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New Jersey lawmakers are proposing legislation that would allow police officers to use surveillance footage from security camera owners.  The owners could voluntarily provide police with information taken from their outdoor security cameras.  The footage would only be for police use and would be available to the public.
Some officials in Kansas are pointing to fracking wastewater disposal as the cause of recent earthquakes in the state.  There is debate between scientists and environmental groups on the impact of fracking on the environment.  Groups have called for an end to fracking until further study is done to determine what effects it has.
For the second year in a row, health insurance marketplaces serving rural areas have the highest premiums.  Wyoming, rural Nevada, the southernmost county in Mississippi, and Alaska, which has the highest, have the highest premiums in the nation.  A lack of providers paired with long distances to clinics and health centers attribute to higher than average premiums.
The Transportation Research Board met recently to discuss the future of driverless cars.  Some of the considerations discussed were: standardizing highway and street signs, speed limits, and cybersecurity and privacy issues.
Maine will begin drug testing people on welfare who have a drug conviction within the last 20 years and are also likely to use drugs based on an assessment.  If recipients refuse or test positive for drugs they will be placed in substance abuse program in order to continue receiving benefits.
Legislatures will be met with a flurry of bills on police authority, citizen review boards on police shootings, and others after 2014 was fraught with incidents of police violence against unarmed citizens.  There have been months of protests calling for action from elected officials, and many are entering their legislative sessions with bills in hand on addressing this issue.
Powdered alcohol also known as palcohol, is not even available in stores and legislatures across the states are looking to ban and strictly regulate the product.  South Carolina passed a ban in 2014 and is looking to extend its ban, along with legislators in Colorado, Nebraska, Utah, Vermont and others that have bans on stores selling palcohol.
The Minnesota legislature will be cracking down on its child abuse investigation procedures this year after a task force was formed last year on this issue.  The legislature will be eliminating a law that created a ban on considering past reports of abuse when deciding to open an investigation.  The legislation would also enable social workers to use those past reports in deciding to open a new case.  Several advocates for children spoke to the legislature urging them to also recognize racial disparities in the child welfare system, noting that 2% of Minnesotan children are Native American but make up 17% of the children placed in foster care.
Ohio will be switching to a new drug to administer lethal injections, after an execution last year was reviewed after it resulted in a botched execution.  The new drug, thiopental sodium, had been previously used in the state from 1999 to 2011.
In a boon to Keystone XL pipeline supporters, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled to allow a route for the pipeline to cross the state, moving debate over TransCanada’s embroiled line to Congress.  Congressional Republicans have indicated a desire to approve the pipeline regardless of the President’s threats to veto.
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