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The New York City Council approved adding electronic cigarettes to a ban on smoking in offices, restaurants, bars and parks, a move that may be followed by other U.S. cities. The measure, backed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, passed 43 to 8 yesterday.
A federal judge has ruled that a 2011 law requiring welfare applicants to undergo drug tests is unconstitutional, striking a blow to Gove Rick Scott's administration over the controversial tests. Scott quickly said he would appeal U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven's Tuesday ruling, the latest defeat for the governor in a drawn-out battle over drug testing some of the state's poorest residents.
For states throughout the country this year, there's a common theme: a climate of uncertainty coupled with a sense of genuine opportunity. Amid worries about the federal government's failure to boost funding for infrastructure, many states are taking steps to produce that funding on their own.
With a vote of 78-16, the Senate confirmed Jeh Johnson as head of the Department of Homeland Security on Monday. The former Pentagon attorney will oversee policies such as national security, immigration, disaster response and transportation.
The primary aim of the Affordable Care Act is to reduce the number of uninsured Americans. Even if the new federal health law accomplishes that goal, states still must grapple with the relatively high cost and low quality of U.S. health care. Per person, the U.S. spends far more than any other country on health care—and yet it gets relatively poor results for its money.
Faced with resistance from insurers and some state officials to his health-insurance fix, President Obama summoned insurance industry executives Friday for what he called a "brainstorming" session against the backdrop of widespread anxieties about how the new twist in his health care law will be carried out.
The Mississippi Department of Mental Health is expected to spend $10 million this fiscal year after the Justice Department found that the state is violating federal law by institutionalizing too many mental ill and developmentally disabled people. In February 2011, the Justice Department informed the state of its investigation into Mississippi's mental health system, which serves those with mental illness, intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, and alcohol and drug addictions.
Monday, November 18, 2013

Cut in food stamps brings wide worry

Unemployment remains stubbornly high. Paycheck growth, especially for minimum-wage workers, is stagnant. Yet even lacking a full economic recovery, millions of needy families around the United States and in Massachusetts are losing a portion of their federal food stamp benefits this month.
The U.S. Justice Department says Louisiana's private school voucher program must be monitored to make sure it doesn't make public school segregation worse. To that end, it wants the state to submit extensive student and school demographics each year.
The Obama administration fell far short of its goal of signing up 500,000 people for insurance coverage through online marketplaces in its first month of operation, enrolling just 26,794 people through the glitch-ridden HealthCare.gov and another 79,391 through individual states running their own exchanges.