Mobile: A coastal environmental group filed suit Monday trying to block a decision by Alabama Power Co. to leave millions of tons of coal ash along a riverside in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, where opponents say a spill could devastate a huge ecosystem. The federal lawsuit by Mobile Baykeeper was filed by the Southern Environmental Law Center, which announced plans to sue the electrical utility in July. The group wants to force Alabama Power to give up what it contends is an illegal plan to permanently leave more than 21 million tons of coal ash in an unlined pit at Plant Barry, located north of Mobile along the Mobile River. Environmentalists argue the ash pond is polluting groundwater and could destroy a verdant, biologically diverse region should it be breached by heavy flooding, a hurricane or some other disaster. “Plant Barry is the only coal ash lagoon of a major utility left in a low-lying coastal area of the Southeast that is not already cleaned up or on track to be recycled or removed to safe storage, away from waterways,” Barry Brock, director of the law center’s Alabama office, said in a statement. Alabama Power declined to comment on the lawsuit. Plant Barry opened in 1965 about 25 miles north of Mobile. The company contends moving the material farther away from the plant site would pose a hazard in itself.
Anchorage: A U.S. Coast Guard ship on routine patrol in the Bering Sea came across a guided missile cruiser from China, officials said Monday. But it turned out the cruiser wasn’t alone as it sailed about 86 miles north of Alaska’s Kiska Island on Sept. 19. The patrol boat, known as a cutter called Kimball, later discovered there were two other Chinese naval ships and four Russian naval vessels, including a destroyer, all in single formation. The Honolulu-based Kimball, a 418-foot vessel, observed as the ships broke formation and dispersed. A C-130 Hercules provided air support for the Kimball from the Coast Guard station in Kodiak. “While the formation has operated in accordance with international rules and norms, we will meet presence with presence to ensure there are no disruptions to U.S. interests in the maritime environment around Alaska,” Rear Adm. Nathan Moore, Seventeenth Coast Guard District commander said. The Coast Guard said Operation Frontier Sentinel guidelines call for meeting “presence with presence” when strategic competitors operate in and around U.S. waters. The Kimball will continue to monitor the area. The Chinese and Russian formation came a month after NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned about China’s interest in the Arctic and Russia’s military buildup there.
Phoenix: A massive expansion of the state’s private school voucher system will likely go into effect after public school advocates failed to gather enough signatures to block the law, a conservative think tank that supports the expansion said Monday. The Goldwater Institute, a conservative and libertarian public policy think tank in Phoenix, said Save Our Schools Arizona “submitted just 88,866 signatures, according to petition sheets made available by the Secretary of State’s office.” That’s “significantly short of the requisite 118,843 signatures needed to overturn the reform via ballot referendum.” Although Save Our Schools Arizona said it “will await accurate numbers” from the Secretary of State’s office regarding its challenge to the law, the head of the grassroots group acknowledged it’s probably well below the threshold. Monday’s developments appear to be a major victory for “school choice” advocates in Arizona and across the nation who argue that parents should be able to use public tax dollars to send their children to schools that best serve their needs. Voucher opponents say they drain money from long-underfunded public schools that serve the vast majority of children, sending public money to unaccountable private and religious schools and mainly benefiting the wealthy.
Fort Smith: Deer season for archery is underway in western Arkansas, though drought may have affected the population and growth of deer this summer. A healthy population of deer and bear has been noted by those in the field during the opening days since the season began Saturday. Lack of vegetation can affect growth of deer during a drought. Young bucks may have smaller antlers, wildlife experts say, should the drought persist. That has not been the case in Arkansas this year. But the deer harvest this year in western Arkansas should be strong because the drought did not start until mid- to late June, said Ralph Meeker, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s statewide deer program coordinator. The does were able to produce enough milk for fawns that can adapt. The number of deer harvested could increase because visibility increases for hunters when drought causes foliage to die off, taking away the cover for the deer. But the deer so far are healthy, Meeker said. Antler growth has not been affected, he has observed. “Whitetail deer are a very adaptable species,” Meeker said. “We had a good growing season before the drought started in mid to late June. Fawn production was phenomenal.” The bear population – for which archery season is underway – has also reportedly increased this year in western Arkansas.
Sacramento: Beyond what they learn academically in kindergarten, students learn everyday routines: how to take care of class materials and how to be kind to their peers, according to Golden Empire Elementary School kindergarten teacher Carla Randazzo. And nearly two-thirds of students at the Sacramento school are English learners. “Those kids just start out having to climb uphill,” she said. “They need a lot of support to be successful.” Randazzo always thought it was “peculiar” that kindergarten is not mandatory in the state. For now, though, California won’t join 20 other states with mandatory kindergarten. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, vetoed legislation Sunday night that would have required children to attend kindergarten – whether through home-schooling or public or private school – before entering first grade at a public school. As he has with other recent legislative vetoes, Newsom cited the costs associated with providing mandatory kindergarten, about $268 million annually, which he said was not accounted for in the California budget. Newsom had supported similar legislation in the past. Proponents of mandatory kindergarten say it could help close the academic opportunity gap for low-income students and students of color, as well as help children develop important social skills before the first grade. Kindergarten enrollment in California dropped nearly 12% in the 2020-21 academic year compared to the previous year, according to the state Department of Education.
