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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Governor Signs Paid Sick Leave Bill

California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a new law making paid sick leave available to nearly all workers.  Workers will be able to receive up to three days paid sick leave, making the bill the largest in employee benefits in the nation.  The business community fought against the bill arguing the economic climate, in addition to, the increase in minimum wage and benefits would make it difficult for them to provide for their employees. 

Several U.S. states in the South are seeing definitive increases in HIV cases.   Deficient preventative services, poverty, racism and other factors are leading to the rise in HIV cases.  Additionally, a lack of access to health care resources is impacting those living with HIV and AIDS.

In one of their first meetings since the Michael Brown shooting, Ferguson city council members were met by riled community members who were demanding answers in the wake of the death of the unarmed black teen.  Audiences called for the resignation of the mayor, James Knowles III and Police Chief Tom Jackson.   The city council remained mostly silently to the questions and demand leaving the audience mostly unsatisfied but not deterred.

Although faced with opposition from the Virginia legislature, Governor Terry McAuliffe has developed a 10-point plan that will enable the state to expand health services in lieu of full Medicaid expansion.  The plan will provide coverage for 20,000 of the 400,000 individuals that would be eligible under expansion.  It will also increase coverage services for children, veterans, and pregnant women enrolled under Medicaid. 

Delaware has recently joined a growing number of states passing “common sense” legislation that would allow pregnant workers to continue their jobs with better accommodations.  The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act provides for modifications that would enable pregnant workers to keep working with consideration being given to their pregnant status.  This includes more bathroom breaks, lighter duty, and other provisions.

A U.S. District Court judge declined to halt the continued implementation of voting changes while the changes are being litigated in the courts.  The changes which include elimination of same day voting, a shortened early voting period, and other provisions, are being challenged by several groups including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) North Carolina state chapter.
Florida legislators agreed on new lines for congressional districts after a Circuit court judge ruled the map used in the 2012 elections was illegal.  Redrawing the map will alter seven of the State’s 27 electoral districts, but it is currently unclear whether it will change the Congressional representation.
Ohio Federal judge Gregory Frost has extended the State’s death penalty moratorium into next year after probes into Ohio’s “lethal injection cocktail.”  Earlier this month when an inmate was executed using the cocktail, he was observed choking and gasping for air.  The moratorium will allow for further investigation into the drugs used for execution. 
Localities such as Wilson, North Carolina desire to fill the digital divide by providing their communities with broadband access.  Cities interested in bringing internet service where private companies cannot are looking towards municipal broadband, high speed broadband delivered via fiber optic networks, to accomplish that goal.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into law a bail reform measure that would create an alternative pre-trial release which will prevent indigent defendants from being stuck in jail because they cannot afford bail.  The measure comes after a special session was convened for the legislature by Christie.  The measure still requires a vote by New Jersey residents in November.