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Monday, January 13, 2014

Gun wars to heat up in 2014

Both sides of the gun law debate have geared up to wage war across the country in 2014 using millions of dollars, midterm elections, opposing messaging strategies and dueling grass-roots campaigns. This year, groups will focus on pouring money into candidates that support their ideals and changing or upholding laws in hot spots such as Colorado, Washington and Illinois.
Thursday, January 9, 2014

Who counts as poor in America?

Homeless people without shelter from this week's frigid temperatures. Medicaid patients living out their days in a nursing home. Orphaned kids raised in foster homes. Or Dasani, the "invisible child" profiled in the New York Times five-day spread. Who among them counts as poor? Fifty years ago, President Lyndon Johnson announced a legislative agenda to wage "unconditional war on poverty in America." But how do we know what poverty is in America?
Federal officials Wednesday released guidelines intended to help the nation's schools create discipline policies that would keep more students in class, avoid unnecessary out-of-school suspensions and reduce racial disparities in punishment. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. are scheduled to jointly discuss the new guidelines Wednesday at Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore, where they will participate in a roundtable conversation with students.
After four years of a fragile and uneven recovery, the U.S. job machine is likely to kick into high gear in 2014. Even recession-battered states such as Arizona and Florida are expected to generate jobs at a healthier clip. Overall, the U.S. economy is projected to generate 2.6 million jobs in 2014 year, up from 2.2 million last year, largely on the strength of the country's booming health care, energy and high-tech sectors.
As public schools nationwide embrace instruction via iPads, laptops and other technologies, many are realizing they lack the necessary broadband speed to perform even simple functions. This is crimping classroom instruction as more teachers pull lesson plans off the Internet and use bandwidth-hungry programming such as video streaming and Skype.
Some schools want to end their traditional role as polling places because of security concerns since the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, leaving their communities without easy alternatives for voting sites.
The new year brought with it a number of laws — some quirky, some unprecedented — that were introduced, debated and ultimately passed in 2013. Now the process starts all over again. This week marks the first wave of new sessions for the year, with 15 state legislatures reconvening.
On Wednesday, workers in Rhode Island will be among the few in the nation able to, by law, take several weeks of paid leave to care for a newborn, adopted or foster child, or to care for a seriously ill relative. Rhode Island, where paid family leave was approved by wide margins in the state House and Senate in just one session in July, joins California and New Jersey as the only states to offer workers family leave that is paid not by taxpayers or employers but, like Social Security, out of a pool of employee paycheck contributions.
Thursday, January 2, 2014

New year, new laws

Almost a dozen new laws will go into effect across Georgia on January 1, 2014. They range from an overhaul of the state's juvenile justice system to an updated city charter.
States in the South and West are adding population faster than the rest of the country, according to new estimates released Monday by the Census Bureau. The annual estimates of state population on July 1 shows the South added more than 1.1 million residents between 2012 and 2013, while Western states added almost 728,000 residents over the past year.