Gay Speaker of the Colorado House

November 2012 - As the Democrats regained control of both chambers of the state legislature, Mark Ferrandino was selected to be the first openly-gay Speaker of the Colorado House.

Civil Rights

Early Childhood Discipline Bill Signed by Governor Polis

May 2019 - After many years on working on ending the school to prison pipeline, advocates are celebrating protection against harsh discipline for children of color. HB19-1194 will dramatically limit the removal of children in pre-K through second grade.

Climate Change/Air Quality

Colorado Adopts New Zero-emission Vehicle Standard

August 2019 - The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission voted 8-1 to adopt a new standard for zero-emission vehicles in the state as Colorado pushes to try to improve poor ozone pollution conditions across the state. Colorado becomes the 10th state to adopt a ZEV standard.

Colorado Sets Climate Goals

April 2019 - The Colorado Legislature has passed the Climate Action Plan to Reduce Pollution, or House Bill 1261, and it now heads to the desk of Gov. Jared Polis for his anticipated signature. The bill calls for reducing greenhouse emissions by 90 percent from 2005 levels by 2050.

City of Denver Divests from Oil and Gas Companies

April 2019 - Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced that the City of Denver is divesting its $6bn General Funds' portfolio from fossil fuel investments. The city said it was able to move quickly through the process as fossil fuels were already a small percentage of the overall portfolio.

Polis Executive Order Supports Colorado?s Transition to Zero-Emission Vehicles

January 2019 - Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order outlining a suite of initiatives and strategies aimed at supporting a transition to zero emission vehicles

PUC Approves Energy Plan That Could Reduce Health Risks

August 2018 - Xcel plans to replace the lost capacity from the early retirement of Comanche power stations 1 and 2 in Pueblo with a mixture of renewable resources and natural gas.

PUC Approves Energy Plan That Could Reduce Health Risks

August 2018 - Colorado's Public Utilities Commission has signed off on Xcel Energy's Colorado Energy Plan. And according to new analysis by the Colorado Fiscal Institute, the plan should bring significant health benefits. The plan calls for shuttering two coal-fired power plants in Pueblo County a decade ahead of schedule, and replacing their capacity largely with wind and solar. Report author Abby Pizel, natural resource policy analyst with the institute, said the plan could reduce air pollutants by as much as 55 percent of current levels.

Clean Air Whistleblower Wins Reprieve

March 2017 - Court of Appeals has dismissed a request by the city of Colorado Springs to impose a Contempt Citation on Monument resident Leslie Weise. Weise was required to appear last month in the Colorado Court of Appeals in Denver to determine if her efforts to seek truth and transparency regarding a damning air quality report that Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) has prevented the public from seeing would be met with sanctions and fines from the Court, and the single mother was threatened with up to six months in jail.

Work on Clean Power Plan to Continue

April 2016 - Colorado will continue to work on a plan to reduce carbon emissions.

Region's Improved Air Quality Cuts Cancer Risk

November 2015 - Garfield County has seen a steadily decreasing risk for cancer and other ailments associated with air pollutants.

Governor Hickenlooper Goes to Bat For Clean Power Plan

November 2015 - Governor Hickenlooper will ask the Colorado Supreme Court whether state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman overstepped her authority in challenging the federal Clean Power Plan.

April 2012 - The EPA issued first-ever air pollution rules for "fracking" wells, requiring that drillers burn or capture the gas and its smog-producing compounds released when the wells are first tapped. Going into effect in 60 days, the rules cover the period when a well is first drilled when natural gas is still venting but before it begins actual production.

Pollution Clean-Up on the Way

November -0001 - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Justice and the State of Colorado announced a settlement with Houston-based Noble Energy, Inc. Noble will spend an estimated $60 million on system upgrades, monitoring and inspections to reduce emissions, in addition to $4.5 million to fund environmental mitigation projects, $4 million on supplemental environmental projects, and a $4.95 million civil penalty.

Consumer Issues

Law Limiting Payday Loan Interest Rates Goes Into Effect

March 2019 - The measure limits the interest rate on short-term loans, commonly known as payday loans, to a yearly rate of 36 percent and eliminated all other finance charges and fees associated with payday lending.

Bill Killed that Would Have Boosted Credit Fees

November -0001 - Governor Hickenlooper vetoed House Bill 1390 which would have allowed lenders to increase interest rates by over 50%. The law would have increased the cost of borrowing money for certain consumer credit transactions. The bill was introduced near the end of the session and sailed through. Groups that oppose it say they didn’t have time to make their case and want a veto in order to give the proposal more debate next year.

Criminal Justice

HB-1025 Clears Hurdle for Workers with Criminal History

April 2019 - After Sept. 1, Colorado companies with more than 10 employees are prohibited from asking about workers' criminal history.

Colorado Lawmakers Pass Bill to Close Debtors Prison Loophole

June 2016 - The state legislature gave final approval to a bill that will close a loophole that critics contend gutted efforts to prevent the jailing of poor people who can't pay fines for low-level offenses.

Innocent Man Exonerated

January 2016 - Clarence Moses-El, who has been in prison for 28 years for a crime all evidence suggests he did not commit, has been exonerated.

Colorado ACLU Launches App to Record Police Activity

November 2015 - The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado unveiled a new smart phone app on that encourages people to record police interactions with the public.

"Corporations Are Not People"

November 2012 - Voters took mostly symbolic action, but nevertheless, stated clearly their belief that corporations are not people and should not have the rights of people when it comes to participating in elections.

Disabilities

Colorado Strengthens Protections for People with Disabilities and LGBTQ Coloradans

April 2017 - The Colorado Senate voted 23-12 to pass House Bill 1188, a bill that adds physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, and transgender status to Colorado's existing law concerning bias-motivated harassme

Education

New Law Addresses Rural Colorado's Teacher Shortage

May 2017 - House Bill 1003 requires the Department of Higher Education to work with the Colorado Department of Education, school districts and other education associations to identify root causes of the teacher shortage and recommend strategies to recruit and retain more teachers.

Endangered Species & Wildlife

Trump Administration Loses Attempt to Roll Back Sage-Grouse Habitat Protections

October 2019 - A federal judge blocked the Trump administration?s attempt to roll back sage-grouse habitat protections for special interests, which would have further opened the West to oil and gas leases

Energy Policy

Broomfield City Council Imposing Moratorium on New Energy Development

May 2019 - Broomfield City Council approved a six-month moratorium on new natural gas and oil development in the city, becoming the seventh Colorado community to impose a ban since the introduction of Senate Bill 181 in March. The moratorium passed unanimously on second reading, halting the municipal approval process for energy development until December.

Bill Passes to Prioritize Health and Safety in Oil and Gas

April 2019 - Senate Bill 181 changes the mission of the state regulatory body for the oil and gas. Among other restrictions on the energy sector, it allows local governments to regulate development.

Coloradans Reject Oil and Gas-backed Amendment

November 2018 - Amendment 74 would have put local governments at risk of lawsuits if any action caused any party to lose value on their property. The move, backed by oil and gas interests, was widely seen as a counter-threat to Proposition 112 which sought to keep oil and gas operations 2500 feet away from homes and schools.

Colorado Rising Submits Enough Signatures for Safer Setbacks Initiative to Qualify for November Ballot

August 2018 - Despite numerous hurdles, signatures have been submitted for 2,500-foot setbacks on fracking operations.

Governor Signs Executive Order on Orphaned Wells

July 2018 - Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an executive order that aims to address safety concerns with more than 260 orphaned wells and 360 orphaned sites in Colorado. The executive order follows a review that the governor ordered in the aftermath of the Firestone house explosion in 2017 that killed Joey Irwin and Mark Martinez and injured Erin Martinez.

Boulder City Council Approves 100 Percent Clean Electricity by 2030

December 2016 - The Boulder City Council approved a measure to transition to 100 percent clean, renewable electricity by 2030. The Council considered the move as a major step toward reaching the city's longer-term goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050.

Feds Cancel Thompson Divide Oil and Gas Leases

November 2016 - U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Bureau of Land Management Director Neil Kornze joined Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper yesterday in Denver to announce the final resolution of disputed oil and gas leases, cancelling leases in the Thompson Divide area of the White River National Forest.

November 2012 - The Colorado town of Longmont banned the practice of fracking for natural gas. This should set up quite a firestorm pitting the town's interests agains the state with a heavy influence from the energy industry constant through the process.

February 2012 - Colorado Rep. Jared Polis eliminated a measure from the House highway bill that would mandate commercial leasing of public lands for the unproven technology of oil shale development.

February 2012 - Senator Michael Bennet introduced an amendment (along with Kansas Senator Jerry Moran) to extend the wind energy production tax credit. Wind energy industries provide 6,000 jobs in Colorado.

November 2011 - Senator Mark Udall introduced legislation allowing clean energy development on federal lands, such as wind or solar energy. It's called the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act.

June 2011 - The new DOD funding bill increases goals for renewable energy on military bases. Colorado Senator Mark Udall's plans would wean the military off of billions of gallons of fossil fuels, creating huge annual savings. CNC reported on the "greening" of Colorado bases earlier this year.

January 2011 - A lawsuit was filed January 19th by a coalition of groups, including Earthjustice and the Sierra Club, challenging the Sunflower Coal Plant expansion in Kansas. It's an issue long on the radar of environmental groups sounding the alarm about pollution and questioning whether the plant is needed to meet energy demands.

December 2010 - A good sign in Colorado's push to wean the state from coal-fired power plants and other fossil fuels. Gov. Hickenlooper named wind-energy executive TJ Deora as director of the Governor's Energy Office. The idea is to facilitate the state's "new energy economy."

Environment

No GMOs at Chipotle

April 2015 - The Mexican fast-casual dining chain Chipotle announced that it has become the first national restaurant chain to use only non-GMO (genetically modified) ingredients.

Colorado Steps Ahead on Renewable Energy Policy

April 2013 - Colorado reaffirmed its role as a national leader in renewable energy when the State House approved the only bill in the country seeking to expand the use of wind, solar, and other alternative resources.

Fracking Decision Delayed Because of Overwhelming Number of Comments

December 2012 - The Department of the Interior decided to delay a ruling on hydraulic fracturing on Bureau of Land Management (federal) lands.

December 2011 - The Colorado Oil and Gas Commission adopted a law which would require oil and gas drillers to disclose all chemicals used in hydraulic fracking.

May 2011 - Fracking continues to be a big issue in the region. A shareholder's group has approached major oil conglomerates asking them to back off of fracking in the mountain West because of its lack of sustainability as a petroleum source and its ecological impact.

GLBTQ Issues

Colorado One of the Latest States to Say "Yes" to Marriage Equality

March 2013 - The state legislature voted to legalize civil unions.

February 2011 - Obama Administration announced that it will stop defending the discriminatory federal "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) in court The Colorado bill to recognize civil unions is set for a Senate committee hearing on March 7th.

Birth Certificate Change Approved

November -0001 - Colorado House Committee passed the Birth Certificate Modernization Act -- a bill that eliminates one of the many barriers transgender Coloradans face every day. (later killed in the Senate but seen as a sign of progress).

Marriage Equality Comes to Colorado

November -0001 - Because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to not review appeals court rulings regarding same-sex marriage bans, same-sex marriage is now legal in Colorado.

Gun Violence Prevention

Gun Safety Legislation Becomes Law

March 2013 - The state passed a comprehensive gun reform package, which includes limits on the size of magazines, universal background checks and a charge to gun buyers for those checks.

Health Issues

Medicaid Expansion Helped Decrease CO Uninsured Rate

September 2018 - Colorado and other states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act saw uninsured rates for low-income adults drop more than three times more than states that have not yet expanded coverage,

Joint Budget Committee approves Gov. Hickenlooper's request for Emergency CHP+ funding

December 2017 - The Joint Budget Committee approved Gov. John Hickenlooper's request for emergency funding to continue Colorado's Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) program through Feb. 28, 2018. This supplemental funding provides additional time for Congress to authorize federal funding and prevents cancellation notices from being sent to Colorado CHP+ members.

Despite Uncertainties, Colorado Holding its Own on Health Coverage

October 2017 - In 2011, 16 percent of Colorado residents did not have health insurance, but by 2015 - after the rollout of the Affordable Care Act - that rate had dropped to just over 6 percent and is holding steady. That's according to the 2017 Colorado Health Access Survey.

Colorado to Continue Funding for Colorado's Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) Program

June 2016 - Governor John Hickenlooper signed Colorado's annual budget legislation, also known as the Long Bill, fighting off efforts to stop contraception program.

Governor Hickenlooper Signs Health Care Bill Into Law in Frisco

June 2016 - Health-care bill HB 16-1336 is a law after Governor John Hickenlooper made a stopover in Frisco to add his signature. The new decree calls for the state's Division of Insurance to conduct a study looking at the viability of creating a single rating area from which health-insurance companies develop individual plan costs. The report is due in August.

Coverage Increases After Medicaid Expansion

March 2016 - A new report shows states that expanded Medicaid have lower uninsured rates than non-expansion states.

Mercy for Animals Commends Wendy's New Cage-Free Egg Policy

February 2016 - Wendy's announced its commitment to improving animal welfare in its U.S. and Canadian supply chains by switching to 100 percent cage-free eggs by 2020.

Colorado Gets Aggressive on ACA

April 2013 - The Colorado legislature passed the Family Care Act (H.B. 13-1222), which creates state family and medical leave protections for civil union and domestic partners. It's seen as a victory for equality and Colorado families, and if a loved one becomes seriously ill or faces a family emergency, they will not have to choose between health and a job.

Constitutional Amendment Regulates Marijuana Like Alcohol

November 2012 - Voters supported a constitutional amendment to regulate marijuana like alcohol.

October 2012 - Colorado received a $43.5 million grant from the federal government in order to build the state-run Insurance Exchange as established under the Affordable Care Act. The grant will provide two years of funding for the building process, after which Colorado would be eligible for a "Level Two" grant.

May 2011 - Colorado Governor Hickenlooper signed into law SB11-200, which establishes insurance exchanges in Colorado. Seven other states have passed similar exchange laws. The exchanges are part of the Affordable Care Act.

April 2011 - The Colorado Health Exchange bill was approved by the state senate and is currently under review by the house. The Exchange would provide a way for Coloradans to comparison shop for insurance, getting the best coverage at the most affordable price. We've extensively covered this issue, which is a part of Federal Health Care reform and is considered by many state health advocacy groups to be a crucial part of protecting health care for Coloradans.

Housing/Homelessness

Activists Advance Low-income Housing Strategy in Denver Suburb

September 2017 - After confronting the City Council in June, Westminster has added inspectors, recommended increases in rental and food-assistance budgets, and prioritized 25 percent of the new downtown development for affordable housing.

Hunger/Food/Nutrition

Colorado's Medical Deduction Helps Put Food on Table

December 2017 - One year after Colorado rolled out a new standard medical expense deduction, close to 9,000 seniors who qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program have been able to put more food on the table.

CO Expands SNAP exemptions

September 2017 - More Coloradans who are facing difficult life circumstances and financial challenges will be able to keep their food stamp benefits under a recent set of rule changes unanimously approved by Colorado's State Board of Human Services. Hunger Free Colorado and Colorado Center on Law and Policy (CCLP) have been coordinating with the state to adopt these new changes for more than a year.

SNAP Dollars Worth Double at Some CO Farmers Markets

August 2016 - Food stamps are now worth double for fresh fruits and vegetables at more than 30 farmers markets and other outlets in Colorado.

Immigrant Issues

Immigrants Win on Drivers License Process

May 2018 - Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill that aims to improve the state's long-embattled driver's license program for people living in the U.S. without documentation. Senate Bill 108 streamlines the renewal process and identification requirements for immigrants who have or are seeking driver's licenses. The measure marks lawmakers' first successful attempt to improve the program since it was created by the Colorado General Assembly in 2013, after years of persistent conservative pushback.

Immigrants Can Qualify for In-State Tuition

May 2018 - Refugees and Special Immigration Visa recipients will soon be eligible for in-state tuition at Colorado colleges. Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill allowing easier access to higher education. The bill will waive the traditional one-year residency requirement for college students and will lower higher education costs.

Bill to Improve SB251 Licenses Passes Both Houses

April 2018 - The Colorado House of Representatives passed the Eligibility Colorado Road and Community Safety Act (SB-18-108) in a vote of 38-24, clearing the road for the bill to park on Governor John Hickenlooper's desk for signage and paving the way for a healthier and safer Colorado for all residents and business owners. SB18-108 will allow people to renew their SB251 driver license online or by mail and permit those who have valid social security numbers to access the program.

Groups Reignite 24HR Hotline to Support Immigrants

February 2018 - A coalition of labor, faith, and grassroots organizers is renewing efforts to assist immigrants targeted for deportation. The Colorado Rapid Response Network provides legal assistance, know-your-rights training, and a 24-hour hotline to mobilize protection and document raids conducted by ICE.

Immigrants' Rights Supporters Celebrate Denver Win

August 2017 - The Public Safety Enforcement Priorities Act prohibits city employees from asking residents about their immigration status or handing that information over to ICE.

Feds Grant Jeanette Vizguerra, Arturo Hernandez Garcia Stays of Deportation

May 2017 - Jeanette Vizguerra, the mother of four who took sanctuary in a Denver church in February to avoid immigration authorities, will now be able to walk free after Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials on Thursday granted her a stay of deportation until 2019. Vizguerra and Arturo Hernandez Garcia, the man who had previously sought sanctuary in a Denver church and was recently arrested by ICE agents, had gotten a nearly 2-year deportation stay.

Health Coverage on Rise for Hispanic Kids in Colorado

February 2016 - More Hispanic children in Colorado have health insurance, but they're still lagging behind their peers, according to a new report by a Georgetown University research center and the National Council of La Raza.

Livable Wages/Working Families

New Minimum-Wage Law Could Bring Relief to High-Cost CO Counties

June 2019 - Gov. Jared Polis signed House Bill 1210 into law this week, repealing a 1999 prohibition against local governments creating their own minimum wages. The measure opens the door for counties and cities to address significant cost-of-living disparities across the state.

Colorado Advances Pay Equality for Women

April 2019 - Companies found to be paying employees less due to their gender will be forced to compensate them under SB-85, an equal pay bill awaiting Polis' signature. Companies will also be prevented from asking applicants about their salary history.

Bill Clears Way for Increasing Local Minimum Wages

April 2019 - The Local Wage Option bill (HB 1210) is on its way to the Governor's desk for signature. The bill would allow city and county officials to adjust their own minimum wages.

Colorado House of Representatives Passes FAMLI Act

April 2018 - The FAMLI Act would guarantee all Colorado workers up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for themselves and their families in a way that is friendly and supportive of business both large and small. The bill still has to clear the Senate.

Lowest-Paid Coloradans Edge Closer to Living Wage

February 2018 - Colorado's lowest-paid workers got a raise this week as the minimum wage increased by 90 cents to $10.20 an hour. But, for workers in many parts of the state, that still isn't enough to be financially self-sufficient.

Colorado Poverty Below National Average

September 2017 - The percentage of people living below the federal poverty level in Colorado continues to be below the national average, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. And, the state's child poverty rate dropped to just over 13 percent in 2016, down from nearly 15 percent the previous year, the lowest it's been since 2003.

State EITC Created

November -0001 - The Colorado Legislature passed the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC puts cash in the pockets of Colorado working families, rewarding families who are often working multiple jobs and are just trying to make ends meet. Advocates argue it’s an investment in Colorado that encourages and rewards work while helping to offset the impact of stagnant wages.

Media Reform

Colorado Moves to Protect Net Neutrality

April 2019 - The passage of SB-78 means Colorado internet users won't need to worry about internet service providers receiving their tax dollars while not abiding by net neutrality. A new law will prohibit providers that slow access to the internet or unfairly favor certain websites from receiving state grants.

Mental Health

Governor Polis Signs Bill to Curb Youth Suicide and Support Behavioral Health into Law

May 2019 - Governor Jared Polis today signed into law SB19-195, Child & Youth Behavioral Health System Enhancements, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Senator Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora) to curb youth suicide in Colorado by making it easier for families to find and access the behavioral healthcare they need.

Native American Issues

Colorado Cities Celebrate Indigenous People's Day

October 2016 - Denver and Boulder celebrated their first-ever Indigenous People's Day, after years of activist struggles to "transform Columbus Day," still a federal holiday. A Boulder resolution called for a correcting of the historical omissions of native peoples from public places, and is calling for tribal input to establish a new name for the city's Settlers Park.

Philanthropy

Colorado Gives Day Broke Records

December 2012 - Colorado Gives Day on December 4th broke its previous record, giving $15.7 million to 1,246 Colorado nonprofits.

Poverty Issues

Push for Work Requirements to Receive Medicaid Coverage Dies in Legislature

March 2018 - A bill that would have added work requirements for people with Medicaid coverage died in the Colorado legislature. Critics warned the move would have taken health insurance away from hundreds of thousands of Coloradans.

Public Lands/Wilderness

Trinidad Takes Conservation Steps to Become Outdoor-Recreation Destination

January 2019 - Trust for Public Land and The Nature Conservancy in Colorado are moving forward with plans to conserve 30 square miles of wilderness south of Trinidad for wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation.

Denver Wins Prized Outdoor Retailer Trade Shows

August 2017 - After nearly 18 months of intensive and harried negotiations, Visit Denver has booked the twice-a-year trade show in the city's Colorado Convention Center for five years, starting in January 2018. Conference organizers decided to leave Utah in the wake of several actions taken by state officials that they felt put public lands at risk.

Browns Canyon Proposed to be a National Monument

March 2013 - Mark Udall announced he's introducing a bill to turn the beloved angling and recreation area Browns Canyon into a National Monument - a series of public meetings on his proposal (which was developed with lots of stakeholder input) began this month.

November 2012 - Wide open spaces and outdoor recreational opportunities mean more jobs and fatter paychecks in Big Sky County. A new report, "West is Best," makes connections between protected federal lands and economic prosperity in Big Sky Country.

July 2012 - A seven-year process to develop a roadless rule for Colorado ended in July, when the state and U.S. Forest Service came to an agreement. The new Colorado rule includes creation of an upper tier category of lands that provides the highest safeguards to 1.2 million acres, a refined inventory that includes 400,000 acres of previously non-inventoried roadless lands and measures protecting species and vegetation.

June 2012 - Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe announced that noted conservationist Louis Bacon intends to donate a conservation easement totaling approximately 90,000 acres in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains bordering the San Luis Valley. This easement will provide the foundation for the proposed new Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area, which the Service is in the process of establishing.

May 2012 - The Rocky Mountain Greenway Project, an urban park connecting Denver's metro area trail systems with Rocky Mountain National Park, three area National Wildlife Refuges and community trail systems, moved forward this month as part of the America's Great Outdoors Initiative.

May 2012 - The U.S. Forest Service released a final version of the Colorado Roadless Rule this month, which will help manage 4 million acres backcountry public lands in the state. It addresses key concerns raised by sportsmen and environmental communities, including safeguarding key landscapes/habitats. This is one of two state-based roadless rules (Idaho is the other).

April 2012 - The Sportsmen's Heritage Act of 2012 (H.R. 4089) passed the House April 18 with bipartisan support and a vote of 274-146. It would require federal land managers to consider impacts to hunting and angling when developing land management plans, among other measures.

October 2011 - At a meeting with Mark Udall, the proposed San Juan Wilderness expansions received broad and wide-based support from groups including local governments, outdoor recreation enthusiasts, sportsmen (hunters & fishermen) and homeowners from the region.

September 2011 - Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennett introduced legislation to increase the San Juan Wilderness, protecting water supplies and helping to preserve recreational opportunities for Coloradans. Some of the land would be new wilderness, and other acreage would merely be protected from invasive procedures like mining. This is a bill which was shaped by community input - a grass roots effort mostly supported by locals

April 2011 - A new report from Headwaters Economics takes a look at oil, gas and coal development, and the role of those industries in state economies for Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. The findings show that the economic benefits to states are limited - accounting for less than three percent of both total employment and total personal income.

Browns Canyon National Monument Declared

November -0001 - President Barack Obama plans to name Browns Canyon, in central Colorado, a national monument, a designation that adds a new layer of federal protection to the popular spot for whitewater rafting.

Senior Issues

December 2010 - The President signed a one-year law which would delay the Medicare physician payment cut by one year. Health care watchdogs have been concerned that those cuts will lead to physicians dropping senior patients.

Smoking Prevention

Local Governments May Regulate Nicotine Products

March 2019 - Governor Jared Polis signed into law (March 28, 2019)a measure that confirms a local government's authority to regulate products containing nicotine.

Social Justice

Colorado Senate Defeats 'Religious Exemption Bill in Disguise'

April 2017 - The Colorado State Senate voted down Senate Bill 283, a bill that would have allowed businesses to claim that any belief, including religious beliefs, gives them the right to refuse to follow non-discrimination laws they don't like.

Water

Yampa River Gets Boost for Priority Water Projects

September 2019 - Stakeholders along the Yampa River Valley are celebrating the launch of the Yampa River Fund, a collaborative community-based initiative dedicated to identifying and funding activities that protect water supplies, wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities.

Water Bill Becomes Law

January 2010 - Gov. Hickenlooper, D-Colorado, signed a bill into law that will help protect Colorado's water.

Women's Issues

Colorado Passes Law Protecting Pregnant Women Workers

June 2016 - The Pregnancy Workers Fairness Act requires employers to provide physical accommodations for pregnant working women, so they can continue to work and care for their families.


C o m m o n w e a l t h

N e w s

S e r v i c e

Commonwealth News Service

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention

Access to Opioid Reversal Medication Expanded

October 2018 - The opioid overdose reversal medication naloxone is now more widely available in Massachusetts, as a result of the second major legislative act. The new law requires the Department of Public Health (DPH) to issue a statewide standing order allowing pharmacies to dispense naloxone without a prescription to any person at risk of experiencing an opioid-related overdose, as well as their family members, friends, or others to assist them. The purchase is billable for insurance purposes, regardless of whether the transaction involves the person actually using the medication. Previously, pharmacies were required to have their own pharmacy-specific standing order to dispense naloxone or purchasers had to have a prescription. Also, people could be denied insurance coverage for the purchase of naloxone if they themselves were not the user of the medication.

State House Approves Measure to reduce supply of painkillers on the street.

January 2016 - State lawmakers gave unanimous approval in the house to a measure that would limit the prescriptions for pain medications to a seven-day supply.

Animal Welfare

Commonwealth Voters Approve Humane Treatment of Animals Measure

November 2016 - Voters approved Question 3 on Election Day which requires eggs sold in the Bay State be from cage-free farms. All pork and veal produced and sold in the state will also be required to come from humanely-caged animals by 2022.

MA Ranks in Top Ten for Animals

January 2016 - A new (ALDF) ranks the Commonwealth in the top ten states for protecting animals.

Budget Policy & Priorities

Governor Charlie Baker Signs Student Opportunity Act

November 2019 - Governor Charlie Baker signed the Student Opportunity Act into law, adding $1.5 billion in annual education funding. PNS has been covering the Student Opportunity Act and past attempts to increase public education funding for years.

Proposed "Millionaire's Tax" Returns to Legislature

March 2019 - A so-called millionaire's tax that would help fund public education, and amend the state constitution, has been scheduled for a public hearing in April.

Children's Issues

Measure Pending To Take Holistic Approach to Child Wellbeing

October 2015 - Representative Jay Livingstone and Senator Mark Montigny are sponsors of HB429/SB94, An Act to Relative to Ensuring the Wellbeing of All Children in the Commonwealth.

Free Meals Made Easier for Low-income Kids

October 2013 - It's easier for low-income children in high-poverty Boston public schools to get free meals this year, thanks to a program called "CEO," or community eligibility option.

Civil Rights

Baker-Polito Administration Re-Establishes Governor's Task Force on Hate Crimes

November 2017 - Governor Charlie Baker signed an Executive Order re-establishing the Governor's Task Force on Hate Crimes. The Task Force will advise the Governor on issues relating to the prevalence, deterrence and prevention of hate crimes in the Commonwealth and the support of victims of hate crimes, as well as full and effective coordination among law enforcement agencies. The Task Force will encourage and assist agencies in safe reporting of hate crimes pursuant to the Hate Crime Reporting Act, as well as analyze and publicize hate crime reports pursuant to the Hate Crime Penalties Act. This group will also develop best practices related to technical assistance for school districts that may seek to incorporate hate crime education into their curricula.

Oxfam Joins ACLU in Challenge of Trump Travel Ban

February 2017 - The Boston-based group Oxfam, ACLU of Massachusetts and state Attorney General Maura Healey joined in a lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump's executive order. They argue that the order in unconstitutional and should be repealed.

Climate Change/Air Quality

Mass Approves Another Fleet of EV Chargers

September 2018 - Massachusetts regulators have approved a three-year, $25 million package of electric vehicle infrastructure programs run by two local subsidiaries of National Grid. It's the second proposal from the state's major utilities to pass muster with regulators in less than a year, following a $45 million plan from Eversource Energy in December. Neither of the two investor-owned utilities proposed full ownership of the charger systems, obviating what has been a point of contention in other states where utilities have proposed similar installations. Massachusetts is aiming to get 300,000 zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025, and the number of EV chargers has been ticking steadily upward. As of a year ago, 1,158 Level 2 ports and 128 fast chargers were available, according to the DPU, compared to 963 Level 2 ports and 83 fast chargers in the prior year.

State Directs $2.4 Billion to Climate Change Adaptation, Environmental Protection, and Community Investments

August 2018 - Governor Charlie Baker has signed bipartisan legislation to authorize over $2.4 billion in capital allocations for investments in safeguarding residents, municipalities and businesses from the impacts of climate change, protecting environmental resources, and improving recreational opportunities. H. 4835 authorizes $501 million to respond to and prepare for extreme weather, sea level rise, inland flooding and other climate impacts, $581 million to continue supporting communities around the Commonwealth and the environmental stewardship work they do and more than $474 million to support environmental programs at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and other agencies ranging from air and water quality monitoring to hazardous waste cleanup and the restoration of rivers, wetlands, streams, and lakes.

MA Joins Suit to Maintain Fuel-Efficiency Standard

August 2018 - Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey says the Bay State will be joining 19 other states in suing the Trump Administration to stop EPA's plan to freeze the fuel-efficiency standard is bad for public health, the environment and consumers. The EPA wants to freeze the fuel-efficiency standards for cars and light trucks for six years. It was set to increase to an average of 54 miles-to-the-gallon by 2025 but will remain at about 35, the standard set for 2020. The administration claims freezing the fuel standard will cut more than $2,000 off the price of new cars and result in fewer highway deaths, but opponents contest those findings.

State Senate Unanimously Passes "An Act to Promote a Clean Energy Future"

June 2018 - The Massachusetts Senate voted to pass S.2545, An Act to promote a clean energy future, sponsored by Senators Marc Pacheco and Mike Barrett. This legislation represents a firm stand by the Senate to ensure a healthier, cleaner Commonwealth for future generations of Massachusetts residents. Most importantly, the policies enacted in this legislation will have measurable benefits in the health of the global environment. This legislation is a forward-looking plan that prepares Massachusetts for the inevitable obstacles that will come with climate change. The policies and programs will protect public health, increase the use of renewable energy, reduce greenhouse emissions, implement a price on carbon, and create jobs in the innovative green-energy economy.

Mass. Joins New Coalition to Fight Carbon Pollution

February 2018 - State lawmakers have launched a multistate coalition to collaborate on legislation to combat carbon pollution. The Carbon Costs Coalition includes legislators from nine states, including Massachusetts. It will help those legislators design strategies to reduce carbon emissions and promote clean, renewable energy alternatives. The coalition will help state legislators who are working on the issue to compare notes on each other's bills and compare how they're conducting outreach and building their coalitions so they can be stronger by having that multistate idea sharing. The Coalition also will supplement the carbon reduction goals of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, a multistate compact that seeks to reduce carbon emissions from the power sector.

MA Joins in Effort to Extend Greenhouse Gas Iniative

August 2017 - A bipartisan coalition of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Governors committed to extending and strengthening the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The Governors agreed to extend the pollution cap to 2030, when it would decline 30% from 2020 levels.

Bay State's Largest Coal Fired Power Plant Shuts Down

June 2017 - The Brayton Point Power Station says it will cease operations this week. The plant has generated electricity since the 1960s and has been cited by federal regulators as one of the region's heaviest polluters.

MA Greenhouse Gas Emissions Drop By 21%

April 2017 - Even as President Trump works to derail the Clean Power Plan; Massachusetts continues to make progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The latest (DEP) numbers show a drop of 21 percent between 2013 and 2014.

Consumer Issues

Student Loan Bill of Rights Passes Mass. Senate

April 2018 - A bill to protect student-loan borrowers from deceptive loan-servicing companies has cleared the state Senate. Almost two-thirds of undergraduate students in the Bay State finish college with an average of nearly $30,000 of student loan debt, a 75 percent increase since 2004. Some loan-serving companies charge excessive fees, misrepresent products and steer borrowers to more expensive options. But Senate Bill 2380 would hold them accountable. SB 2380 would also establish a Student Loan Ombudsman office to review practices, resolve disputes and educate borrowers and the bill would also protect parents who take out loans to help their children.

Criminal Justice

MA Criminal Justice Bill Aims to Protect In-Person Jail Visits

March 2018 - Legislation introduced (S-2371) to prevent correctional institutions and jails from unreasonably limiting eligible inmates to fewer than two opportunities for in-person visits per week. The visitation provision is part of a much larger criminal justice reform bill. Proponents of the legislation say some sheriffs' departments around the country have eliminated in-person visiting in favor of video systems that can turn a profit. Private companies charge up to a $1.50 per minute for computer-based video visitation that often doesn't work well, making the experience frustrating and expensive, but in-person visits, especially with family and children, are an important part of the rehabilitation process.

Bill Seeks to Protect Marijuana Users in MA

January 2018 - A bill has been introduced in the legislature to keep those who follow the Bay State's law on marijuana use from being turned over to federal authorities. The bill, called "An Act relative to refusal of complicity", would prohibit local and state officials from using state resources to assist federal agents in the prosecution of individuals who are following the Commonwealth's marijuana laws, unless federal authorities have a warrant. The issue was drawn into the spotlight when U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced he is rescinding the Obama administration policy of not interfering in states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana. The bill reinforces the state's Constitutional protections against states being compelled by the federal government to pass laws that are consistent with federal law or to enforce federal laws. It was inspired by the practice of sanctuary cities and states that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities. Other states, including California, have taken similar actions.

Disabilities

Massachusetts Senate Passes Five Disability Bills

March 2016 - The Massachusetts Senate passed five bills that are intended to make life easier for persons with disabilities.

Restraints Settlement Agreement

February 2016 - A settlement agreement between DESE, Holyoke Public Schools and the Disability Law Center calls for the Peck school to reduce the use of restraints on students and for the center to monitor disciplinary practices at the school.

November 2012 - Something good may have actually come out of the vituperative arguements among partisan pundits during the presidential campaign. When conservative commentator Ann Coulter used the noun "retard" to describe President Obama in the final days of the campaign, it sparked an angry response from people who consider that "hate speech." According to the ARC of Massachusetts, a Boston-based non-profit serving those with disabilities, Coulter may have done them a favor by helping spread word of a movement against that word using a national campaign called "R-Word: Spread the Word to End the Word."

September 2012 - More medical students in Massachusetts are learning how to interact with patients who have intellectual or developmental disabilities - something not widely addressed in med schools - thanks to a program begun more than 20 years ago at Boston University School of Medicine, and now available at Tufts and Simmons School of Nursing. Operation House Call puts med students into homes of families whose children have I/DD to get familiar with communications and examination challenges.

Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault

Grants Awarded to Combat Violence Against Women

December 2017 - The Commonwealth awarded 37 grants totaling $2.7 million to community-based organizations, police departments, and state agencies to develop and strengthen law enforcement response, prosecution strategies, and victim services in cases involving violent crimes against women.

Education

Massachusetts Senate Passes $1.5 billion Education Funding Bill

October 2019 - The Massachusetts Senate passed a major overhaul of the education funding formula, which would require the state to spend another $1.5 billion annually on public education by the time it is fully implemented. The bill, dubbed the Student Opportunity Act, is the most significant update to the funding formula since it was established in 1993. PNS has been covering this bill and similar efforts for the past several years.

Education Options Land MA Top Spot in Best States Ranking

September 2017 - Education opportunities were a major factor earning the Bay State the number 1 ranking in the U.S. News and World Reports rating of best state to live in America. The state also came in near the top when for health care.

Bay State Ranks Tops in Nation for Level of Education

January 2017 - A study released this month ranks Massachusetts as the most educated state in the nation (WalletHub), showing the state's ongoing commitment to education. The study focused on the percentage of adults aged 25 and older with at least a high school diploma, average university quality and gender gap in educational attainment.

Question Two Fails

November 2016 - Bay State voters sent a strong message on Election Day rejecting Question 2 which would have lifted the cap on the number of charter schools. It was rejected by a 63 percent to 37percent margin. The Boston CFO estimated passage of the measure would have cost the city 800 million dollars a year for ten years.

August 2012 - Gov. Deval Patrick signed into law a bill that forged an agreement over teacher evaluation, and kept an initiative called Stand for Children from becoming a statewide ballot question. The measure calls on districts to institute a system that puts teacher performance ahead of seniority. The teachers' union said it's an acceptable compromise.

June 2012 - The Massachusetts House approved a bill that forges an agreement over teacher evaluation, and should keep an initiative called Stand for Children from becoming a statewide ballot question. The measure calls on districts to institute a system that puts teacher performance ahead of seniority. The teachers' union says it's an acceptable compromise. In that in layoffs and transfers, length of service can still play a role, and even as a tie-breaking factor.

Energy Policy

MA Moves Closer to Harvesting Offshore Wind Power

May 2018 - Vineyard Wind has been selected to construct the project that will generate 800 megawatts of electric power, enough for a half-million homes. The project will help the Commonwealth meet carbon emission reductions mandated by the state's Global Warming Solutions Act. In the last legislative session the State Legislature required the utilities to procure 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind by 2027 so this announcement puts the state halfway toward meeting that goal. The second solicitation for the next 800 megawatts of power is expected to be released by June 2019 but could happen sooner. Vineyard Wind estimates that the project will create about 3,600 local full-time-equivalent jobs and $3.7 billion in energy cost savings. Legislation pending during this legislative session could further expand procurement requirements for offshore wind.

Solar Progress in Bay State

February 2017 - The town of Montague approved plans for a 23-acre solar power farm. The plan calls for 18,000 solar panels to be built on land already owned by electric utility Eversource.

Massachusetts Tops in Energy Efficiency Scorecard

October 2015 - It is now five years in a row the Commonwealth rated top honors in the "Energy Efficiency Scorecard" for 2015 awarded by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

Funding Comes Through for Offshore Wind Projects

December 2012 - Massachusetts' offshore wind industry got a couple of big boosts, as the Obama administration announced funding for seven projects and environmentalists reached an agreement to protect an endangered species of whales.

September 2012 - Supporters of alternative energy - and job creation - got a boost from a new report in which some of the country's most influential environmental groups said it's time for a concerted effort at building and operating wind energy turbines in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of 14 coastal states.

April 2011 - The sometimes controversial Cape Wind Project got the green light from the federal authorities, and construction could begin as early as this fall for the countries first offshore wind farm.

Environment

Bay State Joins Suit to End Clean Water Rule Delay

February 2018 - Massachusetts and nine other states have joined environmental groups in a lawsuit to end delays in implementing the Clean Water Rule. The 2015 rule clarified which small streams and wetlands are protected by the Clean Water Act. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has finalized an action to delay implementing the rule for two years while the agency moves to repeal or replace it. Critics of the rule say it only applies to "navigable waters," those large enough for boat traffic. But supporters of the rule say the water quality standards of the Clean Water Act cannot be met without reducing the pollution in some of the earlier headwater streams and these wetlands.

Southbridge Landfill Expansion on Hold

January 2016 - In response to more than 2,000 signatures from local citizens the Massachusetts environmental officials (MEPA) are putting the controversial Southbridge Landfill Expansion on hold.

GLBTQ Issues

February 2011 - Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick issued two executive orders, which extend nondiscrimination protections to state employees on the basis of gender identity and expression, and apply to all state agencies and programs, as well as businesses that contract with the state.

Gun Violence Prevention

Gov. Presents Gun Safety Legislation

January 2013 - Gun safety advocates in Massachusetts saw positive developments when proposed legislation reducing gun violence in the state and around the country was proposed.

Health Issues

Mass Medical Society Ends Opposition to Physician-Assisted Suicide

December 2017 - The Massachusetts Medical Society has voted to end its longstanding opposition to physician-assisted suicide and adopted a neutral stance on what it now calls "medical aid-in-dying." The society's governing body approved the changes in separate votes. Delegates voted 151 to 62 to retract the policy opposing physician-assisted suicide. The provision establishing a neutral position on medical aid-in-dying passed by a margin of 152 to 56 votes. In a separate vote, the society agreed on a definition for medical aid-in-dying that encompasses the possibility that Massachusetts physicians could one day be authorized to write prescriptions for lethal doses of medication to help the terminally ill die when they see fit.

Baker Signs Recreational Marijuana Law

July 2017 - Gov. Charlie Baker signed a law regulating recreational marijuana. Lawmakers amended the ballot measure passed by Bay State voter increasing the taxation of recreational marijuana 17 to 20 percent. The first Marijuana shops are expected open by July 2018.

Bay State First to Approve Recreational Marijuana in Northeast

November 2016 - Voters in the Commonwealth approved a ballot measure that legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Hours later, when the votes were added up, a similar measure passed in Maine. A big factor was revenue; when sales tax and state and local surcharges are added up, the tax for pot will be around 12 percent.

Outreach to Non-English Speakers About Health Benefits

February 2013 - Some of the Bay State's Portuguese- and Spanish-speaking small businesses are eligible for subsidized health insurance for employees but are unaware of their options. An outreach campaign is underway to inform them, as well as individuals and families.

November 2012 - With the re-election of President Obama, his Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) will see wider implementation in Massachusetts, which is ahead of the curve, having passed its own reforms six years ago. Advocates are making an effort to help small businesses and their employees take full advantage of tax credits. Some 50-thousand Massachusetts residents who are single, with incomes at or under about 44-thousand dollars, should get sliding-scale subsidies to help them afford insurance.

May 2012 - Governor Hickenlooper signed the Hospital Payment Assistance Program into law on May 7th. The law included provisions requiring hospitals to clearly state charges (allowing for comparative shopping in non-emergency situations) and allowances for extended bill payments for uninsured patients to avoid bankruptcy

May 2012 - House leaders released a revised plan to curb health care costs, keeping several key provisions intact, including a requirement that the health care industry cut spending growth in half by 2016, according to the Boston Globe. The reworked proposal, which was the focus of intense lobbying by hospitals, businesses, and other groups, also retains a provision that would impose a luxury tax on certain expensive providers and would redistribute the money to struggling hospitals.

February 2011 - After two years of debate, Governor Patrick put legislation forward aimed at taking the next step in health care reform in Massachusetts, which is cost containment. The plan, in part would change the "fee for service" system by encouraging better coordination of care and focus more on preventive medicine.

December 2010 - Governor Patrick announced that only 1.9 % of the state's residents are without health insurance- the lowest percentage to date. That's according to the state's annual household survey on health insurance which was released by the Division of Health Care Finance & Policy.

Housing/Homelessness

Governor Baker Launches "Housing Choice Initiative"

December 2017 - The Great Neighborhoods campaign, led by the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance (MSGA) and a statewide coalition of advocacy organizations, local leaders, business groups and residents, declared a significant victory with the announcement of Governor Baker's Housing Choice Initiative. The new program will incentivize cities and towns to improve their local zoning practices and build more housing in sensible locations like downtowns, town centers and redevelopment areas. It establishes a statewide goal of 135,000 new homes created by 2025. One of the campaign?s principal goals is to create more housing, especially for young people and seniors.

Dip in Family Homelessness in Bay State

March 2017 - A new (Boston Foundation) report find family homelessness was down for the past two years; that after nearly a decade of increases. Homeless advocates also held a lobby day this month calling for more funding to move families out of shelters and into affordable housing.

Hunger/Food/Nutrition

April 2011 - Governor Deval Patrick announced the establishment of the Massachusetts Food Policy Council, which aims to bring healthy and local foods to all residents of the Commonwealth. The council will be to address hunger in the state, increase production, sales and consumption of Massachusetts-grown foods and protect land and water resources for sustained local food production. Training, retaining and recruiting farmers will also be a priority.

Livable Wages/Working Families

Signatures Could Put Paid Leave, $15 Wage on Ballot

December 2017 - Community organizers say they have twice the number of signatures they need to put paid family leave and a $15 minimum wage on next year's state ballot. A grassroots effort gathered almost 275,000 signatures from 346 of the 351 towns and cities in Massachusetts. If the state Legislature doesn't act on the issues by the end of June, the coalition will need to collect about 11,000 more signatures to secure their place on the ballot in November.

Census Indicates Drop in MA Child Poverty Rate

September 2017 - The latest U.S. Census numbers show a drop in the Massachusetts child poverty rate. Since 2014, the child rate has dropped from 14.9 percent to 13.3 percent. A new study shows recent increases in the state minimum wage are cited as a major factor driving the improvement.

Bay State Tops in Nation for Job Growth

September 2017 - The Massachusett's labor force has grown faster than any other state in 2017, according to Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center's annual State of Working Massachusetts report. While the workforce is up by more than 3 percent the report says wages remain flat.

Harvard Grad Students Unionize

October 2016 - It took a petition to the National Labor Relations Board and this week Graduate Students at Harvard University cleared the way for November elections for the Harvard Graduate Students Union-UAW.

Equal Pay Law Signed into Law in MA

August 2016 - A new law in Massachusetts will require men and women to be paid equally for comparable work in the state. Gov. Charlie Baker signed the bill into law. Women are currently paid on average about 82 percent of what their male counterparts make for comparable work in the Commonwealth. The new law goes into effect on July 1, 2018.

MA Minimum Wage Boost in 2016

January 2016 - The minimum wage increased to ten dollars per hour at the start of 2016 and will jump by another dollar in 2017.

Mental Health

Mental Health Gets Boost in Proposed Budget

January 2016 - Governor Baker released his FY 2017 state budget proposal at the end of January. He proposes to fund the Department of Mental Health at $761 million dollars. That's in crease of 20 million dollars, about three percent.

Public Lands/Wilderness

June 2011 - The Patrick-Murray Administration announced $602,525 in Conservation Partnership Grants that will enable nine nonprofit organizations to preserve 136 acres of open space throughout the state -- including 57 acres of working forest. Conservation Partnership grants are designed to help nonprofit organizations purchase land or interests in land for conservation or recreation.

Smoking Prevention

With Gov. Baker's Signature, Massachusetts Becomes First State to End the Sale of All Flavored Tobacco Products

November 2019 - Delivering a landmark victory for kids and public health over the tobacco industry, Gov. Charlie Baker signed a new law that makes Massachusetts the first state in the nation to prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including flavored e-cigarettes and menthol cigarettes. The Massachusetts law is a major milestone in the fight to reverse the worsening e-cigarette epidemic and stop tobacco companies from targeting and addicting kids with flavored products.

Welfare Reform

Massachusetts Repeals Controversial "Welfare Family Cap"

June 2019 - The welfare family cap, which prevented families from receiving additional benefits if they have another child, was lifted after the sixth legislative vote to override Gov. Charlie Baker's vetoes. Rep. Marjorie C. Decker, D-Cambridge, and Sen. Mark Montigny, D-New Bedford, were the lead sponsors of the bill.

Women's Issues

Commonwealth Lawmakers Turn-Back Restrictions on Reproductive Health

March 2016 - Massachusetts lawmakers said "no" to a half dozen measures that would have increased restrictions on women's access to reproductive health.


C o n n e c t i c u t

N e w s

S e r v i c e

Connecticut News Service

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention

CT Receives $5.5 Million to Combat the Opioid Crisis

April 2017 - Connecticut is receiving $5.5 million federal grant to expand the state's efforts to combat the prescription opioid and heroin crisis. The funding is being awarded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and will be used by the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) to increase access to treatment, reduce unmet treatment need, and reduce opioid-related overdose deaths.

Animal Welfare

Undercover Video Shuts Down Veal Slaughterhouse

January 2014 - A Tri-state veal slaughterhouse's operations have been suspended by the USDA amid an investigation prompted by a complaint and undercover video.

Children's Issues

Bill Would Help Homeless Families get Childcare

February 2016 - The state Senate Committee on Children held a hearing on a bill to increase access to childcare for homeless families.

Citizenship/Representative Democracy

May 2012 - Connecticut made the history books when the state Senate passed ground-breaking legislation allowing citizens on Election Day to register to vote and cast their ballot. Connecticut law had required potential voters to register at least seven days prior to the election. Connecticut will join nine states and the District of Columbia that allow Election Day registration when Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signs HB 5024.

Civil Rights

Bill Would End Prison Gerrymandering

February 2016 - A coalition of organizations is backing a bill to end prison gerrymandering in Connecticut.

Climate Change/Air Quality

Executive Order Strengthens Connecticut's Efforts to Mitigate Climate Change

September 2019 - Governor Ned Lamont today signs an executive order strengthening Connecticut's ongoing efforts to combat the effects of climate change and ensure that the state's communities are as resilient as possible to rising sea levels and increasingly powerful storms. The order expands the responsibilities of the Governor's Council on Climate Change, increases membership of the council, and directs the DEEP to evaluate ways to transition to a 100 percent clean energy grid by 2040.

$12.2 Million in Volkswagen Settlement Funds to Support Clean Air Projects in Connecticut

November 2018 - The State of Connecticut is making available $12.2 million dollars from the legal settlement in the Volkswagen (VW) Corporation emissions cheating scandal to fund ten clean air projects in the state. Administered through the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), Connecticut is one of the first states in the nation to make these funds available for a variety of diesel mitigation projects. The ten announced projects are part of the first funding cycle under the distribution of the state's VW settlement funding. The ten projects that are being awarded money under the first funding cycle will mitigate 145 tons of excess NOx emissions over the lifetime of the projects at a cost of $84,234 per ton of NOx reduced. The projects will also reduce over 7,600 tons of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, from being released into the atmosphere. In addition to NOx and greenhouse gas, a total of 10.3 tons volatile organic compounds (VOC) and 6.6 tons of fine particulate matter, which contributes to asthma and other bronchial conditions, will be cost-effectively reduced from environmental justice communities and other areas of Connecticut that bear a disproportionate share of air pollution.

CT Governor Malloy Moves to Phase out Hydrofluorocarbons

September 2018 - Governor Dannel Malloy has directed the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to develop regulations that will phase out the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a group of potent greenhouse gases known to contribute to climate change and are used in a variety of applications.

Malloy Joins Connecticut in Coalition Committed to Phasing out Coal Power in Favor of Clean Energy

September 2018 - Governor Dannel Malloy has committed the State of Connecticut to join the Powering Past Coal Alliance - a coalition of countries, regions, states, and businesses that are committed to phasing out traditional coal power and placing a moratorium on new traditional coal power stations. The alliance, which was co-founded by Canada and the United Kingdom in the fall of 2017, has over 50 members. Connecticut currently has only one coal fired plant in use, Bridgeport Harbor Station, which has already committed to cease burning coal by 2021.