Loveland: A bystander who intervened during the rough arrest of an elderly woman with dementia has been recognized as the only one who “did the right thing.” Reidesel Mendoza had stopped his car to confront the police officers arresting 73-year-old Karen Garner on June 26, 2020, because “the way they were handling that situation was not the right way,” he said in an interview Sept. 17, after receiving a citizenship award for his actions that day. Garner was accused of leaving Walmart without paying for $13.88 worth of merchandise, but staff stopped her and retrieved the items before she left. Garner was walking home when Officer Austin Hopp stopped her, soon forcing Garner to the ground and trying to arrest her. Mendoza saw how Hopp and two other officers were treating Garner and decided he needed to intervene. “Do you have to use that much aggression?” Mendoza could be heard saying in Hopp’s body camera footage. Hopp told him: “Get out of here; this is not your business ... this is what happens when you fight the police.” Mendoza continued to speak up. The award was presented in part by the Community Trust Commission, formed by the Loveland City Council to aid in rebuilding trust with the community and its police department. Interim Loveland Police Chief Eric Stewart applauded Mendoza’s courage in stepping up that day and said the public plays a key role in successful policing. “We certainly didn’t do a great job that day,” Stewart said. “I’m sorry we let you down that day.”
Waterbury: Ian Hockley testified Tuesday that he was ridiculed online as a “party boy” and an actor after posting a video of the memorial service for his 6-year-old son, who was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre. Hockley is the latest family member of the 26 victims of the shooting to testify at the defamation trial of Alex Jones, in which a jury is deciding how much the conspiracy theorist must pay for spreading the lie that the shooting was a hoax. Hockley, who lost his autistic son, Dylan, in the shooting, testified that he became the target of conspiracy theorists because he smiled during what he found as an uplifting memorial service. “That is what that video started to attract is people saying this must be fake,” he said. “ ‘He’s an actor. He’s smiling. Oh, you’re out of character’ – all of those things started to appear until we took our video down.” Earlier in the trial, other victims’ relatives gave often emotional testimony describing how they endured death threats, in-person harassment and abusive comments on social media by people calling the shooting a hoax. Some moved to avoid the abuse. The jury of six will determine how much in damages Jones and Infowars’ parent company, Free Speech Systems, should pay relatives of five children and three adults killed at the school for saying the shooting didn’t happen and inflicting emotional distress. An FBI agent who responded to the shooting also is a plaintiff.
Wilmington: A man was killed when he was pinned beneath a truck, police said. Officers were called to Beehler Court in the Wilmington area Sunday for a report of a person hit by a vehicle, New Castle County Police said in a news release. When officers arrived, they found a 46-year-old man pinned beneath a Ford F-350 pickup truck, police said. Officers and paramedics tried to resuscitate the man, but their efforts were unsuccessful, and police said he was pronounced dead on the scene. The initial investigation revealed that the man got out of the truck while it was still in gear, and he was hit by the truck, then became pinned beneath it, police said. His body was turned over to the Delaware Division of Forensic Sciences.
District of Columbia
Washington: First lady Jill Biden paid tribute Friday to Jacqueline Kennedy, a predecessor 60 years ago, for her pivotal role in preventing the teardown of historic buildings on iconic Lafayette Square near the White House. Biden helped the White House Historical Association, an organization that Kennedy helped spearhead, unveil a medallion of the former first lady, designed by American artist Chas Fagan, in front of the association’s office on the square. The wife of President John F. Kennedy is widely credited with ushering in an emphasis on historic preservation at the White House during her 1,036 days as first lady. Lafayette Square, just north of the White House, over the years has become a gathering place for protesters, from suffragists in the early 20th century to Vietnam demonstrators in the 1960s to Americans speaking out for policing reform in 2020. In quieter daily times, it is a city oasis for tourists and for office workers on lunch breaks. The bas relief of Kennedy sits in a new garden at the front of the association’s office, known as Decatur House. It includes one of her best-known quotations: “The White House belongs to the American people.” Jill Biden said Kennedy worked to save the park and surrounding historic townhouses “because we all deserve to experience our rich history, the full, complex and beautiful story of who we are.”
Fort Lauderdale: Prosecutors in the penalty trial of school shooter Nikolas Cruz began their rebuttal of the defense case Tuesday by showing the jury swastikas he drew on a gun magazine and his boots, his online racism and misogyny, and his online searches for child pornography. Prosecutors are trying to show that Cruz’s murder of 17 people at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School four years ago was driven by antisocial personality disorder – commonly known as being a sociopath – and not fetal alcohol spectrum disorder as the defense contends. Cruz, 24, pleaded guilty last October to the Feb. 14, 2018, murders – the trial is only to decide whether he is sentenced to death or life without the possibility of parole. Detective Nick Masters, an online investigator, then testified about racist and sexist searches and comments Cruz made starting about eight months before the shootings. Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer only allowed prosecutors to present a fraction of the searches and comments Cruz made, saying more would be excessively prejudicial. Jurors were told Cruz wrote that “the Nazi party will rise again.” He made searches and comments using a racial slur directed against Black people. He wrote that he punched his widowed mother and called her a slur used against women. He wrote that “women are less important than a dog.” He also made comments extolling animal abuse, saying he had killed 12 cats and writing: “I am glad when animals die. It makes me happy.”
