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The U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments in the Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama case regarding the state’s practice of packing black voters into majority-minority districts to keep the remaining districts filled with white voters most likely to vote Republican.  Legislators and democrats have challenged the district map on the ground it violates the Voting Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause.
Several Texas legislators have announced plans to introduce bills legalizing same-sex marriage for the upcoming legislative session.   Some of these bills include amendments to the state’s constitution and changes to state law to allow same-sex marriage.
Former state legislator, Annette Polly Williams, has passed away at age 77.  A huge advocate of “school choice” in Wisconsin, Williams was an active member of the Wisconsin legislature for three decades.  She was also an active member of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators and was heralded by others for her relentless fight on education.
After instituting quarantine orders on health workers returning from West Africa, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the quarantines would not disrupt their livelihood.  Health workers who go to West Africa to treat Ebola patients would not have their pay cut or be demoted because they were serving.  Additionally, the state would make up any lost income to a health worker if they had to be quarantined once they returned to the United States.  The new guidelines come amidst concerns that quarantine orders might decrease the number of doctors, nurses, and other health workers from volunteering.
With the increased use of alternative energy sources, utilities are feeling the impact and are reaching out to states for help.  Solar energy policies, such as net metering, are shifting the burden of costs to those not engaging in their use, according to utilities.  Additionally, utilities are being pushed out of the market because of solar and other alternative energy sources.
Ballot initiatives in Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia resoundingly approved to legalize marijuana in those states.  Alaska and Oregon constituents voted to the retail sales of marijuana through marijuana dispensaries, whereas the District voted to allow for small amounts of possession for personal use.
Four states have moved forward in raising the minimum wage after voters came out to support ballot measures.  Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota all held ballot measures to increase the minimum wage.  Increases are likely to be phased in over time or not take effect until 2016.
Georgia has become the first state to cap income taxes after voters supported a ballot measure to place a ceiling on the income tax rate.   Georgia’s income tax rate will be capped at 6% and will allow the state to be more appealing to businesses looking to expand in the state.
Gary Herbert, governor of Utah, has reached an agreement with the federal government for his Healthy Utah plan, the alternative to Medicaid expansion.  The plan has been submitted to the legislature for approval and includes provisions such as a work effort requirement as well as higher co-pays. 
The National Association of State Medicaid Directors sent a letter to members of Congress asking them to intervene in the fight against expensive prescription drugs, especially for Hepatitis C, cancer and other costly diseases.  In the letter, the directors urged Congress to take any form of action they deemed would stem the cost of rising drug prices.