Connecticut Wins Smog Lawsuit Against Trump Administration

June 2018 - The State of Connecticut and the State of New York have won their joint lawsuit in federal court against the Trump administration's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its administrator, Scott Pruitt, over the agency's failure to adequately control ozone pollution from other states that negatively impacts air quality in the two downwind states. In the lawsuit, which Connecticut and New York filed in January, the states alleged that EPA failed to perform its mandatory duty to develop federal implementation plans that fully address requirements for upwind states under the Good Neighbor Provision of the federal Clean Air Act for the 2008 ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

CT Hosts Regional Clean Transportation Listening Session

May 2018 - The second in a series of public listening sessions on the development of a regional clean transportation and climate initiative took place in Hartford. Policymakers, business leaders and other stakeholders from seven Northeastern states and Washington, D.C., are seeking input on ways to modernize the transportation system and combat global climate change. Transportation is now the leading source of carbon emissions. Environmentalists point out that states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, including Connecticut, have cut emissions from power plants in half but emissions from transportation have remained constant or even grown a bit over the last few years. So in order to really address climate change, transportation needs to be dealt with. Organizers say the Hartford meeting is an opportunity to propose policies to reduce vehicle pollution while building a transportation system that serves all Connecticut residents.

Bill Seeks to Clamp Down on Methane Leaks

May 2018 - A recent survey of Hartford streets found many more leaks in gas lines than utilities acknowledge - but a bill now in the state Senate would cut the losses. Senate Bill 346, introduced by state Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Branford), would reduce the maximum allowable leakage rate for natural gas from 3 percent to 1 percent. Natural gas is 97 percent methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. It also contributes to smog that triggers asthma and other respiratory diseases. The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority claims that it monitors and checks all leaks reported to it. But a two-month survey of Hartford streets using mobile leak detectors found six times the number of leaks reported in the city in an entire year, leaking over 300 metric tons of methane per year are wasted just in Hartford alone.

Legislators Launch Multistage Carbon Coalition

February 2018 - State lawmakers have launched a multistate coalition to collaborate on legislation to combat carbon pollution. The Carbon Costs Coalition includes legislators from nine states, including Connecticut. It will help those legislators design strategies to reduce carbon emissions and promote clean, renewable energy alternatives. The coalition will help state legislators who are working on the issue to compare notes on each other's bills and compare how they're conducting outreach and building their coalitions so they can be stronger by having that multistate idea sharing. In Connecticut legislation has been introduced to establish a tax on carbon-based fuels that would help spur investment in renewable energy programs. The Coalition also will supplement the carbon reduction goals of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, a multistate compact that seeks to reduce carbon emissions from the power sector.

Connecticut Joins States Suing Trump Administration Over Smog

December 2017 - Fourteen states, including Connecticut, are now suing the Trump Administration over what they say is a failure to enforce smog standards. The lawsuit says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has missed an October 1 deadline to designate which areas of the country have unhealthy air. Those areas would be required to take steps to improve air quality. Poor air quality particularly affects the health of children, people with asthma and those who work outside. The lawsuit says smog can cause or aggravate diseases including heart disease, bronchitis and emphysema.

Criminal Justice

Bill Promotes Fair Treatment for Incarcerated Women

March 2018 - A bill called An Act Concerning Fair Treatment of Incarcerated Women has been introduced in the General Assembly. This comes after an incarcerated woman gave birth without any medical assistance in January. Civil rights advocates have been pressing for legislation to ensure respect for incarcerated women's health, dignity and human rights. Senate Bill 13 would prohibit the shackling of women during childbirth, ensure services and support during and after pregnancy and delivery, and allow frequent visitation with children. And give incarcerated mothers and their children access to child-friendly visitation areas away from the noise and confrontations that can take place in adult visiting rooms.

Enfield Correctional Institution to Close as Result of Declining Crime Rate and Prison Population

November 2017 - As a result of the continuing decline in the state's crime rate and the resulting drop in the prison population, the Connecticut Department of Correction (DOC) will be closing the Enfield Correctional Institution in early 2018. The closure of the building, which currently holds around 700 offenders who will be transferred to other facilities, will save the state approximately $6.5 million in annual operating costs. There are 14,103 inmates incarcerated within Connecticut's state prison system - 836 fewer than a year ago. The state's prison population reached an all-time high of 19,894 inmates in 2008.

Gov. Malloy Signs Legislation Reforming the State's Pretrial Justice System

June 2017 - Governor Dannel Malloy has signed into law legislation he introduced and developed with a number of lawmakers and advocates that will create a major reform to the state's methods of detention for people who have only been charged with a crime. The legislation brings the state into compliance with court rulings that have found the current system of bail is unconstitutional. Under current law hundreds of individuals currently locked up in Connecticut jails, not because they are threat to society, but simply because they are poor and cannot afford cash bail.

Jobs Training Center for Female Offenders Opens at York Correctional Institution

May 2017 - The Connecticut Department of Correction (DOC) has opened an American Job Center at York Correctional Institution in Niantic, the state's only institution for female offenders. The job development program is only the second of its kind in Connecticut and aims to continue reducing New York's historically low crime rate by providing inmates who are nearing the end of their sentences with the tools needed to become productive members of society upon their release.

Legislation to Reform CT's Pretrial Justice System Advances

April 2017 - The General Assembly's Judiciary Committee has approved a bill that would begin the process of correcting Connecticut's bail system and moving toward a more just and equitable procedure by taking into account public safety risk rather than a defendant's ability to pay. The bill had been introduced by Governor Dannell Malloy.

Malloy Renews Push for Connecticut Bail Reform

March 2017 - In a presentation to the Sentencing Commission at the Legislative Office Building, Governor Dannell Malloy said: "No one should be sitting behind bars simply because they are poor." Malloy has been unsuccessful so far in getting the General Assembly to back his so-called Second Chance 2.0 legislation, which would eliminate bail bonds for nonviolent misdemeanor offenders and allow 18- to 20-year-olds to be tried as juveniles.

Mallloy Pushes for Bail Reform

February 2017 - Governor Dannel Malloy has again introduced legislation to reform the bail system in Connecticut. A bill introduced last year never came to a vote in the General Assembly. The reforms would help some 3,000 people held in Connecticut jails simply because they cannot afford to post bail to be released.

Governor Calls for Bail Reform

December 2015 - In a speech at a Connecticut Law Review symposium Governor Dannel Malloy called for reform of the state's bail bond system, seeking to eliminate cash bail for misdemeanor offenses.

Governor Calls for Raising Age for Juvenile Justice Jurisdiction

December 2015 - Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy proposed raising the age of those who fall under the jurisdiction of the juvenile justice system to 21.

Governor Calls for Raising Age for Juvenile Justice Jurisdiction

November 2015 - Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy proposed raising the age of those who fall under the jurisdiction of the juvenile justice system to 21, which would help bring state law into line with the science of behavioral psychology and brain development.

Governor Calls for Bail Reform

November 2015 - In a speech at a Connecticut Law Review symposium Governor Dannel Malloy called for reform of the state's bail bond system, seeking to eliminate cash bail for misdemeanor offenses.

CT Supreme Court Rejects Request to Reconsider Death Penalty

October 2015 - The Connecticut Supreme Court turned down a motion by state prosecutors to reconsider its August ruling declaring capital punishment unconstitutional.

Judiciary Commitee Approves Bill to Repeal Death Penalty

April 2011 - A bill to repeal the death penalty has been approved by the Judiciary Committee and is expected to pass in the General Assembly, and Gov. Malloy has stuck by his campaign pledge to sign it.

Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault

Connecticut Achieves Milestone in Rape-Kit Testing Reform

October 2019 - Connecticut's reforms have significantly educed the state's backlog of untested rape kits and will ensure the prompt processing of kits going forward. In 2015 Connecticut had a backlog of more than 1,100 untested rape kits. By 2017, all untested rape kits in the state had been transferred for testing, and Connecticut now has electronic tracking of kits as well as policies to keep survivors informed of testing status. Now Connecticut is one of three states recognized in October for adopting six reforms recommended for ending the nationwide problem of rape kits that often go unprocessed for years. In 2016, the Joyful Heart Foundation launched a campaign to get all states to adopt its recommended reforms. With the addition of Connecticut, Oregon and Utah this year , the total number of states that have adopted all six rape-kit reforms now stands at 12.

Governor Lamont and Lt. Governor Bysiewicz Announce Updated Family Violence Policy for State Employees

March 2019 - Governor Ned Lamont and Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz announced that the administration has updated the state's policy regarding leave rights available to state employees who are victims of family violence and the procedures relating to such leave. Announced on International Women's Day, the policy is being updated to better ensure that employees who are experiencing family violence receive appropriate support. State agencies are partnering with the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) and the state's 18 designated domestic violence organizations to ensure that resources are available to employees.

Rape-Kit Reform Bill Clears CT Legislature

May 2018 - Legislation to improve the tracking of sexual-assault evidence kits is on its way to Gov. Danell Malloy's desk. After a 2015 survey found almost 1,200 untested kits at law enforcement agencies across Connecticut, the governor established a working group to coordinate their tracking and testing. Senate Bill 17, which was built on that work, passed both the House and Senate with unanimous votes. Tracking can be key to both the criminal investigation and the healing process for survivors. Passage of the bill puts the state on track to clearing its backlog of untested sexual assault kits and to quickly testing new kits as they come in. The bill will also give survivors the ability to check on the status of their kit to help counteract the loss of self-determination and control that is often at the core of experiencing sexual assault.

State Agencies to Conduct Review of Sexual Harassment Prevention Procedures

December 2017 - Governor Dannel Malloy directed Connecticut's policies and procedures on sexual harassment prevention to be reviewed within all executive branch state agencies. Based on the results, the Department of Administrative Services is required to deliver a report to the Governor no later than February 1, 2018, reviewing best practices to address and prevent harassment, and recommend additional measures to improve the state's existing policies and procedures.

Federal Grants to Assist CT Processing of Sexual Assault Kits

December 2017 - Connecticut has been awarded two competitive, federal grants worth $2.6 million that will assist the processing and testing of sexual assault evidence kits. A $1.85 million Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) grant will be used to test approximately 1,000 partially-tested kits that still require DNA testing. Further, this funding will support coordinated investigation and victim notification for cases that may be re-opened, training for law enforcement officers and states attorneys, as well as academic research at Central Connecticut State University to learn more about these cases and what can be done to improve investigation and prosecution. A $750,000 grant from the National Institute of Justice supports a new method of testing that searches for the presence or absence of male DNA. This new method will allow the state to increase capacity, efficiency, and quality of DNA screenings.

Legislation Strengthening State's Domestic Violence and Anti-Stalking Laws Signed into Law

June 2017 - Governor Dannel Malloy has signed legislation that will strengthen the state's domestic violence laws. The bill, which was approved by unanimous votes in both chambers of the General Assembly, amends the criminal statutes governing stalking to include stalking via social media, telephone, and other forms of harassment, tracking and intimidation; changes the strangulation statutes to include suffocation; and enhances the penalty for violation of the conditions of release.

Bill to Help Domestic Violence Victims Clears House

April 2016 - A bill that would require those subject to temporary restraining orders to surrender their firearms and ammunition to police or a federal licensed gun dealer passed in the Connecticut House of Representatives.

Early Childhood Education

Families on Care 4 Kids Wait List Can Now Apply for Child Care Support

November 2017 - The Connecticut Office of Early Childhood (OEC) has reopened the Care 4 Kids program and eligible families on the wait list can begin to enroll for the state's primary child care support. Funded with federal and state dollars and administered by OEC, Care 4 Kids helps low-income, working families afford safe, quality child care. In 2016, new federal requirements increased the costs of the program but did not increase funding necessary for their implementation. To remain fiscally sound, the program was closed to most new families by late 2016. Many other states were forced to make similar cutbacks. Families seeking this support were instead registered for the wait list so they would be able to apply once the program reopened. There are currently 5,769 families on the wait list in Connecticut.

Business Summit on Early Childhood Education

December 2010 - Business is taking a growing interest in promoting early childhood education as a means to ensuring that youngsters grow up to be members of a competent workforce.

Education

Connecticut College to Accept Puerto Rico 'Guest' Students

December 2017 - Connecticut College has established a guest student program for college students from Puerto Rico whose education was disrupted after Hurricane Maria hit the island in September. The New London private liberal arts college provide room, board and tuition for up to six students. Guest students will pay what they would have paid to attend UPR directly to UPR. Connecticut College will offer a streamlined application process to UPR juniors and seniors in good standing. Applications will be processed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

CT School Funding Proposal Improved, but Still Falling Short

February 2017 - Connecticut public-education advocates say the proposals for school funding in Governor Dannel Malloy's preliminary budget are a step in the right direction, but still fall short of the funds and funding formulas needed to make the system more equitable.

Governor Malloy Calls for Equitable School Funding

January 2017 - In his State of the State report Governor Dannel Malloy called for school funding that is fair, transparent, accountable and adaptable. Malloy challenged the General Assembly to act to guarantee "equal access to a quality education regardless of zip code." Last September, a Superior Court judge ordered the state to resolve inequities in the school funding system. The state is in the process of appealing that ruling.

Suit Challenging State School Funding Formula Goes to Trial

February 2016 - The trial in a lawsuit originally filed in 2005 that challenges the state's school funding formula finally began.

Full-Day Kindergarten Expansion Proposed

November -0001 - Governor Daniel Malloy unveiled his proposed $40 billion budget; and the good news is that he plans to increase the number of schools that teach full day Kindergarten. On the downside, Malloy’s budget slashes funding that supports family caregivers.

Energy Policy

Connecticut Authorizes Development of Offshore Wind Power

June 2019 - The legislation was approved last month in the House of Representatives, given final legislative approval on in the State Senate, and transmitted to the governor for signature. It authorizes the state to purchase up to 2,000 MW (or equivalent to 30 percent of state load) - the largest authorization by load of any state in the region.

State Agencies Ordered to Reduce Energy Consumption and Environmental Impacts

April 2019 - Governor Ned Lamont signed an executive order that directs executive branch state office buildings and vehicle fleets to become greener and more energy efficient through an expanded "Lead By Example" sustainability initiative aimed at reducing the state's carbon footprint as well as the cost of government operations. This includes meeting the state's overall statutory goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent reduction from 2001 levels by 2030 and reducing waste disposal and water consumption by 25 percent and 10 percent, respectively, by 2030 from a defined baseline of 2020.

CT Takes First Step Toward Offshore Wind

April 2018 - The bids are in on a request for proposals that will bring offshore wind energy to Connecticut. Clean-energy advocates say offshore wind is a critical technology that will mean hundreds of jobs as well as clean, renewable energy to the state. Environmentalists are calling the move an important first step, but note that bidders were only allowed to propose up to 3 percent of the state's total annual electricity usage, or about 250 megawatts of power. So to keep this growing in the future, the Legislature will need to take action to expand that authorization. With these proposals, Connecticut joins Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York, which have committed to building thousands of megawatts of offshore wind-generating capacity.

Gov. Malloy Orders a Resource Assessment to be Conducted on the Economic Viability of the Millstone Nuclear Generating Facilities

July 2017 - Governor Dannel Malloy has signed an executive order directing the relevant state agencies to conduct a resource assessment to evaluate the current and projected economic viability for the continued operation of the Millstone nuclear generating facilities. The assessment is to help the state determine a path forward that best benefits the residents of Connecticut. Consumer advocates have been calling for Millstone to disclose its financial need for a state-funded subsidy by requiring the assessment include an examination of audited financial statements and other financial data when making its recommendations to the legislature for action in 2018.

Amendment to Overturn CT Pipeline Tax Introduced

June 2017 - A bill has been introduced in the Connecticut state Senate to end the Pipeline Tax passed in 2015 that would impose a surcharge on Connecticut electricity ratepayers to fund interstate gas pipelines to be built across Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Should these pipeline proposals move forward, Connecticut ratepayers would be the only ones at the ratepayer level who would be subsidizing them. A recent study estimated that the proposed Access Northeast Pipeline would cost $6.6B.

September 2012 - Supporters of alternative energy - and job creation - got a boost from a new report in which some of the country's most influential environmental groups said it's time for a concerted effort at building and operating wind energy turbines in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of 14 coastal states.

Connecticut at Forefront of Green Chemistry and Clean Technology Development

April 2011 - A bill passed in the session ending May 5 creating a Chemical Innovations Institute at UConn Health Center (House Bill 5126) puts Connecticut at the forefront of green chemistry and clean technology development.

CT Ranks High in Energy Efficiency

November -0001 - Connecticut ranks near the top in an annual ranking of state car-related energy efficiency, but is lagging behind in home-related energy efficiency. The report from Wallethub, a financial advice, research and social networking website said when it comes to energy efficiency behind the wheel Connecticut just misses the top ten, ranking number 12 nationwide. The state came in lower at number 23 for home-related energy efficiency. Overall the state ranked number 12.

Environment

Lawsuit Seeks to End Delay in Clean Water Rule

February 2018 - Connecticut and nine other states have joined environmental groups in a lawsuit to end delays in implementing the Clean Water Rule. The 2015 rule clarified which small streams and wetlands are protected by the Clean Water Act. The lawsuit came a week after Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt finalized an action to delay implementing the rule for two years while the agency moves to repeal or replace it. Critics of the rule say it only applies to "navigable waters," those large enough for boat traffic. But defenders of the rule say the issue was settled by the U.S. Supreme Court 20 years ago.

Budget Proposals Would Restore Funding for Clean Energy

April 2016 - Environmentalists praised Governor Dannell Malloy for proposing the restoration of funds for renewable energy programs in Connecticut.

Connecticut Lawmakers Lead for the Environment

February 2016 - The annual League of Conservation Voters National Environmental Scorecard gives high marks to Connecticut's congressional delegation.

November 2012 - Before Superstorm Sandy hit Connecticut, environmentalists told Connecticut News Service that beaches and salt marshes shield coastal areas from the worst impacts of storm surge and community planning that protects these natural barriers pays off big-time during high-intensity weather events. Following the storm, which did more than $360 million dollars in damage in the Nutmeg state, Gov. Dannel Malloy may have gotten the message, saying, "We have some real big infrastructure issues," including shoreline water protection.

Bill Introducaed to Ban Boilers

December 2010 - Many Connecticut residents have complained of toxic smoke entering their homes from their neighbors' outdoor wood boilers.

Gun Violence Prevention

CT Senators Introduce Gun Legislation

July 2018 - U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) introduced the Keeping Gun Dealers Honest Act, legislation led by U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) that would strengthen accountability measures for gun dealers to ensure they are not engaging in illegal gun sales and to provide the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) with clear enforcement mechanisms. According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, just five percent of gun dealers supply 90 percent of crime guns used in the United States. While the majority of gun dealers follow the law, a small number of delinquent gun dealers are recklessly perpetuating the epidemic of gun violence in this country. This legislation would ensure that guns do not end up in the wrong hands by authorizing increased inspections of gun dealers to ensure compliance standards are met, increasing penalties for serious offenses, and strengthening the Department of Justice's authority and discretion in enforcing gun laws.

Gun Safety Measures Progress

February 2013 - Connecticut lawmakers filed 16 gun-safety bills in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, including expanded background checks and updating the state's assault weapons ban.

Health Issues

New Haven Filling Lawsuit Against Opioid Makers, Distributors

November 2017 - The city of New Haven is filing a lawsuit against the nation's leading manufacturers and distributors of opioids. The suit seeks compensation for the costs incurred by the opioid crisis. This includes the burden placed upon police, social services, and first responders. Last year, 70 people died in New Haven from opioid related deaths, the second-highest total of any city in Connecticut. New Haven is suing Purdue Pharma, among other major opioid manufacturers, for ?deceptive marketing,? which the city is blaming in part for the burgeoning opioid crisis. Nine U.S. states: Alaska, New Jersey, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Washington, have also sued Purdue Pharma.

Cancer Prevention Advocates Laud State Budget

October 2017 - Passing both houses with veto-proof majorities, the state Legislature approved a $41.3 billion, two-year spending plan that maintains funding at current levels for the Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, which helps medically underserved women get cancer screenings; preserves funding for one important anti-tobacco program. The budget passed both houses of the Legislature with veto-proof majorities. It also includes $18 million that makes every 11- and 12-year-old in the state eligible for the vaccine that protects against the human papillomaviruses.

Connecticut Joins Multi-state Lawsuit Defending Affordable Care Act

October 2017 - Connecticut joined with 17 other states and the District of Columbia in filing a lawsuit against the Trump Administration's decision to abruptly stop making healthcare cost-sharing reduction (CSR) subsidy payments required by the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) - a move that will put health coverage for more than six million Americans at risk while increasing costs. In addition to Connecticut, and led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, other states joining the lawsuit are Delaware, Kentucky, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and the District of Columbia.

November 2012 - Connecticut doesn't have to worry about next month's deadline to tell the federal government whether it will participate in the Affordable Care Act. The state is already implementing "Obamacare." The state has received a $107 million federal grant to help implement the law, a cabinet level department has been created to oversee the law and the state has staffed the Connecticut Health Care Exchange, which will create a new online marketplace for insurance.

SustiNet Moves Through General Assembly

April 2011 - SustiNet, Connecticut's health reform legislation, continues to move through the General Assembly, having been approved by three committees so far.

Husky Program Improves Access to Healthcare

February 2011 - The state is changing the way it provides health care for 400-thousand low-income children and parents in the Husky program, and 200-thousand seniors and people with disabilities.

Small Businesses for Health Care Reform Organization Formed

January 2011 - An organization of small business owners (Small Businesses for Health Care Reform) has formed to promote federal health reform and state reform (SustiNet), in a state where other business groups oppose it.

Housing/Homelessness

Governor's Challenge on Family Homelessness Matches 280 Families to Housing

December 2018 - The State of Connecticut and its partners in the nonprofit sector matched 280 families, including 548 children and 438 adults, to housing during the last three months as part of the Governor's Challenge on Family Homelessness - a campaign to house as many homeless families in the state as possible. Launched in September, the initiative was part of the ongoing goal to eliminate all forms of homelessness in the state. More than 25,000 new units of housing have been created in the past eight years. During this time, Connecticut was certified as having become just the second state in the nation to end homelessness among veterans.

New Report Shows Record Drop in Homelessness

May 2017 - An annual census of homelessness in the state found that the point-in-time count of homeless individuals in Connecticut confirms that the state's recent efforts to reduce homelessness and increase access to housing are working. Conducted by the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, this year's census found that homelessness in in the state has decreased for a fourth consecutive year and is at its lowest level to date.

CT Dedicates $10.7 M to Support the Development of Affordable Housing in Six Connecticut Communities

May 2017 - Nearly $10.7 million in funding has been approved by the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority Board of Directors to support the development of seven affordable housing projects in six Connecticut communities. Funding comes through federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) program, which is administered by CHFA.

$23 Million Awarded to Support the Development of Affordable Housing

April 2017 - Connecticut Department of Housing Commissioner Evonne M. Klein announced that nearly $23 million in state funding is being awarded to support the development of affordable housing in six communities across Connecticut as part of the latest round of funding under the state's Competitive Housing Assistance for Multifamily Properties (CHAMP) program. These awards will play a role in helping to create, rehabilitate, or preserve more than 200 units of affordable housing and greatly expanding access to mixed income and supportive housing units. These new units are essential in the state's work to prevent and end homelessness.

Connecticut Ends Homelessness for Veterans

February 2016 - Governor Dannel Malloy announced that Connecticut had officially ended homelessness for veterans.

Connecticut Aims to End Homelessness for All Vets

November 2015 - On Veterans Day Connecticut was able to celebrate being the first state in the nation to eliminate chronic homelessness among veterans.

State Commits to Help Homeless

April 2013 - The budget approved by the Appropriations Committee sustains significant new investments in strategies to end homelessness, according to advocates, including a continuing commitment to rapid rehousing, permanent supportive housing and affordable housing.

Human Rights/Racial Justice

Bill to Strengthen Accountability for Police Misconduct Introduced

March 2017 - House Bill 7285 recognizes problems in Connecticut's police complaint system and that could be strengthened to fix them. An ACLU of Connecticut investigation found that nearly one million Connecticut residents are living in towns where police departments are not following state rules for accepting misconduct complaints. The bill would require police departments to establish policies to bring them into full compliance with a 2015 law on reporting police misconduct and abuse. However civil liberties advocates say the bill needs to be stronger to have any real effect.

April 2012 - Connecticut became the 17th state to abolish the death penalty.

Immigrant Issues

CT to Offer Financial Aid to "Dreamers"

April 2018 - "Dreamers" will soon be able to receive institutional financial aid to attend Connecticut's public colleges and universities. 13 Republicans joined 78 Democrats in the state House of Representatives to give final passage to the bill that will let undocumented immigrants who arrived as children to apply for the assistance. The bill doesn't include access to federal Pell grants or state taxpayer-funded scholarships. But supporters of the measure say it will have a very big impact for students who previously were not eligible for any kind of aid. Governor Dannel Malloy has said he will sign the bill into law.

Gov. Malloy and Lt. Gov. Wyman Sign onto Coalition of Leaders to Stand with Dreamers Against Deportation

September 2017 - Governor Dannel Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman have joined a coalition of leaders of governors, mayors, city and state elected officials, law enforcement professionals, faith and civic leaders from across the country in a "We Are With Dreamers" statement, which calls on President Trump to preserve the successful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and for Congress to pass a standalone version of the bipartisan Dream Act. To date, over 1,860 leaders have signed onto the statement.

Connecticut Joins Multistate Lawsuit Challenging President Trump on DACA

September 2017 - Connecticut has joined with a coalition of 14 other states and the District of Columbia in suing President Donald Trump and his administration, seeking to invalidate his memorandum that ends the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and to enjoin federal agencies from using information gathered through DACA in immigration enforcement efforts.

Toolkit for Families Concerned about Immigration Enforcement is Now Available in Nine Languages

April 2017 - The state toolkit provides user-friendly, step-by-step resources and forms for parents and guardians who have concerns about immigration enforcement and its potential impact on the custody of their children is now available to download in nine languages: Arabic, English, French, Haitian Creole, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

Latinos Use Holiday as a Cultural Bridge

November 2015 - New Haven's Latino Community celebrated the traditional "Day of the Dead" as both a way to remember those who have passed, and as a means to integrate their traditions with those of their adopted community.

Connecticut Resettlement Agencies Ready to Help More Syrian Refugees

October 2015 - The head of Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services, a refugee resettlement organization in New Haven, says Connecticut could double the number of refugees it takes in every year.

Interfaith Clergy Supports Immigrants' Rights

February 2012 - Interfaith clergy from southern Connecticut have come out in support of immigrants' rights in East Haven and have demanded that immigrants arrested by four East Haven police officers have their records expunged.

Livable Wages/Working Families

Family and Medical Leave Act Signed into Law

June 2019 - Governor Ned Lamont has signed the Family and Medical Leave Act into law. When the program begins on January 1, 2022, workers in Connecticut will gain access to the necessary benefits that will allow them to take time off work to care for their own health, a newborn child, or a sick family member. Connecticut employees will be eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. Both personal disability leave and family care leave will be funded by the employee only. The withholding rate is 0.5 (one-half of one) percent on earnings up to the Social Security wage base.

15 Dollar Minimum Wage Becomes Law

May 2019 - The minimum hourly wage in Connecticut will rise to $15.00 through a series of gradual increases over the next several years, with the first one taking place this October. After the scheduled increases take effect, the new law requires the minimum wage to grow according to federal economic indicators. The current $10.10 wage will go up to $11.00 in October and increase by a dollar a year, reaching $15 on June 1, 2023. The Connecticut Department of Labor and Connecticut Voices for Children estimate those increases will raise wages for approximately 130,000 workers this year and more than half a million by 2024.

Paid Family and Medical Leave Bill Is Approved in Committee

March 2019 - The General Assembly's labor committee has voted to approve legislation that will establish a paid family and medical leave program in the state. Under the proposal, a program would be established that provides workers who need to take time off of work to care for a new child, their own serious medical condition, or a serious medical condition of a family member with a portion of their salary for up to twelve weeks. It also protects those taking such leave, regardless of the size of their employer, from being fired or otherwise penalized by their employer for taking leave under those circumstances. The program, which has been designed based on actuarial models, will be funded at no cost to Connecticut businesses by having workers contribute a small percent of their income to a Family and Medical Leave Insurance Trust Fund.

Appropriations Committee Approves Minimum Wage Bill

April 2018 - The General Assembly's Appropriations Committee voted 27-24 to advance legislation that will raise the minimum wage in Connecticut. House Bill 5388, An Act Concerning a Fair Minimum Wage, raises the minimum wage in the state to no less than twelve dollars per hour effective January 1, 2019, thirteen dollars and fifty cents per hour in 2020, and no less than fifteen dollars per hour in 2021. Then, beginning in 2022, the minimum wage will be increased each year by and amount equal to the percentage increase in the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers in the northeast urban area of New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-CT-PA . The new minimum fair wage will be effective on the following January first.

Connecticut Labor Department Recovers $8.9 Million in Owed Wages for Workers

September 2017 - The Connecticut Department of Labor (CTDOL) has recovered a record $8.9 million in unpaid wages for Connecticut workers during the fiscal year that ended June 30. This represents an increase of $1.8 million from the previous year. A total of $8,907,321.37 was returned to workers, which includes nearly $2.4 million recovered by wage enforcement staff responding to complaints that owed wages had not been paid and more than $1.9 million provided to employees that did not receive the required minimum wage or overtime.

CT Retirement Security Program Board Holds First Meeting

August 2017 - The authority that will be overseeing Connecticut's new Retirement Security Program has its first meeting on August 17th. The 15-member board will guide the launch of the retirement savings program signed into law in 2016. The Retirement Security Program requires businesses with five or more employees and no pension or 401(k) plan to participate in the payroll deduction savings plan. Employers cannot match employee contributions, and workers can opt out. The plan, which should begin operation in 2018, will help some 600,000 people in the state save for retirement.

General Assembly Joint Labor Committee Approves Paid Leave Bill

March 2017 - Assembly Bill 1, bill to create system of paid medical and family leave in Connecticut, passed by voice vote in the Joint Labor Committee. The bill would give covered employees up to 12 weeks of compensation to care for a newborn child or ill family member.

Yale Grad Students Rally for the Right to Join a Union

October 2015 - Graduate Student employees at Yale University are demanding the right to vote on forming a union.

Connecticut Ranks High in Supports for Working Families

November -0001 - A new state-by-state review of supports for working parents shows Connecticut is tied for second place, with only California scoring higher. But much remains to be done, according to advocates.

Rural/Farming

Hemp Business Thriving in Connecticut

September 2019 - The State of Connecticut has licensed 82 hemp growers, 2 processors, and 21 manufacturers under a new pilot program he signed into law this spring allowing for the cultivation, harvesting, processing, and manufacturing of hemp plants and by-products in the state. In total, there are currently 294 acres of land being used to grow hemp in Connecticut. Public Act 19-3, was approved in both chambers of the General Assembly by unanimous, bipartisan votes and quickly signed into law by Governor Lamont on May 9 with the intent of enacting the program in time for the fast approaching hemp-growing season.

Senior Issues

Malloy Shows Support for Home Care

February 2016 - Despite a looming budget deficit, Governor Dannel Malloy's administration has identified home care as a "core service" in Connecticut.

Malloy Calls Supporting Home Care a "Core Service"

February 2016 - Governor Dannel Malloy, in presenting has state budget, called programs that support home care for seniors, allowing them to remain in their homes rather than being confined to a nursing home, a "core service" in the state.

Proposed Changes to Elder and Disabled Care Funding

February 2011 - Changes proposed to funding for care for elders and the disabled would both increase the amount those populations have to pay in.

Smoking Prevention

Age to Buy Tobacco Rises to 21

October 2019 - Public Law 19-13, raising the age to purchase tobacco products, went into effect on October 1st. The bill passed in the Senate at the end of May and was signed by Governor Lamont in June. Nearly nine out of ten smokers start by the time they turn 18. The legislation will help reduce levels of nicotine dependence and over time, decrease the number of tobacco related deaths across the state. Seventeen other states have raised the age for purchasing tobacco products to 21.

Social Justice

CT Task Force Recommends Greater Access to Legal Assistance

January 2017 - A state task force of judges, attorneys, law enforcement and educators have issued a report saying a person's access to an attorney in some civil court proceedings should be a right. A new report from the Task Force to Improve Access to Legal Counsel in Civil Matters found that many Connecticut residents can't afford a lawyer to help them protect their essential needs. The report recommends making access to legal counsel a statutory right for cases involving restraining orders, child custody and residential evictions.

Sustainable Agriculture

NOFA Promoting Winter Crops

January 2011 - CT NOFA (Northeast Organic Farming Association) received a $30,000 grant to promote winter crops in the state, which helps support both farmers and winter urban farmers' markets, which have begun spreading around the state.

Urban Planning/Transportation

Law Protects Non-Drivers

January 2010 - A new law aims to prevent the deaths and injuries of pedestrians, cyclists and other non-motorized users on Connecticut's state roadways.

Women's Issues

Connecticut Unsatisfactory in Women's Health Survey

December 2010 - A comprehensive survey of women's health for 2010 gives Connecticut an overall grade of unsatisfactory, including in some key areas of reproductive health.


F l o r i d a

N e w s

C o n n e c t i o n

Florida News Connection

Animal Welfare

Florida Greyhound Racing Legislation ups Protection Measures

April 2016 - Florida's greyhound racing industry will now have to report and track injuries following approval of state legislation tightening disclosure standards.

Chicken Packaging Lawsuit Settled

December 2009 - Perdue Farms, Inc. and The Humane Society of the United States are pleased to announce the settlement of two federal cases in New Jersey and Florida concerning...

Campaign Finance Reform/Money in Politics

Election Donations to Judges to Stop

November -0001 - Florida’s rule which bars judges and judicial candidates from soliciting campaign contributions was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court late this month. Supporters say the ruling is a victory for upholding the integrity of the country’s court system. More than half the states in the country have a similar rule for their judicial elections.

Criminal Justice

Judge Rules Florida Can't Block Felons From Voting Due to Unpaid Fines

October 2019 - The right to vote for 1.4 million ex-felons in Florida got a boost when a federal judge ruled that the state can't prevent felons from voting, even if they can't afford to pay court-ordered fines and fees. The ruling applied to plaintiffs who sue but will force legislature to review the law.

Florida Votes to Restore Voting Rights People Who Complete Prison Terms

November 2018 - Voters approved Amendment 4, which says that most people convicted of felonies will automatically have their voting rights restored when they complete their sentences or go on probation. The amendment exempts those convicted of sex offenses and murder.

Florida Death Sentence "Unconstitutional"

January 2016 - The US Supreme Court ruled on 1-12-16 that Florida's death sentence scheme is unconstitutional.

Energy Policy

Sunshine State Leads the Nation in Growth of Rooftop Solar

October 2017 - A new report from PV Magazine finds Florida now leads the nation in solar growth. The state saw a 110% increase in new residential solar permits over the previous year. Funded by the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, the Barancik Foundation, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, and now several cities and counties, Florida homeowners and businesses are now able to take advantage of some of the lowest prices for solar in the nation using a grassroots program called Solar United Neighbors of Florida (formerly FL SUN). A state-wide partnership between the latter and the League of Women Voters is being given credit for the growth.

Duke Energy Goes Big on Solar, Drops Nuclear Charge for Customers

September 2017 - Duke Energy will build nine or more solar plants and delete a controversial nuclear charge from customer bills. With 1.8 million customers in 35 counties, Duke is the second-largest in the state; the utility, however, has lagged behind other major utilities in solar energy and had drawn criticism for a pair of nuclear disappointments. The Florida president of Duke Energy, Harry Sideris, said the proposed initiatives worth $6 billion were filed Tuesday morning with the Florida Public Service Commission after months of outreach.

Legislature Approves Amendment 4

May 2017 - The Florida Legislature has officially approved a bill to implement the pro-solar Amendment 4, which voters overwhelmingly passed with 73% of the vote on the August 2016 primary ballot. The bill, S.B.90, is slated to reduce tax barriers for Floridians who want to go solar while also ensuring proper consumer protections are in place.

Florida Voters Reject Amendment 1

November 2016 - Voters overwhelmingly said no to the utility-backed Amendment 1, which would have penalized solar customers with fees and set back the effort to expand the solar market in the state.

New Biofuel Plant Will Recycle Brush

December 2012 - One of the country's first cellulosic biofuel plants is set to open in Florida in the coming months.

Federal Trade Commission Investigates Links Between Sugar Industry and Off-shore Ethanol Imports

October 2011 - FNC ran a two-part series detailing links between sugar industry interests and off-shore duty free import of sugar based ethanol--- under-cutting US produced corn based ethanol.

Environment

Fracking Update

March 2016 - Legislation to permit fracking in the state has died in the legislature.

BP Settlement Funds Restoration

December 2012 - BP reached a $4.5 billion dollar criminal settlement with the government over the 2010 Gulf oil explosion.

November 2012 - The US Environmental Protection Agency announced that oil giant British Petroleum would not be eligible for government contracts because of its controversial role in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. After BP pleaded guilty to assorted felonies related to the disaster, the EPA stated that the company's "lack of business integrity" forced the agency into taking the action. The bar is temporary but open-ended; lasting until BP provides "sufficient evidence" that it can meet federal standards.

Land and water conservation wins at the ballot box

November -0001 - Voters adopted Amendment 1 – a measure which will dedicate 33 percent of net revenue from the existing excise tax on documents to the Land Acquisition Trust Fund. The fund improves conservation easements, wildlife management areas, wetlands, forests, fish and wildlife habitats, beaches and shores, recreational trails and parks, urban open space, rural landscapes, working farms and ranches, historical and geological sites, lands protecting water and drinking water resources and lands in the Everglades Agricultural Areas and the Everglades Protection Area.

Oil Drilling Opposition in Broward County

November -0001 - The Broward County Commission took action to oppose an application for a state oil-drilling permit on an Everglades site in the county’s southwest corner. County commissioners unanimously agreed last week to seek an amendment to state law giving counties the legal authority to determine whether drilling for oil is permissible within their borders.

Gulf Coast Restoration Funding Soon

November -0001 - The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council is now evaluating submissions for funding under the Restoration agreement that comes as a result of the BP Horizon settlement money. Currently there are restoration projects proposed in Pensacola Bay, Apalachicola Bay, Suwannee River, Tampa Bay and Northwest Florida estuaries. Collectively, the funding will provide millions to Florida Gulf Coast communities to enable them to repair damage done by the oil spill to the wildlife and coastline. The RESTORE funding aims to make sure the money paid by BP because of the still will be applied towards areas impacted by the spill, instead of being diverted to unrelated projects.

BP Loses in Court

November -0001 - A federal court ruled against BP, making the gulf coast eligible to receive billions in fines from the oil giant – all related to the Gulf Coast spill.

GLBTQ Issues

Gay Adoption Ban Repealed

November -0001 - Governor Scott signed a bill repealing the state’s ban on gay adoptions. The law had been declared unconstitutional in 2010 but this officially repeals it.

Gun Violence Prevention

Florida Legislature Passes Sweeping Gun Bill, Sends to Governor

March 2018 - The Florida Legislature passed its first gun restrictions in three decades. Senate Bill 7026 raises the legal age for buying rifles and imposes a three-day waiting period on all firearms sales, however a controversial provision also allows the arming of some public school personnel.

Health Issues

Medical Marijuana Amendment is Welcomed by Patients

November 2016 - After failing in 2014, voters in Florida overwhelmingly (70%) approved an amendment to the state constitution to give patients with debilitating illnesses access to medical marijuana.

May 2011 - FNC Broke the story that Florida's efforts to move low-income Medicaid patients into HMO's is getting a thumbs-down from HHS in D.C. A pilot program in five Florida counties has been plagued with lack of access, abuse and fraud. The Governor signed a law expanding the plan state-wide, but it needs a federal waiver to take effect. HHS has said no waiver is likely.

April 2011 - Florida's efforts to move low-income Medicaid patients into HMOs is getting a thumbs-down from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A pilot program in five Florida counties has been plagued with lack of access, abuse and fraud. The Governor signed a law expanding the plan state-wide, but it needs a federal waiver to take effect - a waiver that is now unlikely.

Special Session to look at Medicaid Funding

November -0001 - The Florida Senate called a special legislative session for June to reiterate support for a plan that would use federal Medicaid funding to provide health insurance to about 800,000 Floridians. The plan is set to be approved by the Florida Senate by June 3rd. The expansion may not move as swiftly in the State House since Republican leaders and the Governor are against the health coverage expansion.

ACA Enrollment Stays Strong

November -0001 - Florida’s ACA Enrollment remains high, in spite of efforts to limit access to enrollment by some conservative leaders in the state. Florida’s tally exceeds that of California. Up until now, Florida lawmakers have chosen to opt out of creating a Health care marketplace for Florida, leaving it up to residents to utilize the federal marketplace. They have also opted not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Even with that, as of mid-January 1.27 million Floridians enrolled in exchange plans, slightly more than California. Health care advocates consider that a victory, considering the fact that California has a larger population and is a democratic-led state.

More Children Gain Health Insurance

November -0001 - Enrollment of school-age children in Medicaid rose by 137,000 this year, which included more than 62,000 kids who transferred from the state's CHIP program, according to Florida Healthy Kids Corp., the nonprofit that runs CHIP in the state. That switch saved families money, since they previously had to pay a $15- or $20-a-month premium in CHIP.

HIV/AIDS Prevention

Syringe Access Legislation Approved

March 2016 - Gov. Scott signed a bill creating the state's first sterile syringe exchange program.

Hunger/Food/Nutrition

More Florida Children With Less Hunger This Summer

August 2017 - Florida has seen some gains in the number of low-income children who are able to access summer nutrition programs.

Livable Wages/Working Families

Walt Disney World Workers Land Deal for $15 Minimum Wage

August 2018 - Disney reached a deal with unions that would hike the minimum wage for Walt Disney World Resort workers to $15 an hour by 2021, signaling an end to contract negotiations that have dragged on for nearly a year.

Oceans

Florida Legislature Funds Efforts to Prevent Red Tide Outbreaks

May 2019 - The Legislative passed a bill that would allow investments of $3 million per year for six years in red tide mitigation. (SB 1552)

February 2011 - New fishing regulations and restrictions went into effect on Jan. 31 on the Atlantic Coast, and a few weeks later an endangered Right Whale was found on a Florida beach. Advocates are hoping the discovery will add more momentum to the movement to scale back overfishing and protect threatened species.

January 2011 - Overfishing off Florida's Atlantic Coast is blamed for the devastation a number of fish species, but a comeback kicked off on January 31st, with the implementation of a new plan and limited closures designed to specifically help 9 threatened species. Combined with efforts to protect other species like the Red Snapper, it's part of a large push to combat overfishing in the Southeast.

December 2010 - President Obama announced no new oil drilling off the Florida coast for at least seven years, but some are concerned that this measure will not stop the legislature from continuing efforts to allow drilling in state waters. The newly-elected Republican veto-proof majority has been loudly critical of federal efforts to ban oil drilling off the coast.

Public Lands/Wilderness

Conservation Move Headed to the Ballot

January 2014 - The Legacy Amendment (Amendment 1) will be placed on Florida ballots in November.


G r e a t e r

D a k o t a

N e w s

S e r v i c e

Greater Dakota News Service

Energy Policy

Fed. Judge Orders Greater Oversight of DAPL

December 2017 - A judge has ordered greater oversight measures for the Dakota Access Pipeline. The decision comes in the wake of the Keystone Pipeline spill, which highlighted the risk pipelines pose to local communities.

Health Issues

South Dakota Voters Backing Medicaid Expansion

March 2016 - A recent poll commissioned by the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network shows 74 percent of voters support Gov. Dennis Daugaard's Medicaid expansion plans.

December 2010 - The Community Health Care Association is setting the stage for some major expansions. They anticipate almost doubling the number of clinics in the Dakotas, and could add up to 100,000 new patients. They also had initiatives for diabetes education, and rural clinic mammograms. Employees at several clinics raised funds on their own to give back to their communities

Livable Wages/Working Families

SD Gov. Suggests Tax Bump to Boost Teacher Pay

February 2016 - South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard proposed a half-cent sales tax hike to help boost teacher pay in the state.

Public Lands/Wilderness

SD Rejects "Dangerous" Biking Law

February 2016 - South Dakota lawmakers rejected a bill that opponents said would have made bicycling more dangerous on certain roads in the state.

Sustainable Agriculture

Organic Farmers Get New Conservation Tool from USDA

March 2016 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced plans to help cover the costs of setting up about 20,000 acres of new conservation buffers specifically for organic farms.

Toxics

Lumber Liquidators removes toxic flooring

December 2015 - Lumber Liquidators agreed to remove potentially toxic flooring merchandise from its store's shelves.

Welfare Reform

SD Lawmakers "Just Say No" to Welfare Drug Testing Bill

February 2016 - A bill that would have required drug testing for adult welfare applicants under age 65 was rejected by a South Dakota house committee.


I l l i n o i s

N e w s

C o n n e c t i o n

Illinois News Connection

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention

Governor Pardons 11,000 Marijuana Convictions

December 2019 - Illinois' governor granted more than 11,000 pardons for low-level marijuana convictions, describing the step as a first wave of thousands of such expungements anticipated under the state's new marijuana legalization law. The law, which takes effect January 1, 2020, makes Illinois the 11th state to legalize marijuana for people 21 or older. Lawmakers said they hope to repair some of the damage caused by law enforcement’s efforts to combat sale and use of the drug, particularly in minority communities.

Animal Welfare

Illinois Tops Nation in Protecting Pets

January 2016 - For the eighth year in a row, Illinois is topping the list of states that are doing the most to bolster animal-protection laws.

Campaign Finance Reform/Money in Politics

Fair Election Ballot Initiative Approved

November -0001 - The Fair Elections Illinois ballot initiative was approved in Chicago, calling for the City Council and the state legislature to approve and implement small donor matching fund systems to finance future campaigns for local and state offices. Specifically, the question that will appear on the ballot is: "Should the city of Chicago or the state of Illinois reduce the influence of special interest money in elections by financing campaigns using small contributions from individuals and a limited amount of public money?"

Citizenship/Representative Democracy

October 2011 - A new poll of Illinois voters taken in October found opposition to the Tea Party movement is growing. The poll conducted by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute asked voters if they would be more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate affiliated with the Tea Party. 60 percent said they'd be less likely to vote for such a candidate compared to 46 percent last year.

Citizens United Rejected in Edwardsville

November -0001 - In Edwardsville, citizens voted overwhelmingly for their legislators to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling and declare that only human beings – not corporations – are entitled to constitutional rights and that money is not speech and campaign spending can be regulated.

Same-Day Voter Registration Bill Signed

November -0001 - Before leaving office in January, Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation to expand democracy in Illinois and bring it into the 21st century. The new laws make same-day voter registration permanent, expand early voting and set a special election on Nov. 8, 2016 to allow voters to fill the statewide position of Illinois Comptroller.

Civil Rights

OCR Rules in Favor of Transgender Student

December 2015 - The Office for Civil Rights ruled that suburban Chicago school District 211 is violating an anti-discriminatory Title IX law by denying a transgender female student unrestricted access to the girl's locker room.

Consumer Issues

September 2011 - On September 12, Governor Quinn vetoed the so called "smart grid" legislation that would have increased electric bills to pay for an upgrade of the electrical grid in Illinois. This is a victory for AARP and other consumer groups which opposed it saying that it would have been too expensive for consumers and would have usurped the oversight of state regulators.

Criminal Justice

Kudos to Illinois For New Laws to Reduce Recidivism

August 2017 - The Pew Charitable Trust's Stateline reports gives praise to Illinois for laws recently enacted to reduce recidivism. Illinois' governor signed a law that helps former inmates reintegrate into society, and the state is being praised for being one of the first to enact a "ban the box" law that means former inmates won't be asked to reveal they were in in prison when they first fill out an application.

Federal Court Certifies Lawsuit Over Unconstitutional Prison Healthcare

May 2017 - A federal judge has ruled that long-standing problems with the medical and dental care provided in Illinois' state prisons must be addressed systemically, rather than relying on individual challenges from prisoners.

Bill Decriminalizes Small Amounts of Marijuana

April 2016 - A bill cleared the Illinois House in April that would put possession of small amounts of marijuana on par with traffic tickets.

Illinois Voters Eager for Criminal Justice Reforms

March 2016 - An ACLU poll shows the overwhelming majority of voters believe the system is "broken," with 76 percent of Illinois Democrats and 70 percent of Republicans agreeing that changes need to be made.

Red Light Cameras Limited

November -0001 - The Illinois House also approved a bill that would ban the use of red light cameras in non-home rule communities, generally towns with a population of less than 25,000. This legislation comes on the heels of Chicago Tribune investigation into the efficacy of red light cameras, which found that the cameras "failed to deliver on safety claims and that the city's yellow light intervals are dangerously short and out of step with national standards."

Disabilities

Governor's OT Cuts Delayed

January 2017 - The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules voted unanimously to delay the adoption of Rauner administration rules to cut overtime for providers caring for people with disabilities.

December 2011 - A groundbreaking Consent Decree approved in Federal Court in December gives Cook County residents a meaningful choice about where to live. Because of the ruling thousands of people with physical disabilities and mental illnesses who have been living in nursing homes because of the structure of Medicaid funding will be able to live in their own homes and participate in the community. The ruling came in the case of Colbert v. Quinn originally filed in 2007.

March 2011 - The Illinois Department of Human Services unveiled a new federally funded program that helps employers hire workers with disabilities through financial incentives to the employers.

Early Childhood Education

Federal child care funding restored

November -0001 - After 18 years without any Congressional action, the Child Care and Development Block Grant has been reauthorized and revised to include basic provisions to improve the quality of child care nationwide. The measure increases state-level investments in activities to improve the quality of care, enhancing states' ability to train providers and develop safer and more effective child care services.

Education

IL National Leader in College Completion

September 2018 - Illinois is now the national leader in bachelor's degree completion rates among community college students. According to data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, 53.8 percent of new Illinois community college students in 2010 who transferred to a four-year college completed a bachelor's degree within six years.

Deal Reached in School Funding Fight

August 2017 - Illinois lawmakers have agreed to a new school funding formula, designed to bolster the state's poorest districts without taking money away from the rest. 831 of the state's 852 school districts will see more state dollars than before.

Illinois Good State for Teachers

November 2015 - Illinois is at the top of the list among states for teachers, according to a new ranking from personal finance website WalletHub.

Endangered Species & Wildlife

Apple Lights Go Dim for the Birds

October 2017 - Chicago's new Apple store is dimming the lights due to bird deaths. Wildlife experts say bright lights confuse birds in flight, and they slam into the glass, often with fatal results. Complaints surfaced after residents started noticing dead birds around the new Apple store in Chicago and company officials have agreed to dim the lights.

Conservationists Celebrate Success of Eagles in Illinois

March 2016 - As the bald eagle population continues to grow in Illinois, The Nature Conservancy hosted an Eagle Day to celebrate effective conservation efforts.

Illinois Welcomes Endangered Wildlife

April 2014 - Illinois is taking steps towards welcoming back wolves, black bears and mountain lions to the state.

Energy Policy

Agreement Expected to Jump-start State's Clean Energy Industry

September 2013 - Illinois' largest power generator, Exelon Corp., and environmental groups have reached an agreement in principle on legislation to jump-start the state's stalled clean-energy industry.