Atlanta: State regulators began hearings Tuesday on Georgia Power Co.’s request to raise rates by 12% over the next three years, setting up clashes over how much profit the utility should earn, how much solar panel owners should be paid and how rates should be structured. The five elected members of the Public Service Commission are scheduled to decide in December on the company’s request to collect a cumulative $2.8 billion more from its 2.3 million customers beginning in January. Changes are likely before any vote. The company says it needs more money to improve the grid, retire old coal plants, acquire electricity from new sources and upgrade customer-facing computer systems. A residential customer who uses 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per month pays Georgia Power an average of $128 a month now, the company has said. Under the plan, that would rise by $14.32 a month in 2023, reaching a total of $16.29 more over the three-year period. That’s nearly $200 a year more by 2025. However, electricity bills are likely to go up even more. Commissioners have already approved plans for the company to increase rates by $3.78 a month when the first of two new nuclear units being built at Plant Vogtle starts generating electricity, likely early next year. A bigger increase could follow the second new reactor coming online, possibly in 2024.
Honolulu: A man pleaded not guilty Monday to charges he kidnapped and sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl and forced her to smoke meth. Duncan Mahi, 52, also requested a trial by jury. Judge Wendy M. DeWeese maintained bail for Mahi at $2 million and set his trial date for Feb. 7. According to an indictment filed Wednesday, Duncan forced the girl to tie up her boyfriend at a Anaehoomalu Beach in Waikoloa, put a knife to her throat and kidnapped her. He’s charged with 11 counts, including kidnapping, terroristic threatening, robbery, sexual assault and methamphetamine trafficking. If found guilty, he could face life in prison without the possibility of parole because he was convicted twice for two separate 2018 cases of terroristic threatening. Police issued an Maile Amber Alert, similar to the Amber Alert for missing children in other states, shortly after the girl’s kidnapping on Sept. 16. Police said the girl managed to get free one day later after she convinced Mahi to take her to a restaurant in Hilo to get something to eat, and people recognized her from the alert.
Boise: Universities across the state are warning staffers not to refer students to abortion providers, and at least one public university is barring employees from telling students how to obtain emergency contraception or birth control as well. It’s the latest restriction in a state that already holds some of the strictest abortion laws in the nation. “This is going to have a very broad impact,” said Mike Satz, an attorney and former faculty member and interim dean at the University of Idaho’s College of Law. “It’s going to have a very strong chilling effect on free speech, and it’s going to scare people. I’m afraid it’s going to scare people from going to school here or sending their kids to school at Idaho institutions.” The prohibition against referring students to abortion providers or “promoting” abortion in any way comes from the “No Public Funds for Abortion Act,” passed by Idaho’s Republican-led Legislature in 2021. Boise State University, like the University of Idaho, told faculty members in a newsletter earlier this month that they could face felony charges for violating the law. Idaho State University did not respond to messages asking if it had issued similar guidance. The law also bars staffers and school-based health clinics from dispensing or telling students where to obtain emergency contraception, such as the Plan B pill, except for in cases of rape.
Springfield: Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday that the state’s relatively low jobless rate will help him keep his promise to pay off coronavirus-era debt in the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund by year’s end. The Democrat announced he will transfer $450 million from the account set aside to pay jobless benefits toward the debt that ballooned to $4.5 billion during business closures forced by COVID-19. That decreases the remaining balance of the federal loan to $1.8 billion, which Pritzker pledged will be eliminated by the new year. Illinois joined dozens of other states in borrowing money to pay unemployment claims, which in Illinois surged in spring 2020 to levels not seen since 1982. “With the COVID-19 pandemic came a disaster of a different kind,” Pritzker said at a Chicago news conference. “All across the United States, to make sure eligible individuals could get access to unemployment benefits, extraordinary measures were taken by state unemployment trust funds because nearly none … were funded enough to cover that kind of an emergency.” The General Assembly, controlled by Democrats, and Pritzker agreed last spring to use $2.7 billion in federal pandemic relief funds to more than halve the debt. Republicans argued for paying the entire balance with federal money while it was available.
Indianapolis: The Satanic Temple is suing the state on claims a near-total abortion ban violates the rights of its Hoosier members who want abortions after their birth control failed. A lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana by the Massachusetts-based religious association says it brought the lawsuit on behalf of anonymous women from Indiana who say they became pregnant by accident despite using contraceptives. Gov. Eric Holcomb and Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita are listed as defendants. The new law bans abortions except in cases of rape or incest up to 10 weeks post-fertilization, when pregnancy poses a risk to the life or long-term health of the mother, or in cases of fatal fetal anomalies. Enforcement of the law was put on hold last week by a Monroe County judge who found that it may violate the Indiana Constitution. Rokita has already appealed the judge’s decision. The Satanic Temple has more than 11,300 members in Indiana, according to its lawsuit. The group “venerates, but does not worship,” the allegorical Satan as featured in the 17th-century epic poem “Paradise Lost” by John Milton. Members follow a set of tenets including the belief that a person’s body is subject to their will and their will alone, the lawsuit says, and that beliefs should “conform to one’s best scientific understanding of the world.”
Des Moines: Cattle producer Bryan Sievers thinks the black-eyed Susans, purple coneflowers and native grasses in his eastern Iowa prairie can help warm homes and tackle water pollution, erosion and other pressing environmental problems in the state. Thanks to a five-year, $80 million federal grant, Sievers will work with Missouri business Roeslein Alternative Energy, Iowa State University and a dozen other groups to test whether U.S. farmers can make money turning prairies and manure into renewable fuel. Sievers and his partners plan to mix harvested prairie, cover crops and conservation grassland with cattle manure in an anaerobic digester to make renewable natural gas that will go into a pipeline that feeds homes and businesses or be compressed to power trucks and other vehicles. The project is one of 70 that the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently awarded $2.8 billion, a total the federal agency nearly tripled after receiving about 450 requests. The projects seek to create new carbon markets that pay farmers for work to reduce the environmental impact of commodities like corn, soybeans, beef and pork. Sievers and his partners expect their project will help pave the way for more on-farm digesters that can reduce odor from cattle, pig and other livestock operations; cut harmful methane, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions; and encourage farmers to plant prairies, conservation reserve grasses and annual cover crops on marginal farmland, as well as buffers along rivers, lakes and streams.
