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In a speech delivered to constituents, the formerly incarcerated, and prison officials, Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy outlined his proposal to reduce the number of nonviolent offenders in the state’s prison system.  Proposals included streamlining parole work, eliminating mandatory minimums, and job training for former offenders.
Residents are pushing against occupational license requirements they argue are discriminatory and burdensome.  For plaintiffs in Arkansas suing the state for the right to own and operate hair braiding shops without a license, the right to engage in business, without strict requirements is protected constitutionally.
States are facing a multitude of issues this year.  Some of those issues include cybersecurity, which could not be more urgent in the face of recent hacks in the U.S.; workforce development, which is always a major issue each year, and infrastructure maintenance.  America’s roads, bridges, and tunnels have been crumbling for the last decade and states are looking to Congress for continued funding.
Following several measles outbreaks, several states are considering vaccine-related legislation.  Anti-vaccine individuals or anti-vaxxers, have been advocating against inoculating children, pointing to “inconclusive” evidence on the impact and effectiveness of vaccinations.   Several of these measures would prevent parents from citing moral objections to vaccinating their children.
Lawyers from the U.S. Department of Justice are recommending that civil rights charges not be brought against Darren Wilson, the police officer responsible for the death of 18 year old Michael Brown.  The Attorney General Eric Holder and the head of the Civil Rights Division, Vanita Gupta, have the finally say on the matter but are unlikely to go against the investigating attorneys.  Investigation into the Ferguson police department remains open.
Governor Cuomo has proposed raising the minimum wage to $10.50 following such states as Hawaii and Connecticut.  The New York state current minimum wage is $8.75 and will rise to $9 in December 2015.  Raising the minimum wage to $10.50 would make New York’s the highest in the nation.
Several counties in California are offering health coverage at local clinics to undocumented immigrants.  Undocumented immigrants are not eligible for coverage under the Affordable Care Act, however President Obama’s new deportation relief, nearly half a million undocumented will be able to qualify for Medi-Cal, California’s version of Medicaid. 
TransCanada, the company building the Keystone pipeline, filed eminent domain papers in local courts to secure a 50-foot-wide strip of land to build the line on in Nebraska.  The company will continue to reach out to Nebraska landowners to get permission to build on the land but filed the papers just in case negotiations were not successful.
Tuesday, February 3, 2015

States Look to Tax E-Cigarettes

Some states are looking to tax e-cigarettes like traditional cigarettes citing public health concerns.  Two states have already implemented taxes on e-cigarettes also known as vape and other states are debating the issue.  Lawmakers argue that many of the vape products market to teens with their bright colors and fruit flavors and that a tax on those products would reduce their use.
Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Exonerations Hit Record High in 2014

Over 100 individuals were exonerated last year, and most were largely due in part to the work of law enforcement.  Special prosecutor teams were also instrumental in overturning convictions due to bad evidence, false testimony, coerced confessions and other wrongful practices.  Many of the overturned convictions found that no actual crime had been committed.