April 2011 - To help support people using more "green" forms of transportation, Governor Quinn announced that the state will start tracking "dooring" accidents between cars and bicycle riders. The idea is to look for ways to making biking safer.

February 2011 - Governor Pat Quinn and Mitsubishi Motors North America (MMNA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to support the advancement of electric vehicle and renewable energy technologies in Illinois. As part of the agreement, Illinois will receive a limited number of Mitsubishi Motors "i" battery electric vehicles (i MiEV) on a temporary basis to evaluate the new electric vehicle (EV) technology on the state's fleet. Saves 1200 jobs at Mitsubishi plant in Normal, IL.

February 2011 - The state will invest $1 million of Illinois Jobs Now! capital funding to install state-of-the-art electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure throughout the Chicagoland area. This project is expected to be the largest concentration of DC quick-charge stations in the world.

December 2010 - Developers in December agreed to build two new wind farms in Illinois. These new projects will create hundreds of jobs in construction and maintenance during the next 18 months, as well as provide valuable new landowner payments and property taxes to their host communities for years to come.

Poll Shows Support for Renewables

November -0001 - A new poll conducted by Natural Resources Defense Council found that Illinoisans are committed to renewable energy and energy efficiency. According to the survey, 70 percent of those surveyed "strongly" support energy efficiency, 64 percent strongly support increased solar energy, 59 percent strongly support more wind power, 49 percent strongly support more natural gas, and 42 percent strongly support the use of more hydropower.

Bill Would Expand Renewable Energy

November -0001 - Legislation introduced in the Illinois General Assembly will expand support for renewable energy in Illinois. Supporters say HB 3328 and SB 1879 will ensure that energy consumers and the state economy will continue to benefit from affordable power, as well as a more secure and resilient grid. The legislation package features a proposal to construct microgrids, which are small power grids that can connect to the main grid or operate independently, reinforcing reliability and resiliency during extreme weather or other events. It is expected to create at least 400 full-time equivalent jobs in Illinois.

Environment

Sulfur Dioxide CO2 reduction

November 2015 - Emissions of sulfur dioxide carbon dioxide (CO2), and other pollutants will be significantly reduced by rules adopted in October by the Illinois Pollution Control Board.

Fast-Tracking for Fracking Stopped in its Tracks

May 2014 - A bill aimed at speeding up the start of fracking in Illinois was killed in late May.

Petcoke Disclosures Come Clean

February 2014 - Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced new legislation that would require facilities to fully enclose petcoke if it is within five-thousand feet of communities.

Highway Toll Plan Stopped Because of Environmental Issues

November -0001 - A Federal District Court issued a decision in favor of environmental groups in Illinois finding that the federal and state transportation agencies’ approval of the final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision for the proposed Illiana Tollway were “arbitrary and capricious and in violation of NEPA.” The Environmental Law and Policy Center says it’s a major victory, and that by stopping the Illinois Tollway is a great win for Illinois taxpayers, for sound regional planning, and for protecting the Midewin National Prairie.

GLBTQ Issues

January 2011 - Governor Quinn signed legislation legalizing civil unions in Illinois. This was seen as a major human rights victory by LGBT civil rights organizations, and the ACLU.

December 2010 - In early December, both houses of the state legislature have signed a law that would allow gay couples to enter into civil unions in Illinois.

Health Issues

November 2011 - A new report released by Georgetown University says the number of Illinois children who are uninsured has dropped by nearly one percentage point. That means since 2008, more than 24 thousand Illinois children who would have gone without, have been given access to health care because of the Affordable Care Act.

August 2011 - Governor Pat Quinn signed new laws designed to improve the quality of life for those needing behavioral health services and ensure equal access to necessary treatments. The laws build upon Illinois' efforts to ensure equal access to health care for Illinois residents and coordinate care to improve outcomes.

Medicaid Cuts Restored

November -0001 - A law signed in June will restore some Medicaid cuts Illinois made in 2012 and could give the state access to about $2.4 billion in federal money over the next few years. The new law seeks about $400 million in federal matching funds for the approximately 349,000 new Medicaid sign-ups in Illinois under the Affordable Care Act expansion. Supporters hailed the new law as a way capitalize on federal money and improve the state's safety net for the most vulnerable residents.

Housing/Homelessness

Illinois Gets $1.2 Million to Boost Affordable Housing

October 2019 - HUD has awarded $1,200,141 to Housing Action Illinois to distribute funds to local nonprofits whose housing counseling programs help families rent or buy safe, affordable homes and prevent foreclosures. Each HUD-approved agency will receive between $18,000 and $50,000 for FY2019.

HUD Awards Money for Homeless Illinois Vets

December 2015 - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded $443,453 in grants and vouchers to be used to expand support services and housing for Illinois veterans.

December 2011 - Governor Pat Quinn in December launched the Welcome Home Heroes program to promote homeownership for Illinois Veterans, active military personnel, reservists and Illinois National Guard members. The financing package is available statewide, and provides a forgivable grant up to $10,000 toward the purchase of a new home, as well as an additional mortgage tax credit up to $20,000 over the life of the loan. It also creates hundreds of jobs statewide.

Program Ensures Stability for Shaky Housing Situations for Teens

November -0001 - A project underway in Illinois is the first nationally to address a problem many homeless children and teens have of safely storing their belongings. The Chicago Youth Storage Initiative is working to develop storage programs that can create some stability for homeless youth. Tracy Baim, publisher, Windy City Times and project coordinator. This summer, the initiative is building lockers at a Southside overnight youth shelter as a pilot, and possibly two additional sites.

Human Rights/Racial Justice

August 2011 - The State of Illinois has created a Muslim American advisory council to advise the Governor on appropriate policy developments, official directives, and other issues of significance impacting Illinois' Muslims.

March 2011 - Governor Quinn signed the bill that abolishes the death penalty.

Hunger/Food/Nutrition

Thousands of College Students Eligible for Food Stamps

February 2018 - New rules issued by the Illinois Department of Human Services allows full and part time college students to apply for SNAP benefits.

New School Lunch Program for All Students

November -0001 - More than one thousand high-poverty schools in Illinois adopted a new federal program this academic year aimed at improving access to free meals for students, according to a new analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), included in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, enables qualifying high-poverty schools to serve no-cost breakfast and lunches to all students. The program, designed to make school meal operations more efficient and help reduce hunger, eliminates the need for schools to collect household applications to determine which students are eligible for free or reduced-priced meals.

Immigrant Issues

Illinois' Governor Signs Law Limiting police on Immigration

August 2017 - Illinois will limit how local and state police can cooperate with federal immigration authorities under a plan signed into law Monday by the state's Republican Govenror Bruce Rauner

August 2011 - The Illinois DREAM Act has been passed and signed into law creating a privately-funded scholarship program for high school graduates from immigrant families who wish to attend college.

May 2011 - Illinois Governor Pat Quinn sent a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement notifying the agency that because of its indiscriminate use of the "Secure Communities" deportation program, the State is ending its participation in the program. The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights praises the Governor's action for taking the state of Illinois one step forward toward sensible solutions for our country's broken immigration system.

Livable Wages/Working Families

Illinois Teachers Getting a Raise

August 2019 - llinois is raising the bar for teacher pay: By the first day of school in 2023, teachers will make at least $40,000 following a bill signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker. The current minimum teacher salary ranges from only $9,000 to $11,000, depending on the individual teacher's level of education.

Lawmakers Approve $15 Minimum Wage

May 2017 - The Illinois House has approved a proposal to raise the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour over five years. Governor Rauner's signature is the next step.

Nursing Home Strike Averted

May 2017 - Nursing home workers have reached a tentative agreement with nursing home owners for a three-year contract, averting the largest nursing home strike in history.

Illinois Anti-Poverty Policies Make Progress, Need More Work

March 2016 - New report shows progress has been made to help reduce poverty by enacting certain laws, including one that bans employers from asking about criminal histories on job applications.

City of Springfield Passes TPP Resolution

October 2015 - The city of Springfield appears to be ahead of the pack in passing a resolution in October that called on lawmakers in Congress to oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other deals like it.

Minimum Wage Increase Approved for Ballot

May 2014 - The Illinois Senate passed legislation that would place a question on the November ballot asking voters if the state's minimum wage should be raised to $10 per hour.

Minimum Wage Proposal Receives Backing

March 2014 - U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is joining labor unions and workers to push for raising the minimum wage.

Min. Wage Hike Proposed

September 2013 - State Rep. Arthur Turner (D-Chicago) introduced a bill in the House to increase the minimum wage in Illinois from $8.25 to $10.65 by 2016.

January 2012 - Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation to increase tax relief for working families across Illinois. Senate Bill 400 doubles the state's Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) over two years, saving low-income workers an extra $105 million per year. The new law also benefits all Illinois taxpayers by improving the value of the personal exemption and indexing it to inflation.

Project Helps Veterans Learn Career Skills

November -0001 - A new initiative in 25 cities, including Chicago, is working to promote economic success for veterans and their families through educational and employment opportunities. The Veterans Economic Communities Initiative is helping veterans gain competitive career skills and knowledge in local, in-demand fields. Cloud says the VA is partnering with businesses, educators, community organizations and others to connect veterans and their families to educational and employment opportunities in their area.

Workplace Protections for Pregnant Employees

November -0001 - A new law gives expecting and new mothers in Illinois some protection from workplace discrimination. Illinois employers are now required to make “reasonable accommodations” for pregnant employees which might include more frequent or longer bathroom breaks, limits on heavy lifting and assistance in manual labor; access to places to sit; time off to recover from childbirth; and private space for breast-feeding and expressing breast milk—accommodations that could prevent pregnant women from being fired due to their condition.

Minimum Wage Bill Heads to the Ballot

November -0001 - Governor Pat Quinn gave voters the chance to make their voices heard on an important issue that would benefit hundreds of thousands of working people across Illinois. House Bill 3814 was signed, which places an advisory question on the November 4 ballot that asks if the state’s minimum wage for those over the age of 18 should be raised to $10 by January 1, 2015.

Home Ownership Grows With Assistance Program

November -0001 - The Welcome Home Illinois program is setting all-time records in home ownership across the state. Since the program’s launch in April, 2, over 800 home buyers in 85 counties have reserved more than $360 million in financing, creating an estimated 1,400 new jobs. The response is the greatest the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) has seen in its 30-year history of providing mortgage financing.

Job Opportunities Act Signed

November -0001 - Governor Pat Quinn signed the Job Opportunities Act in July to help former inmates get hired. The new law requires private employers in Illinois to first evaluate a job applicants' skills and then ask about their criminal histories.

Committee Votes to Raise Minimum Wage

November -0001 - The Illinois Senate's Executive Committee passed legislation to raise the state's minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2019. The bill, which passed by an 11-5 vote, would increase the minimum wage in Illinois to $9 an hour on July 1, increasing it 75 cents from the current $8.25 hourly wage.

Public Lands/Wilderness

New National Monument in Chicago

November -0001 - President Barack Obama has designated Chicago’s Far South Side district of Pullman a national monument. According to the Chicago Tribune, “portions of Pullman will be maintained by the National Park System in a manner similar to how it treats the Statue of Liberty and the Washington Monument,” and “individual residents will continue to own the row houses, the church and small businesses … .”

Senior Issues

IL AG Looks to Protect Seniors

January 2010 - Indiana's "chief lawyer" is looking for ways to better protect consumers from fraud.

Smoking Prevention

"Tobacco 21" Now Law in Illinois

July 2019 - Illinoisans now must be 21 or older to purchase tobacco and e-cigarette products after a new law taking effect this July. While the law reduces penalties for underage possession of tobacco products, it imposes stricter penalties on store owners who fail to comply with the new age restrictions. Supporters say the law will improve public health and potentially reduce health care costs.

Sustainable Agriculture

Evanston Wants to Curtail Farm Antibiotic Use

January 2010 - The Evanston City Council passed a resolution to call for an end to the misuse of antibiotics in livestock on factory farms. The town joins Chicago and more than 20 other cities that have passed similar resolutions.

Urban Planning/Transportation

Sprawl Report Finds Progress in Illinois

April 2014 - Several Illinois cities received high rankings in a new national report comparing sprawl vs. connectivity.

Ruling Could Reduce Amtrak Delays

January 2010 - The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Department of Transportation, Environmental Law and Policy Center and others when it affirmed Amtrak's power to create on-time performance standards.

Ride-Share Laws Vetoed

November -0001 - Governor Quinn vetoed two bills that would have placed statewide regulations on the ride-share industry that competes with taxis. It would have allowed car insurers to deny coverage to ride-share drivers at the times when they were using their vehicles for ride-share work.

Investments in Safe Passage Program

November -0001 - The state is investing $10 million the Safe Passage Program for Chicago Public Schools. It will expand the program by increasing routes to 93 schools currently in the program and adding 27 new schools.

Waste Reduction/Recycling

E-Waste Bill Becomes Law

November -0001 - Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed an electronics recycling bill to save underfunded electronic recycling programs in the state. The legislation requires manufacturers to increase the amount of items they have to pay to recycle by 10 million pounds. Rauner signed the bill because the previous legislation was outdated and made it unnecessarily difficult for local governments.

Water

Money Headed to Great Lakes Projects

January 2014 - President Obama signed a spending bill that includes $300 million to fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

New Water Safety Law

November -0001 - New legislation was signed in July aimed at improving safety on Illinois water-ways. The new boating laws will require boaters born after 1998 to pass a boating safety course and allows authorities to seize watercraft if the operator has been convicted multiple times in the past of driving under the influence.

Women's Issues

Gov. Rauner Changes Mind on Bill Protecting Abortion Access in Illinois

September 2017 - Governor Bruce Rauner has agreed to sign a bill designed to maintain access to abortion in Illinois if the U-S Supreme Court changes its mind on the practice. Rauner previously said he would veto HB 40.

House Committee Advances Bill to Protect Reproductive Health Care

February 2017 - A measure removing a dangerous "trigger" provision in the Illinois abortion law and eliminating discriminatory provisions from Illinois law that deny insurance coverage of abortion to women who depend on Medicaid and State Employee Health Insurance cleared the Illinois House of Representatives Human Services Committee by a vote of 7 to 5.

Illinois Doing (Somthing) Right by Women's Reproductive Rights

February 2016 - The Population Institute's scorecard by state on reproductive rights gave Illinois a B minus for taking the positive step of expanding Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act.


I n d i a n a

N e w s

S e r v i c e

Indiana News Service

Animal Welfare

Indiana High on the List for Protecting Animals

January 2016 - Indiana is ranked 15th nationally for its animal protection laws, according to a new report from the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

"Ag-gag" Move Stripped

January 2014 - An Indiana Senate committee stripped all "ag-gag" language from Senate Bill 101 after hearing from thousands of across the state.

Pig Wrestling Canceled

November -0001 - After outcries from animal welfare groups, the Delaware County Fair in Muncie, Indiana canceled its pig wrestling events. During the events young animals are chased, tackled, and slammed into barrels in front of crowds. People from Indiana as well as Brooklyn, New York, Oklahoma, Canada and England signed an online petition protesting the event, with some calling hog wrestling "barbaric" and "cruel."

Bill Would Restrict Exotic Animal Ownership

November -0001 - A state leader is trying again to pass legislation that would tighten restrictions on ownership of exotic animals. Under Senate Bill 226, exhibitors and breeders of such animals as bears, wild cats and wolves would be required to obtain a state permit and submit to annual inspections.

Budget Policy & Priorities

Indiana County Receives Rural Development Grant

November 2015 - As part of an effort to strengthen the rural economy, USDA Rural Development announced the selection of Wells County Revitalization, Inc. as a recipient of a $43,000 Rural Business Development Grant.

Civil Rights

Classes Moved from Hall with KKK Mural

October 2017 - A student led petition drive is being called a success after officials at Indiana University Bloomington agreed to no longer hold classes in a hall with a mural depicting the KKK.

Consumer Issues

Lawmakers Reject Payday Lending Bill

February 2018 - A bill that would allow storefront lenders to charge annual interest rates of up to 222 percent by offering three- to 12-month loans of up to $1,500, was allowed to die quietly, by not being assigned to a committee in the state senate.

April 2012 - The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor is recommending that Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) receive only one-eighth (1/8) of the base rate increase it is requesting. In its base rate case, I&M is requesting approximately $174.2 million in new, annual operating revenues from its Indiana customers. The OUCC's recommendations would limit the increase to $21.8 million.

Criminal Justice

Settlement Reached in Indiana Over The Way Mentally Ill People are Treated in Prison.

February 2016 - Indiana has joined two other states in announcing a settlement over the way people in prison who are mentally ill are treated.

Education

Indiana Closing the Racial Achievement Gap

January 2016 - Educators in Indiana say they're making strides in closing the achievement gap for students of color.

Program Will Help Vets Become Teachers

November -0001 - A new law will give Veterans more support from the state as they seek new careers. A program called "second service" would give veterans scholarships and college credit for their military training to help earn an education degree from Indiana's universities.

School Safety Investments in Schools Boosted

November -0001 - More than 250 Indiana schools and school districts are sharing in some $9 million in state grants aimed at helping them boost school safety. The Governor’s office says nearly $5 million of the funding through the Secured School Safety Grant Program will go toward purchasing new equipment for schools. The remaining $4 million will pay for hiring school resource officers. Another $32,000 in grant money was awarded to four school districts for conducting school threat assessments.

Energy Policy

Nipsco to Shutter at Least One Coal-fired Power Plant

August 2016 - An Indiana utility, Nipsco, plans to significantly reduce its coal-fired generation, retiring a plant by 2018 and most of another one in 2023.

Coal Gasification Plant Financing Questioned

January 2013 - Two Republican lawmakers have filed bills to reexamine the terms of a proposed $3-billion Rockpor coal gasification plant.

Solar Capacity Grows

November -0001 - Indiana ranked 14th in the nation in installed solar capacity last year, according to the recently-released U.S. Solar Market Insight 2014 Year in Review. In 2014, Indiana added 59 MW of solar electric capacity, bringing its total to 112 MW. That’s enough energy to power more than 12,000 homes. There are 65 solar companies at work throughout the value chain in Indiana, employing nearly 1,500 people.

Environment

Lake Michigan Shoreline Belongs to All Hoosiers

February 2018 - The Indiana Supreme Court has ruled that Lake Michigan's shoreline is open to all, and adjacent property owners cannot exercise exclusive control of the beach between their homes and the water.

Victory Over Polluters

December 2015 - People in Elkhart, who endured 11 years of hazardous fires has been awarded just over $50 million in a class action lawsuit.

Ag Gag is Gagged

April 2013 - Indiana SB 373 - the so-called Ag-Gag bill - died as lawmakers finished up their budget writing session. The bill was modeled after ones that surfaced across the country this year, and would have banned people from using video for undercover operations that investigate animal abuse and environmental issues.

Coal-Gasification Scrapped

November -0001 - A controversial Southern Indiana coal gasification plant deal is scrapped. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management rescinded an air-quality permit for Leucadia National Corp.’s planned Rockport coal gasification plant at the firm’s request. The company requested the permit be rescinded since it hadn’t yet begun construction as a key deadline loomed. Opponents, including Citizens Action Coalition, said it would have driven up the cost of home heating in Indiana.

Companies Say They Will Pay for Pollution Cleanup

November -0001 - Under a proposed settlement the Atlantic Richfield Company and DuPont will pay for an estimated $26 million cleanup of lead and arsenic contamination in parts of a residential neighborhood in East Chicago, Indiana. The yards in this neighborhood are contaminated with lead and arsenic through industrial operations that took place from at least the early 1900s through 1985.

GLBTQ Issues

LGBT Rights Progress Noted in Indiana

November -0001 - A report finds Indiana is making progress when it comes to LGBT equality. The Movement Advancement Project examined the ways laws protect LGBT people, also how laws, or lack of laws, put them at risk of harm. Indiana is ranked among the 14 states under what the report calls 'medium equality.' Chris Paulsen with Indiana Equality Action says it’s an improvement because the state finally moved from the bottom to the middle.

Ban on Same-Sex Marriage Overturned

November -0001 - A federal judge ruled in August on the last remaining same-sex marriage case in Indiana, once again overturning the state's ban on gay marriage. In his ruling, Judge Richard Young struck down Indiana's ban on recognizing same-sex marriages that are performed in other states. Like Young's previous rulings, that decision is stayed pending appeal. The following week, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals the next week heard arguments in three other same-sex marriage cases from Indiana.

Health Issues

American Water Lays Out a Plan for Replacing Lead Pipes

February 2018 - The Indiana subsidiary of American Water Company has filed a plan with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to fully replace lead service lines in the communities it serves.

The Latest Kids Count Data Book Shows Improvements

February 2018 - A decrease in teen pregnancy and an increase in health coverage top the positive changes in Hoosier health measurements, according to The Kids Count Data Book released this month.

Indiana Won't Challenge Judge's Order on Abortion

August 2016 - Indiana has decided not to appeal a federal judge's order blocking a state law that would ban abortions because of a fetus' genetic abnormalities. The judge had issued a preliminary injunction blocking the law from taking effect. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky filed a lawsuit, arguing the law is unconstitutional and violates women's privacy rights.

Judge Blocks Indiana Abortion Law

July 2016 - A law that was supposed to go into effect July 1st in Indiana was blocked by a federal judge. HEA 1337 would have banned abortions of a fetus with genetic abnormalities or because of race, gender or ancestry.

Indiana Saw a Huge Drop in the Number of People Killed in House Fires in 2015.

February 2016 - Indiana saw a 14% drop in the number of fire deaths last year.

Medicaid Expansion Inked

November -0001 - Indiana is now the 28th state to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The program will be run under the state’s Healthy Indiana Plan, and expands eligibility to those earning incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. It’s estimated to be available to 350,000 lower income Hoosiers.

Human Rights/Racial Justice

Human-Trafficking Bill Introduced

March 2015 - A bill that aims to reduce human trafficking in the state is moving through the Indiana General Assembly.

Hunger/Food/Nutrition

Effort Underway to Make Sure Everyone has Access to Fresh Food

February 2016 - A bill to eliminate Indiana's food deserts won approval in a key legislative committee this winter.

Breakfast Grants on the way to Indiana

November -0001 - Indiana is among several states selected to receive grant funding from Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom, to help schools expand or begin breakfast-in-the-classroom programs. The districts that will receive funding will be selected later in the spring.

Local Food for Food Banks

November -0001 - A new program is getting underway that will improve access to fresh, nutritious and locally grown food for some of Indiana’s most vulnerable citizens. Farms to Food Banks program is kicking off this summer. It allows food banks to purchase surplus or number-two grade produce at below-market rates from local growers. Supporters say farmers will make money on produce that otherwise would have gone to waste, and food banks will have better quality produce.

Immigrant Issues

Indiana takes in Syrian Refugee Family

January 2016 - The Archdiocese of Indianapolis resettled a refugee family from Syria, despite a call by Indiana Governor Mike Pence for a halt on the acceptance of Syrian refugees.

Livable Wages/Working Families

Right to Work Doesn't Stand Up in Court

September 2013 - Indiana's Right to Work law was ruled unconstitutional by a state court judge.

Caregivers Win Under New Law

November -0001 - A measure that will better support the 1.3 million family caregivers in Indiana was recently signed into law. The CARE Act goes into effect Jan. 1, and under the new law when a person is admitted into the hospital, he or she will have the option to designate the name of a family caregiver. The caregiver also can be notified upon discharge, and will be provided an explanation of medical instructions including medication management.

Media Reform

Broadband Access Will Expand

December 2009 - Governor Mike Pence signed two bills into law that will expand broadband Internet access across the state.

State-Run News Nixed

November -0001 - Indiana Governor Mike Pence has halted the development of a state-run news website. The Indianapolis Star published internal documents that detailed plans to have stories and news releases written by state press secretaries for the public and the media. The documents said the site at times would break news. The notion of prewritten stories for the media sparked criticism from journalists around the country, who likened the endeavor to state-run media in Russia and China.

Public Lands/Wilderness

A Big Step is Taken in Effort to Restore Habitat in the Indiana Dunes National Lake-shore.

February 2016 - After years of negotiations, a deal was reached to buy one of the last pieces of land in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Senior Issues

Staying Home While Growing Older with a New Program

May 2014 - Four Area Agencies on Aging across Indiana have been selected to implement a new program aimed at helping older residents remain in their home as they age.

Smoking Prevention

March 2012 - Governor Daniels signed the state's first smoking ban - which exempts bars, casinos, and private clubs. It takes effect July 1st.

Social Justice

Ballot Selfie's Given Okay by Federal Judge

November 2015 - A federal judged ruled in favor of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana's challenge of an Indiana law that would have made it illegal for a voter to take a "ballot" selfie at the polls or share it on social media.

Teen Pregnancy Prevention

Teen Pregnancy Rates Drop

May 2014 - Teen pregnancy rates are at historic lows, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

Urban Planning/Transportation

Indiana Roads Get High Marks

November 2015 - Pavement and bridges maintained by the Indiana Department of Transportation continue to improve, according to the latest results submitted to the Federal Highway Administration.

Water

USDA Grants Help with Indiana Water and Waste Systems

August 2018 - The USDA's Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program is offering funding for rural communities to help them pay for drinking water, storm-water drainage and waste-disposal systems. A total of $165 million is available for Indiana communities.

Women's Issues

Federal Appeals Court Tosses out Ban on Selective Abortions

April 2018 - A federal appeals court in Chicago has ruled that an Indiana abortion law, signed into law in 2016 by then-Governor Mike Pence, is unconstitutional. It banned women from having abortions because of fetal disability or gender. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled the law imposes an undue burden on a woman's right to get an abortion.

Youth Issues

Plan Rewards Young, Safe Drivers

January 2010 - A new Indiana law offers incentives to young drivers to stay safe. The law, which went into effect July 1, allows teens who take driver's education classes to get their license when they are 16 years, 3 months old. Previously, they had to wait until they turned 16 years, 6 months. A 2011 report said that the country could save 2,000 lives a year if all 50 states instituted comprehensive programs of phased-in driving privileges for teens.


K e n t u c k y

N e w s

C o n n e c t i o n

Kentucky News Connection

Animal Welfare

Ag-Gag Proposal Defeated

November -0001 - Animal welfare groups were able to block a controversial right to farm bill in the legislature from becoming law.

Budget Policy & Priorities

Protecting Funding for the Arts in State Budget One Bright Spot

February 2016 - With Kentucky's transition to a new governor, many important programs are facing cuts or elimination.

Children's Issues

Foster Care Reform Signed into Law

May 2018 - Governor Bevin signed House Bill 1, legislation that sets forth a comprehensive plan to strengthen how the commonwealth supports children impacted by abuse or neglect and their families. The bill strengthens supports to help keep families together safely and, when that's not possible, addresses timelines for adoption cases so that children can more quickly move toward finding a permanent family.

New Law Could Reshape Landscape of Child Welfare

April 2018 - Kentucky's child-welfare system is set to get a major overhaul, which could be a game-changer for the more than eight thousand children in foster care. With the passage of House Bill 1 this session, new reforms will help strengthen how the commonwealth supports children impacted by abuse or neglect.

Fictive Kin Law Passes State Legislature

February 2017 - The Kentucky General Assembly sent a bill today to the governor which will allow close family friends to care for a child removed from a home due to safety concerns. The idea is for kinship caregivers to lessen the strain on the foster care system while also better serving the child facing the trauma of removal and change - a vital safety net advocated for by child advocacy organizations and others.

Civil Rights

Automatic Restoration of Voting Rights for Former Felons.

December 2015 - In late November Governor Steve Beshear signed an executive order providing automatic restoration of voting rights for non-violent and non-sexual felons.

Voting Rights for Ex-Felons Makes Progress

February 2014 - Legislation to restore voting rights for most ex-felons has passed out of the Senate.

Death Penalty Abolishment Makes Progress

February 2014 - For the first time in two decades a Republican lawmaker filed a bill to abolish the death penalty in KY and make life without parole the maximum sentence.

Consumer Issues

Rate Increases Held Off

November -0001 - Poverty-fighting, seniors and youth organizations were able to coalesce to stop two energy giants, LG&E and KU, from increasing the basic service charge on more than one million electric and natural gas customers across the state.

Criminal Justice

KY Voters Embrace Marsy's Law

November 2018 - Kentucky might become one of a handful of states to adopt a law intended to give crime victims the same rights as their accused perpetrators. Voters passed a measure known as "Marsy's Law," which would amend the state constitution to give crime victims legal protection equal to defendants in criminal cases. The fate of the vote still rests with the Kentucky Supreme Court who are reviewing a constitutional challenge to the proposal.

Dignity Bill Heads to Governor's Desk

March 2018 - Governor Bevin is expected to sign SB 133, which is called a victory for women behind bars. It would mandate basic health and hygiene services for women who are incarcerated, allow pregnant women access to substance abuse treatment, and prohibit the shackling of women in labor.

Kentucky Reducing Youth Incarcertation

October 2016 - Acknowledging that youth prisons cost millions of dollars and don't work - Kentucky is reducing its incarceration numbers. Youth in prisons has been cut by nearly half in the last year-plus since juvenile justice reforms became law.

Bill to Abolish Death Penalty Will Get Hearing

March 2016 - In the never ending grind to abolish the death penalty in Kentucky, there has been momentum this year.

April 2011 - The Kentucky Supreme court has refused to lift a temporary ban on all executions until a lower court judge can decide whether Kentucky's lethal-injection procedures meet necessary standards.

February 2011 - State taxpayers could save as much as $147 million over the next decade under an overhaul of the state's penal code that the Governor will soon sign into law. House Bill 463, sponsored by Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, is the result of a multi-year task force that examined the state's anti-crime efforts in collaboration with the Pew Center on the States. The reform package is the first comprehensive examination of the state's criminal laws since 1974.

Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault

KY Voters Could Decide on Crime Victim's Rights

January 2018 - A constitutional crime victims' bill of rights amendment edged closer to this fall's statewide election ballot with final passage of a bill proposing the change. Senate Bill 3 widely known as Marsy's Law will place the proposed amendment before voters this November. Kentucky currently has crime victims' rights listed in statute, but not in the state's constitution.

New Legislation Makes KY Safer for Domestic Violence Survivors

October 2017 - Governor Matt Bevin signed HB 309, which added important leasing protections for survivors of Intimate Partner Violence and fixed Kentucky's outdated mandatory domestic violence reporting law.

New Leasing Protections for Domestic-Violence Survivors

August 2017 - Advocates for increasing protections for victims of sexual assault and intimate partner violence say progress is being made in implementing a new law that, in part, helps victims get out of leases. Training and implementation has now moved to educating landlords on how to handle those situations.

New Laws Increase Protections for Domestic Violence Survivors

June 2017 - Two new laws that increase protections for survivors of domestic violence went into effect June 29. The legislation replaces the state's existing mandatory reporting requirement for spouse abuse with a mandatory education and referral requirement for all survivors of Intimate Partner Violence. The law also requires landlords to provide new leasing protections for victims of domestic violence.

KY Lawmakers Provide Domestic Violence Victims Leasing Protections

April 2017 - After trying for four straight Kentucky legislative sessions, advocates for domestic violence victims achieved passage of a law that provides leasing protections and updates laws on reporting of abuse - by switching to an education and referral approach.

Guidelines Implemented for Kentucky's New IPO's

March 2016 - March brought another significant step forward in Kentucky's implementation of the new law extending civil protections from violence to dating couples.

Tool for Domestic Violence Victims

March 2016 - A bill in the Kentucky General Assembly that would give survivors of domestic violence and interpersonal violence the ability to get out of a home or apartment lease has passed the House.

Transitional Housing for DV Victims

November 2015 - Domestic violence advocates continue to gain wins - the latest an expansion of transitional housing for victims as they move out of shelters toward living independently.

November 2011 - State Senator Denise Harper Angel of Louisville has pre-filed a bill extending domestic violence protections to dating couples to be considered in the upcoming legislative session that begins in January. More than 40 other states recognize dating partner relationships in laws that offer greater protection for battered victims through domestic violence or emergency protective orders.

Protection for Dating Partners

November -0001 - After seven consecutive years of trying, state lawmakers passed legislation extending immediate civil protections to dating partners. Kentucky was one of the last states to not provide that blanket of protection to those who were not married, with common child or living together. The takes effect Jan 1, 2016.

Protection for Dating Partners

November -0001 - The long overdue dating partners protection bill was signed into law, making Kentucky the 49th state to provide civil protections against domestic violence to those in dating relationships This was a fight that took over half a decade to win.

Early Childhood Education

Early Childhood Ed Funding May Be Restored

January 2014 - After months of stressing the importance of child care assistance and pre-school funding, education and youth advocates received positive news in Governor Steve Beshear's budget for the next two fiscal years.

April 2012 - A new study says Kentucky is one of the few states where pre-K program trends are headed in the right direction. The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University says Kentucky provides more access to preschool than 80% of other states.

December 2010 - A task force charged with improving early childhood education in KY is recommending the state develop a model curriculum for preschool programs and implement a screening tool for children entering kindergarten. The group made 8 recommendations that it said would strengthen the system. About 50,000 Kentucky children are enrolled in state-funded preschools or Head Start.

Energy Policy

Solar Farm Makes Progress

July 2013 - A renewable-energy collaborative involving three environmental groups (including Sierra Club and KFTC) made progress on hammering out deals with the East Kentucky Power Cooperative, an electric supplier to more than a half million customers in the state.

August 2011 - A coalition of 24 governors from both major parties and each region of the country, including Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, asked the Obama administration to take a series of steps to encourage and facilitate the development of wind energy. Among other things, the letter calls for an extension of tax credits for the wind industry, currently slated to expire next year, and the establishment of an inter-state task force on wind development. Kentuckians for the Commonwealth has long pressured the Beshear administration and Kentucky legislators to increase the seriousness with which the state approaches the development of all renewable resources, including wind.

June 2011 - Bowling Green, Kentucky, should have its first large-scale solar generating facility by the end of June. Earlier this month developers were installing poles that will hold up some of the 7,000 solar panels planned for a 10-acre site at Scotty's Development. The poles will have a metal fulcrum that allows the panels to move with the sun and collect the maximum amount of solar energy.

February 2011 - Members of the House Tourism Development and Energy Committee considered how a how Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards could also mean an economic boost for Kentucky's economy. A renewable and efficiency portfolio standard (REPS) would require electric utilities to generate a minimum portion of their electricity from clean, renewable sources and energy efficiency. Twenty-nine states have passed clean energy portfolio standards

Environment

Unauthorized Dumping of Fracking Waste

July 2016 - Led by media reports and citizens' protests, the unauthorized dumping of fracking waste (TENORM) in Kentucky has led to civil action and put state regulators and lawmakers on notice that more needs to be done to monitor and control the byproducts from deep well exploration.

Stopping Natural Gas Liquids Pipelines

April 2016 - As reported noted by Ecowatch, since April 2014, 10 fracking infrastructure projects in the U.S. have been canceled or delayed.

Erosion of Coal Mine Safety Regs in Kentucky Blocked

March 2016 - Efforts by conservation and grassroots organizations in Kentucky played key roles in blocking legislation that would have eroded coal mine safety regulations in the state.

Clean Power Plan Support

January 2016 - Despite strong opposition from politicians and the coal industry in Kentucky to the Clean Power Plan and EPA rules to reduce carbon emissions, others in Kentucky are getting their messages out that it is the right direction for a diversified approach in Kentucky.

Empower Kentucky Growing Conversation about Energy Conversion

November 2015 - Against strong political and industry opposition to the Obama administration's Clean Energy Plan conservationists in Ky are getting their message across about the need to transition away from coal.

Coal Ash Landfill Plans Dropped

March 2013 - After a House resolution opposing the use of a cave to store coal ash surfaced, the power company proposed the project pulled the plug on the coal ash landfill.

September 2012 - A program designed to reforest parts of Appalachia where surface mines once operated, could be a driver of jobs for veterans.. The group Green Forests Work says it may ultimately mean some two thousand jobs helping to reforest and maintain areas bulldozed by surface mine operators in the past.

May 2011 - The Sierra Club has sued a coal company, alleging environmental violations at a large surface mine in Leslie County. The lawsuit charges that ICG Hazard LLC has discharged selenium and other pollutant into creeks near the Thunder Ridge mine in violation of federal law, state standards and its own permit conditions. The complaint seeks several remedies, including orders for the mine to stop discharges that violate clean water standards, and install adequate treatment facilities.

Clean Water Act violations merit tougher penalties

November -0001 - The Franklin Circuit Court issued two orders rejecting settlement deals between the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet and Frasure Creek Mining arising from the coal company’s thousands of violations of the Clean Water Act from 2008 through 2011. In extraordinarily vigorous language, Judge Phillip Shepherd said that due to the coal company’s actions, “The inherent danger of the violations at issue here to the environment is impossible to determine based on Frasure Creeks' wholesale abdication of its monitoring and reporting responsibilities, and the cabinet's inability to fully investigate the environmental harm that is likely to have occurred.”

Health Issues

KY Makes Strides in Improving Health

December 2018 - An annual check-up shows the Commonwealth is making improvements in some areas of health, showing efforts across the board are working. Kentucky moved up three spots in this year's America's Health Rankings report, placing 42nd compared to 45th in 2016.

A Record Number of Comments Collected for Kentucky HEALTH Waiver

August 2018 - A record number of comments were collected for Kentucky HEALTH's third federal comment period. The comment period on the 1115 Medicaid Waiver comes on the heels of a recent federal court ruling that blocked the waiver in its entirety. Advocates say in nearly 12,000 written comments, Kentuckians overwhelmingly expressed opposition to the waiver's new requirements and penalties that would result in 100,000 people losing coverage.

KY Counties Noted as Bright Spots for Health

July 2018 - Nine Appalachian counties in Kentucky are highlighted as standing out in key measures of health, including health behaviors, health-care systems, environmental factors and screening measures. While each bright-spot county has a unique approach to local health challenges, the Foundation for a Health Kentucky says the common theme is improved community collaboration and resource sharing.

KY Medicaid Waiver Vacated

June 2018 - Sixteen low-income Kentuckians this year challenged federal approval of Governor Bevin's Medicaid waiver plan. Federal district Judge James Boasberg favored the plaintiffs, vacating the Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary's approval of Kentucky's 1115 Waiver known as Kentucky HEALTH. The judge's ruling blocks implementation of the waiver in its current form which called for several new requirements for the program.

Repeal and Replace Stymied

July 2017 - Several grassroots and advocacy groups in Kentucky worked diligently to protect Medicaid expansion and other tenents of the Affordable Care Act. Collapse of repeated efforts in the U.S. Senate to repeal and replace the health care law was a victory, but as one person interviewed said, "We have just climbed the first big hill in a marathon."

Effort to Expand Oral Health Care in KY

June 2017 - A new initiative is examining ways to improve dental health in Kentucky. Delta Dental of Kentucky provided $1 million in seed money to launch five regional networks to engage diverse partners who will create local oral-health solutions.

Backlash Forces Bevin Administration Response to Problems with Kentucky's Transition to Benefind

March 2016 - Kentucky News Connection was the first media outlet in the state to report on troubles with state government's transition to a single system to determine eligibility for health insurance.

More Kentuckians Now Have Health Insurance

November 2015 - Despite some political push back, Kentucky continues to show advances in access to health insurance with growing number of adults and children covered through the state's health benefits plan, Kynect.

May 2011 - The Democratic-led Senate on Wednesday, May 25th, rejected a Republican plan to overhaul Medicare, defeating it by a 57-40 vote, with five Republicans breaking with their party to vote against the proposal.

Housing/Homelessness

Homelessness Ended for 100 in Kentucky

November 2017 - The Coalition for the Homeless and other stakeholders surpassed a ambitious goal set on August 1st to end homelessness for 100 young adults. The 100-Day Challenge team says safe housing and support services have been provided for 112 young adults in Louisville since August 1st, more than a five hundred percent increase in the rate in which young adults are being housed in the community.

Making a Dent in Homelessness

January 2017 - Kentucky's homelessness, largest in Louisville, is dropping because of an effort to focus on veterans who were homeless.

Hunger/Food/Nutrition

Food Waste Bill Passed into Law

April 2018 - SJR 218 was passed unanimously by the House and Senate and signed by Gov. Matt Bevin. It directs state agencies to conduct food waste analyses and identify ways to increase donations to food banks.

New Funding to Keep KY Kids Fed During Summer Months

February 2018 - In response to the great need, Anthem Medicaid is providing $25,000 in mini-grants through Kentucky Kids Eat to support mobile meal routes throughout Kentucky, ensuring kids stay healthy and fed throughout the summer months. Additional funding will be used to support enrichment at summer meal sites. Funding will be available to summer meal service sponsors, and up to 17 sponsors throughout the state will be awarded mini-grant funding.

Summer Meals Reaching More Kentucky Kids - Poverty Remains

June 2017 - New research from the Food Research and Action Center shows Kentucky is making progress in closing the summer meal gap. An annual report shows more than 32,000 Kentucky children received a summer meal during July 2016, a 13-percent increase compared to the year prior

Closing Meal Gap in Summer for Kentucky Children

June 2017 - New research from the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) shows Kentucky is making progress in closing the summer meal gap. An annual report shows more than 32,000 Kentucky children received a summer meal during July 2016, a 13-percent increase compared to the year prior.

New Food-Waste Law Aims to Address Hunger in Kentucky

May 2017 - A new Kentucky law will help ensure still-fresh food is given to people who need it instead of ending up in a landfill. House Bill 237 establishes enhanced immunity from liability for donors of food to nonprofit organizations.

Media Reform

August 2011 - Telecommunications companies in 16 states (including KY) will share more than $103 million in federal funding to help expand broadband Internet access to those areas of rural America that haven't been reached by the high-speed service or are underserved, the U.S.

Rural/Farming

June 2011 - The White House announced the establishment of the first White House Rural Council. While rural communities face challenges, they also present economic potential. The council will coordinate programs across government to encourage public-private partnerships to promote further economic prosperity and quality of life in rural communities nationwide.

Senior Issues

April 2011 - The General Assembly passed and Governor signed key pieces of legislation designed to protect vulnerable seniors from abuse and exploitation. House Bill 152 prevents people who abuse or neglect vulnerable or elderly adults from benefiting from their deaths and bars people convicted of felony abuse or exploitation from serving as that victim's guardian, executor or power of attorney.

Smoking Prevention

Lawmakers Pass Bill Taxing E-Cigarette, Vape Products

April 2020 - State lawmakers passed, and Governor Andy Beshear is expected to sign, a revenue bill that includes a new excise tax on e-cigarettes.

More than 90% of KY Schools are Now Tobacco-Free

October 2019 - As of October 91% of KY schools are now tobacco-free, in compliance with a recent law mandating that all school campuses go tobacco-free.

House Bill 11, Tobacco-Free Schools Bill, Passes KY House

March 2019 - Kentucky's state House has passed House Bill 11, a bill that would prohibit the use of tobacco products on school property. The bill is aimed at protecting students and staff from exposure to secondhand smoke and reducing teen and adolescent cigarette and e-cigarette use.

Governor's Commission Recommends Tobacco Tax Hike

December 2012 - The Governor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Tax Reform issued a list of recommendations in mid-December after eight months of meetings and public hearings across the state.

June 2011 - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Announced New Cigarette Warning Labels: Images of diseased lungs, a dead body, and rotting teeth among the new graphic images that will come with all packs.

December 2010 - Kenton County's Fiscal Court voted to pass an amended version of the proposed smoking ban shortly before Christmas. The court decided the county will uphold the ban in all establishments, except those where individuals under the age of 18 are not allowed or businesses that do not employ anyone under the age of 18.Campbell County's Fiscal Court voted to pass the ban mid-December. Kenton County is the second Northern Kentucky county to pass it. The ban goes into effect in April of 2011.

Youth Issues

October 2011 - A Lexington lawmaker has pre-filed legislation for the 2012 General Assembly that aims to reduce the number of incarcerations of young people who skip school, habitually run away or misbehave but don't commit criminal acts. The legislation from state Rep. Kelly Flood, a Democrat, deals with status offenses, generally defined as misconduct that would not be illegal if committed by an adult. In 2010, there were 1,541 bookings of youth in Kentucky into juvenile detention facilities for status offenses, accounting for 18.5 percent of all young people who were incarcerated, according to officials at Kentucky Youth Advocates.


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N e w s

C o n n e c t i o n

Keystone State News Connection

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention

Federal Court Green-lights Philly "Safe Consumption" Site

October 2019 - A federal court ruling in favor of a Philadelphia "safe consumption" site is being hailed as a major victory in the fight against the opioid overdose epidemic. There are currently dozens of safe consumption sites in several other countries, but none in the United States.

$15 Million in Housing Grants Awarded to Help Individuals Battling Opioid Use Disorder

March 2019 - The departments of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) and Human Services (DHS) have awarded $15 million in federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grants for a new program to provide case management and housing support services for Pennsylvanians with an opioid use disorder (OUD). The pilot programs will support innovative practices that increase access to support services for individuals with OUD, keep people engaged in treatment and recovery, and help prevent overdose-related deaths.

Governor Launches Stop Overdoses in PA: Get Help Now Week

December 2018 - Governor Tom Wolf visited the Dauphin County State Health Center in Kline Plaza to launch Stop Overdoses in PA: Get Help Now Week and receive a free naloxone kit, which all Pennsylvanians can do on Dec.13 at one of 80 locations across the state. In addition to being able to get naloxone for free on Dec. 13, it is carried at most pharmacies across the state year-round. Naloxone is available to many with public and private insurance at pharmacies either for free or at a low cost. The state's physician general, now secretary of the Department of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine, issued a standing order for naloxone so that any Pennsylvanian could obtain the medication. Since November 2014, more than 20,000 people have been revived with naloxone by police officers and EMS providers in Pennsylvania. And since 2016, nearly 3,000 people with OUD have been transferred into treatment via the state's warm handoff program.

PA to Get $26.5 Million Federal Grant to Combat Heroin and Opioid Crisis

April 2017 - Pennsylvania has secured a $26.5 million federal grant to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic. The departments of Aging, Drug and Alcohol Programs, Health, and Human Services jointly filed the successful grant application that will increase access to treatment, reduce unmet treatment need, and reduce opioid overdose related deaths through the provision of prevention, treatment, and recovery activities for opioid use disorder (OUD).

Animal Welfare

Governor Wolf Signs Animal Cruelty Prevention Bill

June 2017 - Governor Tom Wolf has signed the animal cruelty prevention bill at a public celebration surrounded by advocates and members of the legislature. Act 10, House Bill 1238 updates and clarifies the existing animals abuse statutes and increases the penalties for abusing animals.

Budget Policy & Priorities

Governor Wolf, Legislators Introduce New Bipartisan Severance Tax Legislation

April 2018 - Governor Tom Wolf was joined by a bipartisan coalition of legislative members to announce the introduction of legislation that will create a "reasonable, commonsense" severance tax in Pennsylvania. Senate Bill 1000, and its companion House Bill 2253, will give Pennsylvania's citizens their fair share of revenues from the natural gas industry. Pennsylvania is the only gas-producing state in the nation without a severance tax. Other major gas producing states like Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Alaska are collecting billions from the oil and gas industries to help fix roads, build schools, and keep taxes low. The proposed severance tax would generate an estimated $248.7 million in the next fiscal year alone to address critical budget needs and would also keep the current impact fee in place, ensuring that this important revenue source for local municipalities stays intact.

PA Lawmakers Call for "Fair Share Tax"

March 2017 - State lawmakers and public policy advocates unveiled a tax plan that would raise new revenue while lowering taxes for about half of all Pennsylvania taxpayers. Like a version introduced last year, the proposed "Fair Share Tax" would increase taxes on wealth, such as dividends and capital gains to 6.5 percent. The plan also calls for reducing taxes on wages and interest. Analysts estimate the Fair Share Tax would generate about $2 billion a year in new revenue for the state.

Children's Issues

Bill Supporting Kinship Care Would Benefit Kids

March 2018 - The General Assembly is considering a bill to help thousands of Pennsylvania grandparents who are raising their children's children. Fueled in part by the opioid epidemic, some 82,000 grandparents care for more than 89,000 grandchildren in the Keystone State. Foster parents receive support services from county Children and Youth Agencies, but those providing what's known as "kinship care" - outside the formal, foster-care system - have similar needs and often can't access those services. House Bill 2133 would help - by creating a kinship caregiver navigator program. Several states, including neighboring New York and New Jersey, have created similar kinship-care programs.

Civil Rights

Governor Wolf Denies Latest Trump Administration Request for Pennsylvania Voter Information

July 2017 - Governor Tom Wolf issued a statement denying a request by Kris Kobach, the Vice Chair of the Trump Administration's Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity for extensive voter registration records on Pennsylvania residents. Wolf expressed serious reservations about the real intentions of the committee and its possible use of voter information, considering the false statements this administration has made about voter integrity. He also voiced that concerns the commission intends to pursue restrictions on the rights of Pennsylvanians to vote.

Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill Signed into Law

June 2017 - Governor Tom Wolf has signed Senate Bill 8 into law. The bipartisan bill reforms asset forfeitures, which are civil proceedings against property that allow law enforcement to take possession of property of certain persons suspected of crime. The new law creates significant changes to civil asset forfeiture in Pennsylvania in several key areas, including: higher burdens of proof; improved transparency in auditing and reporting; prohibiting the pre-forfeiture seizure of real property without a hearing; and adding an extra level of protection for anyone acquitted of a related crime who is seeking the return of their property.

Climate Change/Air Quality

Executive Order Takes on Climate Change, Carbon Emissions

October 2019 - With an executive order, Governor Tom Wolf instructed the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a market-based collaboration among nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change while generating economic growth. Participating states have agreed, either through regulation or legislation, to implement RGGI through a regional cap-and-trade program involving CO2 emitting electric power plants. These states (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont) set a cap on total CO2 emissions from electric power generators in their states.

PA Joining Suit for Tough Auto-Emission Standards

September 2019 - Pennsylvania has joined more than 20 other states in a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration's revocation of California's right to set tougher auto-emission standards. California has been setting higher vehicle emissions standards since the 1970s. Thirteen other states, including Pennsylvania, follow California's lead. The American Lung Association gives a dozen counties in the Keystone State a failing grade for the number of high ozone days putting children, the elderly and those with respiratory problems at risk.

PA Legislators Call for Strong Methane Rules

September 2019 - State senators and representatives from both major parties joined environmental groups in Harrisburg urging Gov. Tom Wolf to move immediately on new rules to cut methane emissions in the Commonwealth. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, but the federal Environmental Protection Agency wants to roll back regulations on emissions from the oil and gas industry. The state Department of Environmental Protection has proposed new rules to cut emissions from existing oil and gas facilities. A recent analysis by the Environmental Defense Fund found that the oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania is emitting 520,000 tons of methane every year. Methane, the main ingredient in natural gas, accounts for 25% of current global warming.

Pennsylvania Releases State Climate Action Plan, Joins U.S. Climate Alliance

April 2019 - Governor Tom Wolf announced Pennsylvania's membership in the U.S. Climate Alliance (a bipartisan coalition of governors committed to helping each state achieve their greenhouse gas reduction goals) and released the state?s new climate action plan. With input from government leaders, businesses, and citizens, the plan describes over 100 actions - just 15 of those actions, such as increasing renewable energy, incentivising energy efficient buildings, and increasing the use of electric vehicles, would reduce emissions 21 percent by 2025. Any combination of the 85 additional actions would likely achieve even more emissions reductions.