Wichita: A man was sentenced Monday to 18 months in prison for his role in a hoax phone call that led police to shoot and kill an innocent man in 2017. Shane Gaskill was sentenced after pleading guilty in May to wire fraud, KSN reports. He was originally placed on probation but faced renewed prosecution after violating the terms of his probation. Prosecutors said Gaskill got into an argument in December 2017 with Ohio gamer Casey Viner over a $1.50 bet. Using an old Wichita address Gaskill had given him, Viner persuaded Tyler Barris in Los Angeles to call Wichita police and say a kidnapping and shooting had happened at the address, prosecutors said. It’s called “swatting,” a form of retaliation in which someone makes a false report to police to send first responders, including SWAT teams, to someone’s address. Andrew Finch, 28, who lived at the address, was shot and killed by police after he opened the front door to see what was going on outside. Barris was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to 51 counts of making fake emergency calls and threats around the country, including the one that led to Finch’s death. Viner served 15 months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
Frankfort: The state Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a woman who shoplifted about $80 worth of items from a Walmart self-checkout station should not face a felony that carries five to 10 years in prison – a punishment that Attorney General Daniel Cameron defended. All seven justices instead agreed with the Kentucky Court of Appeals, which had said it was “inherently unfair to convict somebody of a class C felony for theft of goods worth $80,” and the high court sent the case back to Pulaski Circuit Court, where a jury had initially found Chasity Shirley guilty of “unlawful access to a computer.” Shirley, 34, will now likely receive a directed verdict, which would see her felony conviction dismissed in court. While shopping in 2018 at a Walmart in Somerset, Shirley pulled what retailers call a “switcheroo” by switching the bar codes from a toothbrush holder with those from a more expensive children’s rug and slipcover before checking herself out of the store. A loss-control associate caught her, and the cost difference between the item she paid for and the two items she tried to take was $80.80. She also allegedly “pushed and elbowed” a loss prevention manager as she exited the store but was later found not guilty of a fourth-degree assault charge at trial, the Kentucky Supreme Court noted.
New Orleans: A social services nonprofit long called the Kingsley House renamed itself Tuesday, dropping the name of a Victorian clergyman who is perhaps best remembered as the author of a children’s fantasy novel but held profoundly racist views. For 126 years it was Kingsley House, named both for author and social reformer Charles Kingsley and for the founder’s son Kingsley Warner, who died as a toddler. Now the nonprofit will be called Clover. Officials knew Charles Kingsley had been a chaplain to Queen Victoria, tutor to the boy who became King George V, and had written about 20 books. “And he was quote-unquote a social reformer who helped create the settlement house movement,” said Keith Liederman, CEO of Clover, shortly before Tuesday’s announcement. The Rev. Beverly Warner of New Orleans’ Trinity Episcopal Church founded Kingsley House in 1896 as a settlement house, an inner-city institution dedicated to fighting poverty. The organization’s programs now help children in need, families and community. Its prominence made it a stop in Democrat John Edwards’ unsuccessful campaign for president in 2007. Its community outreach was why former Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush visited there in 2006 to announce $9.7 million in grants to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Portland: Congressional candidates in a hotly contested race snipped at each other Tuesday about a contribution from the leader of a conservation group that has discouraged consumers from buying lobster. Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Golden is defending his seat in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District against Republican former U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin and independent candidate Tiffany Bond. Poliquin’s campaign on Tuesday called on Golden to return a contribution of $667 from Julie Packard, the executive director of Seafood Watch. The group based at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California that Packard helped found added American and Canadian lobster to its “red list” of seafood species to avoid this summer because of the risk fishing gear poses to endangered whales. Poliquin’s camp said that listing has caused economic hardship for fishermen in Maine, where most of the nation’s domestic lobster comes to the docks. “Seafood Watch’s warning to consumers to avoid Maine lobster, on top of forty-year high inflation and fuel prices, have gouged Maine lobstermen’s paychecks,” said Roy Matthews, a Poliquin spokesperson. Golden’s campaign said he has no intention to return the money and cited Golden’s opposition to new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration whale protection regulations as evidence that he has the fishing industry’s interests at heart.
Annapolis: A judge granted an emergency petition Friday filed by the Maryland State Board of Elections to enable the counting of mail-in ballots earlier than they were during the state’s July primary. Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge James Bonifant granted the petition, which will allow local elections officials across the state to begin canvassing mail-in ballots on Oct. 1. Bonifant wrote that with so many mail-in ballots, local boards of election would not be able to verify the vote count within 10 days of the general election as required. “There is no doubt that the increased number of mail-in ballots will have an enormous affect on the process of this election,” Bonifant wrote in his ruling. “Mandatory deadlines will be missed if the Court takes no action.” The state elections board said the ruling provides election officials with additional time to canvass and tabulate mail-in ballots to ensure that all critical election-related deadlines established by law are met. “It also enables elections officials to return to a well-established process of canvassing mail-in ballots prior to Election Day, which was allowed in the 2020 General Election,” the board said in a statement.
