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California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed the nation’s first sexual assault bill that requires affirmative consent language to be a part of sexual assault policies across college campuses.  The “yes means yes” bill, as it is known, requires colleges to implement affirmative, voluntary, and conscious consent as a part of their sexual assault policies.
The Arkansas Supreme Court is poised to hear arguments regarding the voter ID law that took effect earlier this year.  The law requires those without proper identification to cast their vote through a provisional ballot, which will only be counted if a person submits proof of identification or signs an affidavit stating indigence or religious objection to being photographed.  The law was struck down by the lower courts as unconstitutional and the state appealed the rulings.
A federal appeals court recently upheld Ohio’s early voting period by striking a proposed shortened period.  The United States Supreme Court, however, overruled the lower court and granted an emergency order that would shorten the early voting period and allow polls to be closed on the Sunday before Election Day.
Mayor Bill de Blasio will sign an executive order this week that will raise the wages of up to 18,000 workers living in New York City over the next five years.  The order will raise wages for those with benefits, such as health insurance, from $10.30 to $11.50.  The order will also raise wages for those without benefits from $11.90 to $13.13.
The Washington State Supreme Court is holding the legislature in contempt after it failed to rewrite its procedure for school funding.  In 2012, the Supreme Court held the system of funding for education was unconstitutional and ordered the legislature to devise a new plan with a deadline for the 2017-2018 school year.  The court placed the legislature in contempt for failure to demonstrate progress in fixing that plan and is holding off on implementing punishments until the 2015 legislative session.
A federal judge in Oklahoma is the latest judge to rule on the legality of subsidies being provided by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Judge Ronald White ruled that the subsidies being provided to states that only have a federal exchange marketplace were an “invalid implementation” of the law.  The legality of subsidies is currently being litigated in several states and may find its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.  It is being reheard en banc by the D.C. Circuit Court after conflicting rulings.

Several states will be reinstating their food stamp work requirements after suspending them during the Great Recession.  Seventeen states will be imposing work requirements for healthy individuals who are 18 to 50 years old and have no children.  Advocates are concerned that work requirements will pose a greater difficulty for those living in areas where jobs and job training are scarce or hard to reach.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Felons Getting Closer to Voting in Kentucky

With three bills in the legislature, former felons may get closer to having their voting rights restored.  Kentucky is one of four states that require a pardon from the governor before voting rights can be reinstated.  These bills in the legislature would provide for automatic restoration after a prison sentence and probation were completed for certain kind of felons.  If the bills pass, Kentucky will join 38 states that automatically return voting rights after a felon has completed their sentence and any probation/parole.

Governor Chris Christie recently signed into law requirements that include more dashboard cameras for police cars and body cameras for police on patrol.   New Jersey will be the only state to have statewide mandates that go beyond pilot or testing phase.  The new requirements are being both praised and criticized by groups, those who support increased police accountability but also worry about the financial burden being imposed.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Governor Signs Paid Sick Leave Bill

California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a new law making paid sick leave available to nearly all workers.  Workers will be able to receive up to three days paid sick leave, making the bill the largest in employee benefits in the nation.  The business community fought against the bill arguing the economic climate, in addition to, the increase in minimum wage and benefits would make it difficult for them to provide for their employees.