PA Considering Carbon Cap and Trade

April 2019 - Pennsylvania could be carbon neutral by the middle of this century under a rulemaking plan now being considered by the state's Environmental Quality Board. The board has accepted a carbon cap-and-trade rulemaking petition for further study. If adopted, the rule would cap carbon and carbon-equivalent emissions for the state at 2016 levels, and lower that cap by 3 percent per year beginning in 2018. Sources of emissions would then purchase credits for each ton of greenhouse gas they discharge. The cap would apply to all sources of emissions including industry and transportation, and as the cap on emissions gets lower, the cost for carbon credits would increase by 10 percent a year. The Environmental Quality Board has the authority to regulate carbon emissions and the state's environmental rights amendment mandates that regulations be put in place.

First Statewide Goal Set to Reduce Carbon Pollution in Pennsylvania

January 2019 - In January 2019, Governor Wolf signed an executive order to set Pennsylvania?s first statewide climate goals, aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050, compared with 2005 levels. The executive order also established the Green Government Council to ensure that state government offices lead by example to help achieve these goals.

PA Moves to Cut Emission of Smog-Forming VOCs

December 2018 - New rules to cut smog-forming emissions from thousands of oil and gas facilities across Pennsylvania have taken a step forward. The state's Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee met to review a draft proposal from the Department of Environmental Protection to reduce emissions of smog-forming volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. Current rules only apply to new and modified facilities. The proposed rules will be opened for public comment early next year.

Pennsylvania Announces First Grants Funded by Volkswagen Settlement to Reduce Air Pollution

September 2018 - The first round of grants through the Driving PA Forward initiative have been announced. The grants are being funded by Pennsylvania?s share of the settlement with Volkswagen Group of America for cheating on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions tests. Six transportation projects designed to improve air quality in Pennsylvania are expected to permanently reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions statewide by 27 tons by accelerating the replacement of older, polluting diesel engines with cleaner technologies. Over 25 percent of NOx pollution in Pennsylvania comes from diesel engines in trucks, buses, forklifts, and other mobile sources. The emissions contribute to ground-level ozone, or smog, which the EPA has shown can have negative health impacts, including asthma attacks and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

PA Joins Suit to Oppose Fuel-Efficiency Rollback

September 2018 - Pennsylvania will be joining 19 other states in suing to stop the plan. State leaders and health advocates say the EPA's plan to freeze the fuel efficiency standard is bad for public health, the environment and consumers. After months of wrangling, the EPA released its plan to freeze the fuel-efficiency standards for cars and light trucks for six years. It was set to increase to an average of 54 mpg by 2025 but will remain at about 35, the standard set for 2020. The administration claims freezing the fuel standard will cut more than $2,000 off the price of new cars and result in fewer highway deaths, but opponents contest those findings. They say though more fuel-efficient cars may cost more, consumers would make it up through savings on gas by 2030.

DEP Releases New Natural Gas Permits to Reduce Air Pollution

June 2018 - Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Patrick McDonnell 06/07/2018 announced the issuance of new general permits for unconventional natural gas wells and compression, processing, and transmission facilities that will reduce air pollution and establish a control threshold on methane emissions. The newly revised general permits, GP-5 and GP-5A, will be required for new compression, processing and transmission stations along pipelines, and new natural gas wells, respectively. In addition to the methane controls, the permits also set thresholds on other types of air pollution, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Operators will be required to meet federal new source standards and state Best Available Technology (BAT) included in the permit conditions for equipment and processes to control pollution emissions.

Volkswagen Settlement to Clean PA Air

May 2018 - Gov. Tom Wolf announced 5/10/2018 that $118 million, Pennsylvania's share of the multi-billion-dollar settlement with Volkswagen, will be used to help clean up the air in the Keystone State. Volkswagen had rigged computers in diesel-fueled cars to turn on emission controls during testing but scale them back during normal driving. The state will use some of the settlement money to fund replacements and upgrades of diesel engines in everything from school buses to tugboats. Some will help fund critical infrastructure for electric cars and trucks. The money will be distributed through eight grant and rebate programs over the next five years with a goal of reducing nitrogen oxide emissions from diesel engines by almost 28,000 tons.

Bill Would Keep Paris Climate Accord Goals for PA

January 2018 - Three state senators have introduced legislation to bring Pennsylvania into line with the carbon emission goals of the Paris Agreement. When President Donald Trump announced the United States would withdraw from the international climate accord he quipped that he represents "Pittsburgh, not Paris." In response, the legislators - led by Sen. Jay Costa of Pittsburgh - have introduced Senate Bill 15. According to Tom Schuster, senior campaign representative with the Sierra Club, the legislation, if passed, would commit Pennsylvania to achieve the goals that were laid out in the Paris climate agreement, reducing our climate-disrupting carbon pollution by 30 percent by 2025.

PA Township Takes On Climate Change

May 2017 - A local supervisor has introduced a resolution to make the Ferguson Township carbon neutral by 2050. The resolution is already serving as a model for other municipalities in the state which are proposing similar measures. The Ferguson resolution will be considered by the township's Board of Supervisors at its meeting in June.

Advocates Call for Continued Progress on Clean Power

February 2016 - Following the US Supreme Court's decision to stay enforcement of the EPA's Clean Power Plan, environmentalists are urging state officials to continue with its development.

Criminal Justice

Bill to Legalize Recreational Marijuana Introduced

October 2019 - Senate Bill 350, introduced by Sen. Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia, and Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery, would allow people to grow up to ten marijuana plants for personal use, get home deliveries from dispensaries, and help communities most affected by decades of prohibition reap the economic benefits of legalization. The bill includes and automatic expungement provision that would allow people with past marijuana-related convictions to apply to have those records permanently deleted.

Pennsylvania Can Lead Nation with Bipartisan Probation and Parole Reforms

April 2019 - Bipartisan legislators joined criminal justice reform advocates, including the REFORM Alliance, to announce an upcoming bill to overhaul probation and parole in the commonwealth. The proposed legislation aims to remove pitfalls that plague the parole and probation system and cause people who make nonviolent mistakes to be pulled back into the criminal justice system. The changes include preventing the court from sentencing a person to consecutive sentences of probation, preventing the court from extending probation or parole due solely to nonpayment of fines and costs and creating a system of incentives that reward good behavior. The bill would also remove testing positive for marijuana as well as leaving the jurisdiction of the court without the intent to permanently avoid supervision as parole and probation violations. Pennsylvania's bipartisan criminal justice reform efforts in recent years have led to consecutive years of lower prison populations, all while crime has also fallen.

Program to Help Pennsylvanians Navigate "Clean Slate" Law

January 2019 - Governor Tom Wolf was joined by representatives of Community Legal Services, the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Center for American Progress, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, legislators, and various stakeholder and advocacy groups at the PA CareerLink Harrisburg Region to announce a program aimed at making it easier to navigate Pennsylvania's new Clean Slate law. Clean Slate was passed with a near unanimous vote (188-2) and signed into law by Gov. Wolf on June 28. The law expands criminal record sealing to include more types of offenses, including some first-degree misdemeanors, which can be sealed by filing petitions. The law also creates an automated computer process to seal arrests that did not result in convictions within 60 days, summary convictions after 10 years, and some second and third-degree misdemeanor convictions if there are no subsequent misdemeanor or felony convictions for a period of 10 years after the time of conviction. The automatic sealing provision will go into effect on June 28, 2019. Pennsylvania was the first state in the country to pass Clean Slate and remains the only state with this law, with other states interested in and focused on Pennsylvania's implementation.

Pennsylvania's Clean Slate Act Goes into Effect

December 2018 - Many Pennsylvanians with old criminal records are now eligible to have those records sealed. The first phase of the state's Clean Slate Act went into effect the day after Christmas. That means people convicted of second-degree simple assault and some first-degree misdemeanors, and who've had no other convictions for at least ten years, can apply to have their records sealed. That will bring welcome relief to thousands who may have been blocked from jobs, housing, even some loans, for a mistake made years ago. Sealed records will still be seen in federal background checks. The second phase of the law, automatically sealing some low-level criminal records, will begin on June 28.

"Clean Slate" Bill Signed into Law

June 2018 - Governor Tom Wolf has signed HB1419, called the "Clean Slate Bill" into law. HB1419 provides those with low-level, non-violent criminal records a mechanism to have their record sealed from public view. Nearly 3 million Pennsylvanians of working age are estimated to have criminal records with many that are only minor. The legislation seals nonviolent misdemeanor convictions after an individual has remained crime-free for 10 years.

Governor Wolf Leads Call-to-Action for Criminal Justice Reform

April 2018 - Governor Tom Wolf has joined Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel, legislators, and advocacy groups in a call-to-action for criminal justice reforms that are long overdue and necessary to provide consistency and uniformity in the system. The governor outlined a package of eight reform initiatives, including: Justice Reinvestment Initiatives (JRI2), which seek to provide for fair sentencing, increase parole supervision and use of community-based programs, among other reforms. Bail and Pre-Trial Reforms to ensure that everyone has a right to a fair trial and that risk-assessment tools are consistent across the commonwealth. Post-Conviction Relief Act Expansion to reduce time sensitivity by increasing awareness of when rights expire so defendants can make an informed plea decision. Currently if a defendant pleads guilty, they are foreclosed from post-conviction relief; this needs to change so all defendants, regardless of plea, may attempt to prove their innocence. Review/Implement the Goals of the Sentencing Commission, which include adopting a standardized, single assessment tool model used from pre-trial until parole completion. Probation/Parole Revocation and Resentencing to create uniformity in probation revocation procedures and ensure a correlation between risk and probation lengths, resulting in better supervision. Comprehensive Clean Slate Legislation currently being considered in the General Assembly and the first step in establishing a much more comprehensive clean slate law in the commonwealth to provide an opportunity for persons convicted of greater offenses, including felony convictions, to reenter the community with success. Indigent Defense is a critical part of the system that can have a large impact on volume, cost, and human effects and is needed in Pennsylvania to ensure the independence and quality of counsel under the Sixth Amendment. Stepping Up Initiative, which was launched statewide in April 2017 and via summit in December 2017 along with a data-driven project by Dauphin County to examine its criminal justice system, with the goal of reducing the number of people who have serious mental illnesses in the county prison. The findings from that project will be made public at the end of this month and will be used to develop policy and programming recommendations.

PA Wins Federal Grant for Corrections and Parole Crisis Intervention Training

November 2017 - The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC), in partnership with the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, has been awarded a federal grant totaling almost $280,000 to implement crisis intervention training (CIT) for staff members in community corrections centers, mental health contracted providers and parole supervision. The funding, provided by the U.S. Department of Justice through the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program, will allow more than 180 DOC and parole staff to work with county first-responders and mental health providers already trained in CIT. Of the more than 46,000 inmates currently in Pennsylvania state prisons, 31 percent have a mental health diagnosis, a figure that has increased significantly in the past decade.

Governor Wolf "Bans the Box" on State Employee Applications

May 2017 - Governor Tom Wolf announced the implementation of a Fair-Chance hiring policy for state agencies that will remove the criminal conviction question, otherwise known as "banning the box", from non-civil service employment applications for agencies under the governor's jurisdiction. The new policy will be effective July 1, 2017 for non-civil service applicants. The Office of Administration will provide guidance and training to agencies prior to the implementation of the policy, and anticipates that the policy will be applied to civil service applicants by December 2017.

As Prison Population Declines Wolf Calls for Closing 2 State Prisons

January 2017 - In an effort to capitalize on declining prison populations, Governor Tom Wolf wants to close two state prisons to cut costs. Closing the prisons by June 30th could save the cash-strapped commonwealth as much as $160 million in the coming fiscal year. There are fewer prisoners in the state than there were at the peak five years ago. On the downside, legislators with prisons in or near their districts also are concerned by a potential loss of jobs.

PA Settles Lawsuit over Delayed Treatment for Mentally Ill Defendants

February 2016 - The state's Department of Human Services agreed to settle a federal class action lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Pennsylvania on behalf of defendants in criminal cases who have been ordered to undergo "competency restoration."

Lawsuits Challenges Prolonged Detention of Mentally Ill in PA

October 2015 - The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania filed a federal class-action lawsuit on behalf of mentally ill prisoners who are ordered to undergo treatment to restore their competence.

Disabilities

PA Settles Lawsuit over Delayed Treatment for Mentally Ill Defendants

January 2016 - The state's Department of Human Services agreed to settle a federal class action lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Pennsylvania on behalf of defendants in criminal cases who have been ordered to undergo "competency restoration" therapy before trial.

Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault

First Law to Take Guns from Abusers Goes into Effect

April 2019 - Hailed as the first law in Pennsylvania to truly take guns away from the dangerous abusers who use them to kill, terrorize and control, Act 79 goes into effect. The act includes additional safeguards to help protect victims of domestic violence, including requiring abusers receiving orders issued after a contested hearing or conviction for misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence to turn in any guns to law enforcement agencies within 24 hours while the order is in effect; previously the abuser could relinquish a firearm to a family member or friend; allows for the time that an individual is incarcerated not to be counted for the 90 days of a temporary PFA (Protection From Abuse order); and requires the PFA to be served by official law enforcement unless the plaintiff chooses another authorized method.

Court Rules a Pencil is Not a Weapon

May 2017 - The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in favor of a girl who was expelled from school for possession of a "weapon" after she used a pencil to scratch a boy who had sexually assaulted her. The ruling means schools will need to adjust practices that have used a zero-tolerance policy on weapons in schools to expel students for an entire year for incidents involving objects that are not typically considered weapons.

6 Bills to Combat Sexual Violence Introduced

April 2017 - Six new pieces of legislation to protect Pennsylvania students from a nationwide epidemic of sexual violence have been introduced in the legislature. In January 2016, Governor Wolf launched the "It's On Us PA" campaign, inviting education leaders and all Pennsylvanians to be part of the solution to protect students from sexual violence. Those discussion formed the basis for the legislation.

Early Childhood Education

Grant Supports Early Learning Professionals

December 2017 - Early childhood education advocates' efforts are having results: Pennsylvania will award a $1.4 million grant to increase the quality of Pennsylvania's early childhood learning professional workforce. The competitive grant will support currently employed early childhood educators pursuing higher education. Drexel University, Carlow University, and Shippensburg University were successfully funded to build cross-systems partnership opportunities to identify and reduce barriers to access early childhood education degrees for currently employed early childhood educators.

New State Budget Increases Education Spending

July 2017 - The state budget that passed the General Assembly was allowed to go into law without Governor Tom Wolf's signature. The bipartisan spending plan adds $25 million for the state's Pre-K Counts program, and almost $5 million for Head Start. It also increases basic education funding by $100 million and $19 million for early intervention services. The budget also restores $20 million previously cut from child care, and funds a totally new program to help parents.

Education

Gov. Wolf Proposes PA Charter-School Reforms

August 2019 - Governor Tom Wolf has announced his plans to improve the financial accountability and academic performance of charters. Many charter schools have failed to live up to their promise of improved services for students who may need more help to succeed. The governor is directing the Department of Education to develop regulations targeting academic accountability and enrollment, and says he'll propose funding-reform legislation in the fall. Gov. Wolf says over the past ten years, the student population of charter schools has increased by 95%, but the tax dollars spent on them have increased 135%. Past legislative attempts to fix the charter-school funding system haven't passed, and the governor's proposals are likely to face stiff opposition from the charter lobby.

New Law Minimizes Standardized Testing, Expands Options for Students to Prove Graduation Readiness

October 2018 - Act 158 provides students with more options to meet high school graduation requirements than a high stakes test. The new law is in line with recommendations from the Department of Education (PDE) and provides four additional options for students to demonstrate postsecondary readiness: Earn a satisfactory composite score on the Algebra I, Literature and Biology Keystone Exams. Earn a passing grade on the course associated with each Keystone Exam, and earn a specific score on certain exams, complete a pre-apprenticeship program, gain acceptance to an accredited 4-year nonprofit institution of higher education or meet other requirements. For Career and Technical Education (CTE) concentrators, earn a passing grade on the course associated with each Keystone Exam, and attain an industry-based certification, pass an industry-based assessment or meet other requirements. Earn a passing grade on the course associated with each Keystone Exam and demonstrate readiness for postsecondary engagement through three pieces of evidence aligned to student goals and career plan.

Bill Introduced to Make College Free in PA

June 2018 - Pennsylvania is near the bottom in per capita funding for higher education, but a bill now in the General Assembly could change that. If passed, the bill, called "PA Promise", would eliminate college tuition and fees for recent high school graduates from families with incomes of $110,000 dollars a year or less. Right now, in more than half of Pennsylvania counties the share of adults with more than a high school diploma is lower than in any of the other forty-nine states. The bill would also pay room and board for students from families with incomes below $48,000 a year. The increase in state spending would raise Pennsylvania from 47th in the nation to 36th for per capita investment in higher education.

Court Ruling Advances School Funding Lawsuit

May 2018 - A panel of Commonwealth Court judges has moved a lawsuit challenging the level and distribution of state funding for public education in Pennsylvania step closer to trial. The panel overruled several preliminary objections to the lawsuit, including one that claimed the petitioners hadn't established that the current funding plan had caused the harm that is the basis for the suit. The court ordered further discovery on two remaining objections raised by opponents of the suit before it can proceed to trial. State legislative leaders maintain that education is not an important or fundamental right under the state's constitution.

More Reductions in Standardized Testing for Pennsylvania Students, Teachers

December 2017 - After reducing the number of test days by two days this school year, starting next school year, the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) will be condensed from three weeks to two weeks and shifted to later in the school year, easing stress on students and giving them up to two additional weeks to learn before taking the assessment. The new schedule builds on changes taking effect this school year to remove two sections of the PSSA - one in math and one in English language arts - and reduce questions in the science assessment, which is enabling the Department of Education to condense and move the testing window to later in the year.

Court Rules PA Parents Can Challenge State Education Funding

October 2017 - Public school advocates have won a significant victory in their efforts to reform state spending on public education. In 2015, the Commonwealth Court dismissed a lawsuit filed on behalf of Pennsylvania parents, school districts and statewide organizations. That court relied on previous rulings that said education funding isn't subject to judicial review. But the state Supreme Court has ruled that the court has a duty to consider a lawsuit claiming the legislature is violating the education clause and the equal protection provisions of the state constitution. Gov. Tom Wolf also praised the ruling, saying it opens an opportunity to ensure that students in Pennsylvania have access to a fair education system, regardless of where in the state they live.

PA Supreme Court Rules Courts Can Hear Education Funding Lawsuit

September 2017 - The Pennsylvania Supreme court has ruled that the courts can hear a lawsuit filed on behalf of parents, educators and school districts charging the state with failing to meet requirements of the state constitution for equitable education funding. Lower courts had followed precedents which had found that education funding is under the jurisdiction of the executive and legislative branches of government. The Supreme Court?s decision allows the lawsuit, filed in 2015 to go to trial in the Commonwealth Court.

PA Education Department Receives $7.2 Million Grant to Assist Students with Behavioral Needs

September 2017 - The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) will receive $7.2 million for school districts to help with student behavioral health under the Middle School Success: The Path to Graduation (P2G) grant program. More than 24,000 Pennsylvania students are currently identified as having behavioral needs, which could lead to chronic absenteeism and inhibit post-graduate or career success. To better help students, school districts across the commonwealth will receive funds to aid in ongoing professional development to ensure that every student can succeed.

Governor Wolf Announces Reforms to Standardized Testing in Schools

August 2017 - Governor Tom Wolf announced that his administration will reduce the amount of time public school student spend taking standardized tests. Acknowledging that an over-emphasis on testing interferes with teaching and learning, the governor said the time spent on Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests would be reduced by 20-percent for 3rd through 8th graders, and 25-percent for younger students.

Bipartisan Appropriations Bill Boosts Education Funding

June 2017 - The General Assembly has passed an appropriations bill that increases spending on K-12 basic education by $100M, early childhood education by $30M, special education by $25M and early intervention services by $19M. While the increases are far from the $3B education advocates say is needed to adequately fund public education in the Commonwealth, they welcome the additional investments in education, especially the emphasis on early childhood education.

Tight State Budget Proposal Boosts Education

February 2017 - Gov. Tom Wolf's $32.3 billion budget proposal would keep most state spending flat, but would give education (early childhood, K-12 and special education) funding a $200 million increase. Education advocates say boost is still a step in the right direction but much more is needed to address long-standing inequities in the state's public schools.

Wolf to Press for Increased Ed Dollars

February 2016 - Governor Tom Wolf has announced that in his budget address he will be calling for an increase of $377M in education spending for the current fiscal year.

Wolf Previews More Ed Spending in Budget Proposal

February 2016 - Governor Tom Wolf announced that he will include a request for $377M additional spending for education for the remainder of the current fiscal year, and an additional $200M for the year starting July 1st.

Governor Releases State Funds to Schools

December 2015 - Governor Tom Wolf exercised his line item veto to allow emergency funds to go to cash-strapped public schools after six months of a budget impasse in Harrisburg.

September 2012 - Nearly a half-million dollars is being added to the Environmental Education Mini Grant Program - and it's available for K-12 programs in Pennsylvania for the first timeNearly a half-million dollars is being added to the Environmental Education Mini Grant Program - and it's available for K-12 programs in Pennsylvania for the first time.

Endangered Species & Wildlife

Pennsylvania Declares Eastern Hellbender as Official State Amphibian

April 2019 - Governor Tom Wolf signed Senate Bill 9, designating the Eastern hellbender (a nocturnal salamander threatened by warmer waters and silted streambeds) as Pennsylvania's state amphibian. Sponsored by Senator Gene Yaw, the bill was championed through the legislative process by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Student Leadership Council who spearheaded efforts for two years to demonstrate the critical need to reduce pollution in Pennsylvania's rivers and streams.

Energy Policy

Clean and Renewable Energy Gets $12 Million in State Funding

March 2019 - Eleven projects that will assist in the development of clean and renewable energy projects across Pennsylvania have been approved through the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA). The projects were approved through the Alternative and Clean Energy Program (ACE) during a CFA board meeting. The projects, totaling just over $12 million, are located in Allegheny, Chester, Columbia, Crawford, Lancaster, Montgomery, Northampton, Northumberland, and Philadelphia counties. These projects will support the construction of extremely energy-efficient school buildings; support the installation of efficient and modern power systems like biomass and combined heat and power; and assist with the costs of purchasing and installing biogas purification systems and compressed natural gas fueling stations.

New Legislation Supports Low-Cost, Clean Energy Technology in Pennsylvania

June 2018 - Governor Tom Wolf has signed Senate Bill 234, establishing Pennsylvania's Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, a financing mechanism that enables low-cost, long-term funding for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation upgrades to commercial or industrial properties. With this legislation will save small businesses money on their electricity and water bills, create new, good-paying clean energy jobs, and add new, clean energy sources to the state's energy mix.

Mariner East Pipelines Shut Down, Again

May 2018 - Citing sinkholes, contaminated water wells and alleged poor managerial judgement, an administrative law judge has suspended operations and construction of the Mariner East pipelines. In her ruling, Public Utility Commission Judge Elizabeth Barnes said Sunoco had put profit over best engineering practices. The emergency order suspended the flow of highly volatile liquid ethane through Mariner East 1, and construction on the Mariner East 2 pipelines. Operation and construction of the pipelines has been halted before, but then allowed to resume. Sunoco has said it will ask the Public Utility Commission to overturn Judge Barnes' decision.

Electric-Vehicle Bill a Potential Win for PA

April 2018 - Pennsylvania is lagging behind some other states in creating the infrastructure to support electric vehicles, but a bill making its way through the General Assembly could help. Transportation is one of the main sources of carbon pollution. But without a reliable network of charging stations, consumers are reluctant to switch to clean electric vehicles. House Bill 1446 would establish a statewide goal for transportation electrification. The bill has passed the House Transportation Committee with strong support and is expected to reach the floor of the House for a vote in the coming weeks. The bill also would require the state's electric utilities and electric-vehicle charging service providers to create and implement a plan to meet the electrification goals.

Pennsylvania Revives Solar Initiatives to Boost Clean Energy Jobs

December 2017 - Pennsylvania's Solar Energy Program will make available $30 million in new grant funding to be used by eligible applicants to promote the installation of new solar projects. The funding will also aid in the manufacture or assembly of solar equipment in the commonwealth to further encourage the deployment and creation of solar jobs. Additionally, this month the governor signed legislation which will strengthen Pennsylvania's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act by requiring that solar renewable energy credits used to demonstrate compliance with the Act must be generated at solar facilities delivering electricity to the grid in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New York Approve Resolution to Permanently Ban Fracking in the Delaware River Basin

September 2017 - The Governors of Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New York, comprising a majority of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), voted in favor of a resolution put forward by the commission to issue draft regulations to permanently ban hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas in the Delaware River Basin. The DRBC vote was three to one with one abstention in passing the resolution for promulgating regulations that would prohibit any water project in the Delaware River Basin proposed for developing oil and gas resources by high-volume hydraulic fracturing.

Judge Orders Halt on All Mariner East 2 Drilling

July 2017 - The Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board granted the petition of Clean Air Council, Mountain Watershed Association, Inc., and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network to halt all drilling operations associated with the construction of the Mariner East 2 natural gas liquids pipelines. This ruling comes after last week's filing which disclosed 61 drilling fluid spills and water contamination in multiple Pennsylvania regions.

Alternative Fuel Incentive Grants Awarded to Pennsylvania Schools, Businesses, and Municipalities

April 2017 - The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) awarded grants to 17 alternative fuel projects that will save an estimated 650 million gallons of fuel in Pennsylvania. These Alternative Fuel Incentive Grants (AFIG) will be used to develop and promote the use of alternative fuels and develop supporting infrastructure, improving air quality through alternative fuel use.

Environment

DEP to Reduce Power-Plant Water Pollution

January 2018 - The Department of Environmental Protection has agreed to a settlement to reduce toxic water pollution from 10 coal-fired power plants. In settling a lawsuit brought by environmental groups, the DEP has agreed to a schedule to update and draft new water permits for the plants, that have been operating with expired permits. Discharges from those power plants include pollutants like arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury that end up in rivers and streams. Federal law requires power plants to renew their permits every five 1-2 years. Under the settlement, the DEP plans to have permits for all 10 power plants finalized by March of next year.

DEP Suspends Mariner East 2 Pipeline Permit

January 2018 - The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has suspended the Mariner East 2 pipeline permit, saying Sunoco needs to correct what the agency termed "egregious and willful violations," including unauthorized drilling and failure to notify the agency of discharges and spills. Environmental groups are calling on the state to cancel construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline. A spokesperson for Sunoco said the company is committed to protecting the environment and is confident it will be authorized to resume work on the pipeline soon.

Permit for Coal Destructive Coal Mining Rejected

August 2017 - The Environmental Hearing Board has rejected a revised permit issued by the Department of Environmental Protection in 2015 that would have allowed underground, longwall coal mining under a stream flowing into Ryseron Station State Park. The Board agreed with community groups that the state's Clean Streams Law and the state Constitution do not allow eh DEP to permit mining that is predicted to damage a stream so severely that the only way to repair the damage would be to construct a new stream in its place.

PA Landowners Gain Protections from Pipeline Spills

August 2017 - State officials approved a settlement that environmental groups reached with Sunoco and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection giving some Pennsylvania landowners now have stronger protections against spills and water contamination associated with construction of the Mariner East II pipeline. To date, pipeline construction has resulted in 90 spills of drilling fluid since April, and drilling operations have resulted in damage to water supplies in at least five locations. The Clean Air Council and other environmental groups are continuing to appeal permits issued for the pipeline by the Department of Environmental Protection.

Court Ruling Called Victory for Environmental Rights

June 2017 - A majority decision of Pennsylvania's Supreme Court broadens the interpretation of the Environmental Rights Amendment to Pennsylvania's state constitution, strengthening protections for public natural resources. The ruling came in a case challenging the use of proceeds from oil and gas leases on public lands for anything other than environmental preservation. The court ruled that the governor and the General Assembly are trustees, not proprietors of public land.

Governor Tom Wolf Reaffirms Commitment to Clean Water for Chesapeake Bay.

March 2017 - Following the release of a federal budget that calls for cutting Environmental Protection Agency funding by 31 percent and elimination of the Chesapeake Bay Program, Governor Wolf acknowledged the importance of reducing pollution in the Keystone State. "We are still in the middle of the biggest part of the river (Susquehanna) that empties into the bay," Governor Wolf said. "We have a big role to play in cleaning up the bay."

Governor Wolf Proposes Rules to Curb Methane Emissions

January 2016 - Governor Tom Wolf's administration has proposed new rules to curb emissions of methane from new oil and gas wells, pipelines and other infrastructure.

EPA Scientists Question Agency Report on the Impact of Fracking on Water Supplies

January 2016 - The Environmental Protection Agency's Scientific Advisory Board issued a draft report saying the conclusion of an EPA study of the impact of fracking on drinking water.

Pennsylvania Finalizes Smog Reduction Rules

November 2015 - The Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board voted to finalize new rules that will reduce smog-causing pollution from most coal-fired power plants in the state.

EPA Holds Clean Energy Plan Hearing

November 2015 - The Environmental Protection Agency held hearings in Pittsburgh on implementation of the Clean Energy Plan.

River Pollution Reduction Efforts Receive Major Grant

October 2015 - The Chesapeake Bay Foundation received a $265 thousand dollar grant to reduce pollution in the Juniata River Basin.

May 2011 - The Environmental Protection Agency held a hearing in Philadelphia on Tuesday (5/24) to get public input on a new plan to reduce mercury, arsenic, dioxin and other toxic air pollutants coming from the nation's coal- and oil-fired power plants.

Environmental Justice

Pennsylvania Revives Its Office of Environmental Justice

October 2015 - The state has appointed a new director to the Office of Environmental Justice, a position that has been vacant for three months.

Family/Father Issues

House Passes "Grandfamilies" Legislation, Senate Urged to Vote

April 2018 - The House has passed a package of legislative proposals pertaining to grandparents raising grandchildren, including House bills 2133 and 1539, and House Resolution 390. It's estimated that 82,000 grandparents are the sole caregivers for nearly 89,000 grandchildren in Pennsylvania with that number increasing due to the devastating opioid crisis across the commonwealth. HB2133 establishes a Kinship Caregiver Navigator Program within the Department of Human Services as a resource for grandparents who are raising their grandchildren but who are not involved with the formal child welfare system. The program creates an informational resource for grandparents using a website and a toll-free hotline to provide information on support and services available to them. HB 1539 provides a way for grandparents to obtain temporary guardianship while protecting both the parental rights of parents, including those suffering from opioid addiction, and the needs of the child to be with loving family members, rather than be placed in foster care or other arrangements. House Resolution 390 directs the Joint State Government Commission (JSGC) to study grandfamilies in Pennsylvania, with a focus on how the opioid crisis is impacting this growing trend.

Gun Violence Prevention

Governor Wolf Announces $5 Million in Safe Schools Grants

November 2017 - The state has awarded $5 million in Safe Schools Initiative Targeted Grants to nearly 140 schools, police departments, and municipalities to support safer schools. The program will provide $1.4 million to 79 public school entities for programs that prevent and reduce violent incidents and to procure security/safety-related equipment. The safety equipment includes student, staff and visitor identification systems; metal detectors; protective lighting; surveillance equipment; special emergency communications equipment; electronic locksets; deadbolts and theft control devices; and training in the use of the security-related technology.

Health Issues

Bill to Protect Children's Health Care Signed

December 2017 - Governor Tom Wolf signed legislation to protect children's health care through state funding of the Children's Health Insurance Program, commonly known as CHIP. Federal funding accounts for 90 percent of the $450 million CHIP budget. Congress failed to reauthorize CHIP before the Sept. 30 deadline and has not yet addressed funding for the more than 9 million children nationally who benefit from it.

More Than 6,000 Patients Register for Medical Marijuana Program Since Launch Two Weeks Ago

November 2017 - More than 6,000 patients and more than 300 caregivers have registered for Pennsylvania's medical marijuana program since the Medical Marijuana Patient and Caregiver Registry launched November 1. The Medical Marijuana Program became effective on May 17, 2016, and is expected to be fully implemented by 2018. The program will offer medical marijuana to patients who are residents of Pennsylvania and under a physician's care for the treatment of a serious medical condition as defined by the Medical Marijuana Law.

State Health Officials Call for Immediate Action to Fight Growing Opioid Crisis

November 2017 - In the wake of President Trump's decision to declare the opioid epidemic a public health emergency, Pennsylvania health officials responded urging the administration to provide additional resources to combat the disease. In August and October, Governor Tom Wolf had called on President Trump to act on recommendations from the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, which included naming the epidemic a national emergency.

PA's First Medical Marijuana Grower/Processor to Begin Production

October 2017 - The Pennsylvania Department of Health has approved Cresco Yeltrah to begin growing and processing medical marijuana at its Jefferson County location, making it the first facility to be deemed fully operational in Pennsylvania's medical marijuana program. Cresco Yeltrah will now be able to begin accepting seeds and clones to grow medical marijuana. The Medical Marijuana Program was signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf on April 17, 2016.

Governor Wolf Opposes Graham-Cassidy; Urges Bipartisan Stabilization Progress

October 2017 - Governor Tom Wolf joined a group of bipartisan governors on a letter to U.S. Senate leadership opposing the Graham-Cassidy amendment. The governors asked that the Senate reject the proposed amendment and focus on bipartisan efforts already underway to stabilize health insurance markets and address affordability for consumers.

Single-Payer Healthcare Bill Introduced in PA

October 2015 - State lawmakers announced that they would be filing a proposed bill in the Pennsylvania legislature to create a single-payer health insurance program.

December 2011 - A new report from the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute's Center for Children and Families shows the number of kids in America without health insurance is down - and Pennsylvania is among the states showing signs of improvement. The report shows just over five percent of kids in Pennsylvania are without coverage, one of the best rates in the nation.

Housing/Homelessness

PA Boosts Funding to Help Homeless Families in Pennsylvania

December 2018 - Pennsylvania is making more than $5 million in grant funding available to help homeless families and promote homelessness prevention across the commonwealth. The funding is provided from the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) program. The ESG funding falls into four categories: rapid rehousing, homelessness prevention, street outreach, and emergency shelter. Rapid rehousing helps individuals and families who are homeless, fleeing violence, or living in a home not suitable for human habitation. Homelessness prevention helps families who are currently housed but may be in jeopardy of losing their housing. Street outreach connects unsheltered homeless individuals with emergency shelter and/or health services. Emergency shelter funding supports costs associated with operating an emergency shelter and renovations.

More Vulnerable Pennsylvanians Being Served in Their Communities

June 2017 - The Department of Human Services says increased access to housing over the past two years has served 10 percent more people in the community. Specifically, people over the age of 60 who are receiving home- and community-based waivers increased by 15 percent; people under the age of 60 who are receiving attendant care services increased by 25 percent; Pennsylvanians receiving services through the LIFE program increased by 24 percent; and persons with developmental disabilities who are served in home- and community-based long-term care waiver services increased by 20 Percent.

Immigrant Issues

Governor Wolf, First Lady, Commissions Pen Joint Letter to Congress in Support of DREAMers

September 2017 - In response to President Trump's recission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Governor Tom Wolf, First Lady Frances Wolf and the Governor's Advisory Commissions have sent a joint letter to members of Congress from Pennsylvania in support of young undocumented Americans who entered the country as minors and obtained protection from deportation under the program. The letter was co-signed by the Governor's Advisory Commissions on African American, Asian Pacific American, and Latino Affairs, and the Pennsylvania Commission for Women.

Philadelphia City Council Condemns ICE Raids

January 2016 - The Philadelphia City Council passed a resolution condemning raids by federal immigration agents for the forced deportation of immigrants who fled violence in Central America.

Mayor Kenney signs anti-deportation Executive Order

January 2016 - Jim Kenney reinstated the "ICE Hold Ban" executive order, banning city officials from collaborating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to deport immigrant community members out of Philadelphia city.

Livable Wages/Working Families

Governor Wolf Proposes Minimum Wage Plan to Boost Paychecks of One Million Workers

January 2019 - Governor Tom Wolf is proposing to raise Pennsylvania's minimum wage to $12 an hour. The boost in pay for one million workers would enable tens of thousands of people to work their way off of public assistance, saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and growing the economy for everyone. Pennsylvania's minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 an hour since 2009. Over the decade, 29 states, including all of our neighboring states, have raised the wage floor for their workers. The governor's proposal would raise the wage to $12 an hour on July 1, 2019 with gradual 50 cent increases until reaching $15 an hour in 2025. New Jersey recently became the fourth state on a pathway to a $15 minimum wage.

Gov. Tom Wolf Wants to Make More Workers Eligible for OT Pay

January 2018 - Pennsylvania workers on salary who make $23,600 a year or more can be required to work well over 40 hours a week without getting any overtime pay. The governor wants to raise that in three stages, reaching a limit of almost $48,000 a year by 2022. Opponents of the governor's plan say it would force business owners to make more salaried employees into hourly workers, and limit the hours they work, rather than increase their paychecks, but polls show raising the level of overtime pay enjoys broad, bipartisan support.

Philly Airport Workers Now Have a Union

April 2017 - Workers for two major subcontractors at Philadelphia International Airport voted to join SEIU Local 32BJ, making the airport one of the first in the country to have a large majority of its subcontract workers represented by a union. The announcement caps more than four years of organizing efforts with airport workers.

Building Cleaners Start Contract Negotiations

December 2015 - Office cleaners in commercial buildings began negotiations for a new contract with the owners of 170 buildings in the Philadelphia area.

Building Cleaners Start Contract Negotiations

November 2015 - Office cleaners in commercial buildings began negotiations for a new contract with the owners of 170 buildings in the Philadelphia area.

Report Outlines Benefits of $15 Minimum Wage for Nursing Home Workers

November 2015 - The Keystone Research Center issued a report indicating the low wages paid to nursing home workers are costing the state almost 120 million dollars a year in taxpayer subsidized benefits like food stamps and Medicaid.

Janitors/Contractors Reach Contract Agreement

October 2015 - A janitors strike was averted when negotiators for 32BJ-SEIU and MOCA (Managers, Owners And Contractors) agreed to a new 4 year contract.

Mental Health

Lawsuits Challenges Prolonged Detention of Mentally Ill in PA

October 2015 - The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania filed a federal class-action lawsuit on behalf of mentally ill prisoners who are ordered to undergo treatment to restore their competence.

Philanthropy

March 2011 - A new report from a watchdog group shows money raised and invested by nonprofits in Pennsylvania has translated to some major community benefits. The report from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy points to more than three billion dollars in benefits generated in the past few years for low-wage workers, public school funding, affordable housing and other projects.

Public Lands/Wilderness

Governor Wolf Urges Congress to Reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund

September 2018 - Governor Tom Wolf urged Congress to reauthorize an important federal tool that communities across Pennsylvania - rural, suburban, and urban - have used to revitalize their neighborhoods and create outdoor recreation opportunities for all citizens. In a letter to Pennsylvania?s congressional delegation the governor called the Fund an important community development and conservation tool for states and local communities adding, "Our economy depends on strong and attractive communities for businesses and workers to move, stay, and grow. Congress needs to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund without delay."

February 2012 - The focus in Pennsylvania's only national forest, the Allegheny National Forest, will be restoration and multiple-use activities under new management guidelines being finalized by the Obama administration. Officials hope the new 'forest planning rule' will break a 30-year political and legal stalemate between environmentalists and the timber industry.

February 2011 - The Obama administration is releasing its 'America's Great Outdoors' initiative, and Pennsylvania streams and rivers stand to gain much in the way of additional preservation and restoration. The group American Rivers says it shows a willingness to invest in clean water and healthy rivers for future generations.

Rural/Farming

DEP to Cover Cost of Agricultural Plans for Clean Water in Pennsylvania's Part of Chesapeake Bay Watershed

October 2017 - The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will reimburse farmers in Pennsylvania's part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed for the cost of preparing hundreds of agricultural plans for clean water. The program is part of a commitment that Governor Wolf, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in 2016 to make state and federal funding available to improve water quality in Pennsylvania?s 43 counties in the Bay watershed for local benefit and, ultimately, all partner states in the watershed. State regulations require all farmers to implement manure management, nutrient management, or agriculture erosion and sediment control plans and, in some cases, more than one of these plans.

Senior Issues

More Seniors to Receive Coordinated Health Care in Their Homes, Communities

December 2017 - Community HealthChoices, a program to improve services for hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians, will launch in 14 southwest Pennsylvania counties in January 2018. Community HealthChoices will help seniors age at home and receive quality health care services there and in their communities. The new, mandatory managed care program will serve people age 21 and older who are enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid or with physical disabilities, and will allow them to get access to high quality care in their communities and in some cases even in their homes.

New Initiatives Will Help Senior Age at Home

November 2017 - Pennsylvania has two new initiatives aimed at helping Pennsylvania seniors age at home. The PA Link to Community Care website will connect older Pennsylvanians to services and supports available in their community. More than 350 in-home service providers appearing on the searchable directory offer personal care, assistance with activities of daily living, companionship services, respite care, and/or habilitation services. The second initiative Community HealthChoices (CHC) will launch in southwest PA in January to provide seniors and others with coordinated community care.

Smoking Prevention

Bill Would Close Exemptions in PA Smoke-Free Law

May 2017 - A bill has been introduced in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to close loop holes in the state's Clean Indoor Air Act. The current law allows some bars, restaurants and other public places to permit smoking, raising the risk of cancer and other impacts of secondhand smoke to employees and nonsmoking patrons.

Pennsylvania Raises Tobacco Tax

July 2016 - Governor Tom Wolf has signed a bill raising the tax on cigarettes by one dollar a pack. The bill also raises the tax on other tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. The tax increase is being praised as a significant step forward in efforts to discourage young people from taking up smoking.

Toxics

Governor Wolf Takes Executive Action to Address PFAS Concerns and Protect Pennsylvanians

September 2018 - Governor Tom Wolf announced the establishment of a multi-agency PFAS Action Team and other executive actions to address growing national concerns surrounding per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These man-made chemicals are resistant to heat, water and oil, and persist in the environment and the human body, heightening concern among residents in areas of the state in which these chemicals have been identified in drinking water. The plan announced today moves Pennsylvania to the forefront of states taking proactive action to address PFAS and other water contaminants.

Water

New Funding Will Help Attack PFAS Contamination of 17 Wells in Bucks County

March 2019 - Funding through the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) will finance projects to remove contamination of harmful perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from the Warminster/Horsham and Warrington areas in Bucks County. PFAS are man-made chemicals, are resistant to heat, water and oil, and persist in the environment and the human body. PFAS are not found naturally in the environment. They have been used to make cookware, carpets, clothing, fabrics for furniture, paper packaging for food, and other materials that are resistant to water, grease, or stains. They are also used in firefighting foams and in a number of industrial processes. Thirteen wells have been contaminated by PFAS as a result of the use of firefighting foam at military bases in the area. The contamination caused the shutdown of the wells and required WMA to purchase water from another source at a much higher cost. This project will install treatment systems that will allow the wells to be placed back in service as a water supply source.

DEP Bars Pipeline Permit

February 2019 - The Department of Environmental Protection has suspended review of all clean water permit applications and other pending approvals associated with the Energy Transfer, L.P. (ET) and subsidiaries until further notice due to non-compliance. The permit bar will affect the in-service date for the Revolution pipeline, which is currently not in service, and the Mariner East 2 pipeline. There are 27 approvals currently under review by DEP for Mariner East 2. The Revolution pipeline will remain closed until full compliance has been achieved. State agencies have provided unprecedented oversight over the Mariner East Project, issuing more than 80 violations and levying nearly $13 million in penalties. The Department of Environmental Protection has also implemented significant new processes as a result of the experience gained on a project of unprecedented scope and impact.

State Invests in Water Quality

January 2019 - Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection has awarded grants to three projects that will reduce stormwater runoff pollution, restore streambanks and wetlands, and improve water quality in Dauphin County. Capital Area Greenbelt Association Inc. is receiving a $272,840 grant to design and permit a 1.4 mile stretch of stream restoration along the Parkway Creek. The project will eliminate an estimated 293,336 pounds of sediment, 445 pounds of phosphorus, and 491 pounds of nitrogen from entering the creek annually. Dauphin County Commissioners will use a $170,000 grant to remove and dredge 241,000 cubic yards of sediment and restore 90 acres of freshwater marsh at Wildwood Lake. And a $15,000 grant is awarded to the Derry Township Municipal Authority to expand and retrofit two existing undersized detention basins in the township?s Oakmont development.

$25.4 Million Investment in Clean Water Infrastructure Impacting Seven Counties

October 2017 - Governor Tom Wolf today announced the investment of $25.4 million in loan funding for a public/private partnership project covering seven counties in northcentral and northwestern Pennsylvania that will serve to preserve, protect and improve water quality while supporting core economic opportunities with the commonwealth's important lumber industry. The loan funding was approved by the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST) Board of Directors.

Wolf Administration Signs Agreement to Regulate, Monitor Water Releases to Delaware River

October 2017 - The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has signed a revised multi-state agreement that will continue water releases into the Delaware River from three New York City reservoirs. These releases support a variety of water uses in the portion of the river that forms the eastern border of the Commonwealth, and are expected to prevent threats to public health and the environment. Since 1954, Pennsylvania, New York, New York City, New Jersey and Delaware have jointly managed water resources that are vital to the river's health, especially in times of low flows and floods. The most recent agreement, signed in 2007, expired in May. The new 10-year agreement establishes a revised Flexible Flow Management Program (FFMP), which provides protection for the resources in the Delaware River Basin. The agreement also requires the parties to study ways to better manage those resources in the future.

State Invests in Water Infrastructure Projects in 12 Counties

October 2017 - Governor Tom Wolf announced the approval of 15 drinking water, wastewater, storm water, and non-point source projects across 12 counties through the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST). The projects are expected to benefit the environment, economic development, and public health and will further shared goals of a clean and safe environment.

PA Investing $75 Million in Water Infrastructure Projects in 20 Counties

July 2017 - Pennsylvania is investing $75 million for 23 drinking water, wastewater, storm water and non-point source projects across 20 counties through the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST). The funding comes from a combination of state funds approved by voters, federal grants to PENNVEST from the Environmental Protection Agency and recycled loan repayments from previous PENNVEST funding awards. Funds for the projects are disbursed after bills for work are paid and receipts are submitted to PENNVEST.

Water Infrastructure Projects Getting $39 Million

April 2017 - Governor Tom Wolf announced the investment of $39 million for 12 drinking water, wastewater, storm water, and non-point source projects across nine counties through the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST). The funding comes from a combination of state funds approved by voters, federal grants to PENNVEST from the Environmental Protection Agency and recycled loan repayments from previous PENNVEST funding awards.

Women's Issues

Governor Wolf Takes Action on Equal Pay for Women

June 2018 - Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order ending the practice of state agencies requiring a job applicant to provide their salary history during the hiring process and called on the General Assembly to pass similar protections for all working women in Pennsylvania. Executive Order 2018-18-03, Equal Pay for Employees of the Commonwealth, directs state agencies under the governor?s jurisdiction to: no longer ask job applicants their salary history during the hiring process; base salaries on job responsibilities, position pay range, and the applicant's job knowledge and skills; clearly explain the pay range on job postings. The Executive Order, which applies to management-level positions, takes effect in 90 days.


M a i n e

N e w s

S e r v i c e

Maine News Service

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention

Legislature Votes to Spend $6.6 Million More a Year to Help Uninsured in Opioid Struggle

April 2018 - Maine lawmakers have approved spending $6.6 million a year to combat the opioid crisis by helping uninsured Mainers obtain treatment. The Senate voted unanimously in favor of the legislation. The House had approved the bill the day before by voice vote. The bill still faces a significant hurdle - lawmakers have to appropriate money for it - but the overwhelming votes are a positive sign that i'?s been deemed a high priority, advocates said. It also is not clear whether Republican Gov. Paul LePage supports the bill or would veto it. LePage spokeswoman Julie Rabinowitz said the governor does not comment on legislators' bills. The money would help pay for medication-assisted treatment ? such as methadone and Suboxone ? for the uninsured, who are the most likely to lack access to treatment. The bill is intended to help 400 to 500 people annually gain access to treatment during a time that the opioid crisis has left thousands battling addiction or dying from overdoses.

Maine Lawmakers Override LePage Narcan Veto

April 2016 - Mainers will have easier access to the lifesaving drug Narcan despite the wishes of Governor Paul LePage.

Animal Welfare

Maine #3 in Nation for Animals

January 2016 - A new (ALDF) ranks the Maine number three in the nation for protecting animals.

Budget Policy & Priorities

New Taxable Grocery Items in 2016: Deal for Tax Cuts and New Revenue

December 2015 - Mainers will have to pay state sales tax on hundreds of food and beverage products including fruit gummies, chocolate chips, potato chips, dips, beef jerky and sports drinks as part of a deal to raise revenue.

Nonprofits Flex Economic Muscle

January 2013 - A new report says that in Maine last year, there were more jobs in the nonprofit sector than the private sector. The report, compiled by the Maine Association of Nonprofits (MANP), says that one in seven jobs in the state are in the nonprofit field, making the sector the largest employer in the state.

Children's Issues

Maine Holds Steady on Child Poverty Rate

October 2017 - A new report from Georgetown University finds fewer than five percent of children nationwide are uninsured - and Maine's rate remained basically unchanged. Advocates are optimistic Mainers will approve a ballot initiative on the November ballot to expand Medicaid coverage in the state under the A.C.A.

Civil Rights

Maine Secretary of State Doubles Down Against Trump Voter Fraud Commission

July 2017 - Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap again refused to comply with the request by the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which is investigating possible voter fraud. Dunlap cited Maine law.

Climate Change/Air Quality

Governor's Bill Moves Maine Toward 100% Renewable Energy by 2050

April 2019 - Maine is taking an ambitious turn to fight climate change with a new bill announced on April 30 by Gov. Janet Mills. The goals of LR 2478 are to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions 45% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. According to the Natural Resources Council of Maine, the governor's plan includes many aspects of a similar climate bill, LD 797, introduced earlier this year.

Governor's Bill Moves Maine Toward 100% Renewable Energy by 2050

April 2019 - Maine would take an ambitious turn to fight climate change with a new bill by Gov. Janet Mills. The goals of LR 2478 are to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions 45% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. The bill ultimately directs the state to get 100% of its electric power from renewable sources by 2050.

Maine Joins Lawsuit to Block Fuel Efficiency Rollback

May 2018 - The Trump administration wants to roll back EPA fuel efficiency improvements but Maine is pushing back. Maine joined 16 other states in suing the administration Tuesday over its plans to scrap rules designed to make cars more efficient and less polluting. The lawsuit challenges the rollback of nationwide standards that called for new vehicles to average nearly 55 miles per gallon by 2025. Automakers have pressed the White House for weaker rules ? for every state in the country. California has long had a waiver to set its own, more-stringent tailpipe emissions standards. Maine and 11 other states have followed suit. Cars and trucks are the largest sources of both greenhouse-gas emissions and high ozone levels, so revoking California's right to tougher rules would stymie efforts to combat climate change and would make many Mainers very sick. The 17 states that are suing the administration represent about 43 percent of the new-vehicle market and 44 percent of the U.S. population.