Provincetown: A Harwich pig that had long been overshadowed by a diva sibling has risen to celebrity status and beer label glory. A stirring portrait of Bartholomew, a 200-pound half-Julianna, half-mini pig, now graces the cans of a new offering from the Provincetown Brewing Co. The high hog honor has not affected Bart one bit. “He’s kind of like an old man in a sport coat with sneakers on,” owner Emma Bankman said. “He doesn’t care what anyone thinks.” “Bartholobrew,” billed as “a classic wheat ale with sweet, caramelly notes,” is the frothy result of a summer-long pet label contest to benefit Provincetown’s Carrie A. Seaman Animal Shelter. Sherry Brec, CASAS board president, said there were more than 65 animal entries, and the donate-to-vote system generated more than $17,000 for the no-kill facility that places dogs and cats with folks on the Outer Cape. Meanwhile, in Harwich, Bartholomew has finally eclipsed the renown of his domineering half-sister Matilda. According to Bankman, Matilda has long been the boss hog in the house and often shuts the door on Bart, leaving him outside. And Matilda even tried to nose in on Bart’s bowl of celebratory Bartholobrew, a sudsy incursion that was nipped in the bud by an alert Bankman.
Detroit: General Motors is stepping back a bit on a return-to-work policy after a backlash from salaried employees. CEO Mary Barra sent out a note to the salaried workforce Tuesday offering an apology of sorts for the timing of putting out a new policy late in the day Friday saying employees would have to return to working in the office three days a week. She said in the update that GM’s plan still will include a more regular in-person presence, but it will not implement any changes to its return-to-the-office policy this year as the company continues to listen to worker feedback. The plan still will ask employees to work in-office three days each week. “The initial letter was a notification, and the purpose of the update is to provide clarification and additional details,” GM spokeswoman Maria Raynal said Tuesday. “The timing has shifted slightly; however, the overall plan has not changed.” In Tuesday’s note sent to employees, Barra wrote: “We want to take the opportunity to address some of the questions, concerns, and misconceptions that we’ve heard. We acknowledge that the timing of the message, late on a Friday afternoon, was unfortunate. It was also unintentional.” GM will communicate more information on its plan next month, Barra said.
St. Paul: Republicans attacked Democratic Gov. Tim Walz on Monday after a judge took the rare step of disputing the administration’s claim that the judge prevented the state from cutting off payments to Feeding Our Future, which is the target of a $250 million federal fraud case. The GOP candidates for governor, attorney general and state auditor – Scott Jensen, Jim Schultz and Ryan Wilson – said Walz and other top Democrats should have done more to stop the alleged fraud before it became what federal prosecutors last week called the largest pandemic-related fraud in the country. But the warring political sides disagree on how far Ramsey County District Judge John Guthmann went toward compelling the Minnesota Department of Education to resume payments to Feeding Our Future. A court statement issued late Friday said the judge “never issued an order” for the state to resume payments, but the department produced a hearing transcript showing the judge threatened to hold one attorney in contempt if the state failed to restore the flow of funds. The Republican candidates largely accepted the judge’s version of events. Jensen called for an independent investigation to report back before he and Walz hold their next debate Oct. 18.
Jackson: The federal government wants to work with officials in the city to reach a legal agreement that ensures Jackson can sustain its water system in the future, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan said Monday. Federal attorneys also sent a letter to city officials Monday threatening legal action if Jackson does not agree to negotiations related to its water system. Regan returned to Mississippi’s capital city Monday to meet with Jackson officials about the city’s troubled water system. At the meeting with Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba and U.S. Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim, Regan said the federal government would work with the city to “deliver long overdue relief for Jackson residents.” “The people of Jackson, Mississippi, have lacked access to safe and reliable water for decades. After years of neglect, Jackson’s water system finally reached a breaking point this summer, leaving tens of thousands of people without any running water for weeks,” Regan said. “These conditions are unacceptable in the United States of America.” In a Monday letter sent to city officials and obtained by the news station WLBT-TV, Kim and attorneys for DOJ’s Environmental Enforcement Section said they were “prepared to file an action” against the city under the Safe Drinking Water Act but hoped the matter could be resolved through an “enforceable agreement.”
St. Louis: As abuse allegations mount against a Christian boarding school, the way “troubled” children are often whisked away to facilities far from home is under fire. Within what’s known as the secure transport industry, it’s called “gooning.” Brawny men show up under the cover of darkness and force a teenager into a vehicle, taking them against their will to a boarding school, foster home or treatment center. They might be restrained with handcuffs or zip ties. They could be blindfolded or hooded. Criminal charges are rare because the little-known industry is virtually unregulated. In Missouri alone, more than 100 Christian boarding schools promise hope for wayward teens. The former doctor at Agape Boarding School, in Stockton, which serves about 60 teenage boys, was charged last year with multiple counts of sexual abuse of children, and five staff members are charged with abuse. In nearby Humansville, Circle of Hope, a Christian boarding school for girls, closed amid an investigation in 2020. The husband-and-wife co-founders were charged with 99 abuse counts last year, including sexual abuse. The allegations of wrongdoing at Agape and Circle of Hope led state Rep. Keri Ingle, a Democrat, to sponsor a measure signed into law last year that requires more rigorous oversight in Missouri. Now, Ingle said she’ll seek stricter regulations on companies transporting the kids against their will.
