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Massachusetts is used to being near the top in national rankings — from education to health care to technological innovation. But when it comes to protecting children in foster care or potentially abusive homes, the state has languished closer to the bottom for years, according to an assortment of federal data. Massachusetts ranked 38 out of 50 states in the percent of foster children visited each month by caseworkers, according to 2012 data from the US Department of Health and Human Services, the most recent data available.
Telemedicine is hardly a new concept — and is already in use in some Florida hospitals., but over the next few weeks, state lawmakers will consider creating statewide standards for telemedicine. They also will debate establishing reimbursement requirements, as well as a system for registering out-of-state telemedicine providers in Florida.
Convenience stores will have to start stocking a variety of "staple foods" alongside the snacks and fountain drinks if they want to keep accepting food stamps, under a little-noticed section of the farm bill. The provision, tucked into the nearly 1,000-page bill signed into law Friday by President Barack Obama, would require that stores increase the "depth of stock" in four of those staples: bread or cereals, vegetables or fruits, dairy products, and meat, poultry or fish.
Medical marijuana has been a non-starter in recent years in the Deep South, where many Republican lawmakers feared it could lead to widespread drug use and social ills. That now appears to be changing, with proposals to allow a form of medical marijuana gaining momentum in a handful of Southern states. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, and this year powerful GOP lawmakers in Georgia and Alabama are putting their weight behind bills that would allow for the limited use of cannabis oil by those with specific medical conditions. Other Southern states are also weighing the issue with varying levels of support.
Texas is preparing for the first major test of its hotly debated new voter ID law as Democrats and Republicans offer sharply differing assessments of its impact on the state’s March 4 primary. Citing the hundreds of thousands of people whose names on voter registration rolls do not match their government-issued IDs, Democrats say the law is already resulting in widespread confusion that could lead to delays at voting booths. Republicans say fears of disruptions are being overstated.
A contentious bill to screen welfare recipients for drug abuse and limit residents to buy only "nutritional" foods with food stamps is moving forward. State representatives voted 71-22 in favor of the bill this week.
Following the death of a Black 14-year-old who walked away from his Queens school, the Justice Department will pay for voluntary-use GPS tracking devices for children with autism or other conditions that put them at risk for fleeing their caregivers.
The Maryland Senate gave final approval to a plan for the state to offer temporary, retroactive health insurance to residents unable to sign up through the state's troubled online marketplace. Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley sponsored the legislation and is scheduled to sign it into law.
New Jersey lawmakers petitioned federal officials to examine the state's distribution of aid to people hit hard by Superstorm Sandy. More specifically they are concerned with why so many people still wait to receive federal aid after the storm.
Coloradans who live in the nearly 300 federally subsidized housing projects in the state are blocked by federal regulations from using marijuana in their homes in spite of state legalization — but that could be changing at some point.