Bill Reauthorizing RGGI Becomes Law

March 2018 - Maine is now committed to making even deeper cuts in carbon pollution from power plants. Legislation passed unanimously by the Maine Legislature went into effect reauthorizing the state's participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) a multi-state compact that caps carbon emissions from the energy sector. Maine is the first RGGI state to officially usher in the strengthened program. RGGI caps carbon emissions and reduces that cap every year. Carbon credits are auctioned off to power companies and the proceeds are used support energy efficiency improvements. In the past five years, RGGI funds leveraged $88 million in private investment in Maine, yielding $277 million in energy savings for homes and businesses and produced at least $5.7 billion in health benefits throughout the region.

Thousands of Mainers Demand Action on Climate Change

April 2017 - Rallying despite a late spring snowstorm, more than 2,000 gathered at the Maine State House in Augusta to call for action on climate change. Speakers included a lobsterman, a solar company owner and members of the Penobscot Nation tribe.

Friend of the Court Brief in Support of Clean Power Plan

April 2016 - A coalition of health advocates filed a "friend of the court" brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the EPA's authority to regulate carbon and greenhouse gas emissions.

March 2012 - Maine people breathed a little easier after the Environmental Protection Agency and Obama Administration released a proposal to limit carbon pollution from new power plants. The announcement came on the day Maine News Service reported on the state's moose population fighting a life-and-death battle with ticks, due to the mild weather this winter which has been linked to climate change from greenhouse gases.

Consumer Issues

Mainers Keep Watch on G.M.O Food Labeling

October 2015 - Mainers have been keeping watch on a measure that is working its way through Congress that sounds like it would be a good idea, but the devil is in the details.

Criminal Justice

Maine Senate Joins House in Passing Recreational Marijuana Bill by Beto-proof Majority

April 2018 - The Maine Senate passed the bill to launch the state's adult-use marijuana market, putting the legislation on the brink of heading to Gov. Paul LePage's desk with veto-proof margins from both chambers of the Legislature. The bill passed by a 24-10 margin one day after being approved 112-34 in the House, which killed a more liberal version of the bill last year by sustaining LePage's veto. The bill is likely to head to LePage after more legislative action Thursday. The votes, and their veto-proof margins, came as good news to groups that represent cannabis business interests, such as Maine Professionals for Regulating Marijuana, which lobbied Maine's lawmakers to pass a business-friendly bill. Last year, the group's board members said that a long delay from legalization to licensing would send potential investors packing.

Compromise Backs Recovery Approach to Drugs in Maine

June 2016 - A compromise crafted during the session averted felony charges for Mainer caught with small amounts of hard drugs.

Early Childhood Education

Pre-K Tops in Maine

December 2009 - Maine leads New England and the U.S. in participation in public pre-K: 34% participation versus 15%and 28% respectively.

Education

Maine School Get Help with Repairs

February 2017 - Maine schools are getting help from the state to fix their roofs, improve air quality and remove hazardous materials. The Maine Department of Education has awarded $12.2 million in loans to 21 school districts.

Endangered Species & Wildlife

New Mapping Project to Plan for Climate Change

December 2012 - Scientists and land management experts in Maine are at work on identifying open spaces where the state's animals and plants can shift to as the globe continues its warming.

Energy Policy

State Government Increases Targets For Renewable Energy

January 2019 - New governor Janet Mills says her administration would reach a goal of producing 50 percent of electricity from renewables - up from a current standard of 40 percent, which is a smaller step toward a larger goal that she set during the campaign of having Maine reach 100 percent renewables by 2050, according to The Free Press.

Maine House Votes to Overturn "Anti-Solar Net Metering"

June 2017 - The Maine House voted 90-54 in favor of the "Majority report" which would overturn the PUC's so-called anti-solar net metering rule. The measure (LD 1504) is opposed by Governor Paul LePage.

Solar Gets a Boost In Kennebunk

June 2017 - The Kennebunk Light & Power District signed a 20-year agreement to support a large solar array on district property. It is projected, the solar array will produce 3.9 kilowatt-hours during its first year of operation.

Portland Ranked #35 Solar Power

April 2017 - A new report ranks Portland ahead of New York and Richmond for the amount of installed solar installed per capita. The "Shining Cities" report says despite that growth the recent P.U.C. decision phase out the solar power incentive of net metering will likely leave Maine trailing cities in neighboring states in New England.

State Agency Teams-up with Nonprofits to Keep Mainers Warmer

February 2017 - The York Rotary Club, York Community Service Association, the town of York and the state agency Efficiency Maine have teamed up to winterize about 15 York houses this winter, with funds from Rotary and Efficiency Maine.

Three-Year Energy-Efficiency Plan Proposed for Mainers

December 2015 - Efficiency Maine's Board of Trustees approved a three-year plan that should save consumers almost a billion dollars.

Solar Ban Defeated

November -0001 - Maine saw a major victory on the environment when lawmakers were able to override a veto on solar development. Governor LePage made his opposition to solar clear when he vetoed the measure (LD 1263) which simply called for the Public Utilities Commission to get into gear and develop a solar policy. Apparently that was a step too far, because the vote against the veto was overwhelming in both houses.

Environment

Maine Senate Passes Offshore Drilling Ban

June 2019 - The Maine Senate overwhelmingly passed an offshore-drilling ban by a vote of 31-4. The next step for LD 955 is Gov. Janet Mills' desk.

Maine Becomes First State To Ban Styrofoam

April 2019 - Food containers made of Styrofoam, also known as polystyrene, will be officially banned from businesses in Maine after governor Janet Mills signed a bill into law. The law, which will go into effect January 1, 2021, prohibits restaurants, caterers, coffee shops and grocery stores from using the to-go foam containers because they cannot be recycled in Maine. Maine has become the first state to take such a step.

Maine Awarded Nearly 2 Million for Environmental Clean-Up

June 2017 - The EPA awarded Maine $1.795 million in Brownfields Planning, Site Assessment and Clean-up Grants for FY2017. DEP Commissioner Paul Mercer said, "I am pleased the development of abandoned and unsafe property across the state puts these sites back on the property tax rolls with the use of brownfields funds."

More Voices Call for Halt to Tar Sands Oil Pipeline Project

March 2013 - Opposition to the Portland-Montreal pipeline conversion plan continues to grow. More than 55 groups and individuals from New England and the Midwest, including George LaPointe, former Commissioner, Maine Department of Marine Resources, petitioned the federal government to halt plans to pump corrosive tar sands oil from Canada to American ports, including Portland, for export. They say current regulations are inadequate and raise the risk of catastrophic spills.

Health Issues

Maine Voters Pass Medicaid Expansion

November 2017 - Maine voters approved a referendum to expand Medicaid for low-income adults. Question 2 passed by about 60 percent and brings the state in line with 31 others that have also expanded the program. About 80 thousand Maine residents will qualify.

Prescription Drug Price Bills Pending

May 2017 - Maine lawmakers are considering a pair of bills that would lower the cost of prescription drugs by requiring state agencies to pay the same or lower prices than the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The measures are LD 655 and LD 652,

Maine Becomes 2nd Northeast State to OK Recreational Marijuana

November 2016 - Maine voters approved a ballot measure approving the recreational use of marijuana on Election Day. Massachusetts approved a similar measure, and the vote was tallied first. Recreational marijuana in Maine will be be regulated by the state Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

October 2011 - The Maine Legislative Council of party leaders in the House and Senate, recently met to decide what bills to consider in the session that begins in January, and several of the measures address changes to the recently passed health care reform package. The need to revisit that package was highlighted in a story produced by the Maine News Service in October. The story focused on the latest research released by the U.S. Census American Community Survey which says Maine still has about 10% of the population without healthcare coverage. The figures put Maine behind Massachusetts and Vermont in the percentage of residents covered.

Housing/Homelessness

$15 Million of Senior Housing Bonds Released

February 2019 - After several years of being held up by the previous governor, the incoming governor Janet Mills released $15 million of housing bonds for affordable senior housing.

Hunger/Food/Nutrition

More School Breakfasts Served

November -0001 - Maine jumped up to number 15 in the nation in February in a school breakfast report card that focused on reaching low-income students with a healthy breakfast. According to the Food Research and Action Center report, Maine moved up two notches and now reaches about 57 students with breakfast for every 100 kids who eat school lunch.

Immigrant Issues

Progress on Immigrant Integration

June 2016 - A new (FPI) report finds that immigrants from key groups are making progress integrating into better jobs, speaking English and "becoming Americans." The Somali community in Lewiston is one example of positive impact.

Livable Wages/Working Families

Governor Mills Signs Paid Leave Bill Into Law

May 2019 - While ten states mandate paid sick leave for workers, Maine will be the first state to require employers to give their employees up to 40 hours of paid leave for use at their discretion.

Maine Passes Salary History Ban

April 2019 - Maine recently joined the growing number of states that have passed laws prohibiting employers from requiring new or prospective employees to provide information regarding their prior salary or compensation. On April 12, Maine Governor Janet Mills signed into law "An Act Regarding Pay Equality." The new law, which will go into effect on September 17, 2019, 90 days after Maine ends its current legislative section, seeks to end wage inequality by prohibiting employers from taking salary history into account when setting compensation for new employees.

Maine House Blocks Effort to Roll Back Minimum Wage

March 2018 - Maine's House of Representatives defeated an effort to stop voter-approved increases in the state's minimum wage. In a largely party-line vote, the House said "no" to LD 1757, a bill that would have stopped increases due in 2019 and 2020, delayed cost of living increases, and lowered wages for younger workers. The measure was introduced by Gov. Paul LePage, who said raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour will result in job losses and fewer opportunities for younger workers. But opponents of the bill contend that raising wages for the lowest-paid workers helps the entire state economy. LD 1757 now goes to the state Senate, where the Republican majority is expected to approve the measure but the House vote likely means the end of the effort for this year.

LePage Offers Hope to Teacher's Union

February 2017 - Governor Paul LePage gave teachers reason for hope in his state of the state message when he indicated he was open to the idea of state teacher's contract. Union officials indicated there was a long way to go, but this was a good start.

Signatures Delivered for Maine Ballot Proposition on Minimum Wage

January 2016 - A coalition of Mainers delivered 75,000 verified signatures to the Secretary of State calling for a ballot referendum to boost the statewide minimum wage.

Maine Receives Good Grade for Supporting New Parents

November -0001 - Maine gets a good grade in a new report analyzing how each state supports – or doesn’t support – new parents in terms of leave time and job protection. The study, timed for the White House Summit on Working Families, was from the National Partnership for Women and Families, and gave Maine a B-minus.

Philanthropy

November 2012 - The Maine Community Foundation was one of many groups nationwide taking up the cause of #Giving Tuesday. Using social media like Twitter, organizers set Tuesday, November 27th as the first "Hashtag Giving Tuesday," asking people to donate money, services or volunteer time to charities. According to the United Nations Foundation, donors gave more than $10 million to nonprofit organizations - 53 percent more than on the same day last year - and more than 2,500 charities around the country participated in the event.

Public Lands/Wilderness

New National Monument Designated for Maine

August 2016 - President Obama made good on his pledge to designate more than 80 thousand acres of the North Woods for the nation's newest national monument. Supporters say the monument is likely to increase tourism and help the economy in a region of the state that has been struggling.

November 2012 - Conservation is just as important as gun rights, according to a new poll of sportsmen by the National Wildlife Federation. Nearly half said those two priorities have equal weight in their minds. And given a choice between prioritizing oil and gas production or protecting public lands, 35 percent chose the fuel and 49 percent chose the public lands.

March 2011 - Several environmental advocacy groups breathed a collective sigh of relief when the U.S Senate rejected a House passed funding bill that would have blocked the EPA from updating and enforcing limits on a variety of pollutants. It also would have cut funding for Acadia National Park.

February 2011 - Maine environmental groups cheered President Obama for including Acadia National Park in his Great Outdoors Initiative. The administration held several listening sessions around the country, including one in Bangor last year. Environmental groups rallied concerned citizens from around the state and gathered hundreds of signatures to highlight the importance of protecting the park.

ME Leads in Land Conservation

November -0001 - Maine is a national leader in land conservation, according to a new report aimed at making sure it stays that way. The report from the Maine Development Foundation says the state has far exceeded its goal in conservation acreage, but issues still remain around which lands are conserved. For example, an acre up in Northern Maine will not necessarily have the same recreational benefits to an acre in the Greater Portland area, if that ‘s the goal of the conservation organization. The quarterly economic report focused on conserved lands because of their importance to Maine’s prosperity and sense of place.

Smoking Prevention

Maine Raises Tobacco Age to 21

August 2017 - Maine is now the 4th state in the nation to raise the age for purchasing tobacco products to 21. Lawmakers voted to override a veto from Governor Paul LePage. Tobacco 21 laws have also been enacted by California, Hawaii, New Jersey.

Social Justice

November 2012 - Voters legalized same sex marriage. ME was one of 4 states to support gay marriage on Election Day - MD, WA, MN

Women's Issues

June 2011 - Pro-choice advocates in Maine won a lengthy battle against legislators who crafted stricter abortion bills. The House ultimately voted against measures that would have changed parental notification laws and also would require a woman who wants to get an abortion to wait 24 hours and read state issued materials.

Youth Issues

Juvy Lock-up Rate Declines

February 2013 - A new report finds the youth incarceration rate has dropped by 41 percent over the past 15 years, and local advocates say Maine is following that trend without any increase in crime. In fact, they say local juvenile arrests dropped by half over the same time period.


M a r y l a n d

N e w s

C o n n e c t i o n

Maryland News Connection

Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault

Maryland Gov Expected to Sign Bill Ending Parental Rights for Rapists

February 2018 - Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is expected to sign a bill that will allow impregnated rape victims to ask a judge to end the parental rights of their attackers. The measure, titled the Rape Survivor Family Protection Act, unanimously passed both chambers of Maryland's legislature.

Education

Task Force on Immigrant Education Extends Its Work

December 2015 - A state task force charged with finding better ways to serve immigrant children in Maryland public schools announced that it will extend its work for several additional months.

Common Core Bills Approved

April 2014 - Three bills have received stamps of approval from the General Assembly - all deal with implementation of the Common Core State Standards, and address concerns from parents, teachers and school administrators.

Foster Kids Gain New Avenues for College

April 2013 - Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley signed a new law that will expand the college tuition waiver for foster kids. It will now cover tuition at public vocational schools, and include recipients who are placed into guardianship instead of foster care.

Endangered Species & Wildlife

Saving the Bees in Maryland

January 2016 - Legislation to stop bees in Maryland from dying off has been proposed.

Maryland a Leader in Wildlife Conservation

January 2016 - The wildlife action plan for the state is available to the public this month and the National Wildlife Federation and Audobon Maryland say the Department of Natural Resources has done a great job putting it together.

Maryland Proposes Adding 108 Species to State Protected List

December 2015 - The Maryland Department of Natural Resources related a draft of its 2015 State Wildlife Action Plan, recommending a 22 percent increase in the number of species considered in need of protection.

Energy Policy

Obama Era SunShot Initiative a Success

September 2017 - The Energy Department's SunShot Initiative, started under President Obama, has reached its goal of reducing the price of utility-scale solar to 6 cents per kilowatt-hour three years ahead of schedule, prompting the Trump administration to set a new goal of 3 cents by 2030.

Two New Wind Farms for Maryland

May 2017 - Maryland's Public Service Commission approves two offshore wind farms totaling 368 megawatts.

September 2012 - Supporters of alternative energy - and job creation - got a boost from a new report in which some of the country's most influential environmental groups said it's time for a concerted effort at building and operating wind energy turbines in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of 14 coastal states.

Solar Projects OK for Neighborhoods

November -0001 - Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed a bill enabling the establishment of community solar projects today. Maryland is now the 11th state to allow community solar projects. Community solar projects expand access to renewable energy by allowing multiple people to invest in or subscribe to one solar energy project and offset a portion of their electric bill from the energy generated through a credit. Projects could be sited in a variety of places, like the roof of an apartment building, a community center, a church or even in an open field.

Environment

Bill To Ban Foam Food Containers Clears Maryland General Assembly

March 2019 - The Legislature has approved bills to ban polystyrene -- commonly known as plastic foam -- cups and food containers. The bill awaiting the governor's signature would prevent food service businesses and schools from providing or selling any foam food containers, plates, cups, trays, or egg cartons.

Maryland and 8 Other States Working to Cut Carbon Emissions

September 2017 - Maryland and eight other states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative are pledging to cut emissions from power plants by at least 30 percent between 2020 and 2030. That's slightly higher than the current agreement to reduce emissions by 2.5 percent annually.

Report Shows Improving Health for Chesapeake Bay

January 2017 - The latest State of the Bay report showed that the Chesapeake Bay's health index has gone up two points since 2014, from a grade of D-plus to C-minus. Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William Baker cited gains across all three rating categories - fisheries, habitat and pollution - and for nine of 13 specific indicators. The report said all six watershed states showed progress, but Pennsylvania, the source of half the water flowing into the bay, still is behind in meeting its pollution-reduction goals.

Chesapeake Bay Greening Projects Receive Funding

July 2016 - Funding has been awarded to neighborhood "greening" projects to improve water quality around the Chesapeake Bay. It's part of the G3 Initiative

Legislators Introduce Clean Energy Jobs Bill

January 2016 - On the opening day of the new legislative session legislative leaders introduced the Clean Energy Jobs Act of 2016.

Maryland Groups Receive Grants to Improve Water Quality and Wildlife Habitat

October 2015 - Grassroots organizations in Maryland will be sharing part of a record $11.5 million in grants for projects in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Health Issues

Report: Renewable Energy Helps Avoid Thousands of Premature Deaths

August 2017 - A new analysis in Nature Energy finds fossil fuels not burnt because of wind and solar energy helped avoid between 3,000 and 12,700 premature deaths in the US between 2007 and 2015.

Hunger/Food/Nutrition

Gov. O'Malley Proposes Big Support for School Breakfast

January 2013 - Governor O'Malley asked for an additional $1.8 million for Maryland Meals For Achievement.

Livable Wages/Working Families

Mandatory Paid Sick Leave Takes Effect in Maryland

February 2018 - The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act went into effect today requiring employers with 15 employees or more to provide an hour of paid leave for every 30 hours eligible employees worked; smaller employers must provide unpaid leave at the same rate. Employers, including nonprofits, local governments and other agencies as well as for-profit businesses are affected,

Social Justice

As Bias Crimes Surge, Maryland to Strengthen Holocaust Education

November 2019 - Just days before the anniversary of last year's Pittsburgh synagogue shootings, Maryland's education department announced that it will be expanding Holocaust instruction in its schools. Religious leaders troubled by a recent survey that found a large knowledge gap on the Holocaust joined with lawmakers to push for the change.

November 2012 - Voters legalized same sex marriage. MD was one of 4 states to support gay marriage on Election Day - ME, WA, MN

Water

Maryland Pushes Tougher Water Pollution Rules

August 2018 - Maryland will start requiring three coal-fired power plants to scrub toxic metals such as mercury and arsenic from water discharged into the Potomac and Patuxent rivers. Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, is moving in the opposite direction of the Trump administration.

An International Tribunal Examines Access to Water US Cities

October 2015 - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights held a hearing in Washington, DC on access to water in poor and minority communities in the United States.

More Living Shorelines Come to Chesapeake Bay

August 2012 - More than $800,000 in grants are being announced for Maryland and Virginia to create "living shorelines" in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. T


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Michigan News Connection

Animal Welfare

Michigan Among Top States for Animal Welfare Laws

January 2016 - Michigan is a top dog for animal-protection laws, according to a new report from the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

Budget Policy & Priorities

No Repeal of State Income Tax

March 2017 - A Republican-led effort to repeal the state's income tax failed. Polls showed the majority of Michiganders were opposed to the plan.

Campaign Finance Reform/Money in Politics

April 2012 - Amazon.com has joined the list of 17 other companies recently leaving the American Legislative Exchange Council because of controversy over pre-written legislation hitting states - legislation often viewed as an attack on working folks. Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kraft Foods and Mars, Inc., are other companies leaving the council because of public outcry.

Civil Rights

Flint Residents Can Sue Over Water Crisis

February 2018 - The Michigan Court of Appeals says a lawsuit filed by Flint residents against the state of Michigan can proceed in the Court of Claims. The state had argued that residents failed to file their claim within six months of Flint's water being switched to Flint River water, but the Court of Appeals says it would be unreasonable to expect residents to know they were drinking lead contaminated water, especially since the state deliberately concealed the truth for months.

Climate Change/Air Quality

Michigan Works on Clean Power Plan Goals

December 2015 - Despite joining a federal lawsuit to block the EPA's Clean Power Plan, Governor Rick Snyder said Michigan is putting together a statewide compliance plan to meet the state's goals.

Consumer Issues

Push to "Save Thanksgiving"

November 2015 - A Michigan lawmaker has introduced a resolution (HR Res. 172) to encourage businesses to respect the holiday and close on Thanksgiving day.

Criminal Justice

Governor Endorses Parole Reform

November 2015 - Governor Rick Snyder endorsed House Bill 4138, evidence-based parole reform.

March 2011 - Michigan Governor Rick Snyder introduced the Executive Budget for fiscal years 2012 and 2013. Overall, the Department of Corrections received a slight increase for FY 2012 and 4.3 percent increase for 2013. Included in the budget were several viable options for the state to save money, including putting a larger emphasis on the state's prisoner reentry initiative, better known as The Michigan Prisoner ReEntry Initiative (MPRI).

Disabilities

New Rules to Improve Disability Services in Michigan Courts

July 2016 - New rules for the use of sign language interpreters are now in effect that will help ensure Michigan residents who have visual or hearing impairments are able to access important services.

Early Childhood Education

Kudos for Third-Grade Reading Bill

November 2016 - A bill to boost early-elementary reading skills that includes a controversial provision on third-grade retention was signed into law Thursday, Oct. 6, by Governor Rick Snyder. The bill is aimed at improving childhood literacy, and is based on research showing that literacy after third grade is a key predictor of student academic success.

Education

Governor Snyder Wants to Increase Education Funding

February 2018 - For the first time in years, Governor Rick Snyder is recommending an increase in per-pupil funding for Michigan public schools. While the $233 increase he is recommending is far short of the more than $1000 analysts feel would be necessary to bring the state's struggling schools up to par, it's seen as a step in the right direction.

Detroit School Reform Legislation Introduced

March 2016 - The Michigan Senate approved sweeping legislation that would split Detroit Public Schools in two and create a new education commission.

Endangered Species & Wildlife

Kirtland's Warbler Comes Off Endangered List

October 2019 - After an intensive, decades-long effort, Kirtland's Warbler is now an Endangered Species Act (ESA) success story. One of the first species added to the ESA, this range-restricted warbler nearly went extinct in the 1970s, when its population consisted of fewer than 200 males. Today, there are more than 2,300 breeding pairs.

Peregrine Falcons Making a Comeback

September 2017 - After decades of careful wildlife management, the fastest animal on earth has been brought back from the edge of extinction. Peregrine falcons are returning in strong numbers to their natural habitats in MIchigan's upper peninsula.

Protections for Gray Wolves Upheld

August 2017 - The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower-court ruling that in December 2014 restored Endangered Species Act protection for gray wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. That means the status quo of the past three years, disallowing hunting of Great Lakes wolves, holds. Hunters in the Upper Peninsula have been trying to overturn this for years.

A Boost for Michigan Bees and Butterflies

June 2016 - Michigan and Wisconsin are partnering to help save troubled bee and butterfly species. The states have been awarded $500,000 in a federal grant to restore habitats for the pollinators in the states.

Family/Father Issues

Lawmakers Work to Address "False Paternity"

June 2017 - Some Michigan lawmakers are working to develop a legislative package of bills to change kinks in the justice system that can result in the injustice of false paternity. Experts say false establishment of paternity not only destroys families and finances, it can also lead to incorrect medical advice for children.

Gun Violence Prevention

MI Advocates Hail Gun Violence Prevention Measures

January 2016 - Michiganders working to end gun violence are commending President Barack Obama for taking steps to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.

Health Issues

MI Voters Will Vote on Approving Legal Cannabis

August 2018 - The Michigan State Board of Canvassers approved the petition to add cannabis legalization to the November ballot. The proposal allows for possession, use, and home cultivation and will make Michigan the 10th state to legalize cannabis and the first state in the Midwest.

Legal Marijuana Issue Makes MI Ballot

April 2018 - The Michigan State Board of Canvassers approved the petition to add cannabis legalization to the November ballot. The proposal allows for possession, use, and home cultivation and if passed will make Michigan the 10th state to legalize cannabis and the first state in the Midwest.

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries to Stay Open

November 2017 - After a huge outcry from patients, the state reversed its September decision which would have closed all dispensaries by Dec. 15th until all the licensing process was complete. They will now stay open during the process.

State Will Implement Stronger Concussion Training Law

November 2017 - Legislation headed to Governor Rick Snyder's desk would require coaches and others involved in youth sports to complete concussion awareness training at least once every three years.

Lead Testing for Flint WIC Participants

February 2016 - Officials with the U-S Department of Agriculture are continuing support for residents reeling from the Flint water crisis.

December 2011 - On Dec.19, federal regulators denied a request from Michigan's Republican governor, Rick Snyder, to waive new limits on profits and administrative costs for the state's health insurers. To the outrage of consumer advocates, the state had attempted to file for a waiver from the Medical Loss Ratio, which requires that no more than 20% of premiums can go toward administrative costs. Michigan becomes the second-largest state to have such a request turned down by the Obama administration. The government rejected a similar request from Florida on Dec. 15.

Health Insurance Enrollment Record Set

November -0001 - Healthy Michigan, the state’s expanded Medicaid program, launched on April 1. Recently, the state announced that the Healthy Michigan Plan has surpassed its original two-year and total eligibility projection by reaching more than 477,000 enrollees, just eight months after launching.

Housing/Homelessness

Homelessness on the Decline in Michigan

January 2018 - New data finds that homelessness in Michigan has dropped 2.9% since 2016 and 30% since 2010. Advocates say this is due in part to HUD's relatively recent strategy of working with local non-profits to identify folks in need of housing and getting them into housing quickly.

Mortgage Crisis Relief for some MI Homeowners

February 2016 - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says some folks who lost their homes or are underwater on their mortgages may receive part of a $3.5 million settlement with lender HSBC.

Money Approved to Fight Blight in Michigan

January 2016 - U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, along with Congressman Dan Kildee led a bipartisan effort to help cities across Michigan and the country revitalize neighborhoods and keep communities safe.

Hunger/Food/Nutrition

USDA Ramps Up Food Assistance for Flint

June 2016 - About 17,000 low-income Flint residents will be receiving additional food assistance to help fight the ill effects of the lead crisis.

Livable Wages/Working Families

Michigan Seeing Gains Against Poverty; Credit Given to Expanded Medicaid

October 2017 - According to the latest census data, median household income in Michigan rose 8% in 2016. Also, the rates of poverty and people without health insurance continued to drop, much of which is attributed to Michigan's expanded Medicaid program.

Municipal Retiree Health Care Cuts Dropped for Now

December 2016 - Michigan Republican lawmakers backed off on plans to cut retiree health care benefits for local government workers during the lame duck session. The bills will be left to the next Legislature in 2017. The announcement came the same day police and firefighters protested at the Capitol.

Senior Issues

CARE Act Passage Hailed in MI

January 2016 - AARP Michigan is hailing the Michigan Senate for its recent unanimous passage of the CARE Act (Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable).

Urban Planning/Transportation

January 2011 - Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood announced that Michigan and the City of Detroit is getting 25 million dollars for light rail development

Water

Flint Water Crisis Comes to Unofficial End

September 2017 - Virginia Tech researcher Marc Edwards, who was among the first to sound the alarm about elevated lead levels in Flint, declared an end to the water crisis in September. According to his testing, lead levels in the water have returned to where they'd be expected to be in a city of Flint's age.

Great Lakes Clean Up Funding Preserved

September 2017 - A wave of public support for the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative pushed back the Trump administration's proposal to eliminate the program next year.

EPA Forgives Flint's Water Debt

August 2017 - The Environmental Protection Agency agreed with the state of Michigan plan to forgive more than $20 million owed by the city of Flint for fighting the lead drinking water crisis.

Nestle Water Grab Halted

May 2017 - The Osceola County planning commission denied a permit application from Nestle which would have allowed the company to pump millions of gallons of freshwater from the area for just $200.

Settlement in Flint water crisis

April 2017 - Three years after the water in Flint first became contaminated, a federal judge approved a settlement in which the state will pay $87 million for the City of Flint to identify and replace at least 18,000 unsafe water lines by 2020.

Bills Introduced to Address Flint Water Crisis

March 2016 - State Representatives Phil Phelps and Sheldon Neeley introduced a package of four bills to address various concerns stemming from the Flint water crisis.

Youth Issues

Foster Care Identity Theft Bill Moves Forward

November 2015 - House Bill 4022 passed the House Committee on Families, Children and Seniors.


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Minnesota News Connection

Animal Welfare

Bull Run Canceled

August 2013 - Canterbury Park will not be the site of a bull run next year after all. Jeff Maday, spokesman for the Shakopee horse track, said the Canterbury board of directors canceled plans due to safety concerns.

Cereal Company Makes an Egg Move

November -0001 - Minnesota-based General Mills has decided to join some other large corporations, such as Starbucks, Hilton, Kellogg, Nestle, Aramark, Compass Group, and Walmart, in not selling eggs that come from caged hens. General Mills has committed to working toward 100% cage free eggs for its U.S. operations. This will mean that all General Mills brands, such as Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Progresso Soups, and Hamburger Helper, will be changing what kinds of eggs they buy in the near future.

Citizenship/Representative Democracy

July 2012 - An effort to get more poor and minority residents in Minneapolis to vote is finding success. "Be the Vote" has helped more than 500 people get registered for the fall election thus far.

Civil Rights

Twin Cities Electoral "First"

November 2017 - St. Paul elected its first African-American mayor, Melvin Carter III.

Climate Change/Air Quality

Pollution Controls to Be Installed at Coal-Fired Power Plants

November -0001 - In a settlement with the United States, Minnesota Power, an ALLETE company based in Duluth, has agreed to install pollution control technology and meet stringent emission rates to reduce harmful air pollution from the company’s three coal-fired power plants located in Cohasset, Hoyt Lakes, and Schroeder, Minnesota, the Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today. The settlement will resolve claims that the company violated the New Source Review provisions of the Clean Air Act by unlawfully constructing major modifications at its plants without obtaining required permits and installing and operating the best available air pollution control technology, as the Act requires. EPA expects that the actions required by the settlement will reduce harmful emissions by over 13,350 tons per year, which includes approximately 8,500 tons per year of sulfur dioxide. The company estimates that it will spend over $500 million to implement the required measures.

Criminal Justice

Minnestoa Drug Sentencing Reform

January 2016 - Minnesota's Sentencing Guidelines Commission approved a move to reduce the time spent behind bars for first-time drug offenders.

September 2012 - Those who neglect vulnerable adults or mistreat children will face tougher penalties under a new Minnesota law that took effect this summer. The law creates felony crimes for intentionally depriving a vulnerable adult and causing physical harm to a child.

Human Trafficking Protections Become Law

November -0001 - Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senator Amy Klobuchar (DFL-MN) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) was signed into law by the president in June. The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act will help law enforcement further crack down on human traffickers and help ensure that minors sold for sex aren’t prosecuted as defendants, but are instead treated as victims

Disabilities

Disability Service Providers Receive Pay Raise

November -0001 - Providers that serve people with disabilities and older Minnesotans in their homes and other community settings received a 5 percent rate increase, effective July 1. The increase will infuse an additional $80 million into home care services this fiscal year. Nursing homes also received additional funding this year.

Executive Order Helps Minnesotans with Disabilities

November -0001 - Governor Mark Dayton issued an Executive Order in August which directs all state government agencies to increase their employment of Minnesotans with disabilities. Over the last 15 years, there's been a steady decline in Minnesotans with disabilities employed by the state – from 10.1 percent of the state’s workforce in 1999, to just 3.2 percent in 2013. The Executive Order directs state agencies to increase that level to 7 percent by 2018.

Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault

New System Helps Young People Who Were Sexually Exploited

November -0001 - Minnesota has launched its new statewide system for helping sexually exploited youth that treats them as abused individuals needing help and support rather than as criminals. Minnesota’s Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Youth Law went into full effect August 1. The law decriminalizes prostitution charges for youth under 18, increases the penalties for buyers and creates a statewide system for helping sexually exploited youth.

Early Childhood Education

Study: Early Childhood Ed Pays Off

December 2013 - The focus and financial investments on high quality early childhood in Minnesota are paying off.

Kindergarten for All in MN

May 2013 - Every Minnesota child will soon have access to free, all-day kindergarten. The Legislature approved the funding as part of investments of more than $735 million in education, from preschool through college.

March 2011 - One bright note from a tough legislative session of budget cuts, after hearing testimony on the need for child care assistance, while some cuts were left in, both House and Senate removed the cuts to the child care assistance grant for college students from the bills.

Education

Twin Cities Victory for School Funding

November 2017 - A school levy passed by a wide margin in . St. Paul, the state's second largest school district, passes school levy by a wide margin.

Minnesota College Students Get Extra Financial Aid

March 2016 - The state is awarding 95,000 students an extra $200 grant increase this year.

Anti-Bullying Law to Protect Students

April 2014 - Governor Mark Dayton signed into law the Safe and Supportive Schools Act.

School Levies Approved Statewide

November 2013 - Nearly nine in 10 Minnesota school districts that asked voters for money on Election Day got it.

Immigrant Students Granted In-State Tuition

July 2013 - The Minnesota Prosperity Act is now a law. It provides undocumented students who are already here, who have successfully completed high school, and who want to go on to higher education, with access to the same in-state tuition and financial aid that all other Minnesota high-school students have.

December 2011 - Minnesota was awarded $45 million in federal grants in the "Race to the Top" early education program. Advocates say the funds will be used on infrastructure and access to get more children ready for kindergarten.

Graduation Rate Increases

November -0001 - The Minnesota Department of Education released a new report in February showing that Minnesota’s graduation rate increased from 79.8 percent in 2013 to 81.2 percent in 2014. The new data also showed the number of black students suspended from Minnesota schools dropped by 26 percent over the same period.

Budget Brings Education Benefits

November -0001 - The supplemental budget signed into law by Governor Dayton last session took effect in July, including $54 million in new funding for Minnesota schools. This new investment will provide additional funding for every school district in the state, fund more early learning scholarships, provide nutritious breakfast and lunches, and more.

Minneapolis “Most Literate”

November -0001 - Minneapolis is the nation's "Most Literate City," according to an annual survey. The study measures "citizens' use of literacy" through criteria including local bookstores, educational levels, Internet and library resources, and newspaper circulation. St. Paul ranks as the nation’s 4th most literate city.

Energy Policy

State Commerce Department Rules Against Proposed Pipeline

September 2017 - Minnesota Commerce Department submitted a formal opinion opposing Enbridge's proposed new pipeline across Minnesota. The state told a regulatory committee that it has no need for the project, and that the existing pipe should be shut.

Rural Energy Co-ops Get a Boost

June 2017 - Recently passed energy legislation in Minnesota will significantly change the state's renewable energy fund and eliminate regulatory oversight of fixed charges for rural co-ops and small municipal utilities.

Gov Vetoes Republican Budget Propsoal

May 2017 - Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has vetoed a Republican-backed budget proposals that critics say would have harmed the state's clean energy sector.

More Solar in Minnesota

April 2017 - St. Paul, Minnesota signs an agreement to power one-fourth of its municipal buildings through community solar gardens.

Minnesota Gets Solar Boost

February 2017 - The Twin Cities have powered up a couple of new, large community solar gardens, and they're expected to save the state some money by reducing the amount of fossil fuel that has to be purchased.

July 2012 - With final approval in both Minnesota and Wisconsin, construction of the final leg of the CapX2020 transmission line is now set to begin next year. The line will allow more wind-generated energy to get onto the grid.

March 2011 - Minnesota Congressman Tim Walz announced the formation of the House Energy Working Group, a bipartisan group that will introduce a clean-energy independence plan that creates a new energy infrastructure and rebuilds our country's aging roads, bridges, locks and dams.

January 2011 - U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) announced that seven Minnesota biofuel producers will receive over $748,000 to expand advanced biofuel production. The funds, authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill, will be administered by the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels.

Coal Plant Closing

November -0001 - On April 8, the last shipment of coal was delivered to Xcel Energy’s Black Dog power plant in Burnsville, marking the end of the facility’s 60-year history of producing electricity from coal. Instead, all of the electricity produced at Black Dog will come from more efficient, cleaner natural gas, reducing the carbon-dioxide emissions from that plant by more than 690,000 tons a year.

Cleaner Diesel Coming this Summer

November -0001 - Diesel drivers on Minnesota roads and highways will be running on cleaner fuel this summer as they start filling up with the nation’s first required 10 percent biodiesel blend. Known as B10, this higher blend will be sold annually from April 1 through September 30. A 5 percent mixture that works better in Minnesota’s winter weather, called B5, will be used between October and late March each year.

MN Tops for Wind Power

November -0001 - Minnesota remains one of the leading wind power producing states, according to the recently released 2013 Wind Technologies Market Report. Minnesota ranks seventh in total electricity generated by wind in 2013 and fifth in terms of percentage of the state’s electricity generated by wind power, according to the U.S. Department of Energy report.

MN Sees a Solar Boom

November -0001 - The solar boom in Minnesota is underway. This summer the market got its biggest boost yet when Minnesota Power and the Minnesota National Guard announced plans for a new 10-MW solar electric array at Camp Ripley in Little Falls. The Solar Electricity Standard and other state policies were established by the 2013 Minnesota Legislature to accelerate the solar market in Minnesota.

Environment

Minnesota Government Takes Steps to Go Green

December 2017 - Gov. Mark Dayton set goals of 30 percent less gasoline and diesel, 15 percent less water, and a 75 percent rate of recycling and composting. He ordered state agencies to plan to reach those goals in the next 15 years.

Minnesota Joins Climate Fight

June 2017 - Minnesota becomes the first Midwest state to join the U.S. Climate Alliance, a group of states committed to upholding Paris Agreement targets despite President Trump?s pledge to withdraw from the accord.

No GMOs at Chipotle

April 2015 - The Mexican fast-casual dining chain Chipotle announced that it has become the first national restaurant chain to use only non-GMO (genetically modified) ingredients.

April 2012 - A bill that opponents warned would favor development over local control was rejected by state lawmakers. Those against House File 389, including the Land Stewardship Project, said approval would've made it difficult for local governments to enact interim ordinances or moratoriums, when considering development proposals on everything from feedlots to mining.

GLBTQ Issues

Legislature Listens to Marriage Equality Arguments

March 2013 - The first-ever legislative hearings into legalizing same sex marriage in Minnesota were held in March. The push comes just four months after voters in the state rejected a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

November 2012 - Minnesota became the first state in the nation to reject a marriage question put up for a vote of the people. Minnesotans rejected the marriage amendment, which would have defined marriage as a union only between a man and a woman, effectively banning gay marriage via the state constitution.

Gun Violence Prevention

Gun Background Check Legislation Goes on the Books

May 2013 - A gun background check measure, passed both houses and was funded for $1 million.

Gun Safety Law Signed

December 2009 - Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill restricting gun possession rights for people convicted of domestic abuse and those subject to restraining orders.

Health Issues

ACA Sign-Up Surge

April 2014 - The number of Minnesotans signing up for health care with the ACA marketplace continues to grow. As of April, more than 200,000 had enrolled in coverage through MNsure.

Affordable Care Act Health Insurance Offerings Signed into State Law

March 2013 - Governor Dayton signed into law the Minnesota Insurance Marketplace Act, to bring a new, consumer-friendly health insurance marketplace to Minnesota families and small businesses as allowed under the ACA.

April 2012 - Governor Dayton signed a bill that requires all students in Minnesota to take one 30-minute course on CPR. The American Heart Association says this will save lives as bystander CPR can double or triple survival rates after cardiac arrest.

March 2011 - A newly-formed Minnesota Patient Advocacy Coalition is dedicated to giving patients a stronger voice in the capitol and improving access to affordable health care for all Minnesotans, and consists of more than a dozen health and patient groups representing the elderly, the disabled, patients, survivors and caregivers whose lives have been impacted by diseases or chronic conditions such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and MS.

January 2011 - In his first official action as Minnesota's governor, Mark Dayton signed two executive orders on Wednesday, January 5, to extend Medicaid coverage and bring the state more than $1 billion in federal funds. The action effectively scraps former Gov. Tim Pawlenty's August order barring state agencies from accepting the federal dollars.

January 2011 - U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar joined Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and four other senators to introduce legislation that would strengthen criminal penalties against individuals and corporations who knowingly violate food safety standards and endanger American lives. The Food Safety Accountability Act would increase the sentences that prosecutors can seek for individuals who knowingly contaminate the food supply from a maximum of three years in prison to up to 10 years. These offenses, now considered misdemeanors, would be felonies under the bill.

Obesity Rates Hold Steady

November -0001 - Minnesota’s adult obesity rates have held constant since 2008, while rates continued climbing nationally and in nearby states. Minnesota was the only state in the region to succeed at bringing its obesity rate below 26 percent. In addition, the number of Minnesotans at a healthy weight in 2013 has increased by more than 60,000 compared with 2010.

Record Low for Uninsured

November -0001 - Minnesota's uninsured rate is at a historic low with the annual open enrollment for MNsure now underway. With the ACA helping more people gain coverage, the uninsured rate in the state has fallen to 4.9%.

Consumer Demand for Natural Brings Cereal Changes

November -0001 - Minnesota-based General Mills has announced that it plans to eliminate artificial colors and flavors from its cereals such as Trix, Cocoa Puffs and Reese’s Puffs by the end of 2015. This as the company tries to adjust to changing consumer demands on natural and nutritional foods.

Alzheimer’s Funding Secured

November -0001 - Minnesota is taking action to help try to determine the causes and cures for Alzheimer's, the fastest growing disease in the country. The latest state budget includes funding for research, along with public awareness. Minnesota is also looking at the possible creation of a system to alert law enforcement and the public when a vulnerable adult goes missing.

More Radon Help for Residents

November -0001 - The number of Minnesota homes mitigated in the last year to remove radon doubled over previous years, and the increase may be due in large part to a new state law, state health officials say. The law that went into effect Jan. 1, 2014 requires more detailed disclosure be provided to buyers about radon during Minnesota home sales.

Medical Marijuana Approved

November -0001 - Minnesota in July joined 21 other states in offering medical marijuana in July. It is one of the most restrictive such laws in the country with only pills or oil allowed to patients under nine specific medical conditions.

Uninsured Rate Sets a Record Low

November -0001 - Minnesota’s uninsured population rate is now below 5%, its lowest point since records on the rate have been kept. With the ACA's expansion of Medicare and the implementation of the state's health insurance marketplace, between September 30, 2013, and May 1, 2014, the number of uninsured Minnesotans fell by 180,500, a reduction of more than 40%.

Health Insurance Enrollment Tops 300,000

November -0001 - More than 300,000 Minnesotans have now enrolled in comprehensive, affordable health insurance coverage through the state health insurance marketplace, called MNsure. Since the marketplace went online last fall, the number of uninsured Minnesotans has declined by more than 40 percent to reach a record low.

Housing/Homelessness

Help for Homeless at Minneapolis' Largest Encampment

September 2018 - Instead of responding with sweeps, raids and arrests, Minneapolis took a new tack when responding to a large homeless camp by creating a coalition of city, county and American Indian agencies to provide housing assistance, medical care and other social services to camp dwellers.

HUD Reports Decline in MN Homeless Vets

December 2015 - A U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reports the homeless rate among the state's veterans has been declining.

Human Rights/Racial Justice

Global Agribusiness Company Applies New Human Rights/Environmental Standard

January 2018 - Minnesota based-Cargill, one of the world's biggest private companies, cut ties with a Guatemalan palm-oil supplier whom environmental and human rights groups had accused of abuses.

Hunger/Food/Nutrition

School Lunch Expanded

July 2014 - A $4 million investment in school lunch and breakfast programs statewide took effect in July.

Food Shelf State Help Grows

May 2013 - The legislative session brought more help for food shelves. Lawmakers approved an additional $750,000 for the state's food shelves per biennium, a 30 percent increase over current funding levels.

Food Donations Set a Record

April 2013 - The 31st annual Minnesota FoodShare campaign was another success, raising almost $8.4 million and almost 4 million pounds of food.

April 2012 - More Minnesota students are finding locally-grown foods as they peruse the choices in the cafeteria lunch line, thanks to the Farm to School program from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. When the IATP started the Farm to School program in 2006, less than 20 districts took part. This year, there are 145.

April 2012 - The final numbers are in, and the March Campaign from Minnesota FoodShare was again a success this year. Some 4.4-million pounds of food and 8.5-million dollars was raised in what is the state's largest food drive. The money and food will stock some 300 food shelves around the state for six months.

December 2011 - Hunger Solutions Minnesota and Senator Tom Bakk hosted the 5th Annual Stock the Shelves event in December. The event raised $65,000 dedicated to Arrowhead regional food shelves.

December 2010 - The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (S. 3307) passed in the House of Representatives. The bill contains the most significant improvements to the child nutrition programs in over 30 years, and it includes critical provisions from Congresswoman McCollum's National Farm to School Act (H.R. 5456), including grants up to $100,000 for school districts to implement farm to school programs.

More Breakfast Served in Schools

November -0001 - The average number of low-income Minnesota students taking part in school breakfast programs each day is now more than 136,000, according to the latest analysis from the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC).

Livable Wages/Working Families

Minimum Wage Progress in Minneapolis and Beyond

January 2018 - Companies with more than 100 employees start paying a minimum $10 an hour Jan. 1, 2018. Companies with fewer employees have until July 1. The minimum wage steps up every six months.

MN Gov Proposes Paid Parental Leave Program

March 2016 - Governor Mark Dayton's plan to ensure that Minnesota state employees have six weeks of paid parental leave is earning praise from workers.

Low-Wage Workers Get a Pay Raise

April 2014 - More than 325,000 of Minnesota's lowest-wage workers are getting a raise!

Pilot Program Will Connect Vets to Jobs

October 2013 - Minnesota is among the six states selected by the National Governors Association to launch pilot programs to help veterans find jobs.

MN Job Market Shows Signs of Recovery

September 2013 - Minnesota's job market in August surpassed its pre-recession peak, adding 12,200 jobs in its strongest month since January.

Child Care Providers Can Form Unions

July 2013 - A federal judge ruled in late July to dismiss two lawsuits that sought to stop a union election for home-based child care providers in Minnesota.

Child Care Workers Win Right to Unionize

May 2013 - After an 8-year struggle, the Child Care Representation Act was passed by lawmakers and signed by the governor. It gives in-home child care providers who receive state subsidies the right to vote to join a union.

March 2012 - After a more than year-long campaign, 4,500 graduate assistants at the University of Minnesota finally were able to get a vote on unionization.  The union, however, was rejected.

December 2011 - An additional $14.1 million in federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds were allocated to Minnesota. That money will help about 19,000 more households with their heating bills this winter.

November 2011 - Governor Dayton ordered a unionization vote for some at home day care providers in Minnesota.

Mail Workers Get Good News

November -0001 - Workers at Duluth's mail processing center were informed in April that some mail sorting will remain in Duluth and employees will retain their jobs here beyond a previously announced closure date, according to a union official. At this point, it’s unclear if the change will be permanent, or just a temporary delay in the planned consolidation.

Education Now Favored in Welfare-to-Work

November -0001 - July 1st marks the beginning of an historic law, transforming how adult education is approached in Minnesota's welfare-to-work program. Parents are now allowed to pursue unlimited adult basic education, GED coursework, ESL, and post-secondary education/training. Minnesota is the only state in the country that allows parents enrolled in TANF to pursue a 4-year degree without barriers.

Jobless Rate Low Record Set

November -0001 - Minnesota gained 8,500 jobs in June, as the state unemployment rate fell to a seasonally adjusted 4.5 percent in June, its lowest rate since February of 2007.

Healthcare Workers Unionize

November -0001 - Some 27,000 home healthcare workers voted to unionize in August, in the largest union election in Minnesota history. U.S. Representative Keith Ellison called the vote a cause for celebration, saying “Collective bargaining is essential to restoring economic mobility to American workers and rebuilding the middle class. The home healthcare workers’ vote is a vote for fair wages, safe working conditions, and a better future.”

Correctional Employees Receive Extended Health Coverage

November -0001 - A bill that won unanimous approval in the Legislature took effect in August, providing some needed protection for many of Minnesota's correctional employees. The law requires ongoing affordable health care for those rendered permanently disabled because of an assault in the line of duty.

Mental Health

Clay Hunt Bill Signed

December 2009 - President Obama signed the Clay Hunter Bill into law during the month and advocates say it will mean increased access to mental health services and suicide prevention programs for those returning to the Granite State from service in the armed forces.

Philanthropy

Minnesotan Honored for Help to Needy

February 2013 - Mary Jo Copeland was at the White House this month for a ceremony where President Obama awarded her the \Presidential Citizens Medal" the second-highest civilian honor" for her charitable work. Copeland is the founder of Sharing and Caring Hands the Minneapolis-based non-profit that provides care shelter and food to those in need."

Minnesotan Honored for Help to Needy

February 2013 - Mary Jo Copeland was at the White House this month for a ceremony where President Obama awarded her the "Presidential Citizens Medal," the second-highest civilian honor, for her charitable work. Copeland is the founder of Sharing and Caring Hands, the Minneapolis-based non-profit that provides care, shelter and food to those in need.

November 2012 - Minnesota's annual Give to the Max Day raised more than $16-million for 4,381 local nonprofits and schools, breaking the previous state and national records for charitable giving. More than 53,000 people donated Minnesota's annual 24-hour philanthropic marathon.

Senior Issues

Medicare Cost Projections Fall

February 2013 - Projections for the cost of the Medicare program have fallen by a half-trillion dollars since the last estimate three years ago. The Congressional Budget Office now expects Medicare to spend $500 billion dollars less by 2020.

April 2012 - Intentional abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult can be charged as a felony in Minnesota, now that Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill passed with bipartisan support. Previously, such crimes often perpetrated against elderly victims were treated at most as gross misdemeanors with no prison time. AARP of Minnesota was among the groups pushing for passage.

Protection Against Unexpected Hospital Bills

November -0001 - medical bills. The legislation requires hospitals to inform patients of their status within 24 hours, since whether they're classified as "in-patient" or "under observation" has an impact on which services are covered by Medicare.

Smoking Prevention

Smoking Rate Declines Again

January 2010 - Findings from the latest Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey (MATS) show that Minnesota is continuing to make progress in reducing tobacco use. Minnesota's adult smoking rate has declined to 14.4 percent, the lowest rate ever recorded in the state and a significant decrease from 2010, the last time the rate was measured.

MN Retailers Keep Kids Away from Cigarettes

November -0001 - Minnesota retailers do better at thwarting teens' attempts to buy tobacco than retailers in any other state, according to a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The ranking is earning praise, although anti-smoking advocates say it isn't as rosy as it seems.

MN Regulates E-Cigs

November -0001 - New legislation that took effect in July in Minnesota prohibits e-cigarette use in several public places, including government buildings, public schools, and most health care facilities. The law also requires retailers selling e-cigarettes to keep them behind the counter and to be licensed. Since 2011 child poisonings in Minnesota related to e-cigarettes have increased sharply.