Kalispell: Authorities said Tuesday that they were investigating the shooting of a 6-month-old dog by a woman who skinned the animal and posted pictures of herself with the pelt, apparently believing she had killed a young wolf. The animal was among more than a dozen dogs that local residents reported abandoned last week on national forest land in northwestern Montana near Kalispell, according to the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office. The hunter who shot one of the dogs posted images of herself smiling on social media in front of the animal’s head and hide, which were taken by the sheriff’s office and turned over to a state wildlife biologist, said Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks spokesperson Greg Lemon. The biologist determined the remains belonged to a domestic dog about 6 months old, Lemon said. Officials were investigating if the woman was properly licensed to hunt wolves, he said. The sheriff’s office is investigating both the shooting of the dog and the abandonment of the other dogs but declined Tuesday to release any further information. Lemon said accurately identifying animals before they are shot is a core tenet of hunting. “The vast majority of hunters are very deliberate about when they pull the trigger that the animal in their sights is the animal they are licensed to hunt,” he said.
Lincoln: With Memorial Stadium on the cusp of its 100th anniversary, the University of Nebraska athletic department on Thursday set the stage for a massive renovation that will make the venue more fan-friendly for decades to come. University leaders also announced a new multimedia rights deal that would bring in more than $300 million over 15 years and said that alcohol would be sold at men’s and women’s basketball games at Pinnacle Bank Arena starting this season. The athletic department must get approval from the university Board of Regents, which is expected to approve the plans. The next board meeting is Friday. Nebraska is scheduled to open a $160 million football facility next year, and the Big Ten’s billion-dollar-a-year media rights deal announced this summer will bring unprecedented windfalls to league members. The announcements came less than two weeks after Nebraska began its search for a new football coach following the firing of Scott Frost. Athletic director Trev Alberts said discussions about stadium upgrades and the rights deal have been going on for months, and the timing is coincidental. The Cornhuskers have played in Memorial Stadium since 1923, and incremental improvements have been made over the years, including luxury suites in 1999 and an expansion to more than 85,000 seats in 2013.
Las Vegas: A dolphin habitat at a hotel on the Las Vegas Strip has been temporarily closed after the third mammal death at the attraction in five months. Officials at the Mirage Secret Garden and Habitat said an 11-year-old bottlenose dolphin named K2 died Saturday. The cause of death remains unclear, but officials told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the mammal had been receiving treatment for a respiratory illness. They say Maverick, a 19-year-old bottlenose dolphin, died Sept. 2 following treatment for a lung infection, while 13-year-old Bella died in April after undergoing treatment for gastroenteritis. According to the international organization Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums’ website, a bottlenose dolphin’s life expectancy is about 28 to 29 years. Mirage interim President Franz Kallao said officials were working closely with veterinary and pathology experts to determine the cause of death for K2, who was born at the Secret Garden. “We are also working with additional outside veterinary, water quality, behavioral, animal welfare, and environmental experts to help us conduct a thorough review and inspection of both the animals and the facility,” Kallao said.
Dover: A local woman who found herself with an unexpected inheritance and the desire to “do the most good” with the money is helping to make housing for domestic abuse survivors possible. She received more than half a million dollars following the sale of real estate her late uncle’s family business owned. Knowing her family was financially comfortable and living within their means, she did something unexpected: She became an angel investor with a $500,000 investment into Dover Housing Authority-owned property. This income assures the future of the Haven at the Falls project to house domestic abuse survivors, said Ryan Crosby, executive director of the authority. The investment will serve as seed funding to build the affordable housing units. The proposed six-unit apartment development is planned in the Dover Housing Authority’s Whittier Falls neighborhood. The new project was born out of a partnership between the Dover Housing Authority and Haven, a domestic and sexual violence prevention agency. “Our angel investor is a lot like me – frustrated with how little affordable housing there is and how little there is we can do about it,” Crosby said. “This investment allows us to both make a direct, measurable impact in that fight. We both share the belief that housing is a human right.”
Trenton: After months of calls to eliminate a state-mandated expensive teacher licensing test blamed for worsening the teacher shortage, Gov. Phil Murphy did away with it – sort of. The Murphy administration said the educative Teacher Performance Assessment would no longer be required in New Jersey, but it must be replaced by a similar test to be used to certify graduates. Murphy issued a conditional veto Thursday to legislation that shifts the burden of certifying teachers from the state’s shoulders to the colleges that train them. Starting in spring 2024, colleges and universities will be required to use their own tests as a final step to certify graduates before they may join the workforce. The conditional veto was welcomed by many of the state’s education-related groups, including the state superintendents’ association, teachers’ unions and school principals’ associations. Some said Murphy waited too long to make a decision about the test. The New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, welcomed the move to remove the edTPA but indicated in its statement that the decision could have come earlier and that it continues to delay teacher candidates who are otherwise ready to start working.
Santa Fe: Legislators are reconsidering how they evaluate complaints of sexual misconduct against colleagues, amid outrage about the handling of a complaint against an influential senator. A panel of leading lawmakers met Monday to discuss possible changes to ground rules for harassment investigations at the Legislature. “It has become clear that our anti-harassment policy is not working,” said Democratic state Rep. Daymon Ely of Corrales, co-chairman of a legislative ethics committee. “This is intended to start a discussion.” Harassment complaints against lawmakers are often assigned for an initial investigation to a panel of four legislators, which may deadlock on a 2-2 vote. Ely proposed the changes that would assign an outside expert to break any tie vote, with public notice of the outcome. Ely outlined proposals that would remove secrecy provisions that currently prevent people who complain of harassment by legislators from publicly discussing any investigation that has been dismissed without a finding of probable cause. “How do we fix that so that we have closure for those people?” said Democratic Sen. George Muñoz, of Gallup. “It can’t come out in a tie. There has to be closure for both sides.”