Social Justice

MN Gov't. Eliminates Gender Wage Gap for Public Employees

March 2016 - For jobs of equal value, the gender wage gap in Minnesota's state and local governments has been eliminated, according to a new report from the state's Office on the Economic Status of Women.

November 2012 - Voters rejected a constitutional ban on gay marriage. Same-sex marriage remains illegal under state law. MN was one of three states to support gay rights on Election Day - WA, MD and ME legalized marriage for same-sex couples.

Sustainable Agriculture

Cheerios is Going GMO-Free

January 2014 - General Mills has confirmed that Cheerios cereal is going non-GMO.

Turkey Company Limits Antibiotics

November -0001 - Cargill has announced that it will be making its signature turkey brand labels, Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms, free of growth-promoting antibiotics by Thanksgiving, with the rest of its flocks following by the end of 2015. This comes three years after a major outbreak linked to resistant salmonella in Cargill ground turkey that sickened hundreds of people across the country.

Teen Pregnancy Prevention

Teen Pregnancies and Births Drop

April 2014 - The rates of teen pregnancies and teen births in the state have fallen to historic lows, according to the 2014 Minnesota Adolescent Sexual Health Report.

April 2012 - The teenage birth rate in America dropped by nine percent from 2009 to 2010, hitting the lowest rate since record-keeping began in the 1940s. In Minnesota, the rate fell eight percent, to 23 teen births per 1,000 girls ages 15-19.

Toxics

Flame Retardant Law on the Books

July 2018 - Minnesota adopted the toughest flame retardants law in the country. The legislation prohibits using four of the most toxic flame retardant chemicals found in upholstered furniture and children's products manufactured after July 2018.

Anti-Bacterial Agent Banned

January 2017 - Minnesota's ban of Triclosan from soaps and other consumer products used for physical hygiene goes into effect. A University of Minnesota study found that triclosan can break down into harmful dioxins in lake sediment, where it's accumulating. Other studies have suggested it can disrupt hormone function. Johnson & Johnson and Proctor & Gamble are already phasing out triclosan, and other companies will likely follow suit by the time Minnesota's ban takes effect.

Pesticide Collections Keep Environment Clean

September 2014 - An effort by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture has kept 58,000 pounds of unwanted and unused pesticides out of the environment. The department held free collections in 31 counties this summer to offer homeowners, farmers and businesses a way to safely discard old pesticides. Since it began in 1990, The Waste Pesticide Collection Program has collected over 5.5 million pounds of pesticides statewide.

Urban Planning/Transportation

December 2010 - The Robert Street Transit Corridor will receive a $1.18 million federal grant from the federal Department of Transportation. Funds will go to the Dakota County Railroad Authority to support the evaluation of transit alternatives between the Union Depot in downtown St. Paul and Rosemont.

Bike-Friendly Installations

January 2010 - The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has installed 31 new bicycle tune-up stations in state parks and on state trails.

Railway Safety Legislation Becomes Law

November -0001 - Laws that improve the safety of Minnesotans who live and work near railways that carry crude oil and other hazardous materials went into effect in July. The new laws follow accidents involving crude oil in neighboring states and provinces. They include stricter oversight of railroad companies, require more railway inspections, and provide for better emergency response training and preparedness in communities across Minnesota.

Water

MN Gov. Hosts First Water Summit Talks

March 2016 - Gov. Mark Dayton hosted a weekend talk focused on the serious challenges facing the state's water supplies.

Money Headed to Great Lakes Projects

January 2014 - President Obama signed a spending bill that includes $300 million to fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Buffer Plan to Keep Waterways Clean

January 2010 - The 2015 legislative session in Minnesota included approval of a Buffer Initiative to protect Minnesota's water resources from erosion and runoff pollution by establishing 110,000 acres of perennial vegetative cover adjacent to Minnesota's waters.

Closure for Carp Protection

January 2010 - A milestone was marked in June in protecting Minnesota's waterways from invasive Asian carp with the official closure of the Upper St. Anthony Falls lock in Minneapolis.

Water Law Hits the Books

January 2010 - The Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) was signed into law in June.

Trash Removal Program a Success

November -0001 - The Minnesota DNR Adopt-a-River program removed 12,780 pounds of trash from the Mississippi River on June 17 near the Wakota Bridge in Newport and South St. Paul. It was the biggest riverboat cleanup event in 12 years. The Adopt-a-River program is a statewide effort to maintain the quality of public waters and reduce health hazards.

Welfare Reform

MN Families Receive a Small Boost

May 2017 - The Health and Human Services Conference Committee bill draft includes a $13 per month increase in cash assistance for families participating in the state Family Investment Program.

Women's Issues

Minnesota Doing Right (Better!) by Women's Health

February 2016 - The Population Institute's scorecard by state on reproductive rights gave Illinois a B minus for taking the positive step of expanding the state's Medicaid family-planning program under the Affordable Care Act.

Youth Issues

Juvenile Offender Lock-up Rate Declines

February 2013 - A new "KIDS COUNT Data Snapshot" from the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows a major drop in the rate of juvenile offenders in Minnesota who are in detention facilities. In the past 12 years the rate of youth confinement in the state has fallen by 39 percent.


M i s s o u r i

N e w s

S e r v i c e

Missouri News Service

Consumer Issues

September 2011 - The Missouri Senate rejected a provision that would eliminate more than 105,000 Missouri seniors, veterans and people with disabilities from eligibility for a modest circuit breaker tax credit that is critical to keeping them in their homes. The provision, which was included in a wide-ranging tax bill, was unnecessary to pay for new tax incentives included in that bill during the September special session.

Disabilities

Capable Kids Program Expands

February 2017 - A program for children with disabilities and their families that began in Rolla has now expanded to four Missouri cities.

January 2011 - The Missouri Safe Schools Coalition is building support for a 'Safe Schools Act,' introduced in the legislature this month. Disability advocates have rallied behind this bill, saying youth with disabilities are a high risk group for bullying, and this bill will offer them the protection they need.

Energy Policy

Missouri Trying to Catch Energy Efficiency Train

November 2015 - The newly released state energy policy proposal recommends that Missouri enact minimum building standards aimed at increasing efficiency and saving money.

February 2011 - The CWIP (Construction Work In Progress) bill being pushed by an investor-owned utility company would have ratepayers front the cost for the construction of utility plants before they're operational. This bill repeals a portion of a consumer protection law voters overwhelmingly passed in 1976. This is the second time there's been a push for this bill. The House bill is slowly stalling after being voted out of committee.

GLBTQ Issues

February 2011 - Missouri lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say they would love to stop bullying in Missouri schools. They stood together on Valentine's Day to raise awareness about bullying and the bills filed this session to address this social issue. This is the first time there has been a bipartisan effort to improve bullying laws in Missouri in recent years.

Health Issues

May 2011 - The federal government had issued a sanction against the state of Missouri for what's called overly-restrictive home health standards for Medicaid recipients. The state subsequently took action, which senior and disability advocates in Missouri are applauding.

December 2010 - According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of sexually transmitted infections has dropped in Missouri. Paula Gianino with Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region says the 'expedited partner therapy' law that went into effect in August has been helpful.

Livable Wages/Working Families

Union-led Victory for Workers

August 2018 - Democrats may have scored their most definitive win of Donald Trump's presidency this election as unions routed Republicans in a Missouri ballot measure battle that showed unexpected strength from organized labor. Unions crushed the state's so-called right-to-work law, overwhelming conservative opponents by a 2-to-1 margin after running a deep-pocketed campaign. The outcome signals that unions still have paths to victory in red-leaning states and provides labor a new playbook for fighting the policies of Republican-controlled state governments.

Women's Issues

August 2011 - As a result of the Affordable and Preventive Care Act, the Obama administration decided to eliminate co-pays for birth control and other preventive medicines for women. This is a victory for all women especially for those who face financial barriers. Reproductive health advocates and faith-based groups say it makes good economic sense and helps keep some women out of poverty.


N e v a d a

N e w s

S e r v i c e

Nevada News Service

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention

Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Bills

June 2017 - Governor Brian Sandoval signed three major pieces of marijuana legislation today. They include a bill to make sure marijuana products aren't too attractive to children (SB344) and a measure that aims to keep the medical marijuana program efficient and relevant in a world where all adults can buy pot (AB422). He also approved SB487, which imposes a 10 percent tax on recreational marijuana and is expected to bring $64 million over the biennium into the state's "rainy day" reserve fund.

Drunk Driving Deaths Down in Nevada in 2015

December 2015 - The latest statistics from the state show that Nevada is making serious progress against drunk driving, with almost 25 percent fewer deaths in 2015 compared to 2014.

Animal Welfare

Governor Signs Bill Banning Sale of Cosmetics Tested On Animals

June 2019 - Nevada has officially become the second state in the U.S. to ban the sale of cosmetics (including most personal-care products) tested on animals, following California. Gov. Steve Sisolak approved The Nevada Cruelty Free Cosmetics Act (SB 197), which was introduced to state legislators in February by Sen. Melanie Scheible. Like the California act, it contains exemptions for products tested on animals to meet the regulatory requirements of federal, state, or foreign jurisdictions. Products tested on animals in countries like China are not subject to the ban and can still be sold in Nevada.

Governor Signs Bill Restricting Trapping

June 2017 - Governor Brian Sandoval signed AB 364, which places limits on trapping of wild animals. It requires trappers to check their traps daily instead of every four days. The bill also would require traps to be registered by their owners and would have traps identified by flags. The bill allows tampering with traps if there is an imminent danger to a person or pet.

State Senate Passes Bill Restricting Trapping

April 2017 - The State Senate passed a bill placing restrictions on trapping, in an effort to reduce suffering in wild animals and in pets that may wander across the traps. SB 213 now goes to the Assembly natural resources committee.

Budget Policy & Priorities

Feds Approve Disaster Relief for NV Flood Victims

March 2017 - Following President Trump's Major Disaster Declaration for Nevada, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced it will provide federal funds to help Nevada communities recover from ongoing devastating flooding that resulted from severe winter storms that occurred in February of 2017. FEMA designated the following areas as eligible to receive assistance: counties of Douglas (including the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California within the State of Nevada), Elko (including the South Fork Band of Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone), Humboldt, and Washoe as well as the independent city of Carson City.

Nevada Tourism Office to Open in India

January 2016 - Nevada is opening a tourism office in India, hoping to capture a larger share of travelers coming to the U.S..

Children's Issues

Nevada Makes Historic Progress in Insuring Children

September 2017 - Nevada has now hit a historic high for the percentage of children who have health insurance, according to a new report. Researchers from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families found that about 4-thousand additional kids got insurance between 2015 and 2016 - an 8 percent improvement. And since 2013, 53-thousand kids have become insured, but that still leaves 46-thousand without insurance.

Nevada Cuts Number of Uninsured Kids by Almost Half

October 2016 - Nevada cut the number of uninsured children by almost half from 2013 to 2015, according to a new report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. Researchers found that the rate of uninsured youngsters went from just shy of 15 percent down to 7-point-6 percent, which is still much higher than the national average of almost five percent.

Nevada Makes Biggest Strides in Reducing Pool of Uninsured Kids

October 2015 - A report issued in the final days of October found Nevada dropped the number of uninsured children in the state by 35 percent.

Civil Rights

Warrants Needed for Cell Phone Searches

November -0001 - The ACLU of Nevada is applauding the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that will require police to obtain a warrant to search a cell phone or smart phone. The unanimous ruling is seen as a major victory for the privacy rights of all Americans, as protected under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Nine out of ten Americans own a cell phone or smart phone.

Climate Change/Air Quality

Nevada Raises Renewable-Energy Goals to 50% by 2030

April 2019 - A longtime priority for Democrats came to fruition Earth Day as new Governor Steve Sisolak signed into law a bill that requires utilities to get 50 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2030. Senate Bill 358 would raise what's called the Renewable Portfolio Standard or R-P-S from its current goal of 25 percent by 2025. Katie Robbins serves as campaign manager for Question Six, which proposed to enshrine the new goal in the state constitution, and passed last November with nearly 60 percent of the vote.

Voters Pass Amendment To Require More Renewable Energy

November 2018 - Voters passed Question Six, a measure that seeks to more than double the amount of solar, wind and other types of renewable energy currently provided by the state's electric companies. It would require state electric producers to buy or generate 50 percent of their power from renewable energy by 2030. Now that it passed, the proposed state constitutional amendment will have to go back before voters in 2020.

Nevada Universities Prepare to Divest from Fossil Fuel

June 2018 - Students from Nevada's state universities presented a petition with more than 1,000 to the Board of Regents of the Nevada System of Higher Education asking the schools to divest from the fossil fuel industry. The Board of Regents directed financial advisors to look into the impact of divestment to consider at their next meeting in September.

Gardner Coal Retirement Fits Into Clean Power Plan

November -0001 - Conservationists in Nevada and around the nation are applauding new standards that significantly reduce carbon pollution from existing coal-fired power plants. The Environmental Protection Agency released its "Clean Power Plan," which calls for a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions from the power plants by 2030. says Nevada is in a good position to achieve the new carbon standards after state lawmakers approved a law mandating the gradual retirement of the Reid Gardner coal plant.

Consumer Issues

Two Payday Lending Bills Introduced in NV

February 2019 - Nevada lawmakers are considering two bills to tighten the rules on payday lending in the state. The proposals come after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced plans to loosen restrictions on lenders and stop actively policing violations of the Military Lending Act, instead choosing to solely investigate complaints.

Limited Recreational Sales of Marijuana Begins

June 2017 - The Nevada Tax Commission today adopted emergency regulations for recreational marijuana, opening the door for sales to begin on a limited basis. The commission approved regulations for packaging, labeling and advertising.

State Senate Passes Bill to Limit Hospital Costs

June 2017 - The Nevada State Senate passed AB 183, to force hospitals to give lower Medicare rates to seniors who have been in an accident when someone else is at fault. The bill is now on the Governor's desk.

Governor Signs Bill on Fiduciary Duties

June 2017 - Governor Brian Sandoval signed a bill today, SB 383, to establish a fiduciary rule for the financial industry. It requires financial planners to work for the best interest of the client at all times.

Nevada A-G Files Suit Against Generic Drugmakers

December 2016 - Today, Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt joined with 19 other attorneys general in filing a federal lawsuit against four generic drug-makers, alleging that the pharmaceutical companies entered into numerous illegal conspiracies in order to unreasonably restrain trade, artificially inflate and manipulate prices and reduce competition in the U.S. for two generic drugs: antibiotic doxycycline hyclate delayed release and diabetes drug glyburide.

State Investigates Car Title Lender for Allegedly Overcharging

February 2016 - A consumer advocate is speaking out against car title lender Titlemax - saying some of the company's loans violate state law and overcharge borrowers, sometimes by thousands of dollars.

State investigating Title Loan Company

January 2016 - An attorney from the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada is speaking out against car title lender Titlemax, saying some of the company's loans violate state law and overcharge borrowers, sometimes by thousands of dollars.

Rule Change would Restore Class-Action Rights for NV Consumers

November 2015 - Nevada consumers won't have to sign away their rights to file class action lawsuits, because a change in the rules that is pending before the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau.

March 2011 - Local consumers gained a new national resource in April. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website, www.SaferProducts.gov allows Nevadans to file alerts on defective products and also learn about unsafe products that are still on the shelves. Graham Galloway with the Nevada Justice Association says the new website is an important step in giving consumers timely information about unsafe products.

Criminal Justice

Governor Signs Bill Ending Prison Gerrymandering

May 2019 - Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak signed a bill into law ensuring that people in state prisons will be counted as residents of their home addresses when new legislative districts are drawn. The new law makes Nevada the sixth state to end the practice known as prison gerrymandering, after Washington passed its own law just last week.

Voting Rights Restored For Ex-Felons

May 2019 - Gov. Steve Sisolak signed AB431, which automatically restores voting rights to thousands of ex-felons who are released from prison and have been discharged from parole or probation. He said the bill will affect some 77,000 Nevadans who will immediately get their right to vote back because the bill is retroactive. He said Nevada currently has about the most restrictive laws when it comes to restoring voter rights to convicted people.

NV Assembly Votes to Restore Felons' Voting Rights

April 2019 - Nevada would become the 15th state to restore voting rights to felons who have completed their sentences if Assembly Bill 431 gets the governor's signature. Currently in Nevada, voting rights can only be restored two years after a person's release, and only for people convicted of nonviolent crimes who petition the court where they were convicted.

Nevada Governor Signs Law to "Ban the Box"

June 2017 - Governor Brian Sandoval signed AB 384, to "Ban the Box" on employment applications that asks about a prior felony conviction. It was proposed by Assembly Member Tyrone Thompson (D-North Las Vegas) as a way to assist some 600,000 Nevadans who often have difficulty landing a job because of their prior criminal records. The City of North Las Vegas has already become the first Nevada municipality to Ban the Box.

FCC Takes a Look at Prison Phone Contract Reform

December 2012 - After more than a decade of effort by media reform groups, the Federal Communications Commission finally took a step forward on reforming the prices families pay to stay in touch by phone with incarcerated loved ones.

Education

Governor Signs Bill To Allow Local Sales Taxes For Education

June 2019 - Governor Steve Sisolak has signe AB309, which authorizes counties to enact a sales tax increase to fund education programs aside from core K-12 instruction (including truancy reduction, preschool, teacher bonuses, and adult education), initiatives to reduce homelessness, and union-affiliated training programs for the hospitality industry. It also allows school districts flexibility to use certain restricted "categorical" grants from the state - largely directed to professional development programs ?-to support general operating expenses.

Governor Signs Bill To Extend Tax To Benefit Education and Eliminate Charter School Voucher Program

June 2019 - Governor Steve Sisolak has signed SB551, which extends the existing Modified Business Tax (MBT or payroll tax) rate permanently instead of letting it go down as scheduled. The bill was approved on party lines and could face a legal challenge because it was approved by a simple majority in the Senate; Republicans argue that it requires a two-thirds vote constitutionally required of tax increases. The bill dedicates most of the estimated $98 million in revenue to teacher raises, with other money going to school safety initiatives and the Opportunity Scholarship private school scholarship program. It also eliminates the Education Savings Account program, a voucher-style program that would have allowed public education funds to flow into accounts directed to private school tuition or other qualifying educational expenses. The program, created in 2015, has never disbursed funds but was still on the books.

Voucher Bill Fails; Public School Advocates Rejoice

June 2017 - A bill to put $60 million towards education vouchers, called Education Savings Accounts, failed in the legislature due to steadfast opposition from Democrats. Lawmakers did pass SB555, adding a one-time, $20 million appropriation to the state's tax credit-funded Opportunity Scholarship program, designed to help more low- and middle-income students attend private schools on scholarship.

State Supreme Court Strikes Down School Vouchers

September 2016 - The Nevada Supreme Court struck down the school voucher system as unconstitutional. The A-C-L-U and the group "Educate Nevada Now" had sued to stop the voucher program from going into effect, and the court decided that allowing parents to use taxpayer money for tuition at private or parochial schools violates the state's constitutional mandate to fund public education.

Feds Decide Not to Punish Nevada, Will Keep Education Money Flowing

March 2016 - Education advocates are breathing a big sigh of relief after the federal government decided not to withhold millions in federal funds.

Feds Decide Not to Withhold Nevada Education Money

March 2016 - Education advocates are breathing a big sigh of relief - after the federal government decided Tuesday not to withhold millions of dollars in federal funds as punishment over problems with the Common Core testing last year.

ACLU Sues Over School Bullying

May 2014 - The ACLU of Nevada is suing the Clark County School District and the Nevada Equal Rights Commission over allegations it did not do enough to help two sixth grade students who were being bullied.

New Money for Schools

November -0001 - State lawmakers approved Governor Brian Sandoval's effort to modernize Nevada's education system through a $1.6 billion tax increase. Senate Bill 483 received the two-thirds support in both the Assembly and Senate, which was necessary for passage. In his State of the State Speech earlier this year, Sandoval said Nevada needs to improve public education to compete in a growing global economy. Sandoval also pointed out that Nevada has the nation's lowest high-school graduation rate, as well as the lowest preschool attendance rate in the country. The new revenues will be generated through increases to the state's business license fee and cigarette tax, and by extending other taxes that were scheduled to sunset. Lindsay Anderson, government affairs director with the Washoe County School District, says the new money will give the state the ability to fully fund full-day kindergarten and several other programs.

Endangered Species & Wildlife

Faced With Lawsuit, B-L-M Cancels Oil And Gas Leases In NV, CO

November 2019 - The Trump administration's relentless push to expand fossil fuel production on federal lands is hitting a new snag: its own refusal to consider the climate impacts of development. The federal Bureau of Land Management's Utah office in September voluntarily suspended 130 oil and gas leases in Nevada and Colorado after advocacy groups sued, arguing that BLM hadn't adequately assessed the greenhouse gas emissions associated with drilling and extraction on those leases as required by law. The move was unusual because BLM suspended the leases on its own, without waiting for a court to rule.

B-L-M Removes Land from Oil Lease Auction To Protect Sage Grouse

November 2019 - The Bureau of Land Management has pulled 332,247 acres in eastern Nevada from the November 12th lease auction in response to a court order blocking Trump administration plans that gutted protections for greater sage-grouse. Despite minimal industry interest in drilling, the Trump administration has fueled a speculative frenzy by leasing hundreds of thousands of acres of sensitive public in Nevada, including high-priority habitats for the imperiled sage-grouse. Federal oil and gas leases are frequently offered at a minimum bid of $2 an acre. Among the areas taken off the auction block are lands[1] at the head of the Ruby Valley and the neighboring Maverick Mountains, in the Egan Range and neighboring Steptoe Valley, in the headwaters of Spring Valley, and in Jakes Valley. These lands are the traditional homeland of the Shoshone and Paiute peoples.

Court Rules in Favor of Bi-State Sage Grouse

May 2018 - A U.S. district court ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2015 wrongly denied Endangered Species Act protection for the bi-state sage grouse, which lives in parts of California and Nevada. The next step will be a court hearing to determine when the agency must reconsider federal protection for the bird, a genetically unique and isolated sage grouse species that inhabits the Mono Basin on the California-Nevada border and faces multiple threats to its survival.

Energy Policy

Ballot Measure Filed on Renewable Energy

February 2018 - Nevadans for a Clean Energy Future filed paperwork with the Nevada Secretary of State to begin the process of signature gathering for a ballot measure to increase Nevada's use of renewable energy. This measure will require electric suppliers to provide at least 50 percent of their total electricity from renewable sources, like wind, solar, and geothermal by the year 2030. The ballot measure would change the current law, resulting in curbed energy costs, job creation, and a reduction in harmful pollution that threatens Nevada families' clean air and water.

Bill to Streamline Permitting for Renewable Energy Projects Reintroduced in U.S. House

February 2017 - Today, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators, including Dean Heller (R-NV) re-introduced the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act, S. 282. This legislation works toward an "all of the above" energy strategy by simplifying the permitting process for solar, geothermal, and wind projects on public lands.

Governor's Task Force Recommends Reestablishing Net Metering

September 2016 - Solar advocates are praising the recommendations just released by Governor Brian Sandoval's New Energy Industry Task Force to allow people to sell excess solar electricity back to the grid at reasonable rates, in exchange for a small baseline fee on their bills.

PUC Approves Grandfathered Net Metering Solar Rates

September 2016 - The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada on Friday morning unanimously approved an agreement reached by NV Energy and SolarCity earlier this week to grandfather up to 32,000 customers under older, more favorable rates for residential rooftop solar.

Energy Efficiency Push

April 2014 - Individuals and groups in Nevada are calling on state lawmakers to help the Silver State sharpen its focus on energy efficiency.

Conservative Report Finds Solar in Sunny States Can Stand on its Own

January 2013 - The fiscally conservative "Economist" Magazine gave sunny states like Nevada a strong endorsement in the renewable energy department.

Energy Efficiency Stretches Assistance for Troubled Teens

December 2012 - The Boys Town of Nevada is providing more services to troubled youth thanks to money they saved under energy efficiency measure approved the Public Utilities Commission in 2012.

May 2012 - Nevada moved closer to its goal of getting 25 percent of its electricity from renewable sources as the Enbridge Silver State North Solar Project went on-line in Clark County. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was at the facility to "flip the switch" sending power to the grid from the first major solar project built on public land.

June 2011 - The Silver State became the first in the nation to pass "Smart from the Start" legislation. Under the new law (AB307) energy companies that propose renewable energy projects will have to collect a fee that will fund planning as well as mitigation efforts to protect Nevada wildlife.

April 2011 - A bill to support rooftop renewable energy was approved by the State Senate by a vote of 13-8.

Survey Shows Nevadans Want Renewable Development to Benefit State

November -0001 - Three out of four Nevadans support revenues from wind and solar energy development in the state benefiting local and state governments, as well as funding conservation projects on public lands impacted by development. That's according to the "Multi-State Western Survey" released in September. Alex Daue is with The Wilderness Society, which is among the groups that sponsored the survey. It found that 75 percent of Nevadans "strongly favor" or "somewhat favor" revenues from renewable energy being returned to the state.

Environment

Lake Tahoe Restoration Act Passes U.S. Senate

September 2016 - The U.S. Senate passed the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act of 2015, which was included in the underlying text of the Water Resources Development Act. The legislation authorizes $415 million over 10 years for forest fuels management, environmental and watershed restoration, stormwater management and other projects. It now moves to the House of Representatives.

Law Would Ban Power from Reid Gardner

May 2013 - A bill headed to the Governor's desk would end the state's use of electricity from the Reid Gardner coal-fired power plant.

Judge: Homewood Mountain Resort Needs to Scale Back

January 2013 - A federal judge told the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency that it needed to consider smaller alternatives than the plan they already approved to enlarging the Homewood Mountain Resort.

Colorado River Economic Values Calculated

November -0001 - Local economies and the Colorado River are linked to the point - that one may not exist without the other. That's according to a new study from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. It concludes that Colorado River water generates $1.4 trillion and 16-million jobs across the seven Colorado Basin states: Nevada, Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.

Environmental Justice

Nevada Agrees To Ask EPA to List Anaconda Mine as a Superfund Site

March 2016 - Nevada agreed to efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency to include an abandoned copper mine near the town of Yerington on its priority list of contaminated sites.

Gun Violence Prevention

Judge Allows Class Action Suit On Bump Stocks

September 2019 - Two years after the deadly mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, a Nevada judge has decided to allow a class-action suit on behalf of the victim to move forward, according to news release from BRADY: United Against Gun Violence. The suit claims the gun dealer unlawfully marketed and sold bump stocks to the gunman, Stephen Paddock, before he used them in the largest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. On Thursday, the District Court of Nevada permitted victims of the Route 91 mass shooting, also known as 1 October, to proceed with their negligence claim against Slide Fire Solutions, LP, the company that marketed and sold the bump stock devices to the Paddock.

Governor Signs Gun Control Bill

June 2019 - Gov. Steve Sisolak signed a multi-pronged gun control bill into law during an emotional ceremony in Las Vegas. Assembly Bill 291 bans bump stocks, which effectively convert semi-automatic firearms into fully automatic weapons. The devices were used during the Route 91 Harvest festival mass shooting to accelerate the gunfire that killed 58 people and wounded hundreds more. Sisolak fought back tears when talking about the tragedy. The act creates "red flag" laws to take guns from those deemed to be threatening to themselves or others. Not only does this work to prevent mass shootings, Sisolak said, but it also creates an opportunity to get people help during a time of crisis.

NV Bill Introduced to Ban Bump Stocks

April 2019 - AB291 was introduced by Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui as a vehicle for justice for hundreds of victims and survivors of gun violence. AB291 would give decision making power back to towns, cities, and counties across the state to create stronger regulations than state law. AB291 also adds additional penalties for possessing a firearm while intoxicated and bans bump stocks along with other alterations of a semi-automatic weapon.

Governor Signs Gun Background Check Law

February 2019 - After a years-long wait, Nevada Democrats passed a bill to close the infamous "gun show loophole" on private gun sales. Senate Bill 143, which will subject almost all private gun sales and transfers to a state background check, soared through the Democrat-dominated state Legislature in just four days. Loud opposition from Republicans and gun rights advocates did little to slow the measure's march to Gov. Steve Sisolak, who signed the bill within an hour of its passage. That signature arrived almost six years after Republican former Gov. Brian Sandoval vetoed a similar background check measure. The new legislation is expected to face a near-immediate court challenge.

Nevada Lawmakers Pass Background Check Bill One Year After Parkland Shooting

February 2019 - After a years-long wait, Nevada Democrats passed a bill to close the infamous "gun show loophole" on private gun sales. Senate Bill 143, which will subject almost all private gun sales and transfers to a state background check, soared through the Democrat-dominated state Legislature in just four days. Loud opposition from Republicans and gun rights advocates did little to slow the measure's march to Gov. Steve Sisolak, who signed the bill within an hour of its passage. That signature arrived almost six years after Republican former Gov. Brian Sandoval vetoed a similar background check measure. The new legislation is expected to face a near-immediate court challenge.

Nevada Senator Introduces New Background Check Bill

October 2017 - Senator Catherine Cortez Masto has introduced the Background Check Expansion Act, which will expand the federal background check requirement to include the sale or transfer of all firearms by private sellers, with certain reasonable exceptions. Under current law, unlicensed or private sellers are not required to conduct a background check prior to transferring a firearm.

Health Issues

House of Representative Passes Heller Bill to Re-up Veteran's Program.

July 2017 - The U.S. House of Representatives today unanimously passed Senator Dean Heller's (R-NV) legislation, S.114, to ultimately approve the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act, which provides funding to sustain the Veterans Choice Program for another six months. The legislation provides $2.1 billion to the Veterans Choice Program, authorizes 28 major medical facility leases, and strengthens the VA's ability to recruit, train, and preserve the workforce that provides the care our veterans have earned and deserve.

Governor Offers Grant To Kickstart UNLV Medical School

June 2017 - Governor Brian Sandoval announced a deal to provide a $25 million dollar grant to fund the new UNLV Medical School building, after an anonymous donor gave a matching grant. The new medical school, once open will help alleviate a shortage of doctors in the state.

Drug Prices Transparency Bill Passes

June 2017 - A diabetes drug transparency bill was on its way to the desk of Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval for his signature after the Assembly introduced, heard and passed the legislation. The governor has said he would sign the measure if it gets to his desk. The hybrid bill, SB539, mandates transparency from both pharmaceutical companies and the middlemen in the drug pricing process known as pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) who are responsible for negotiating between pharmacies and insurance companies. It also requires that health care nonprofits disclose any contributions they receive from the pharmaceutical industry, PBMs and insurers.

Nevada Improves Health Access for Latino Children

December 2016 - Nevada is making huge strides in ensuring its Latino kids have access to health insurance. According to the findings from the National Council of La Raza, from 2013 to 2015 the total number of uninsured Latino children in the state fell nearly 50 percent, down to 29-thousand.

Nevada Makes Progress Insuring Latino Kids

December 2016 - Nevada has the 14th largest population of Latinos in the country, and a report released today (Thur.) shows the state is making huge strides in ensuring its Latino kids have access to health insurance. According to the findings from the National Council of La Raza, from 2013 to 2015 the total number of uninsured Latino children in the state fell nearly 50 percent, down to 29-thousand.

Nevada Legalizes Recreational Marijuana

November 2016 - Nevada went green on Tuesday by approving a ballot initiative legalizing recreational marijuana.The law makes it legal for anyone over 21 to possess as much as one ounce of marijuana or one-eighth of an ounce of concentrate. A 15 percent excise tax plus fees and licensing for dispensaries will by some estimates generate $20 million for schools. Municipalities will not be able to create their own prohibition laws, effectively making marijuana use legal all over the state. However, localities do have some say on zoning for dispensaries. Backers of the initiative are projecting around $393 million in sales in 2018, a possible $1.1 billion in economic impact by 2024 and as many as 6,200 new jobs for the industry-friendly bill. All marijuana must be grown in Nevada.

Nevada Drug Overdoses Go Down

December 2015 - Drug overdoses were down in Nevada by almost 13 percent in 2014, the second biggest drop in the country, at a time when many states are seeing major increases.

April 2011 - Nevadans would know a lot more about the safety of local hospitals under five "transparency" bills that are pending in Carson City. Three of the bills are sponsored by State Senator Shirley Breeden, and will make public details like infection rates at Nevada hospitals and how often Nevada doctors perform a particular surgical procedure. (The Bills are SB 209,264, 338, 339, and 340).

ACA Grant Brings New Benefits

November -0001 - Thousands of people in Utah, including the homeless population, are expected to benefit from $2.3 million dollars in Affordable Care Act (ACA) funding to expand nonprofit community health centers.

More Nevadans Sign up for Health Insurance

November -0001 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that just over 40,000 Nevadans selected plans through the Health Insurance Marketplace during the first month of Open Enrollment, which started November 15th

Housing/Homelessness

Governor Signs Bill Increasing Affordable Housing Tax Credits

June 2019 - Governor Steve Sisolak has signed SB448, which allows up to $10 million in transferable tax credits each year to companies seeking to develop affordable housing projects. The credits could be used against payroll, excise, insurance premium or gaming tax burdens. The bill is expected to spur development of 600 to 800 housing units a year priced at rates affordable to people making 60 percent of the area median income or less.

June 2011 - Advocates for Nevada homeowners prodded state lawmakers into doing the right thing and passing a measure this session which prohibits debt collectors from going after Nevadans who are unlucky enough to lose their homes, but still have debts that were not covered in the short-sale of their homes.

Human Rights/Racial Justice

Assisted Suicide Bill Passes Key Committee

March 2019 - The Nevada Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted 3-2 along party lines to approve SB165, a bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide and send it to the Senate for a vote.

No More Shackles for Pregnant Prisoners

March 2014 - A recent lawsuit settlement will end the practice of shackling pregnant prison inmates.

Hunger/Food/Nutrition

September 2012 - More hungry children in Northern Nevada now have access to a well-balanced hot meal in the late afternoon.

April 2011 - U.S. Senator Al Franken introduced federal legislation to extend mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) to dairy products.

More Nutritious Food During Summer for Kids

December 2009 - More children are benefiting from the Agriculture Department's Summer Nutrition Programs.

Immigrant Issues

NV Supreme Court Rejects Anti-Sanctuary City Ballot Initiative

May 2018 - Conservative groups tried to get a measure put on Nevada ballots that would have blocked cities from establishing "sanctuary" policies to protect undocumented immigrants. The state supreme court found that the proposed measure was misleading.

Civil Rights Groups Applaud Setback for NV Anti-Sanctuary City Initiative

January 2018 - Civil rights groups are celebrating a decision by a Carson City judge to toss out a petition for a ballot initiative to stop sanctuary cities in Nevada. There are no self-described sanctuary cities in the state, but the ballot initiative would have banned cities or counties from passing laws that might inhibit cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

Driving Cards for Immigrants

January 2014 - The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles has started issuing Driver Authorization Cards.

Livable Wages/Working Families

Governor Signs Bill Raising Minimum Wage

June 2019 - Governor Steve Sisolak signed AB456, a bill which enacts a gradual increase of the minimum wage over the next several years up to $12 per hour. The bill passed the Nevada Senate with bipartisan support, with Senator Keith Pickard joining the Democratic Senators. AB456 was joined by a resolution, AJR10, to amend the Nevada Constitution to change the Nevada minimum wage to $12 an hour, regardless of health benefits offered.

Governor Signs Bill For Collective Bargaining For State Employees

June 2019 - Governor Steve Sisolak has signed SB135, which enacts collective bargaining for state employees. Though amid concerns that union demands could overstretch the state budget, a late-session amendment to the bill gave the governor, not the unions, final say on all money-related requests including salary, health benefits, retirement and staffing levels.

Governor Signs Minimum Wage Bill

June 2019 - Governor Steve Sisolak has signed AB456, which gradually raises the minimum wage each of the next five years. Workers will begin to see changes on July 1, 2020, when the wage floor will move up by 75 cents to $9 an hour if the employer does not offer health insurance and $8 if they do. It will max out in mid-2024, when the minimum wage will be $12 if the employer doesn't offer insurance and $11 if they do.

Governor Signs Paid Sick Leave Bill

June 2019 - Governor Steve Sisolak has signed SB312, which requires employers with at least 50 employees to allow workers to earn sick leave for each hour on the job. The minimum amount of leave for a person working 40 hours a week and 52 weeks a year is about 40 hours of sick time.

Governor Signs Bill On Worker Protections

June 2019 - Governor Steve Sisolak has signed SB166, which adds teeth to laws against employment-based discrimination. It sets up a tiered system of penalties for employers found to have multiple instances of pay discrimination within a five-year period, with fines starting at $5,000 and escalating to $15,000. It also protects job applicants from discrimination, and prohibits them from setting occupational requirements that are based on gender differences.

NV Assembly Passes $12 Minimum Wage

May 2019 - The Nevada Assembly voted to approve two separate measures that would increase Nevada's minimum wage to $12 per hour. The first, AB456, sponsored by Speaker Jason Frierson, which raises the minimum wage by 75 cents per year until it reaches $12 per hour, passed with a 28-12 vote. The second, AJR10, also sponsored by Speaker Frierson, proposes amending Nevada's Constitution to set the minimum wage at $12 per hour, regardless of health benefits offered. The Assembly voted to pass the resolution, also with a 28-12 vote. The bills now go to the State Senate.

Bill To Raise Minimum Wage Introduced

April 2019 - A bit of hope for the 12-thousand Nevadans who scrape by on minimum wage, as the Speaker of the State Assembly, Jason Frierson (D-Las Vegas), introduced Assembly Bill 486l to raise the minimum wage to 12-dollars an hour - to be phased in over four years. Former Governor Brian Sandoval vetoed a similar bill two years ago. But this bill stands a chance now that Democrats control both houses of the Legislature and have the support of Governor Steve Sisolak.

Nevada Unemployment Hits 5 Year Low

January 2016 - Nevada has seen steady economic recovery for the last five years, and now has the lowest unemployment rate since 2008.

NV Restoration Project Provided Jobs and Job Skills for Veterans

November 2015 - The Conservation Lands Foundation, worked with a 75,000 dollars grant to provide jobs to Nevada veterans who spent several months doing restoration work in Sloan Canyon.

February 2012 - It was a close call, but Congress voted to help more than 160,000 Nevadans and millions more Americans who are out of work, by extending unemployment benefits in mid-February. Supporters of the measure say cutting those benefits now would cause major hardship for millions and also endanger the nation's fragile economic recovery.

Native American Issues

President Obama Puts Land into Trust for Nevada Tribes

October 2016 - President Obama signed into law the bipartisan Nevada Native Nations Lands Act, which conveys more than 71,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service lands to the U.S. Department of the Interior to place into federal trust status for six Nevada tribes. The tribes will use their newly acquired lands to expand housing, provide economic development opportunities and promote cultural activities for and by their tribal members.

New Solar Installation Announced on Tribal Land

September 2016 - U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today joined leaders of the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians and First Solar to announce approval of the 100-megawatt Aiya Solar Project on tribal trust land in Clark County, Nevada. Located about 40 miles northeast of Las Vegas, the Aiya Solar Project is the third utility-scale photovoltaic facility approved for development on the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians Reservation. The project is the 60th renewable energy project approved for federally administered land since 2009 as part of a Department-wide effort to advance smart development of renewable energy on our nation's public lands.

30 Tribes Against "Water Grab"; BLM Holds First-ever Hearing on Tribal Land

May 2012 - A record number of tribes voiced their opposition to Southern Nevada Water Authorities massive pipeline project in May. Thirty different tribes filed a joint statement against the so-called water grab. Native American and their supporters in the environmental community also scored a symbolic victory when they successfully lobbied the B-L-M to hold a first of its kind hearing about the project on tribal land.

Nuclear Waste

NV Senators Reject Trump Proposal to Restart Yucca Mountain

March 2017 - Today, U.S. Senators Dean Heller (R-NV) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) sent a letter to Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney expressing their opposition to a proposal in President Trump's proposed budget to restart licensing for a nuclear waste repository in Yucca Mountain.

Public Lands/Wilderness

Judge Rejects Drilling in the Ruby Mountains

March 2019 - The U.S. Forest Service rejected an earlier plan to lease public lands for oil drilling and fracking in Nevada's iconic Ruby Mountains. The Trump administration proposal to auction off 54,000 acres of the Rubies was met with overwhelming public opposition in Nevada. The Ruby Mountains, in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, are famous for the state's largest mule deer herd, world-class skiing and breathtaking vistas. Rising 7,000 feet above the floor of the Great Basin desert, the Rubies are a majestic sky island harboring robust populations of Nevada's most cherished wildlife.

Nevada Prosecutors Ask Judge To Reconsider Dismissal Of Bundy Case

February 2018 - Federal prosecutors in Nevada have asked a judge to reconsider her decision to dismiss the government's case against members of the Bundy family and a close supporter. "The government believes the Court's ruling is clearly erroneous," Elizabeth White, appellate chief for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Nevada, wrote in a court filing. The case stemming from a 2014 standoff between federal officials and Bundy family members and their supporters was dismissed a month earlier, when U.S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro ruled that federal prosecutors improperly withheld key information from the defense.

State Honors Native American Leader

November 2017 - Just in time for Thanksgiving, the Nevada Indian Commission has honored Native Americans who've made a significant contribution to the state. This year Nevada's American Indian Leader of the Year award went to Fawn Douglas, an artist and activist with the Las Vegas Paiute (PIE-yoot) Tribe. Douglas has been a big part of the push to designate Gold Butte as a national monument and now is working to save it in the face of a leaked proposal by the Trump administration to shrink the boundaries.

Nevada Holds First Ever State Public Lands Day

September 2017 - Today is the first-ever Nevada Public Lands Day - and camping, fishing and boating is free at all Nevada state parks and recreation areas. Groups across the state are holding celebrations and doing service projects. The state has participated in National Public Lands Day for years, but in June, state lawmakers voted to establish an official Nevada Public Lands Day. They also repudiated a 2015 joint resolution supporting a transfer of public lands from the federal government to the state.

Amodei Says He Won't Revive Public Lands Transfer Bill

May 2017 - A proposal for the federal government to sell off millions of acres of land in Nevada probably won't return to Congress. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, introduced a massive lands bill last session and had considered reviving it. Now he says, "Transferring millions of acres of public lands is not something I think the majority of people think is a good idea." During the previous session of Congress Amodei introduced H.R. 1484, known as the Honor the Nevada Enabling Act. The first phase covered nearly 7.3 million acres, with about half within a checkerboard pattern that traverses the state from Sparks to Wendover. Other Phase One land included property the Bureau of Land Management has already designated for disposal.

NV Lawmakers Seek Wilderness Protections in Pershing County

February 2017 - Senator Dean Heller re-introduced the Pershing County Economic Development and Conservation Act of 2017 in the Senate (S. 414). Representatives. The bill will designate seven key wilderness areas across the County: Cain Mountain, Bluewing, Selenite Peak, Mount Limbo, North Sahwave, Grandfathers (Tobin Crest), and Fencemaker. Total wilderness acreage amounts to a little over 136,000 acres of permanently protected wildlife habitat.

President Obama Declares National Monument at Gold Butte

December 2016 - President Obama just designated Gold Butte, Nevada's piece of the Grand Canyon, a national monument. Gold Butte covers almost 350,000 acres between the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument and Lake Mead National Recreation Area and is home to many petroglyphs and sites considered sacred to local tribes.

Western A-G's Pan Legality of Land Transfers

October 2016 - Lawsuits to force the federal government to turn over land to states have little chance of succeeding, according to new findings from the Conference of Western Attorneys General. Two years ago, the group formed a subcommittee to study whether the federal government was legally obligated to sell or transfer the public lands within a state, to that state. A-Gs from all the Western states except California, found the legal claims to be weak.

Public Lands Attract Retirees

March 2016 - Older Americans are three times more likely to retire in areas of Utah and other Western states that have protected public lands.

February 2011 - The Bureau of Land Management was listening to Nevadans in February, getting local input on how big a footprint solar energy projects should have on Public Lands. Meetings were held in Las Vegas, Goldfield and Caliente to help the BLM set guidelines for the state's solar energy zones. Groups like The Wilderness Society and Nevada Wilderness Project say the zones will help developers by reducing time and cost for solar development, while at the same time minimizing impact on wildlife and the environment.

Westerners Don’t Wants States Taking Federal Public Lands

November -0001 - The majority of Nevadans and people throughout much of the West oppose states taking control of federally managed public lands. That's the finding of the survey titled "Western Voter Attitudes Toward Management of Public Lands" from the Center for American Progress. The survey also shows majority support among both political parties and in both urban and rural areas for the federal government to continue managing public lands. It also shows that nine-out-of-ten voters view protecting and conserving public lands as their top priority for the lands.

Legislation Would Help Fund Firefighting

November -0001 - Treating major wildfires as natural disasters and spending more money on improving forest health are goals of proposed federal legislation. The Wildfire Disaster Funding Act of 2015 would update how the federal government funds suppression efforts. The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources is considering the legislation.

Senior Issues

CARE Act Wins Legislative Approval

January 2010 - Nevada lawmakers are saying are saying yes to legislation that supporters say will dramatically improve the ability of caregivers to help those in their care.

Urban Planning/Transportation

More Nevadans Walking and Biking

June 2014 - A study from the Regional Transportation Commission shows that more people in Washoe County are choosing to walk or cycle instead of drive.

Electric Buses Hit the Streets

April 2014 - A few electric buses now being operated in Northern Nevada are expected to save millions of dollars in fuel and maintenance costs over the next several years.

Nevada Bridges are Srong

January 2010 - Nevada has fewer bridges in need of major repair or upgrading than any other state in the union, according to a new report.

Water

Study Links Aquifer Draining to Increased Earthquake Risk

May 2014 - Research from the University of Nevada-Reno has linked water extraction in California's Central Valley to upward movement of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and earthquakes on the San Andreas Fault.

Water Authority Receives Kudos

November -0001 - Colorado River Day held on Friday, July 25, in Nevada included recognizing the Southern Nevada Water Authority for being at the forefront of water conservation and reuse. Marco Rauda with the nonprofit group Nuestro Rio, which organized the event at Las Vegas City Hall says the Water Authority is among the top agencies in the nation for creative ways to save and reuse water. Rauda says the Water Authority has successfully convinced many Las Vegas residents to switch to a desert landscape, which is a big way to save water. The Water Authority reports that it captures and reuses more than 90 percent of all indoor water. The Colorado River has endured more than a decade of drought, leaving water levels at its two primary reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, at historic lows.

Youth Issues

Fewer Young Nevadans Locked Up

February 2013 - Local advocates say Nevada is locking up fewer young people, which follows a national trend in an Annie E. Casey report that revealed a 41 percent drop in the nationwide youth incarceration rate.


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H a m p s h i r e

N e w s

C o n n e c t i o n

New Hampshire News Connection

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention

NH Counties, Towns File New Lawsuits Against Pharmaceutical Companies, Doctors

September 2018 - New lawsuits filed by six New Hampshire counties and two towns are aimed at trying to recoup millions of dollars lost by local governments in the state's opioid crisis. Pharmaceutical companies, drug stores and doctors have been named in the lawsuits, in which plaintiffs outline a strategy that they said was used to not only downplay the destructive potential of opioids, but also to recruit and pay doctors to propagate the idea that opioids are a low-risk, highly effective way to manage pain. The lawsuits accused the companies of coining the term "pseudo-withdrawal symptoms" and recommending higher doses of opioids to alleviate discomfort.

NH Releases New Plan to Fight Opioid Addiction

August 2018 - Governor Chris Sununu and Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers released details of a plan to combat substance abuse in New Hampshire. Health and wellness advocates say the plan is an important step in the right direction. The plan takes a holistic approach to addiction treatment and recovery, targeting areas where people have limited access to care by establishing regional hubs using funds from a potential $45 million federal grant. New Hampshire has the third-highest rate of opioid overdose deaths per capita in the nation but has lagged behind other states in providing addiction services. The new plan targets specific populations in need of support, including people in the criminal justice system and pregnant women.

Safe Station Program Has Helped More Than 1,100 People

November 2017 - The Safe Station program in Nashua, New Hampshire says it's helped more than 1,100 people as the drug recovery program marks its first year. Officials say there's been a 24 percent drop in opioid overdoses in the city from a year ago. The program has been set up at six fire stations.

Children's Issues

August 2011 - The Annie E. Casey Foundation recognized New Hampshire as the best place to raise a child; this is the fourth year in a row that New Hampshire placed first.

Citizenship/Representative Democracy

NH Sends All-Women Delegation

November 2012 - New Hampshire voters are the first to send an all-women delegation to Congress. In addition to both Reps and Senators being women, they also elected a female Governor.

Civil Rights

New Hampshire Department of Justice Gets New Civil Rights Unit

December 2017 - Governor Chris Sununu and Attorney General Gordon MacDonald signed an executive order establishing the Governor's Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion, and the formation of a new Civil Rights Unit at the New Hampshire Department of Justice. Rogers Johnson, the State Coordinator of the New Hampshire NAACP, will chair the Council.

Climate Change/Air Quality

State Legislators Collaborate to Reduce Carbon Pollution

February 2018 - State lawmakers have launched a multistate coalition to collaborate on legislation to combat carbon pollution. The Carbon Costs Coalition includes legislators from nine states, including New Hampshire. It will help those legislators design strategies to reduce carbon emissions and promote clean, renewable energy alternatives. The coalition will help state legislators who are working on the issue to compare notes on each other's bills and compare how they're conducting outreach and building their coalitions so they can be stronger by having that multistate idea sharing. In Connecticut legislation has been introduced to establish a tax on carbon-based fuels that would help spur investment in renewable energy programs. The Coalition also will supplement the carbon reduction goals of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, a multistate compact that seeks to reduce carbon emissions from the power sector.

Friend of the Court Brief in Support of Clean Power Plan

April 2016 - A broad coalition of faith, environmental, and public health advocates filed a friend of the court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the EPA's authority to regulate carbon and greenhouse gas emissions.

Criminal Justice

New Hampshire Lawmakers Pass Death Penalty Repeal Bill, Facing Gubernatorial Veto

April 2018 - The New Hampshire House overwhelmingly approved a bill to repeal the state's death penalty, 223-116, sending the measure to the governor despite his vow to veto it. The legislation, Senate Bill 593, would strike the words "may be punished by death" from the state's capital punishment statute, replacing them with "shall be sentenced to imprisonment for life without the possibility for parole." New Hampshire is one of 31 states to have the death penalty, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. The measure passed the Senate, 14-10, in March, but faces a veto from Gov. Chris Sununu, who said earlier this year that it would send the state "in exactly the wrong direction" and go against the wishes of law enforcement and victims. This marked the second time in recent history that the Legislature has sent a bill repealing the policy to the governor's desk. In 2000, Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen vetoed a similar attempt, citing confidence that New Hampshire's system is limited and appropriate.

Bill to Repeal NH Death Penalty Has Bipartisan Support

March 2018 - Senate Bill 593 would change the penalty for capital murder in New Hampshire from death to life without the possibility of parole. Similar legislation passed the House in both 2014 and 2016, but failed to get through the Senate. This time 13 senators have signed on as sponsors. Supporters of the death penalty claim it's an effective deterrent and point out that it is rarely used in New Hampshire. There's only one prisoner on New Hampshire's death row, and he is the first since the 1930s. Proponents of the repeal maintain that decades of experience and analysis in other states show capital punishment has no place in any state. They point out that over 150 people have been exonerated from death row across the country.

NH Joins Rest of New England in Decriminalizing Pot

June 2017 - New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) is set to sign a marijuana decriminalization bill into law. On the first day of June the state House of Representatives took final action on legislation to remove criminal penalties for small amounts of cannabis, setting up the state to finally become the last in New England to decriminalize.

Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault

DV Help Extended to Family Pets

November -0001 - Help is now available to domestic violence victims in the Granite State who often fear moving away from an abuser because of concerns about what will happen to their pets. The Animal Rescue League in Bedford is one of many local shelters that provide "Safe Haven," a program for pets, so that victims of domestic violence can leave their animals in a safe place while they seek help. Studies show pet abuse is one of the top four signs someone is at risk of being an abuser.

Education

NH Lawmakers Turn Back "School Choice" Bill

April 2017 - New Hampshire lawmakers stood in-line with the state constitution which says that public funds cannot be used for sectarian purposes. They retained the so called "school choice" Bill (S 193) which means it can't come up again this session.

April 2011 - New Hampshire is set to receive $1.47 million to assist its lowest-achieving schools through the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program. The funds are part of $546 million available to states for the SIG program in fiscal year 2010.

Endangered Species & Wildlife

NH Drought Spells Good News for Moose

April 2017 - While the recent drought caused trouble for many - that's not the case for the moose population. The National Wildlife Federation says a large number blood-sucking ticks, which attack moose, died because they were deprived of moisture.

Energy Policy

NH Towns Join Push to 100-Percent Renewable Energy

January 2018 - The New Hampshire towns of Cornish and Plainfield will vote on going 100 percent renewable at town meetings coming up in March, and the movement is spreading. With the federal government now promoting fossil fuels, cities and towns in New Hampshire and across the nation are leading the way to boost renewable energy. Last May, Hanover, New Hampshire, became the first municipality in the country to commit by community vote to achieving 100 percent renewable energy. The town is investing $50,000 every year into energy efficiency improvements and is also looking at opportunities for more solar power in the region, potentially in partnership with Dartmouth College. Hanover plans to be fueling its heat and transportation with renewable power by 2050. Nationwide, about 50 municipalities are now committed to 100 percent renewable energy.

NH Now has Targets for Energy Efficiency

August 2016 - The Public Utilities Commission approved the first-ever statewide targets for reducing energy consumption. For the first three-year period, the targets are: 0.8% for electric and 0.7% for gas in 2018; an additional 1% for electric and 0.75% for gas in 2019.

July 2011 - The green light is now on for the construction of a 48-megawatt wind farm proposed for Groton. The new project will be home to 24, 400-foot turbines and construction is expected to begin this fall.

May 2011 - A groundbreaking ceremony took place this month for a renewable energy power plant project at the Glencliff home in Benton. A new wood chip boiler will replace current boilers at the long-term nursing facility which provides care for New Hampshire residents with mental illness and developmental disabilities will continue to generate all its own heat, hot water and electricity more efficiently while also benefitting the environment. The funds for the project came in part from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Environment

Application for Transmission Lines Denied

February 2018 - The application to construct Northern Pass, a major electric transmission line project, has been rejected. New Hampshire's seven-member Site Evaluation Committee voted unanimously to deny the application. The committee said the project developers had not shown that the proposed line wouldn't unduly interfere with the orderly development of the region - one of four standards any project must meet to win approval. According to Jack Savage, vice president for communication and outreach at the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, approval on other criteria was unlikely as well. A spokesperson for Northern Pass said the evaluation process did not comply with New Hampshire law, and did not reflect the evidence. Once the SEC issues its written decision, Northern Pass will have 30 days to ask the committee for a rehearing.

More Voices Call for Halt to Tar Sands Oil Pipeline Project

March 2013 - Opposition to the Portland-Montreal pipeline conversion plan continues to grow. More than 55 groups and individuals from New England and the Midwest, including George LaPointe, former Commissioner, Maine Department of Marine Resources, petitioned the federal government to halt plans to pump corrosive tar sands oil from Canada to American ports, including Portland, for export. They say current regulations are inadequate and raise the risk of catastrophic spills.

Gun Violence Prevention

Permit Still Required to Carry a Concealed Weapon in NH

October 2016 - NH lawmakers sustained Gov. Maggie Hassen's veto of Senate Bill 336, a measure supported by the gun lobby that would have allowed anyone to carry a concealed weapon in the state.

Health Issues

New Hampshire Gets Nearly $689K to Fight Opioid Epidemic

November 2017 - New Hampshire is getting nearly $689,000 in federal funds to combat the opioid, fentanyl, and heroin epidemic. The U.S. Department of Justice grant goes to the state's Department of Safety, Division through the Anti-Heroin Task Force Program. Col. Christopher Wagner, director of the New Hampshire State Police, said the money will provide much-needed relief in funding state and local law enforcement partnership initiatives, improve technology capabilities, and broaden statewide intelligence sharing among all branches of law enforcement.

Commission Recommends 5-Year Extension of Medicaid Expansion

November 2017 - A commission studying the future of New Hampshire's expanded Medicaid program is recommending that it continue for five years, but move toward a managed care model in 2019. The committee of lawmakers, insurance officials and health care providers agreed to the recommendations, which will be used as the basis for legislation that will be taken up next year. The current expanded Medicaid program uses federal money to put about 43,000 low-income people on private insurance. The commission says switching to managed care would provide more straight-forward opportunities to address premium increases in the individual market and would provide consistent benefits for all Medicaid participants. The report also recommends higher reimbursement rates for those who provide mental health and substance use disorder services.

Charitable Foundation Funds Health Care Enrollment Marketing

November 2017 - A charitable organization is stepping in to promote the Affordable Care Act in New Hampshire after the Trump administration cut funding for marketing and advertising. For the individual health insurance market in much of the country, the administration has slashed spending on advertising by 90 percent. The HNH Foundation responded by making an emergency grant this week of nearly $100,000. Board chairwoman Kathy Crompton said the foundation was worried that the cut in marketing funds combined with the shorter enrollment period would put people at risk of losing their coverage. The money is being given to the Granite State Progress Education Fund and the New Hampshire Health Care Coalition. The HNH Foundation's mission is to improve the health and wellness of New Hampshire residents, with a focus on vulnerable children.

Recreational Therapy to Be Provided to Veterans

November 2017 - Manchester VA Medical Center and a University of New Hampshire program have reached an agreement to provide recreational therapy treatment to veterans. The agreement will allow veterans with disabilities access to the Northeast Passage Program at UNH. The VA will pay for the veterans to receive the therapy. Northeast Passage, which offers programs such as cycling and water skiing, says its clients have experienced measurable improvements in functional fitness and chronic health condition management as well as healthier body weight, blood pressure and blood sugar. Clients also have experienced mental health gains.

New Hampshire Ranked #2 in Nation for Best States

August 2017 - U.S. News and World Report ranked the Granite State Second for best states in the nation. The state scored high marks when it comes to healthcare, education, and opportunity.

NH Funding Restored to Planned Parenthood

July 2016 - A special five member body, the New Hampshire Executive Council, that has veto power over state contracts, voted to restore more than $500,000 in funding to Planned Parenthood.

Medicaid Expansion Re-Upped in NH

April 2016 - Governor Hassan signed bipartisan legislation reauthorizing the state's Medicaid Expansion plan.

NH House Rejects Planned Parenthood Defunding Bill

February 2016 - The New Hampshire rejected HJR 3, a bill that would have blocked state funding for any health center providing abortion services regardless of the reason.

May 2012 - The Obama administration allocated more than $5 million in grants for New Hampshire community health centers, most of which will be used to serve the Granite State's neediest families.

March 2012 - New Hampshire's aging veterans now have a new opportunity to stay in their homes and receive care. The NH Department of Health & Human Services announced the new pilot program in Belmont and is being offered through Service Link. The Veteran-Directed Home and Community Based Services program (VD-HCBS) is in response to a national effort by the Veterans Health Administration. The program is an option for veterans who are eligible for nursing home placement and wish to remain in their homes.

Human Rights/Racial Justice

New Hampshire Poised To Eliminate Death Penalty

April 2019 - New Hampshire is poised to become the 21st state to abolish the death penalty. The state Senate voted 17-6 to end capital punishment, adding its voice to the state House which voted for repeal last month by a vote of 279-88. The bill changes the penalty for capital murder to a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole. The state's Republican governor, Chris Sununu, has threatened a veto. But with more than two-thirds majority support in both chambers, the legislature could override a veto, making New Hampshire the final state in New England to repeal the death penalty.

Hunger/Food/Nutrition

Boost for Efforts to End Child Hunger in NH

August 2017 - NH Hunger Solutions received a $5,000 grant from the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) and Shaw's Markets. The grant will help propose ways to eradicate childhood hunger through the federal school breakfast program. The Food Research and Action Center currently ranks NH second to last in the nation for participation in the school breakfast program.

Good News in the Granite State Fight Against Hunger

February 2017 - The New Hampshire Food Bank says it received an anonymous 1 million dollar donation, most of it meant for partner agencies including food pantries, soup kitchens, after school programs and senior centers. We've been covering the serious food insecurity for some years.

School Breakfast Progress for NH

November -0001 - A new (FRAC) report shows the Granite State is making much needed progress in getting a health breakfast to more low-income children at school. The report shows the state boosted enrollment in breakfast nutrition programs by one thousand students.

Immigrant Issues

Granite State and Nation See Progress on Immigrant Integration

June 2016 - A new (FPI) report finds that immigrants from key groups are making progress integrating into better jobs, speaking English and "becoming Americans." The Bosnian community in Manchester is one example of positive impact.

Livable Wages/Working Families

Census Shows Drop in NH Child Poverty Rate

September 2017 - New Census data shows a nearly three percent drop in the child poverty rate. Still, an estimated 94,289 Granite Staters live in poverty, and the high cost of housing adds is a major factor driving residents into poverty

So-Called "Right to Work" Bill Defeated

February 2017 - 32 Republicans joined Democrats rejecting GOP Governor Chris Sununu's Right to Work Bill, which would have prohibited unions from charging fees to nonmembers for the costs of representation. Republicans and pro-business groups have pushed similar measures in a number of states.

Labor Scores Major Victory in Granite State

February 2017 - GOP lawmakers joined the opposition in helping to defeat the so called, "Right to Work" bill that was a major goal of Governor Chris Sununu. Labor leaders remain cautious because other measures remain in the pipeline to limit their abilities to collect union dues.

Paycheck Fairness Clears House

February 2014 - The New Hampshire House voted to pass a paycheck fairness bill and strengthen worker payroll protections.

April 2012 - Unions and pro-worker groups rejoiced this month when two battles in the long war against what many refer to as union busting "right to work for less" bills were shot down. HB 1677 & HB 383 were both tabled by the Senate, indefinitely.

November 2011 - The battle to turn New Hampshire into a "right to work" state continued this month, and proponents of the bill received a mighty blow when the house fell 13 votes shy of the two-thirds mark to override the Governor's veto of the right to work legislation. The legislation, had it passed, would ban unions from collecting fees from non-union members.

Mental Health

Medicaid to Schools Expansion Set in N.H.

September 2018 - New Hampshire schools can now start getting federal money to provide mental health counseling, speech therapy and other services to more students. In the past, the Medicaid to Schools program applied only to students with Individual Education Plans. But after the federal government revised its guidance, lawmakers expanded the program last year to cover any Medicaid-eligible student with medical needs. The bill required the state Department of Health and Human Services to start working on the changes by Sept. 1, 2017. After parents and advocates expressed frustration in late July that the expansion hadn't been implemented, the state said a draft change to the existing program that rules wouldn't be presented to a legislative committee until sometime in the fall. A few weeks later, Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers said temporary rules are now in place that will allow schools to begin billing early in the 2018-19 school year.

January 2011 - The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Bureau of Behavioral Health (BBH) will receive a $220,000 grant that will assist in improving the delivery of mental health services in the State. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) selected New Hampshire as one of 13 states to receive an award.

Clay Hunt Bill Signed

December 2009 - President Obama signed the "Clay Hunter"? Bill into law during the month and advocates say it will mean increased access to mental health services and suicide prevention programs for those returning to the Granite State from service in the armed forces.

Rural/Farming

Grant to NH Business for More Fresh Produce

July 2017 - North Country Growers received a $25 million grant from the USDA to build two hydroponic greenhouses in New Hampshire's North Country. The goal is to get more tomatoes and salad green to New England supermarkets.

Social Justice

December 2010 - The Local Community Radio Act was signed into law by the US Senate. The new law will enable non commercial entities such as churches and schools to establish low power FM radio stations across the Bay State and nationwide.

Women's Issues

Granite State Gains on International Women's Day

March 2016 - Granite State advocates recognized both Governor Maggie Hassan and state lawmakers for landmark legislation this session on women's issues.


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New Mexico News Connection

Animal Welfare

Suit Filed to Stop Horse Slaughterhouse

December 2013 - AG Gary King filed a lawsuit to stop Roswell-based Valley Meat from going forward with plans to slaughter horses for human consumption.

Restraining Order on Wild Horse Slaughter

August 2013 - A U.S. District Judge granted a temporary restraining order on Friday, halting horse slaughter on American soil.

New Foundation Will Protect Wild Horses

July 2013 - Actor Robert Redford and former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson announced today they are forming a foundation to protect wild horses and wildlife in New Mexico - The Foundation to Protect New Mexico Wildlife.

Money for Horse Slaughter Halted

June 2013 - The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee voted in favor of a provision that, if enacted into law, could halt any efforts to resume slaughtering horses for human consumption on U.S. soil.

Airlines Refuse to Ship Primates to Laboratories

January 2013 - United Airlines has announced that it now prohibits the transportation of primates to laboratories for use in cruel and deadly experiments.

Plan for Chimp Retirement Hailed by Animal Welfare Groups

December 2012 - The National Institutes of Health has developed a plan to formally retire directly to the Federal Sanctuary System all of its chimpanzees.

Budget Policy & Priorities

Voters Approve School Construction Bonds

November 2016 - Voters approved more than $186 million in general obligation bonds to support everything from senior citizen centers and schools to the state crime lab. Supporters say the funding is key to completing brick-and-mortar projects as New Mexico struggles with a budget crisis. The largest of the bond issues that passed Tuesday will provide about $142 million for capital construction at colleges and universities. An additional $7 million will go toward the construction of a new state police crime lab and expansion of the existing lab at the Department of Public Safety.

Campaign Finance Reform/Money in Politics

Getting Campaign Spending Control Back

November -0001 - A proposed constitutional amendment from U-S Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico that would give control of campaign spending to Congress and the states, has passed its first political hurdle. The nine-member Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights approved Senate Joint Resolution 19 by a 5-to-4 vote.

Children's Issues

Report Shows New Mexico Has Improved Insurance Rates for Children

January 2017 - The KidsCount 2016 Databook, released today, shows that the state has made major progress on insuring more kids due to the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. However it also shows deepening poverty.

Civil Rights

Warrants Needed for Cell Phone Searches

November -0001 - The ACLU of New Mexico is applauding the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that will require police to obtain a warrant to search a cell phone or smart phone. The unanimous ruling is seen as a major victory for the privacy rights of all Americans, as protected under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Nine out of ten Americans own a cell phone or smart phone.

Climate Change/Air Quality

Environmentalists, Oil Producers Eye NM Land Commissioner Race

November 2018 - Newly elected New Mexico State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard vowed to shift the office's focus to protecting the environment, even amid a recent boom in the oil and gas industry. Her Republican opponent was supported by the oil and gas industry.

XTO Energy Declines Government's Permission to Relax Methane Emissions in Permian Basin

October 2017 - Oil and gas giant XTO has vowed to "be a good neighbor" and reduce methane emissions at its New Mexico Permian Basin drilling site without the federal government requiring it to. The U.S. Interior Department plans to delay an Obama administration directive requiring energy companies to reduce methane emissions at drilling sites on federal lands. XTO said it's already committed to reducing methane emissions at it's NM site.

NM Teams Compete to Bring Solar Power to Underserved Communities

May 2017 - Six teams in New Mexico are participating in the Solar in Your Community Challenge, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. They're coming up with business models that would enable lower-income neighborhoods and nonprofit groups to convert to renewable energy.

ABQ Lauded in Clean Air Report

May 2014 - Albuquerque is among America's cleanest cities according to the "State of the Air" report released by the American Lung Association.

March 2012 - In a shift in PRC policy, the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) withdrew a resolution to support Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM's) pollution control SNCR plan for PNM's San Juan coal plant. Commissioners Howe, Marks and Becenti-Aguilar all expressed concerns with the resolution, indicating in part that PNM waited too long, developed no viable alternatives other than SNCR or SCR for all 4 units at their coal plant, and failed to plan for a transition from coal. The PRC was reluctant to signal that there would be automatic cost recovery for any pollution control technology.

Clean Energy Doesn’t Impact Reliability

November -0001 - A report concludes that the reliability of electricity in New Mexico and across the nation isn't being be threatened as states move to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan. The report from the Analysis Group, a consulting firm, says despite some initial concern about system reliability, the energy grid is responding well to enormous changes. The report addresses implementation of the E-P-A's Clean Power Plan, which calls for a 30-percent reduction in carbon emissions from power plants by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.

Consumer Issues

NM Senate Panel Stalls PNM's Effort to Recoup Coal Plant Losses From Ratepayers

February 2018 - A New Mexico Senate committee dealt a blow to Public Service Company (PNM) of New Mexico by voting to stall a bill allowing the utility to sell bonds to pay for the early closing of a coal-burning power plant in northwestern New Mexico. Opponents led by New Energy Economy said it was a bailout for PNM and would weaken state regulator oversight of the utility.

Criminal Justice

Voters Approve Ban on Unaffordable Bail

November 2016 - New Mexico voters passed a constitutional amendment Tuesday that prohibits judges from jailing people solely because they can't afford bail. The statewide measure, approved 87 percent to 13 percent, will scale back the use of money as a means for getting out of jail. It also sets up a process that poor defendants can follow to seek relief from bail, and gives judges another tool for jailing potentially dangerous people.

Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault

NM Legislators Complete Sexual Harassment Training, Approve New Legislation

January 2018 - New Mexico legislators completed mandatory sexual harassment training at the State Capitol and overhauled policies against sexual misconduct and harassment. The issue came to the forefront as part of a national wave of claims against powerful people in politics, entertainment and business.

Albuquerque to Test Huge Rape Kit Backlog

October 2017 - Continued pressure from politicians and women activist groups combined with federal grant money may help Albuquerque turn the tide in New Mexico, the U.S. state with the highest number of untested rape kits per capita. Federal grant money will be used to eliminate the city's enormous backlog of untested kits.

Education

NM Governor's Race Puts Spotlight on Education

November 2018 - Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham, who championed education and said she would not fight a lawsuit over the issue, defeated Republican Steve Pearce in the midterm election. In July, a judge found that New Mexico's education system violated the state constitution because it failed to provide students a sufficient public education.

Court Requires Quick Turnaround for Equity in NM's Public Schools

July 2018 - New Mexico is required to create a plan for how to create more equitable funding for its public schools, after a judge ruled the state has been unconstitutionally depriving at-risk students of a quality education. Education advocates called it a win for New Mexico children, and say work needs to begin immediately on a plan to serve all the state's public-school children.

New Mexico to Adopt Next Generation Science Standards with State-Specific Additions

October 2017 - After public protest, the state Public Education Department said it would drop its own proposed science teaching standards and instead use the Next Generation Science Standards that nearly 20 other states have adopted. The department had proposed eliminating concepts such as evolution, the age of Earth and human causes of climate change from student textbooks.

NM Scores on PARCC Exams Rise

July 2017 - After three years, New Mexico students have slightly improved their performance on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam. The 2017 results, released 7/24/17, show 28.6 percent proficiency in English language arts and 19.7 percent in math. In 2015, the first year PARCC was administered in New Mexico, the numbers were 26.4 percent and 17.4 percent, respectively.

Return to the Roundhouse Bittersweet for NM Lawmakers

May 2017 - Gov. Susana Martinez funds higher education and state government, which ended the special session of the New Mexico Legislature after a standoff with lawmakers.

The New Mexico State Land Office and New Mexico Game Department to Increase Funding to Public Schools.

November 2015 - The New Mexico State Game Commission approved an easement agreement in November and the additional $800,000 will benefit New Mexico's public education.

Endangered Species & Wildlife

Some Progress for Gray Wolves in Southwest

April 2019 - Mexican gray wolves are slowly returning to historic territories in the Southwest, but still being killed at rates that worry biologists tracking their recovery. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report shows a 12% increase in wolf numbers over the previous year.

Three Endangered Species in NM Have Recovered, are Thriving

January 2017 - Three endangered species native to New Mexico, a bat and two plants, have significantly recovered, a development that conservation groups credit to the protections of the Endangered Species Act. U-S Fish and Wildlife officials are proposing to take the lesser long-nosed bat, which ranges across southern New Mexico and the southern border, off the endangered species list.The agency also wants to de-list a plant known as gypsum wild buckwheat, and to change the status of the Kuenzler hedgehog cactus from 'endangered' to 'threatened.'

Critical Habitat Designation for Endangered Jaguars

March 2014 - Thousands of acres in Southern New Mexico and Arizona now has critical habitat status to protect the endangered jaguar.

Energy Policy

NM Teams Compete to Bring Solar Power to Underserved Communities

May 2017 - New Mexico has moved from 16th to 15th in the country for providing solar and is on the increase, still.

NM Clean-Energy Advocates Undeterred by Trump Executive Order

March 2017 - In the face of Trump's executive order to rollback the Clean Energy Plan, the city of Taos has instated a goal to achieve 100 percent renewable energy. No matter what the federal position on clean energy or air pollution.

Bill Reintroduced to Streamline Permitting for Renewable Energy Projects

February 2017 - A group of U.S. Senators including Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Tom Udall (D-NM) re-introduced the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act, S. 282. This bipartisan legislation works toward an "all of the above" energy strategy by simplifying the permitting process for solar, geothermal, and wind projects on public lands.

Renewable-Energy Advocates to Fight PNM at NM Supreme Court

January 2017 - The state Supreme Court heard a case today pitting renewable-energy advocates against the Public Regulation Commission and P-N-M, the state's biggest utility. At issue is whether the P-R-C was right to grant P-N-M permission to buy more coal and nuclear power versus investing in more wind and solar resources.

Renewables Outpace Nuclear in N.N. and in Nation

October 2016 - Renewable energy is outpacing nuclear power in the state and nationwide, according to two new government reports. The Energy Information Administration?s latest "Monthly Energy Review" shows in the first half of 2016, domestic renewable energy production was 25 percent greater than nuclear power production. Another report, from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, says renewable energy generating capacity is now double that of nuclear.

PRC Blocks Proposed Hike in Solar Energy Fees

August 2016 - A settlement reached Wednesday means customers of Southwestern Public Service Company in New Mexico will avoid paying higher fees for producing their own solar energy. The state Public Regulation Commission voted to keep solar surcharge fees the same or lower for customers who produce renewable energy at a home, small business, municipal building or school.

Peabody and State of NM Cut a Deal on Cleanup

August 2016 - The country's largest coal producer has reached a deal with New Mexico and two other states on how it plans to cover the cost of mine cleanups. Peabody Energy has filed for bankruptcy and the company has been allowed to self-bond, which means it promises to pay for coal-site cleanup without actually setting aside the cash. Environmentalists are calling it a win.

New Renewable Energy Research

August 2013 - Sandia National Laboratories and Arizona State University have signed a partnership agreement to encourage research in renewable energy sources.

January 2012 - Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) dedicated the new Las Vegas (NM) Solar Energy Center, the last of five new utility-scale solar power plants PNM has brought online within the past year. The five solar energy centers were built as part of PNM's effort to comply with New Mexico's renewable portfolio standard, which currently requires that 10 percent of energy produced for customers comes from renewable resources.

February 2011 - Following a loss in the state Supreme Court over separate sets of rules and regulations, the Martinez administration relented in the face of a lawsuit from the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club, agreeing to publish new, "greener" building codes that were approved last year.

December 2010 - New Mexico was highlighted more than once in December for its leadership on the clean energy front, both for "Green policies" and for pursuing the state's major renewable energy potential. One report from the Wilderness Society in particular gave kudos to a proposal to harvest solar energy with minimal impacts to wildlife habitat at the Afton site near Las Cruces.

Environment

New Mexico Monuments Avoid Size Reduction by U.S. Interior

December 2017 - After a controversial review of federal lands, two targeted monuments in New Mexico: Rio Grande del Norte and the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks were spared from downsizing by the U.S. Interior Department. The department has nonetheless recommended altering management plans of the monuments to protect grazing rights and the ability to combat drug traffickers.

January 2011 - The State Supreme Court says Governor Martinez is not above the law. The High Court ruled against the administration in a case brought by the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, ordering that new rules to control pollution from dairies and to begin reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state be published. Martinez had put a 90 day hold on all new rules, but the court ruled from the bench that the Governor was violating the separation of powers.

Gun Violence Prevention

Albuquerque Nixes Hosting Future NRA Gun Events

September 2018 - The National Rifle Association will hold its final National Police Shooting Championship in Albuquerque after Mayor Tim Keller said the event was a "bad fit" for the community. Per a contract obligation, the event will go on as usual Sept. 24-26, but will need to meet elsewhere in 2019.

Health Issues

Heroin Surge Addressed

April 2014 - Santa Fe city leaders are hoping that a new hotline will encourage people in the community to report suspected drug dealers as the city deals with increased heroin use.

September 2012 - U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman announced that New Mexico will receive an estimated $1.38 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) help the New Mexico Medical Insurance Pool continue to offer health care insurance options to those who otherwise are denied coverage and considered uninsurable due to preexisting conditions.

Number With Insurance Rises

November -0001 - The number of people who don't have health insurance in New Mexico dropped by five percent since the Affordable Care Act started at the first of the year, according to the latest Gallup poll. The research shows the state's uninsured rate fell from 20 percent to 15 percent in the first half of 2014. About 700-thousand New Mexicans are now insured under Medicaid.

Hunger/Food/Nutrition

More Nutritious Food During Summer for Kids

November -0001 - More children are benefiting from the Agriculture Department's Summer Nutrition Programs. A report from the Food Research and Action Center shows about 59-thousand kids in New Mexico were served a free meal each day last summer, reflecting a 14-percent increase from the year before. It also ranks New Mexico second in the nation behind the District of Columbia. Jennifer Ramo with New Mexico Appleseed, a nonprofit poverty policy organization, says part of the increase is linked to getting more meals to children. The report also shows that the number of feeding sites dropped five percent, which Ramo says is likely linked to several rural sites failing because of the cost of travel and other factors. Nationally, the research says more than three-million children participated in Summer Nutrition Programs in July 2014, up seven percent over the previous year.

Immigrant Issues

Bernalillo County Refuses to Rescind Immigrant-Friendly Status

August 2017 - Commissioners in New Mexico's most populous Bernalillo County rejected a proposed rollback to an earlier resolution that declared Albuquerque an immigrant-friendly community. In the 4-1 vote the majority overruled a proposal by Republican commissioner Wayne Johnson to bring the county in alignment with the federal government's current policy on detaining people who are in the country illegally.

Livable Wages/Working Families

May Day Protest Plans Build Across NM

April 2017 - Record numbers turned out for International Workers Day protests this year (2017).

Santa Fe Approves "Living Wage"

February 2014 - The Santa Fe County Commission voted 5-0 to become the 9th municipality in the country to adopt a local minimum wage.

Fair Pay for Women Act Becomes Law

March 2013 - Governor Susana Martinez signed the Fair Pay for Women Act into law.

November 2012 - Albuquerque voters approved an increase in the minimum wage from $7.50 to $8.50.

Native American Issues

Legislation Promised to Combat Fake Indian Art

August 2017 - New Mexico Senator Tom Udall, vice chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs has promised to introduce legislation that would require the government to devote more resources to limit counterfeit Native American art. At a Santa Fe public hearing, Udall took comments from many who say congress needs to update the Indian Arts and Crafts Act to improve protections for tribal artists against fraud that undercuts the value of their work.

Peace

NM Senator Sponsors Bill to Reduce Political Pressure on National Security Council

February 2017 - U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) introduced legislation that will clarify the permanent membership of the National Security Council (NSC) to ensure that decisions affecting national security are not clouded by political calculations. The legislation addresses significant concerns following President Trump's reorganization of the NSC, which diminished the roles of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence and extended NSC membership to a top campaign and political advisor.

Philanthropy

New Mexico Residents Give Big to Nonprofits

May 2014 - The "Give Grande New Mexico" one day online fundraiser held on May 6th raised nearly 900-thousand dollars to benefit several hundred nonprofits in the state.

Public Lands/Wilderness

"Monumental" Anniversary Marks a Win for NM Public Lands

March 2017 - A celebration recognizing Rio Grand Del Norte in obtaining national monument status represents success in the ongoing struggle to preserve public lands access in New Mexico.

Conservation Groups Praise Demise of Mineral-Rights Bill to Fund Education

February 2017 - Conservation groups are celebrating after a bill that would put revenue from the sale of mineral rights toward early-childhood education was tabled by its author. On Wednesday the Senate Education Committee tabled and essentially killed Senate Bill 182, following a public outcry. Ben Shelton with Conservation Voters New Mexico opposed the measure, viewing it as something of a wolf in sheep's clothing because it offered funds for education should the state gain the right to exploit mineral rights on 6-point-6 million acres of federal public land.

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks New National Monument

May 2014 - President Obama designated the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks as a national monument.

Organ Mountains National Monument Movement Gains Biz Backing

March 2014 - Some southern New Mexico businesses are backing the effort to designate the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks as a national monument, and seeing it as an opportunity to help market their products.

New Mexico has a New National Monument

March 2013 - President Obama designated 240,000 acres of BLM lands in Taos County at the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument.

Rio Grande de Norte Protection Plan Introduced

February 2013 - New bills from Rep. Lujan, Sens. Udall and Heinrich call for permanent protection of the Rio Grande del Norte region near Taos. The Rio Grande del Norte is a 236,000-acre parcel that stretches from the Colorado border to the Rio Grande Gorge west of Taos. The area is famed for hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation.

September 2012 - Two new wildlife refuges were dedicated in New Mexico, including the first urban refuge in the Southwest. The urban refuge - Valle de Oro, is Spanish for "Valley of Gold" is located along the Rio Grande on the southern edge of Albuquerque. The Wind River Ranch near Mora, N.M. was the location of a signing ceremony establishing the Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area of over 4,200 acres donated by the Pew Charitable Trust.

April 2011 - A new report from Headwaters Economics takes a look at oil, gas and coal development, and the role of those industries in state economies for Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. The findings show that the economic benefits to states are limited - accounting for less than three percent of both total employment and total personal income.

January 2011 - More federal wild lands are now set to be protected in New Mexico. A controversial Bush-era rule was reversed, allowing the Bureau of Land Management to once again survey lands with wilderness characteristics and set them aside until Congress has a chance to determine whether or not to designate official wilderness.

Young People Put to Work in the Carson Nat’l. Forest

November -0001 - A conservation project at Carson National Forest in Northern New Mexico is under way in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the "Wilderness Act." Young work crews are thinning about 160 acres of dense forestland to reduce the thick vegetation that can fuel the spread of forest fires

Legislation Would Help Fund Firefighting

November -0001 - Treating major wildfires as natural disasters and spending more money on improving forest health are goals of proposed federal legislation. The Wildfire Disaster Funding Act of 2015 would update how the federal government funds suppression efforts. The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources is considering the legislation.

Request at the Top to Protect Chaco Canyon

November -0001 - New Mexico's congressional delegation is asking U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to monitor a possible escalation of fracking in an area considered sacred by many Native Americans, Chaco Canyon. In a letter to Jewell, Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, and Congressman Ben Ray Lujan (lou-HAWN), stress the historic, cultural, and ecological significance of Chaco Culture National Historic Park.

LWCF Supported in Congress

November -0001 - U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico is among a bipartisan group of lawmakers urging Congress to renew the fund which is credited with paying for many recreation areas in the Land of Enchantment and across the nation. Heinrich says the Land and Water Conservation Fund helped create Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge in the Rio Grande Valley and the Valles Caldera National Preserve in New Mexico. Heinrich was among those who joined the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition for the release of a new report on the fund’s 50th anniversary. The fund, created by Congress, expires next year.

Teen Pregnancy Prevention

Birthrate for New Mexico Teens Drops 57 Percent

January 2016 - The birth rate among teenage girls dropped 57 percent in New Mexico from 2000 to 2014, according to the Population Institute.

Water

Legislation to Address Leaky Pipes

April 2014 - U.S. Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico is sponsoring several bills that could help New Mexico and all states conserve water.

Water Conservation is a Win for Santa Fe

November -0001 - The city of Santa Fe's two decades of water-conservation practices and policies seem to be paying off. Caryn Grosse, a water-conservation specialist with the city of Santa Fe, says water customers' average daily water use is at 95 gallons per person per day. She says it reflects a major conservation victory, because it marks the first time the number has dipped below the century mark. Grosse says based on the city's internal tracking, Santa Fe has the lowest residential water use in the Southwest, and adds that it has dropped by more than 45 percent since 1995. Grosse says achieving conservation goals has resulted from public education and outreach, a desire among residents to conserve, and various rebate programs for efficient appliances. She says more efficient toilets alone save a lot of water.


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New York News Connection

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention

Legislation Expands Use of Rehabilitation and Diversion Services to Combat Heroin and Opioid Epidemic

August 2018 - Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation (A.10403/S.8760) to help in the fight against the heroin and opioid epidemic by diverting substance-dependent individuals who are involved in the criminal justice system. These diversion models include law enforcement assisted diversion, known as LEAD, and other programs treating substance abuse and addiction. LEAD programs provide law enforcement officers and other criminal justice officials with the ability to divert people from the criminal justice system into substance use treatment, health or mental health services, housing assistance or other services. Specially-trained officers collaborate with prosecutors, defense attorneys, counselors, service providers, and other community leaders to avoid incarceration.

$10 Million Available to Expand Addiction Withdrawal and Stabilization Services in New York State

October 2017 - New York State is making up to $10 million in capital funding available to develop and support up to 75 new, community-based medically supervised withdrawal and stabilization beds throughout New York State. These detox programs provide around-the-clock care to people who are under the influence of alcohol, opioids, or other substances, or suffering from withdrawal, and help stabilize them and connect them to further treatment services.

Governor Cuomo Moves to Combat the Fentanyl Crisis in Western New York

September 2017 - Governor Andrew Cuomo has directed the NYS Department of Financial Services to take immediate action to advise insurers against placing arbitrary limits on the number of naloxone doses covered by an insurance plan. As fentanyl can be up to 50 times more powerful than heroin and it can take multiple doses of naloxone to reverse a fentanyl overdose, this new measure will ensure access to adequate doses of overdose reversal medication and save lives. The Governor also says he will advance legislation to add 11 fentanyl analogs to the state controlled substances schedule, giving law enforcement the ability to go after the dealers who manufacture and sell the drug.

Effort to Combat Heroin/Opioid Epidemic in NYS Gets $200M Boost

April 2017 - Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation investing over $200 million to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic in New York. Last year the Governor signed into law a plan to increase access to treatment, expand community prevention strategies, and limit the over-prescription of opioids in New York. The FY 2018 Budget builds on this progress by investing over $200 million to support prevention, treatment and recovery programs targeted toward chemical dependency, residential service opportunities, and public awareness and education activities.

Governor Cuomo Bolsters Addiction Treatment Services

March 2017 - Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced $2.65 million to expand and develop non-traditional addiction treatment support services throughout the state. The funding will go toward establishing Community Coalitions and hiring Peer Engagement Programs in each of the state's 10 economic development regions, to serve as resources for community-based addiction and recovery services.

Animal Welfare

Undercover Video Shuts Down Veal Slaughterhouse

January 2014 - A Tri-state veal slaughterhouse's operations have been suspended by the USDA amid an investigation prompted by a complaint and undercover video.

Victory for Chimps

November -0001 - A major victory for those concerned about animal welfare. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice issued a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of two chimpanzees. It is the first time in history a judge as issued a show-cause order for a non-human. The writ was issued in behalf of Hercules and Leo, who are the subject of biomedical experimentation at Stony Brook University. The case is expected to go to trial in May.

Campaign Finance Reform/Money in Politics

Corruption Trials Spur Calls for Reform

November 2015 - The corruption trials of the former Speaker of the NY State Assembly and the former NY State Senate Majority Leader have spurred calls for immediate action on ethics reform in Albany.

Children's Issues

Child Victims Act Signed into Law

February 2019 - The Child Victims Act ensures those who abuse children are held accountable criminally and civilly and that survivors of childhood sexual abuse have a path to justice. The new law Increases the amount of time during which perpetrators of these crimes may be held criminally accountable; allows victims of these crimes to commence a civil lawsuit at any time before they reach 55 years of age; provides victims whose claims have been time-barred a new opportunity for their day in court by opening a one-year window for them to commence their action; and eliminates the need to file a notice of claim for sexual offenses committed against a minor.

Governor Cuomo Signs Legislation Ending Child Marriage in New York

June 2017 - The legislation raises the age of consent to marry from 14-years-old to 18-years-old and amends the process to require parental and judicial consent for marriage of those between 17-years-old and 18-years-old. Until this legislation was signed, children as young as 14-years-old could get married with parental permission and written consent provided by a judge. The previous law, which dates back to 1929, does not provide guidance to judges determining whether or not to grant consent. More than 3,800 minors were married in New York between 2000 and 2010.

Project Will Help Children Affected by Sandy

October 2013 - With the anniversary of Superstorm Sandy being observed in October, a new initiative funded to the tune of over $988-thousand dollars by the state was announced.

Civil Rights

NY Assembly Passes Package of Voting Reforms

May 2017 - A package of nine bills to modernize and reform New York State's outdated election system passed in the Assembly, though it may not clear the Senate. The bill would allow early voting, expand access to absentee ballots, ease the process of transferring voter registration between districts in the state and reduce lines at polling stations.

Fair Housing Enforcement Program Launched to Root Out Discrimination in Rental and Home Sale Transactions

February 2016 - Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced the launch of a Fair Housing Enforcement Program.

Lower Prison Phone Rates on the Way

August 2013 - After a decade of activism and lobbying by prisoner advocacy groups, the FCC voted to lower inmate phone call rates.

Climate Change/Air Quality

Bigger Tax Break for NYC Green Roofs

August 2019 - Some building owners in New York City now have added incentive to create a green space on their roof. A green-roof tax abatement has been available in the city for several years, but few owners have taken advantage of it. In an effort to change that, a new state law tripled the tax break from $5 to $15 per square foot in community districts where sewers overflow during rainstorms and that lack green spaces. It also extends the existing tax abatement through July 2024.

Governor Signs Nation's Largest Offshore Wind Agreement

July 2019 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, joined by former Vice President Al Gore, has signed the nation's largest offshore wind agreement and the single largest renewable energy procurement by any state in U.S. history - nearly 1,700 megawatts -with the selection of two offshore wind projects, that Cuomo says will create enough energy to power over 1 million homes, create more than 1,600 jobs, and result in $3.2 billion in economic activity. He also signed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, or CLCPA, which adopts the most ambitious and comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation in the country. The announcement underscores New York's position as a global leader in climate and clean energy, and advances Governor Cuomo's nation-leading mandate of 9,000 megawatts by 2035. Additionally, the offshore wind announcement is expected to catalyze the first generation of major United States supply chain investments by the fast-growing offshore wind sector, positioning New York to be the hub of the nation's offshore wind industry.

Climate Plan Makes NY a Leader

June 2019 - New York is set to become a global leader in the efforts to fight climate change. With enactment of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, the Empire State will be on track to set the most ambitious legislative mandate for carbon reductions in the world. The plan calls for getting 70% of the state's electricity from renewable sources by 2030, to get to 100% carbon free power by 2040, and for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 85% below 1990 levels by 2050. The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act adds New York to a growing list of states aiming for 100% renewable energy by the middle of the century.

Climate Bill Gains Support in Albany

June 2019 - A bill that would write New York State's ambitious clean energy and climate goals into law has gained critical support. The Climate and Community Protection Act has already passed the state Assembly several times. And now, with a Democratic majority in the state Senate, the bill has reached majority sponsorship in both houses. Passage of the bill would make New York a national leader in the efforts to slow global climate change. It would require the state to cut greenhouse-gas emissions in half by 2030, and 100% by 2050, and direct funds to environmentally vulnerable, low-income communities. The bill also has an environmental justice component which requires 40% of the public revenue allocated for achieving renewable-energy targets be invested in communities that have historically borne the heaviest burdens from pollution, and those that are at risk from the impacts of climate change.

NY to Close Coal-Fired Power Plants by 2020

May 2019 - The last of New York state's coal-fired power plants will be phased out by the end of next year. The Department of Environmental Conservation has adopted final regulations requiring all power plants to meet strict new CO2 emissions standards. The new standards will effectively end the burning of coal for power in the state, making New York the first state to regulate an end to that major source of greenhouse gas emissions. There are two coal-fired power plants still in operation in New York. They could stay open if they install expensive emissions-capture technology or switch to natural gas.

NY to Make $280 Million Available for Energy Storage Projects to Combat Climate Change

May 2019 - New York is allocating $280 million to support energy storage projects that will accelerate growth within the industry and drive down energy storage deployment costs to build a sustainable and affordable market. This funding, announced during Earth Week, is part of a $400 million investment to achieve New York's energy storage deployment target of 3,000 megawatts by 2030, and supports the state's Green New Deal, a clean energy and jobs agenda that puts New York State on a path to a carbon-neutral economy.

NY Announces Third Solicitation for Large Scale Renewable Energy Projects to Accelerate the Development of Clean Energy and Combat Climate Change

April 2019 - New York state has launched the third annual solicitation for large-scale renewable energy projects under the state's Clean Energy Standard. The solicitation is expected to support approximately 1.5 million megawatt-hours of renewable electricity per year, enough to power over 200,000 homes, and will accelerate New York's transition to a clean energy economy. The solicitation is also expected to spur over one billion dollars in private investment, creating over 1,000 good-paying jobs for New Yorkers. The announcement advances progress toward New York's proposed nation-leading commitment to secure 70 percent of the state's electricity from renewable resources by 2030 under the state's Green New Deal.

Funding Available to Help Farmers Address the Impacts of Climate Change

March 2019 - $2.3 million in funding is available through round four of the Climate Resilient Farming grant program for farmers in New York State. The grants will help farms reduce their operational impact on the environment and better prepare for and recover after extreme weather events. Since the launch of the program in 2015, a total of $5.1 million has been provided to 40 projects across the state, helping 70 farms implement critical projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote energy savings, mitigate water and soil quality concerns and increase on-farm resiliency to climate change.

DEP Proposes New Regulations to Limit Greenhouse Gas Emissions

February 2019 - The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation released proposed regulations to improve air quality and protect public health with new, stringent requirements on peak-use power plants. The proposal will substantially reduce emissions from the "peaking" power plants operating on the hottest days with the most air pollution. In addition, they are often located in proximity to environmental justice areas.

Green New Deal Raises Bar for Clean Energy

January 2019 - In his State of the State and Budget address, the governor called for a commitment to move New York State to 70 percent carbon-free electricity by 2030 and 100 percent by 2040, the most aggressive clean energy goal in the country. The accelerated pace of Cuomo's Green New Deal builds on progress that the state already is making toward a clean energy future. One key to meeting the new target will be increasing the state's procurement of offshore wind, raising the goal from 2,400 megawatts by 2030 to 9,000 by 2035. The governor also has doubled the target for distributed solar power to 6,000 megawatts by 2025 and more than doubled goals for large scale, land-based wind and solar resources. The plan also calls for deployment of 3,000 megawatts of energy storage by 2030.

Green New Deal Raises Bar for Clean Energy

January 2019 - In his State of the State and Budget address, the governor called for a commitment to move New York State to 70 percent carbon free electricity by 2030 and 100 percent by 2040, the most aggressive clean energy goal in the country. The accelerated pace of Cuomo's Green New Deal builds on progress that the state already is making toward a clean energy future. One key to meeting the new target will be increasing the state's procurement of offshore wind, raising the goal from 2,400 megawatts by 2030 to 9,000 by 2035. The governor also has doubled the target for distributed solar power to 6,000 megawatts by 2025 and more than doubled goals for large scale, land based wind and solar resources. The plan also calls for deployment of 3,000 megawatts of energy storage by 2030.

NYS Increasing Energy Efficiency and Energy Storage Targets to Combat Climate Change

December 2018 - New York State Public Service Commission has approved two initiatives to dramatically increase New York's energy efficiency and energy storage targets to combat climate change. The new energy efficiency target for investor-owned utilities will more than double utility energy efficiency progress by 2025, reducing the state's energy consumption by the equivalent of fueling and powering 1.8 million homes. The energy storage initiative sets New York on a trajectory to achieve 1,500 megawatts of storage by 2025, enough electricity to power 1.2 million homes, and up to 3,000 megawatts by 2030. First announced as part of the Governor's 2018 State of the State clean energy agenda, these energy efficiency and energy storage targets are vital to meeting New York's clean energy goals.

NY Launches Electric Vehicle Charging Station Installation Rebate Initiative for Public and Private Locations

September 2018 - New York State is making $5 million available as part of the first rebate designed specifically for the installation of electric vehicle charging stations at workplaces, office buildings, multi-family apartment buildings, and public locations such as theaters, malls, parks and retail locations. The installation of charging stations for public use supports the clean energy goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030. The new Charge Ready NY initiative provides a $4,000 rebate per charging port for public or private employers, building owners, municipalities and non-profit organizations to install Level 2 charging stations at public or workplace parking lots or a multi-unit housing sites.

DEC to Issue Rules for Phasing Out Use of Hydrofluorocarbons in New York State

September 2018 - New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will promulgate regulations to phase out the use of hydrofluorocarbons, a group of potent greenhouse gas pollutants used in a wide variety of applications. The regulations would adopt the 2015 and 2016 changes to the Significant New Alternatives Policy that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is abandoning under the Trump administration. The regulations would prohibit specific substances for use in new consumer products, new equipment and equipment that is retrofit after the compliance dates, including aerosol propellants, commercial and residential food refrigeration equipment, commercial air-conditioning equipment, light-duty vehicle air-conditioning and foam-blowing agents. The phase out, which would be implemented from 2020-2024, is expected to reduce HFC emissions by more than 20 percent of projected levels by 2030.

DEC to Phase Out Use of Hydrofluorocarbons in New York State

September 2018 - New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will promulgate regulations to phase out the use of hydrofluorocarbons, a group of potent greenhouse gas pollutants used in a wide variety of applications. The regulations would adopt the 2015 and 2016 changes to the Significant New Alternatives Policy that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is abandoning under the Trump administration. The regulations would prohibit specific substances for use in new consumer products, new equipment and equipment that is retrofit after the compliance dates, including aerosol propellants, commercial and residential food refrigeration equipment, commercial air-conditioning equipment, light-duty vehicle air-conditioning and foam-blowing agents. The phase out, which would be implemented from 2020-2024, is expected to reduce HFC emissions by more than 20 percent of projected levels by 2030.

NY Invests $15 Million in SUNY Clean Energy Workforce Development & Training Programs

September 2018 - New York State has awarded nearly $6 million to SUNY campuses to train more workers in the clean energy sector. In addition, a request for proposals was made available to all SUNY campuses for grants totaling $9 million to provide apprenticeships, internships, and educational programs and support through industry partnerships across the state. These initiatives are part of Climate Jobs NY, a component of Clean Climate Careers initiative. As part of the $9 million RFP for additional grants, the SUNY university system will explore opportunities for partnerships with state and local agencies, including the Department of Labor, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Empire State Development, and Industrial Development Agencies. These partnerships will aim to meet existing and emerging critical workforce needs of New York's clean energy industry, drive regional economic development, and provide hands-on learning to students.

New York to Join Powering Past Coal Alliance

August 2018 - New York is joining the Powering Past Coal Alliance, an international coalition of governments, businesses, and other organizations committed to leading the rest of the world in ending the use of traditional coal power. Launched by the UK and Canada on the margins of COP 23, the Alliance is a coalition of governments, businesses, and other organizations to lead the rest of the world in ending the use of traditional coal power. It is committed to taking action to accelerate clean growth and climate protection through the rapid phase-out of traditional power.

State Legislators Form Carbon Coalition

February 2018 - State lawmakers have launched a multistate coalition to collaborate on legislation to combat carbon pollution. The Carbon Costs Coalition includes legislators from nine states, including New York. It will help those legislators design strategies to reduce carbon emissions and promote clean, renewable energy alternatives. The coalition will allow state legislators who are working on the issue to be able to compare notes on each other's bills and compare how they're conducting outreach and building their coalitions so they can be stronger by having that multistate idea sharing. It would supplement the carbon reduction goals of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, a multistate compact that seeks to reduce carbon emissions from the power sector.

NYC Suing Fossil Fuel Companies

January 2018 - New York City has filed a lawsuit against five major oil companies for damages the city blames on climate change. Mayor Bill de Blasio says the companies intentionally misled the public to protect their profits and now they need to shoulder the cost of making the city safer. Following the devastation of Superstorm Sandy, the city is engaged in a $20 billion program to increase resiliency to rising sea levels, more powerful storms and rising temperatures. The lawsuit is the latest in a string of suits filed across the country over the industry's role in climate change. The state of New York is suing Exxon Mobil, maintaining the company deceived investors by withholding information about the impact of fossil fuels on climate change. Responding to the suit, a representative for Royal Dutch Shell told the Associated Press that climate change is a complex issue that should not be addressed by the courts.

NY Green Bank Expanding to Accelerate Growth of Sustainable Infrastructure Financing and Combat Climate Change

September 2017 - Governor Cuomo has announced an ambitious expansion of NY Green Bank. Building on the success of its $400 million in commitments across 21 projects and robust pipeline of deals, NY Green Bank is committed to work with the private sector to raise new funds, assist other states in the establishment of new Green Bank offices, and provide capacity to those new Green Banks for back-end services including due diligence, underwriting and general technical support. The expansion will also allow NY Green Bank to better leverage public dollars and grow its own project development scope to clean energy projects in other states across the country.

NY Allocates $2.2 Million for Municipalities for Investments in Zero-Emission Vehicles and Infrastructure

September 2017 - New York State is making $2.2 million from the Environmental Protection Fund available in rebates for municipalities to purchase or lease electric, (plug-in hybrid or battery) or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for municipal fleet use, and for installation of public charging or fuel cell refueling infrastructure. The State's zero-emission vehicle and infrastructure investments will advance the state?s clean transportation and climate change goals by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

NY Green Bank Reaches Achieves Milestone $2.7M in Profits

June 2017 - During fiscal year 2016-2017, NY Green Bank generated $2.7 million in positive net income as a result of $291.6 million in investments in clean energy transactions across New York. Achieved one year ahead of schedule, the net income surpassed expectations and NY Green Bank's overall portfolio is expected to reduce between 4.3 and 6.4 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, which is the equivalent of taking between 50,000 and 70,000 cars off the road for 20 years.