Albany: State investigators have substantiated more than 1,600 instances of corporal punishment in New York schools over the past five years, The Times Union in Albany reports. A substantial number of the complaints were in New York City public schools, according to the newspaper. Other incidents included a substitute teacher in Watertown who was fired and arrested for grabbing a student by the throat and forcing him against a wall and a teaching assistant in Syracuse who was transferred and retrained for spanking a nonverbal student. Corporal punishment is generally banned and can be classified as child abuse. In all, the state Education Department documented nearly 18,000 complaints of corporal punishment in public and charter schools from 2016 through 2021, according to the Times Union. The newspaper said it found that school districts have underreported cases of corporal punishment to the federal government and that state Education Department records are not readily available to the public.
Raleigh: Four people pleaded guilty Monday to misdemeanors for their roles in absentee ballot fraud in rural North Carolina during the 2016 and 2018 elections. The convictions stemmed from an investigation that in part resulted in a do-over congressional election. Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway accepted the plea agreements, which resulted in no active prison or jail time, in Wake County court. Cases against six other defendants remained pending, with hearings scheduled through the end of next month, Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said. All 10 defendants, according to indictments handed up in 2019, had a common involvement with Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr., a longtime political operative in rural Bladen County. Dowless also was indicted on more than a dozen state charges, with his case scheduled last year to go to trial last month. He rejected a plea agreement and looked forward to his day in court, according to a friend. But he died in April after being diagnosed with lung cancer. Freeman said at the time that the prosecution of the other cases would continue. Dowless worked in the 2018 congressional race for then-Republican candidate Mark Harris, who appeared to have received the most votes in the general election for the 9th District seat in south-central North Carolina. But allegations against Dowless surfaced, and testimony and other information revealed at a State Board of Elections hearing described him running an illegal “ballot harvesting” operation.
Bismarck: A prison guard was fired over the suicide of a man who was serving life sentences for killing four people. Sgt. Deandre Adams violated corrections policy in failing to adequately check on Chad Isaak, according to a termination letter from the warden at North Dakota State Penitentiary. Adams was fired Thursday. Warden James Sayler noted that Adams had received two previous written reprimands, for failing to report that he had left a missing inmate in a recreational area and for not intervening when two prisoners were potentially exchanging contraband, the Bismarck Tribune reports. “Your credibility, professionalism, and the trust I had in you as a sergeant are irreparably damaged,” Sayler wrote. “This level of trust, which is expected of every team member, is something I no longer have in you, due to your misconduct.” Isaak, 48, died July 31. An investigative report from the state Highway Patrol released last month found that Adams said he failed to adequately check on Isaak twice. It also said Isaak had covered his cell with cardboard. Adams knew inmates were not allowed to cover their cell windows but allowed it as a “courtesy in case they were naked in their cells,” the report said. “He stated they could enforce it but that they would just get more window coverings.”
Columbus: The state has officially signed off on its biggest package of incentives tied to job creation – potentially totaling as much as $650 million over 30 years for Intel for its $20 billion investment in Licking County. The Ohio Tax Credit Authority on Monday approved the incentive package, one of six projects the panel approved. As is the case with most projects that come before the authority, there was little discussion about the Intel project before the four members approved it. The $650 million approved Monday is part of a total incentive package from Ohio to Intel that is expected to top $2 billion. Unlike the other state incentives for Intel, the one approved by the authority is based on how many jobs it creates. The incentive begins in 2024; Intel has said in anticipates production of semiconductors to begin in 2025. Intel announced in January its plan to create 3,000 jobs as part of its $20 billion investment in New Albany, the biggest single economic development project in state history. Those jobs will have an annual payroll of $405 million, according to Intel. Intel has said it expects to start recruiting this fall from college campus as it anticipates ramping up hiring in advance of the opening of the two plants.
Oklahoma City: The state’s Pardon and Parole Board voted 4-1 Tuesday to deny clemency for a man sentenced to die for killing his 9-month-old daughter in 2002, moving him a step closer to his scheduled lethal injection next month. Attorneys for Benjamin Cole, 57, did not dispute that Cole killed Brianna Cole by forcibly bending the infant backward, breaking her spine and tearing her aorta, but they argued that he both is severely mentally ill and has a growing lesion on his brain that has continued to worsen while he has been in prison. Cole has refused medical attention and ignored his personal hygiene, hoarding food and living in a darkened cell with little to no communication with staff or fellow prisoners, his attorneys told the panel. “His condition has continued to decline over the course of this year,” Cole’s attorney Katrina Conrad-Legler said. The lesion on Cole’s brain, which is separate from his diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, has grown in size in recent years and affects the part of his brain that deals with problem-solving, movement and social interaction, Conrad-Legler said. Cole declined to speak to the panel. Attorneys for the state and members of the victim’s family told the board that Cole’s symptoms of mental illness are exaggerated and that the brutal nature of his daughter’s killing merits his execution.