Cuomo Reaffirms Commitment to Exceeding Goals of Clean Power Plan

March 2017 - With the announcement that the United States will begin to dismantle the Clean Power Plan, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and California Governor Edmund Brown Jr. issued a following statement reaffirming their ongoing commitment to exceed the targets of the Clean Power Plan and curb carbon pollution.

New York Launches Program to Encourage Electric Cars

March 2017 - Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a new electric vehicle campaign that includes the installation of charging stations, incentives for employers to encourage employees to drive electric vehicles and extensive public education and outreach. The increased use of electric vehicles will help the state in achieving its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030. The campaign will be overseen by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

Coal Plant Repowering Application Denied

February 2016 - The Public Service Commission turned down the application of the Cayuga Power Plant to extend its life by adding the capability to burn natural gas as well as coal.

Loophole on Air Pollution Closed

May 2014 - A loophole that allowed cement plants in New York and around the nation to go unpunished over toxic emissions if they were labeled the result of a malfunction or 'upset' has been closed by a federal court ruling.

New Pollution Cap Will Reduce Greenhouse Gases

February 2013 - A new cap is projected to reduce harmful carbon emissions by about 70 million tons per year for New York and its eight partner states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

June 2012 - The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed new clean air standards concerning soot, and has promised they will be finalized by the end of the year. The proposed limits on soot pollution deals with particles small enough to penetrate deep into the lungs, and is linked to asthma and heart attacks and tens of thousands of deaths each year. Soot comes from carts and trucks, factories and coal-fired power plants, along with many other sources.

April 2012 - The EPA issued first-ever air pollution rules for "fracking" wells, requiring that drillers burn or capture the gas and its smog-producing compounds released when the wells are first tapped. Going into effect in 60 days, the rules cover the period when a well is first drilled when natural gas is still venting but before it begins actual production.

NY Ahead in Clean Power Plan

November -0001 - Advocates say New York is ahead of the curve in complying with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The EPA held public hearings the last week of July in four cities. Laura Haight, senior environmental associate of New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), says the state should easily be able to cope with the Obama administration's proposed rules, which the EPA rolled out in June because New York is already part of the nine-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Consumer Issues

New York Joins 11 Other States in Letter Calling for Federal Protection of State Marijuana Laws

June 2018 - Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Governors of Alaska, California, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington today issued a letter calling for passage of the STATES Act to protect against federal interference in state marijuana laws. As of today, 46 states permit the use of some form of medical marijuana and 8 states have made it legal for adult-use. These programs reflect the will of the people as expressed through ballot initiatives and legislative action. In 2014 the Department of Justice provided federal prosecutors guidance in the form of the "Cole Memo", which directed limited federal resources away from prosecuting marijuana operations operating in compliance with state law. The rescission of the Cole Memo earlier this year has complicated the marketplace for businesses that states now deem legal.

June 2011 - A bill that would limit access to prepaid cell phones in Suffolk County came before the county legislature, generating strong reaction. It would have required that anyone purchasing one present two forms of identification to a retailer, and would have authorized the creation of a consumer database maintained by retailers and available to police. The phones serve as a lifeline for low-income residents, undocumented immigrants, tourists, and domestic violence survivors. With the Long Island Immigrant Alliance, SEPA Mujer, and the Suffolk chapter of the NYCLU leading the way, it was defeated, 11-7.

December 2010 - Following more than 30 deaths and numerous recalls, the Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the manufacture, sale and re-sale of drop-side cribs, with New York consumers and legislators leading the way. As we reported, there was still work to be done educating parents about old style hand-me-down and thrift-store cribs. "We are still in the process of looking into the situation," says Salvation Army spokeswoman Trish Raines.

Medical Bill Surprises to Stop

November -0001 - New York consumers began to see new protections from surprise medical expenses in April. A new law took effect that protects consumers from having to pay big bills for out of network medical expenses that were beyond their control.

Criminal Justice

Marijuana Decriminalization Law Goes into Effect

August 2019 - Legislation providing individuals a path to have their records expunged has gone into effect. It applies to those who have been unjustly impacted based on their race or ethnicity, reducing the penalty for unlawful possession of marijuana to a fine, giving many New Yorkers the opportunity to live better and more productive, successful and healthier lives.

NY to Issue New Rules for Solitary Confinement

October 2017 - The State Commission of Correction will issue new regulations to enhance the State's oversight of how solitary confinement is used in all local jails. The regulations and corresponding reporting guidelines will require jails to provide individuals in solitary confinement with at least four hours of time outside of their cell each day and report the following to the Commission: any decision that places an individual in solitary confinement for more than a month; if an individual younger than 18 is placed in restrictive housing; and if certain services are restricted or denied by the facility. The Commission will also be amending its administrative manual to solicit data and information from local jails on how vulnerable populations are housed and treated in those facilities, with the goal of advancing additional reforms.

Assembly Bill Would Seal Pot-Arrest Records

February 2017 - The New York Assembly has passed a bill to seal the criminal records of people arrested for simple possession of marijuana. If it becomes law the bill could help thousands of New Yorkers including green-card holders threatened with deportation over minor, non-violent drug arrests.

NY Second in Nation for Overturning Wrongful Convictions

February 2016 - A review by the National Registry of Exoneration found that in 2015 New York was second only to Texas for overturning the wrongful convictions of prison inmates.

NY Second in Nation for Overturning Wrongful Convictions

February 2016 - A report from the Michigan based National Registry of Exoneration's says New York State had the second highest number of prison inmates exonerated for crimes they did not commit.

Governor Cuomo to Expand Access to College Courses for Prison Inmates

January 2016 - Governor Cuomo announced that he will use $7.5 million dollars from a pool of hundreds of millions collected from banks as criminal forfeitures by the Manhattan Distict Attorney's office to expand the availability of college courses to prison inmates.

Governor Cuomo Signs Legislation to Prohibit Shackling of Pregnant Inmates During Transportation

December 2015 - Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation relating to the restraint of pregnant inmates.

New York Agrees to Major Reform of Solitary Confinement

December 2015 - New York State has agreed to a significant reduction in the number of prison rule infractions that can result in solitary confinement as well as limiting the duration of isolation and major changes in the conditions of confinement for those held in solitary.

Proposed Legislation Would Reform Bail System in NYS Courts

October 2015 - State Senator Michael Gianaris is proposing legislation that would eliminate bail for misdemeanors and other non-felony criminal cases in New York State courts.

FCC Takes a Look at Prison Phone Contract Reform

December 2012 - After more than a decade of effort by media reform groups, the Federal Communications Commission finally took a step forward on reforming the prices families pay to stay in touch by phone with incarcerated loved ones.

Disabilities

NYC Must Help Voters with Disabilities

May 2014 - A federal appeals court affirmed that the City of New York has failed to give meaningful access to voters with disabilities at over 1,300 polling sites.

Disaster Response Tailored for All – Including People with Disabilities

November -0001 - New York City’s emergency disaster plans should be the most comprehensive in the nation, as part of a federal settlement agreement delivered by the city to a federal judge. The biggest change will ensure New Yorkers with disabilities know where to flee in a disaster. By the end of September 2017, the city should have a minimum of 60 accessible emergency shelters, a change that should allow the city to shelter 120-thousand New Yorkers with disabilities.

Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault

Domestic Violence Survivors Have More Time to Sue for Injuries

September 2019 - Legislation to increase the statute of limitations for civil suits related to injury caused by domestic violence to two years has been signed into law. Under current law, civil suits for domestic violence must be initiated within one year after the incident and the law fails to take into consideration the highly emotional and extremely difficult factors involved in domestic violence situations that often prevent survivors from making the decision to initiate a civil suit. The new law recognizes the sensitive nature of domestic violence and affords victims two years to initiate a civil suit against their abuser. The bill takes effect immediately.

New Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence

August 2019 - Three pieces of legislation expanding protections for victims of domestic violence have been signed into law. The measures broaden the definition of the crime of domestic violence to include forms of economic abuse such as identity theft, grand larceny and coercion (S.2625/ A.5608); give victims the choice to vote by mail-in ballot, even if they remain within the county where they are registered to vote (S.3232-A/A.219); and allow victims to report abuse to any law enforcement agency in New York State, regardless of where the violence originally took place (S.1243/A.4467A).

Gov. Cuomo Proposes Removing Firearms from Domestic Abusers

December 2017 - Governor Andrew Cuomo today unveiled the first proposal of the 2018 State of the State: remove all firearms from those who commit domestic violence crimes. Given the inextricable link between domestic violence and lethal gun violence, this legislation will require all domestic violence crime convictions, including misdemeanors, to result in the immediate removal of all fire arms and will add measures to keep firearms out of the hands of those who commit domestic violence with the goal of preventing additional tragedies. In 2016, firearms were used in 25 domestic homicides in New York.

Early Childhood Education

$15 Million Awarded to Support Pre-Kindergarten Programs Statewide

December 2018 - $15 million has been awarded to 32 high-need school districts to increase access to high-quality pre-kindergarten for over 2,000 three- and four-year-old children across New York. This funding will support the expansion of pre-kindergarten to high-need or underserved districts as part of the state's ongoing efforts to promote early education and improve the academic future for all students. Funding was awarded to school districts based on the quality of the application and other factors, including district and student need, efforts to target the highest need students, and maximize the total number of children served in pre-kindergarten programs. This additional $15 million will ensure New York continues to support its youngest students by supporting the expansion of pre-kindergarten into high-need districts, including those where there are currently no pre-kindergarten seats.

High-Need School Districts Get $15 Million for Expanded Pre-Kindergarten

October 2018 - Recognizing the important of early childhood education, New York made available $15 million in new funding to establish pre-kindergarten programs for three or four-year-old students across New York. A preference in funding will be provided to high-need school districts that do not currently have a State funded pre-kindergarten program. New York's commitment to pre-kindergarten is now over $800 million annually, serving 120,000 three and four-year-old students each year, and universal pre-kindergarten is free for families. This additional $15 million will ensure New York continues to support its youngest students by supporting the expansion of pre-kindergarten in school districts across New York, including those where there are currently no pre-kindergarten seats. In addition, preference will be given to districts that will be ensuring the inclusion of students with disabilities in integrated settings.

High-Need School Districts Get $15 Million for Expanded Pre-Kindergarten

September 2018 - $15 million in funding is now available to establish pre-kindergarten programs for three or four-year-old students across New York. A preference in funding will be provided to high-need school districts that do not currently have a State funded pre-kindergarten program. New York's commitment to pre-kindergarten is now over $800 million annually, serving 120,000 three and four-year-old students each year, and universal pre-kindergarten is free for families. This additional $15 million will ensure New York continues to support its youngest students by supporting the expansion of pre-kindergarten in school districts across New York, including those where there are currently no pre-kindergarten seats. In addition, preference will be given to districts that will be ensuring the inclusion of students with disabilities in integrated settings.

Pre-Kindergarten Expanding in 11 Districts

November 2017 - New York has awarded $5 million to 16 high-need school districts to increase access to quality pre-kindergarten for nearly 1,000 three and four-year-old students across New York. This funding aims to support the expansion of pre-kindergarten to high-need or underserved districts as part of the State's ongoing efforts to promote early education, and improve the academic future for all students. Funding was awarded to school districts based on the quality of the application and other factors, including district and student need, efforts to target the highest need students, and efforts to maximize total number of children served in pre-kindergarten programs.

October 2011 - Supporters of a statewide ratings system for early education, pre-K and Head Start programs received the support of Gov. Cuomo in their bid for 100 million dollars in federal Race to the Top funding. As a result they are optimistic about the state's chances; winning would allow expansion of QUALITYstarsNY.

Education

$6.8 Million Award to Expand After-School Programs Statewide

November 2018 - Empire State After-School Program funding has been awarded to 15 high-need school districts and community-based organizations across the state. The $6.8 million will support the availability of 4,250 new slots to these programs, bringing the total number up to 89,000. This funding, in addition to the $2.4 million awarded to Long Island in September, brings the total expansion to $10 million. With last year's $35 million commitment, the total number of Empire State After-School awards now totals $45 million.

NYS Free College Tuition Plan Launched

June 2017 - Excelsior Scholarship has begun accepting applications. SUNY and CUNY students whose families make up to $100,000 annually can apply for tuition-free college. When fully implemented, the Excelsior Scholarship, in combination with other aid programs, will allow 52 percent of resident full-time students to attend a SUNY or CUNY two-year or four-year college tuition-free.

Legislation Investing $25.8B in High-Quality Education Signed

May 2017 - Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed new legislation that boosts education aid by $1.1 billion, including a $700 million increase in Foundation Aid. The investment builds on efforts to strengthening educational outcomes, including an increase in education aid of $6.2 billion, or 32 percent, over the last six years.

NY Approves Plan to Provide Tuition-Free College to Middle Class Families

April 2017 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the Excelsior Scholarship will provide tuition-free college at New York's public colleges and universities to families making up to $125,000 a year. The program, the first of its kind in the nation, is included in the FY 2018 Budget agreement. The Budget additionally includes $8 million to provide open educational resources, including e-books, to students at SUNY and CUNY colleges to help defray the prohibitive cost of textbooks.

Task Force Recommends Changes to Teacher Certification Exams

January 2017 - A special task force has recommended several changes to the tests all teachers need to take to be certified in the state. Critics of the current tests say many of the exams, which were adopted in 2014, are "seriously flawed," and create unnecessary barriers for aspiring teachers.

Cuomo Proposes Tuition Free College in NY

January 2017 - Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his proposal to make all New York City and State two and four year colleges tuition-free for all New Yorkers in families with incomes of $125K a year or less. If approved by the state legislature the plan would supplement existing federal and state tuition assistance programs and would be phased in over three years. The governor's office estimates the annual cost of the plan when fully implemented would be about $163M a year.

Parents Sue to Enforce School Funding Formula

December 2015 - New York parents went to court to try to force the state to abide by a school funding formula passed by the state legislature in 2007.

Parents Sue to Enforce School Funding Formula

November 2015 - New York parents went to court to try to force the state to abide by a school funding formula passed by the state legislature in 2007.

Gov. Proposes Education Budget Boost

January 2013 - Increases in education spending were conspicuous in Governor Cuomo's proposed 142-point-six billion dollar budget, after several years of cuts in aid to public schools.

May 2012 - Voters around New York State overwhelmingly approved their school districts' annual budgets, the first to be delivered under a new cap on property taxes for schools. Roughly 92 percent of school boards produced budgets that kept tax increases within the cap. Education reform advocates continue to press the governor and legislature to fairly distribute more funding statewide.

March 2012 - Education reform advocates won a partial victory in late March. Governor Cuomo had proposed to divert $250 million out of classrooms and into experimental competitive grants but the Legislature responded to the demand of parents and students across the state by redirecting $200 million of these funds back into our classrooms and schools. Billy Easton of the Alliance for Quality Education thanked both houses of the Legislature on a bi-partisan basis but said, "This year's budget is inadequate in comparison to yet another round of classroom cuts that are expected in local schools as a result of the policies in Albany."

February 2012 - A deadlock was broken at the eleventh hour as New York State United Teachers and Governor Cuomo reached an agreement on a formula for using students' test scores in evaluating teachers. The dispute had threatened to hold up state and federal funds for education in New York's public schools.

December 2011 - In a year filled with layoffs and cutbacks throughout New York's public school systems, many talented teachers still managed to gain recognition for exemplary work - 165 earned the profession's highest credential, National Board Certification. It's a jump of 14.5 percent over last year.

April 2011 - The chancellor of the state's largest school system was a lightning rod from the moment New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed her late last year. Cathy Black, a former Hearst Magazines executive, had an approval rating of just 17 percent in a poll in early April. Her sudden, forced resignation brought praise from some quarters, along with shock and surprise.

Voucher Plan Defeated

November -0001 - The Parental Choice in Education Act has been defeated, which education union leaders called a “voucher system in disguise.” It would have taken more than $150 million from public schools.They say it was an effort by Cuomo to reward billionaire bakers of his re-election campaign.

Common Core Test Used to Judge Teachers Delayed

November -0001 - Gov. Cuomo and the Legislature reached a tentative deal that delays the use of state Common Core student test results to grade teachers who’ve been rated “ineffective” or “developing.” The Common Core test results would still count for teachers who were rated “effective” or “highly effective.”The moratorium is a big victory for teachers’ unions and education advocates who have fought the accountability program tied to the new Common Core standards since they were rolled out two years ago. Union leaders complained of flawed implementation.

Endangered Species & Wildlife

Bill To Protect Menhaden And Improve Ocean Health Signed into Law

April 2019 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has signed legislation (A2571 Englebright/S2317 Kaminsky) to protect menhaden, a fish whose population recovery has been instrumental in restoring striped bass, whales, dolphins, bluefish, coastal sharks, predatory fish, seals, and seabirds, among other species to New York's waters. The measure will strengthen conservation efforts to protect this vital bait fish by prohibiting the commercial use of an industrial net, known as purse seines, that can encircle an entire school of fish. The measure prohibits the taking of menhaden with the use of purse seines, fishing nets as large as six city blocks, held down by weights at the bottom and buoyed by floats at the top edge that draw closed around the fish. An important commercial baitfish, menhaden are also harvested for production of fish oil, fertilizer, and fishmeal. Prohibiting the use of purse seines in New York's waters supports our fishermen, who use more sustainable taking methods, and increases their ability to access menhaden, also known as bunker.

Energy Policy

Contracts for Nearly 1,700 Megawatts of Wind Offshore Wind Power Finalized

October 2019 - The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority has finalized contracts with Equinor Wind US LLC for its 816 megawatt Empire Wind Project and Sunrise Wind LLC for its 880 megawatt Sunrise Wind Project to deliver clean, affordable renewable energy to New Yorkers. As the largest procurement for offshore wind in the nation's history, this announcement advances New York's nation-leading Green New Deal goal to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035 and position the state as the regional hub of this rapidly growing industry in the United States.

NYS Investing in Energy Storage on Long Island

July 2019 - New York State is dedicating $55 million for energy storage including commercial and residential storage projects on Long Island. This program will be launched with an initial rollout of nearly $15 million in incentives from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. Energy storage projects supported by this Long Island initiative will advance progress toward achieving New York's target of 3,000 megawatts of energy storage deployed by 2030 - the equivalent to powering 40 percent of New York's homes. The announcement supports a Green New Deal - a nation-leading clean energy jobs agenda putting New York on a path to carbon neutrality.

Offshore Drilling Ban in New York Waters Signed into Law

April 2019 - Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation to ban offshore drilling in New York State waters (S.2316 (Kaminsky)/A.2572 (Englebright). The legislation will bar the state from granting permits for drilling, or oil or gas exploration in offshore areas controlled by the State. It will also protect New York's waters and coasts by making it more difficult for oil and gas drilling to occur close to coastal New York, even in waters controlled by the federal government. In addition, the legislation prohibits the leasing of State-owned underwater coastal land that would authorize or facilitate the exploration, development, or production of oil or natural gas. The bill is a direct response to the Trump administration proposal to open U.S. coastal areas to drilling.

New Program To Spur Innovations In Energy Storage And Electric Vehicle Technology

April 2019 - An innovative partnership between the New York University Tandon School of Engineering Urban Future Lab and the New York Power Authority will recruit and support startup businesses pursuing electric vehicle and energy storage technologies. The partnership will help advance Governor Cuomo's Green New Deal, a nation-leading clean energy and jobs agenda that will aggressively put New York State on a path to economy-wide carbon neutrality. The joint program, called the NYPA Innovation Challenge, will support advanced pilot programs demonstrating new technology and business models in New York State. As the power grid inevitably transforms and begins to work with more distributed energy resources (DERs) and grid edge solutions, NYPA will be seeking additional public and private partners with expertise in innovation, energy efficiency and clean energy generation.

NY Seeking Bids for Offshore Wind Power

November 2018 - New York has issued a comprehensive solicitation seeking 800 megawatts or more of new offshore wind projects for New York. This highly anticipated first offering, issued by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority kicks-off competition for New York State's first large-scale offshore wind development contracts, an initial step toward its goal of 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind by 2030 to combat climate change.

$40 Million to Support Solar Powered Storage Projects

October 2018 - $40 million will be made available to support solar projects that integrate energy storage, accelerating progress toward New York's energy storage target of 1,500-megawatts by 2025. These projects will build toward New York's goal of getting 50 percent of the state's electricity come from renewable sources by 2030 to combat climate change and build a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy system.

NY Invests$15 Million in SUNY Clean Energy Workforce Development & Training Programs

September 2018 - New York State has awarded nearly $6 million to SUNY campuses to train more workers in the clean energy sector. In addition, a request for proposals was made available to all SUNY campuses for grants totaling $9 million to provide apprenticeships, internships, and educational programs and support through industry partnerships across the state. These initiatives are part of Climate Jobs NY, a component of Clean Climate Careers initiative. As part of the $9 million RFP for additional grants, the SUNY university system will explore opportunities for partnerships with state and local agencies, including the Department of Labor, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Empire State Development, and Industrial Development Agencies. These partnerships will aim to meet existing and emerging critical workforce needs of New York's clean energy industry, drive regional economic development, and provide hands-on learning to students.

Assembly Passes Bill to Help Community Solar

July 2018 - New York's State Assembly has voted to restore net metering of community solar power. The bill would put the Public Service Commission's Value of Distributed Energy Resources, or VDER, plan on hold for three years. Net metering and VDER are methods of calculating compensation for smaller energy sources such as solar installations for the power they feed into the electric grid. Environmental advocates say restoring net metering will make solar power accessible to all New Yorkers, including almost half of state residents who rent their homes and can't install solar panels on their property. The PSC says VDER was established to fix a flaw in the net metering system and to support the state's Reforming the Energy Vision strategy. But advocates say, since the plan was rolled out last year, new solar installations have slowed significantly because VDER makes it difficult to calculate a long-term rate of return on the cost.

New Energy Efficiency Goals Draw High Praise

April 2018 - Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced new energy efficiency targets that environmental advocates say will fill in the missing piece in New York state's clean energy plan. The goal is to save energy equivalent to the amount used by 1.8 million homes by 2025. Achieving that goal will be key to meeting the state's climate goal of a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the next 12 years. To get there the state will be investing more than $36 million to train up-to 19,500 New Yorkers for new energy-efficiency jobs. Reynolds said those would be good-paying jobs for electricians, building retrofitters, energy auditors and more.

NY Takes Step Toward Renewable Energy Future

March 2018 - Called the largest state commitment to renewable energy in U.S. history, New York awarded almost $1.5 billion in contracts for 26 large-scale renewable energy projects across the state. When all are operational, they will generate more than 3.2 million megawatt-hours of clean, renewable energy a year. Governor Andrew Cuomo's office says the projects will power more than 430,000 homes and reduce carbon emissions by 1.6 million metric tons. The total output will be more than twice the power the state set out to buy when it began the process.

NYS Wind Master Plan Draws Praise

January 2018 - New York state has released the first-in-the-nation Offshore Wind Master Plan. The plan starts the process of procuring at least 800 megawatts of offshore wind power over the next two years. The goal is to increase that to 2.4 gigawatts by 2030. With only one, small wind farm currently operating off Block Island, the U.S. is far behind some other nations in developing offshore wind. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) estimates that in 10 years, offshore wind will be a $6 billion industry, employing 5,000 people.

Governor Calls for Halt to Investments in Fossil Fuels

December 2017 - Governor Andrew Cuomo is calling for a plan to divest the New York State Common Retirement Fund from significant fossil fuel investments, and move to support the clean tech economy while assessing financial risks and protecting the Fund. The Common Fund is third largest in the nation, and manages over $200 Billion in retirement assets for more than one million New Yorkers.

Weatherization Measures Help Families Save an Average 20 Percent on Utility Bills

October 2017 - NYS has committed $59 million in funding through the Weatherization Assistance Program to help cut utility costs for approximately 9,200 income-eligible families and seniors across the state. Funds will be released to a statewide network of non-profit organizations to conduct energy-efficiency work including, but not limited to air sealing, insulation, upgrading heating systems, and diagnostic testing to identify hazards such as carbon monoxide and mold. Weatherization can save an average of 20 percent on utility bills. The Weatherization Assistance Program has invested more than $738 million since 2011 to make 118,600 homes safer, more resilient, and more affordable.

NY Green Bank to Raise at Least $1 Billion to Accelerate Clean Energy Solutions and Combat Climate Change

October 2017 - The NY Green Bank is seeking to raise at least an additional $1 billion in private sector funds to expand financing availability for clean energy projects. These additional funds to be raised from third-party investors will enable NY Green Bank to deliver greater environmental and cost benefits to New Yorkers and broaden the scope of investable projects beyond the boundaries of New York State.

DEC Denies Permits for CPV Power Plant Pipeline

August 2017 - The New York state Department of Environmental Conservation denied key permits Millennium Pipeline Co. is seeking for its planned 7.8-mile pipeline that would supply natural gas to the $900 million power plant being built in Wawayanda. In a decision filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, DEC Deputy Commissioner and General Counsel Thomas Berkman wrote that Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's environmental review of the $57.3 million project was "inadequate and deficient."

Upping the Ante for Reducing Greenhouse Gases

August 2017 - The nine-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is proposing lowering the cap on power plant emissions even further. Since it was created in 2005, the multi-state carbon cap-and-trade agreement, known as RGGI, has helped cut emissions from affected power plants in New York in half, and reduced coal-fired power generation statewide by 90-percent. Now RGGI wants to lower the cap an additional 30-percent by 2030. Over the next 13 years, the new cap reduction should bring total carbon emissions in the region down to 65 percent of 2009 levels.

850 Solar Projects Added in NY

August 2017 - 850 solar projects have been installed or are in development in communities across New York State through the second round of locally-organized "Solarize" campaigns. Launched by Governor Andrew Cuomo in December 2014, New York's Solarize program is an important component in supporting the State's Clean Energy Standard, which requires that 50 percent of the electricity in New York to come from renewable sources by 2030.

NY State Taking Bids for Big Increase in Renewable Energy

June 2017 - The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the New York Power Authority have announced plans to purchase Renewable Energy Certificates for a combined total of 2.5 million megawatt-hours per year of renewable power generation. The announcement followed Gov. Andrew Cuomo's executive order committing the state to upholding the Paris Agreement on climate change. The purchases could lead to the development of between 600 and 1,600 megawatts of new clean-energy generation capacity.

Cuomo Supports Major Development of Offshore Wind Farms

January 2017 - In his series of State of the State reports Governor Andrew called for approval of a 90-megawatt wind farm off Long Island, and the future development of up to 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind power. With the announced closing of the Indian Point nuclear power plants new New York City wind power will be key to achieving the state's goal of 50 percent renewable energy by 2030. The governor has also directed state agencies to undertake a study to determine the fastest, most cost effective and responsible way for the state to reach 100 percent renewable energy.

Agreement Reached to Close Indian Point

January 2017 - New York state has reached an agreement with Entergy to permanently shut down the Indian Point nuclear power plant over the next four years. Under the agreement, the Indian Point Two reactor will shut down in 2020 and Indian Point Three the following year. The closures will mean finding other sources for about 2,000 megawatts of power. Clean energy advocates point out that the development of areas already leased for offshore wind power could provide up to 2,000 megawatts, and more offshore areas could be leased in coming years.

Cuomo Orders Investigation of Indian Point Leak

February 2016 - Following reports of "alarming levels" of radioactive tritium detected in test wells at the Indian Point Nuclear Power Station, Governor Cuomo ordered state environmental officials to investigate the source.

Governor Cuomo Launches $5 Billion Clean Energy Fund

January 2016 - Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the New York State Public Service Commission's approval of a 10-year, $5 billion Clean Energy Fund to accelerate the growth of New York's clean energy economy.

Governor Calls for Closing Indian Point

December 2015 - Governor Andrew Cuomo sent a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission stating his opposition to the re-licensing of the nuclear reactors at the Indian Point Nuclear Power Station.

Governor Vetos Port Ambrose Offshore LNG Facility

November 2015 - Governor Andrew Cuomo sent a letter to the US Department of Transportation vetoing the construction of the offshore Port Ambrose Liquefied Natural Gas Facility proposed for 20 miles off Jones Beach.

Closing of Fitzpatrick Nuclear Power Plant Announced

November 2015 - Citing a bleak economic outlook for nuclear power Entergy, the owner of the FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in upstate New York, announced that the plant will be closed by early 2017.

August 2011 - With Congress spending much of the summer focused on deficit reduction, supporters say the Power New York Act signed into law should provide a jobs jolt just when the Empire State needs it most — while at the same time, tackling climate change pollution.

June 2011 - Lawmakers passed a measure that should help New York homeowners be able to spend money to save money by making their homes more energy efficient. The measure is projected to create 14-thousand new construction jobs, and supporters say it also will prevent "dirty" power plants from being located in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.

Environment

NY to Launch Program to Restore Wetlands, Restock Fish and Oysters

September 2019 - Governor Andrew Cuomo announced he will outline an aggressive initiative to restock and restore aquatic habitats throughout New York n his 2020 State of the State Address. He plans to protect and restore wetlands and waterways and include significant investments in New York's 12 fish hatcheries to increase the state's populations of freshwater sportfish such as walleye, trout, and salmon and restore oysters in New York Harbor over the next decade and double the current shellfish restoration initiative on Long Island. Restoring the state's aquatic habitats will also help communities increase their resiliency in the face of climate change and severe weather. To support Hudson River Park's Estuarine Sanctuary Management Plan and the state's extensive shellfish restoration initiative, the Governor also announced $2.8 million in funding to restore marine habitat in New York Harbor and support state efforts for it to continue to thrive and to expand the Soundview Park oyster reef in the Bronx River. The announcement includes $1.5 million in capital funding to help create approximately four acres of enhanced habitat for 5 to 10 million oysters in the Hudson River Park's Estuarine Sanctuary.

State Suing EPA Over Hudson PCBs

August 2019 - Advocates are calling the state of New York's lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency a "move toward environmental justice." The newly filed lawsuit says the EPA broke the law by issuing General Electric Company a certificate of completion for its removal of PCBs from the Hudson River. The EPA issued the certificate in April, saying the cleanup was complete, but PCB levels in Hudson River fish remain three times higher than the target level set in 2002. The EPA's own evaluation found the cleanup left about 13 more tons of PCBs in the upper river than anticipated. PCBs, which GE dumped in the Hudson years ago, are linked to cancer in humans. Thousands of New Yorkers, especially in low-income, immigrant and minority communities, supplement their diets with fish caught in the Hudson.

On Earth Day, Legislation Banning Single-Use Plastic Bags in New York

April 2019 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation in Kingston that bans the sale of single-use plastic bags in New York starting in March 2020, a significant step to reduce pollution and protect fish and wildlife. "Single-use" plastic bags do not degrade and often wind up as litter on lands and in waters, harming birds or wildlife that ingest the plastic. It is estimated that New Yorkers use 23 billion plastic bags annually, and nationwide studies show that approximately 50 percent of single-use plastic bags end up as litter. In addition to preventing plastic bag litter in our environment, this ban will also help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with plastic bag production and disposal, from petroleum used to produce the bags to emissions from the transportation of bags to landfills.

Cuomo to Propose Ban on Plastic Bags

January 2019 - Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office announced that his 2019 Executive Budget will include a proposal to ban all single-use plastic bags. Some areas of New York already are discouraging plastic bags by charging consumers a small fee for each bag. Last year, Suffolk County imposed a 5-cent fee on both plastic and paper single-use bags. Business groups say they oppose the ban because consumers will simply switch to paper bags, which cost more to transport and store and still could end up in the waste stream. The executive budget includes measures to combat litter, reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and protect the environment.

NY Initiates Action Plans to Combat Harmful Algal Blooms

June 2018 - The State Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Health have released 12 action plans to address the causes of harmful algal blooms (HABs) in priority waterbodies across upstate New York. The action plans outline specific projects and programs to be implemented at priority lakes and also identify actions that can be taken at waterbodies statewide to reduce the threat of HABs. The plans are part of a $65 million, four-point initiative to aggressively combat HABs and protect drinking water quality and the upstate economy.

Cuomo Introduces Program Bill Banning Single-Use Plastic Bags in New York State

April 2018 - Governor Andrew Cuomo has introduced a program bill that would ban all single-use, plastic carryout bags at any point of sale in New York State. This action follows the release of the New York State Plastic Bags Task Force report in January, which outlined the environmental impact of plastic bags, single-use bag reduction measures, and proposed actions that the state could take to reduce pollution and protect New York's natural resources, including a ban on single-use plastic bags.

States, Conservation Groups Sue to Implement Clean Water Rule

February 2018 - New York and nine other states have joined with environmental groups in a lawsuit to end delays in implementing the Clean Water Rule. The 2015 rule clarified which small streams and wetlands are protected by the Clean Water Act. The suit comes a week after Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt finalized an action to delay implementing the rule for two years while the agency moves to repeal or replace it. Critics of the rule say it only applies to "navigable waters," those large enough for boat traffic. But supporters of the rule say the water quality standards of the Clean Water Act without reducing the pollution winding up in the actual navigable waterways. And the only way to do that is to reduce the amount that is winding up in some of these earlier headwater streams and these wetlands.

EPA Delays Decision on Hudson PCBs Cleanup

January 2018 - The Environmental Protection Agency has delayed a decision on whether General Electric has properly completed its cleanup of the Hudson River. The EPA sent a letter to GE saying the agency needs more time to complete its review. GE had asked the EPA for a "certificate of completion" a year ago, after finishing the removal of millions of cubic yards of sediment contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, which have been shown to cause cancer. The EPA has said the data shows no more dredging is needed. But the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service say more dredging is needed.

New York Threatens Suit Over Hudson River Cleanup

December 2017 - Governor Andrew Cuomo threatened to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency if they accept the Upper Hudson River dredging of polychlorinated biphenyls as complete. Under this plan, Governor Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will sue the federal government to ensure the dredging is completed once and for all. New York is also prepared to withdraw from the 2002 Record of Decision which guided the cleanup and removal of millions of tons of PCB-contaminated sediment from the Upper Hudson River. The EPA's decision is expected to be announced later this month, and indications are they will deem the cleanup complete.

Wetland Restoration Project on the Upper Niagara River Completed

September 2017 - The completion of a $4.3 million wetland restoration project on Strawberry Island, located in the upper Niagara River near Buffalo, will rejuvenate the island's fish and wildlife preserve. The project focused on supporting the ecological restoration of the Niagara River to increase the sustainability of the environment, while promoting the region's growing tourism industry in Western New York. Marking the final phase of a $13 million regional environmental improvement initiative, the completed project supplements the state's investment in the Buffalo Billion II initiative.

NY, PA and DE Governors Approve Resolution to Permanently Ban Fracking in Delaware River Basin

September 2017 - Governor Andrew Cuomo, along with the Governors of Delaware and Pennsylvania, comprising a majority of the Delaware River Basin Commission, voted in favor of a resolution put forward by the commission to issue draft regulations to permanently ban hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas in the Delaware River Basin. The DRBC vote was three to one with one abstention in passing the resolution for promulgating regulations that would prohibit any water project in the Delaware River Basin proposed for developing oil and gas resources by high-volume hydraulic fracturing.

NY Launches Methane Reduction Plan

May 2017 - Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the Methane Reduction Plan, 25 actions the state will take to reduce methane emissions from landfill, oil and gas infrastructure and agriculture. The plan will be implemented by the New York State Departments of Environmental Conservation, Agriculture and Markets, Public Service, and the Energy Research and Development Authority, in conjunction with the Soil and Water Conservation Committee. The implementation of these actions is part of New York State's commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050, from 1990 levels.

5,900 Acres of Hudson Highlands Parkland Preserved

April 2017 - On Earth Day more than 5,900 acres of parkland in the Hudson Highlands were added to the list of preserved areas, expanding access to outdoor recreation and forever protecting diminishing open space. The parkland includes a 3,777-acre conservation easement for Black Rock Forest in Orange County as well as significant parcels abutting Bear Mountain, Clarence Fahnestock, Goosepond Mountain, Harriman, Rockland Lake, and Schunnemunk Mountain State Parks.

NY State Denies Pipeline Permit

April 2016 - The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation denied permits necessary for the construction of the Constitution Pipeline.

Fitzpatrick Closing Date Announced

April 2016 - The owner of several nuclear power plants sent a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission announcing that it's Fitzpatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Oswego, NY will shut down.

Governor Cuomo Directs a Safety Analysis of The Algonquin Pipeline Near Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant

February 2016 - Governor Andrew Cuomo directed state agencies to issue a letter calling on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to immediately halt construction of the Algonquin natural gas pipeline.

DEC joins Pipeline Environmental Review

December 2015 - The Cuomo Administration announced that the Department of Environmental Conservation will participate in the environmental review of a controversial pipeline proposal to carry crude oil from Albany to Linden, NJ, and refined products back north.

Grant Helps Restore Native Fish Populations

November 2015 - A 150 thousand dollar grant to the Nature Conservancy will help with the construction of a fish ladder to allow migratory fish return to their spawning grounds.

Albany County Votes to Ban Microbeads

November 2015 - The Albany County legislature passed a ban on products containing microbeads, tiny plastic particles used as a non biodegradable ingredient in personal care products from facial scrubs to toothpaste.

Styrofoam to be Banned in NYC

December 2013 - New York's City Council voted to ban Styrofoam.

Court Rules Towns Can Ban Oil and Gas Development

May 2013 - Fracking opponents celebrated a huge victory in May. In a major ruling that could have impact all across the state, a New York Appeals Court ruled in favor of the upstate towns of Dryden and Middlefield, affirming lower court decisions that said the towns had a right to ban oil and gas development activities, including fracking (the hydraulic fracturing of shale rock to extract natural gas.)

August 2012 - Opponents of hydrofracking for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale Formation are not easing up, despite indications Gov. Cuomo is going to allow it in 5 Southern Tier counties where local communities opt for it. Matt Ryan, mayor of the city of Binghamton, took issue with the assertion that 40 towns have passed resolutions supporting drilling. Ryan, a fracking opponent whose city has banned gas drilling, said the resolutions only say that the decision is up to the DEC."They continue to perpetrate the myth that all these towns are for it," he told the AP. Health-care professionals have called on Cuomo to have a university conduct a formal health impact assessment as part of the DEC review. Lawyers from the Natural Resources Defense Council have said they may file a lawsuit challenging the validity of the DEC environmental impact review if a health study isn't done.

October 2011 - Critics of fracking for natural gas considered it a victory when the DEC announced it needed more time to gather more input before issuing an advisory report that could lead to the issuing of permits to drill in the state's Marcellus shale formation.

June 2011 - The Environmental Protection Agency announced new rules for coal-fired power plants to help curb the air pollution that has marked the eastern United States for years. The new regulations will affect power plants in 28 states and are scheduled to go into effect in 2012. They will cut millions of tons of soot and smog emissions from power plants at a cost of less than $1 billion per year to utility companies.

May 2011 - Backers of a new comprehensive water management program for the state saw it moving toward approval in the Senate. The measure would - among other things - require anyone withdrawing more than one hundred thousand gallons of water a day to first get a permit from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and could possibly impact the spread of hydraulic fracking for natural gas, which is currently under a moratorium. The bill advanced to a third reading on May 10.

April 2011 - Hundreds rallied in Albany to ask Governor Cuomo and state lawmakers to give priority to water and air quality when it comes to "fracking" - the extraction method to get to the gas in the Marcellus Shale formation. The blowout of a natural gas well in Pennsylvania, across the border from Binghamton, further raised concern. In mid-month, State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced he has given the federal government one month to commit to "conducting a full environmental review."

January 2011 - Absent from the blizzard of complaints following the release of Governor Cuomo's Executive Budget were many environmentalists. After several conservation groups sent the Governor a package of green policy recommendations designed to spur economic development, or save taxpayers in long-term environmental costs, many were thankful that Cuomo didn't want to "sweep" or pull unused funding from the $134 million Environmental Protection Fund, which pays for things such as land acquisition, farmland preservation, recycling, municipal parks and other measures. "Governor Cuomo has effectively targeted cuts to inflict the least amount of pain," Marcia Bystryn of the NY League of Conservation Voters told the Albany Times-Union. "The governor has made good on his campaign pledge," added Ned Sullican, president of Scenic Hudson, a group that advocates on behalf of the Hudson River.

LI Projects To Protect Against Storm Damage

November -0001 - Governor Cuomo announced hundreds of millions of dollars for projects on Long Island that will reduce nitrogen pollution and shore up natural defenses against future storms. The biggest share of the state money, 383 million dollars, is dedicated to sewer projects in Suffolk County. And the state is also advancing 97 million dollars to Nassau County to expedite upgrades to the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant, which failed during Sandy. The sewage fixes are a major step in restoring natural storm protection. By removing nitrogen pollution, marshes and underwater grasses will stay healthy and help reduce the impact from waves during storms.

Cuomo Blocks Tar Sands Oil Plans

November -0001 - The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) halted Global Companies’ proposed expansion of its massive Albany oil train facility to handle tar sands oil. Citing project changes, new information, questions about the project’s ability to meet air quality, and impacts to the neighboring residential community, the DEC issued a letter today notifying Global it would rescind its prior finding that the project would have no significant environmental impacts and that a full environmental review will be required.

Supreme Court Rules Communities Can Ban Fracking

November -0001 - This is seen as a huge victory for the 170+ towns in New York that have passed bans or moratoriums on fracking—and the dozens more New York communities that have been waiting for this court decision before passing bans of their own.

Environmental Justice

Environmental Justice Organizations Secure State Funding

December 2018 - The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has awarded $2.6 million in Community Impact Grants to 28 organizations. The funding will support projects that address environmental and public health concerns in low-income and minority communities across the state that have historically been burdened by environmental problems. The 28 organizations receiving funding in this latest round will enhance and clean up vacant lots, create organic urban farms, improve local waterways, expand environmental education and engage young people with green jobs, address soil health, and build awareness and support for community-owned solar.

$1 Million Awarded for Jobs Training in Environmental Justice Communities

November 2017 - Green Jobs for Youth grants have been awarded to 10 organizations across the state to serve communities that face environmental justice and unemployment challenges. The funded training programs include entrepreneurship in urban agriculture, skills needed in green infrastructure, and solar installation trainings. The grants were administered by DEC with funds from New York's Environmental Protection Fund, which in 2017, includes a record $8 million for environmental justice programs and projects. The Department of Environmental Conservation also has released a request for applications for $1 million in new grant funding to support an initiative to promote environmental education through the development of Urban Environmental Education Centers.

Family/Father Issues

Task Force Will Develop Recommendations to Make Quality, Affordable Child Care More Accessible

December 2018 - The Child Care Availability Task Force, established earlier this year, has held its first meeting. The group of experts focused on developing innovative solutions that will improve access to quality, affordable child care in New York. The task force is comprised of representatives from the child care provider community, the advocacy community, representatives of the business community, unions that represent child care providers, representatives from several state agencies and local departments of social services. It will examine access to affordable child care, the availability of child care for parents with non-traditional work hours, statutory and regulatory changes that could promote or enhance access to child care, business incentives to increase child care access, and the impact on tax credits and deductions relating to child care. It is expected to share its initial recommendations with the administration next year and finalize its report by the end of 2020.

Regulations Adopted to Implement Paid Family Leave Program

July 2017 - New York State has adopted regulations implementing its landmark Paid Family Leave program. The regulations outline the responsibilities of employers and insurance carriers in implementing the most comprehensive paid family leave program in the nation. Starting January 1, 2018, Paid Family Leave will provide employees with wage replacement and job protection to help them bond with a child, care for a close relative with a serious health condition, or help relieve family pressures when someone is deployed abroad on active military service. Employees are also entitled to be reinstated to their job when their leave ends and to the continuation of their health insurance during their leave.

Gun Violence Prevention

NYS Passes Legislation to Remove Guns from Domestic Abusers

March 2018 - The legislation closes a loophole in state law in order to ensure domestic abusers are required to surrender all firearms, not just handguns. The policy is part of the Governor's 2018 Women's Agenda. Previously, New York law prohibited the possession of firearms for individuals convicted of a felony or for a limited number of misdemeanor "serious" offenses. However, this excluded many misdemeanor offenses which nobody could deny are in fact serious. To ensure no domestic abuser retains the ability to possess a firearm despite being convicted of a disturbing crime, the legislation rightly bolsters the list of "serious" crimes, which, upon conviction, require the loss of a gun license and the surrender of all firearms. The legislation will also ensure individuals wanted for a felony or other serious offense are not able to obtain or renew a firearm license. Previously, despite being subject to an arrest warrant, an individual could still legally obtain a firearm license, all while being sought by the police.

Health Issues

Package of Bills to Supports NY Veterans Becomes Law

November 2017 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed five pieces of legislation to further support New York veterans by improving healthcare and services, as well as memorialize veterans throughout New York State in a number of different ways. Among the bills in the package is one that adds Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a qualifying condition in New York's medical marijuana program. It is estimated that approximately 19,000 patients with PTSD in New York could benefit from the use of medical marijuana. This includes military veterans, police officers and fire fighters, as well as survivors of domestic violence, rape, violent crime, and accidents. Virtually every state in the country with a medical marijuana program allows for treatment of PTSD. Other provisions in the package of bill provide combat veterans employed by the State with additional days of paid leave to obtain health services, counseling and access to other benefits, and another that waives the civil service examination fee for veterans who were honorably discharged.

Governor Cuomo Signs Legislation Expanding Unlimited Sick Leave Benefit for New Yorkers Who Participated in 9/11 Response Efforts

September 2017 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation to expand unlimited sick leave benefits for public sector officers and employees who developed a qualifying health condition as a result of their heroic response to 9/11 rescue, recovery, and clean-up efforts at World Trade Center sites. Under the bill individuals would be eligible for unlimited paid leave at 100 percent of their regular salary dating back to the time of their diagnosis. Similar paid leave benefits are currently available for New York Police Department, New York Fire Department, New York City Corrections and New York City Sanitation for injuries and illnesses obtained in the line of duty.

NY Will Bring Lawsuit if Congressional Health Care Bill Becomes Law

July 2017 - Governor Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that, if the House or Senate health care bill is signed into law, New York State will bring a lawsuit challenging the bill's constitutionality. Cuomo and Schneiderman made the announcement at an event at Mount Sinai Hospital, encouraging members of New York's Congressional delegation to stand against the bill. Should it pass and be signed into law, New York will challenge the Republican health care bill in court on the basis of several constitutional defects, including the placement of unconstitutional conditions on federal dollars used for health care.

Governor Announces Actions to Protect Access to Affordable Health Care

June 2017 - Governor Andrew Cuomo has directed the New York State Department of Financial Services to promulgate new emergency regulations mandating health insurance providers do not discriminate against New Yorkers with preexisting conditions or based on age or gender, in addition to safeguarding the 10 categories of protections guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act. The measures will ensure that essential health services are protected and covered for all New Yorkers regardless of efforts at the federal level to strip millions of Americans of their healthcare.

Single Payer Health Care Bill Passes Assembly

May 2017 - A bill passed in the State Assembly would create a state-run single-payer health-care system. If it becomes law it would make New York the first state in the nation to give every resident health care.

NY Expands Premature Babies' Access to Breast Milk

April 2017 - The New York State budget includes a provision allocating $3M Medicaid payments for breast milk for premature infants. The measure will help get lifesaving breast milk to the 3300 premature infants born in NYS every year, saving millions spend on treatment for an often fatal gastro-intestinal disease that affects one-of-six premature babies.

GMO Labeling Bill Advances in Assembly

February 2016 - The Assembly Committee on Consumer Affairs and Protection approved a measure to require the labeling of genetically modified foods.

April 2012 - Governor Cuomo took executive action to create a statewide health exchange, thwarting attempts by opponents of President Obama's Affordable Health Care Act to bog down health care reform in the Empire State.

June 2011 - A slimmed down, less restrictive insurance exchange bill was agreed upon by the Cuomo administration and the state Legislature. The exchange, a component of President Obama's health care overhaul, would create a system for individuals and small businesses to get health insurance. While it passed in the Assembly, it was not addressed in the Senate. Senate staffers said they may return to tackle the exchange issue later in the summer during a brief "cleanup" session.

HIV/AIDS Prevention

NY Expands Access To Affordable Housing For New Yorkers Living With HIV/AIDS

March 2018 - New York State is expanding the HIV/AIDS Services Administration rental assistance program for New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS. Additionally, the Governor announced the nation's first state-level Hepatitis C comprehensive elimination strategy to end the Hepatitis C and HIV epidemics in New York State. The new effort aims to stop the Hepatitis C virus by increasing access to medications that can cure Hepatitis C and expanding programs to connect New Yorkers in high-risk communities with wrap-around Hepatitis C prevention, screenings and treatment services.

Tracking Progress on World AIDS Day

December 2017 - Since the pandemic peaked in 2005, AIDS-related deaths have been reduced by nearly half. More than 36 million people currently live with HIV worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Supportive Housing Project Completed in Albany

December 2017 - New York State has completed construction of a supportive housing development for chronically homeless individuals living with HIV and AIDS. The new 26,000-square-foot Albany Damien Center will provide 20 permanent supportive apartments - 18 studio apartments and two one-bedroom apartments - for 22 chronically homeless people living with HIV/AIDS. The $5.6 million project was supported in part by $4.3 million from the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance's Homeless Housing and Assistance Program and a $269,000 grant from the Dormitory Authority of New York.

New York Acts to Ensure Coverage of HIV-Prevention Medication

December 2017 - On World AIDS Day the New York State Department of Financial Service issued guidance to insurers to remove unacceptable barriers to coverage for PrEP and ensure that insurance coverage for PrEP is available to all New Yorkers. The guidelines make clear that insurance companies cannot discriminate against those requesting PrEP based on lifestyle or behavior. Health service providers generally prescribe PrEP, which has been shown to be highly effective in stopping HIV infection when taken as prescribed, for HIV-negative people who are at high risk for HIV.

Cuomo Proposes Expanding Access to HIV treatment

February 2016 - Governor Andrew Cuomo is proposing legislation to allow minors to receive treatment for HIV without requiring parental consent.

Housing/Homelessness

New York Opposes Proposed Rule Change That Would Undermine Civil Rights Protections and Fuel Housing Discrimination

October 2019 - Nine state agencies have announced their opposition to the federal government's attempt to dismantle critical housing protections for vulnerable and marginalized communities. The proposed rule change from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, if enacted, would fundamentally alter the Fair Housing Act's disparate impact standard and would have devastating consequences for victims of housing discrimination. Nine state agencies have submitted public comments in opposition to the proposed rule change, reaffirming New York's commitment to fair housing and protecting all New Yorkers from discrimination.

Projects to Create 215 Housing Units for Homeless New Yorkers

December 2018 - The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance's Homeless Housing Assistance Program has awarded $29.6 million in state funding to eight projects that will provide homeless veterans, survivors of domestic violence and individuals with mental illness with permanent housing and support services. The grants, awarded through the, will create 215 supportive housing units in seven counties and fund necessary repairs at three emergency shelters in Suffolk County. The projects - located in Oneida, Schenectady, Rensselaer, Broome, Bronx, Warren, and Livingston counties - are also supported through other funding sources. In total, they represent a $198 million investment that will add a total of 472 units of affordable and supportive housing throughout the state.

Proposal Could Reduce Homelessness Statewide

March 2017 - Advocates for the homeless are supporting a proposal called the Home Stability Support program, which they say could drastically reduce and prevent homelessness in New York state. The program would raise the amount of the housing allowance for people on public assistance to 85 percent of the prevail