Portland: Two ships that have been abandoned in the Columbia River for years are being removed, and the U.S. Coast Guard is working with state agencies to clean up the fuel and oil that leaked from the vessels. The ships – a Navy tug called the Sakarissa and a Coast Guard cutter called the Alert – first arrived in Portland in 2006 and were brought near Hayden Island in hopes that they could be turned into a museum. But the funding for that project dried up, and they have been abandoned for more than a decade.Both of the ships sunk two years ago. Bill Ryan with the Oregon Department of State Lands said it’s not yet clear why the Alert sunk, but the Sakarissa foundered after someone salvaging metal cut through a pipe, causing it to flood. The Coast Guard raised the 100-foot Sakarissa from the river last week and towed it to a repair service to remove the remaining oil waste from the ship. Metro Council, a regional government agency that serves three counties in northwest Oregon, is spending $2 million to have the ships removed, and the Coast Guard is spending more than $1 million to clean up. The state estimates that there are more than 300 vessels abandoned around Oregon. Removing them all would cost an estimated $40 million.
Philadelphia: Mayor Jim Kenney signed an executive order Tuesday banning guns and deadly weapons from the city’s indoor and outdoor recreation spaces, including parks, basketball courts and pools. The order is the latest attempt by Philadelphia officials to regulate guns inside city limits – something made difficult by Pennsylvania’s preemption law that bars municipalities from enacting or enforcing their own stricter gun regulations. Attorneys for the city said the executive order is the city managing its facilities as a property owner, making it different from previous legislation passed by the City Council and struck down in court. The ceremonial signing also comes the day after Kenney spoke at the funeral for Tiffany Fletcher, a 41-year-old mother of three, who was struck and killed by crossfire earlier this month outside of the city recreation center where she worked. A 14-year-old, who was firing at another group of teens, has since been charged in Fletcher’s shooting death. “I watched (parks and recreation workers) yesterday line up on Lehigh Avenue like police officers burying one of their own. … I saw what I usually see when a police officer or firefighter dies in the line of duty. They were all out there lined up like they were on the front line, and they are,” Kenney said, fighting back his emotions.
Barrington: The owner of the historic Belton Court mansion has applied to demolish the deteriorating buildings on the 37-acre property. While the demolition permit has not been granted, there is little Barrington can do to prevent issuing the demolition permit once all the requirements are met, including such items as a plan to dispose of asbestos. Barrington Town Manager Phil Hervey said the mansion, once occupied by the Zion Bible College, was the centerpiece of the town’s 2016 master plan, as well as zoning rules passed specifically for the property that would allow it to become age-restricted housing. He is trying to set up a meeting with the project’s managers to discuss the demolition, but no date has been set. “We cannot prevent the teardown,” Hervey said. “If it meets the technical requirements, I don’t see any way to not issue it at a certain point.” The property has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1976. It was once an 800-acre estate, the country house of Frederick Peck, designed by the Providence architecture firm Martin & Hall. The property is owned by a Chinese investor and holdings company who bought it atpublic auction in 2011 for $3.85 million after town officials backed out of a plan to purchase it from the Zion Bible Institute for $5.2 million. Barrington College occupied the campus in the 1950s until it was bought in 1985 by the Zion Bible Institute, which vacated the property in 2007.
Columbia: Conservative lawmakers voted Tuesday not to make changes to the state’s abortion laws after this summer’s U.S. Supreme Court decision, meaning rules on abortion likely will not become more restrictive. South Carolina was for decades at the forefront of passing more restrictive abortion laws that challenged Roe v. Wade, before the landmark case was overturned this summer. But the state that helped lead the nation through requiring ultrasounds, parental consent and 24-hour waiting periods before abortions is at an impasse during a special session. The Senate could only muster enough votes to tweak South Carolina’s current six-week ban – which isn’t even in effect at the moment because of a state Supreme Court challenge. The House started its session Tuesday by rejecting a proposal by Democratic Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter to have the right to abortion placed before voters in a constitutional amendment. “Why are you afraid to let the people decide?” Cobb-Hunter asked. “Are you afraid you are going to be proven wrong? I think that’s it.” The rejection of the Senate’s version allows a group of three lawmakers from each chamber to work on a compromise between the Senate bill and the House version, which banned almost all abortions with exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest or that threaten the life of the mother up to 12 weeks after conception.
Sioux Falls: For the first time this year, anthrax, a serious bacterial disease, has been found in a herd of livestock in western South Dakota. State Veterinarian Dr. Beth Thompson confirmed the presence of the disease in a press release from the South Dakota Animal Industry Board on Tuesday. The disease was found in several deceased cows that belonged to a herd of 160 unvaccinated cattle in Meade County. South Dakota State University’s animal disease laboratory confirmed the disease from samples submitted over the weekend. Anthrax is a pervasive disease that can devastate herds of livestock in a short amount of time, “and much of South Dakota has the potential of experiencing an outbreak,” Thompson said in the release. Cattle that catch anthrax may sudden perish without any visible symptoms. Russ Daly, state public health veterinarian with SDSU, said the general public is not at risk of infection, but farmers need to avoid making direct skin contact with carcasses containing anthrax. Drought, floods and winds can spread anthrax spores to grazing livestock. Spores can also persist indefinitely in contaminated soil and may vegetate in grazeland, which could further spread the infection among South Dakota’s cattle.
Nashville: The state’s textbook commission may need additional staff and its own attorney to deal with the aftermath of a new, controversial Tennessee law requiring schools to catalog and publicize a list of all available library and classroom materials. Textbook and Instructional Materials Quality Commission chair Linda Cash told a legislative subcommittee on Tuesday the law has added a lot of work “to people who already have a full load.” Cash suggested the commission should have an independent attorney who can answer commission questions, as the commission is currently seeking legal answers from the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office. “The way that we’re designed currently, it’s hard to get an opinion,” Cash said. The commission faces a Dec. 1 deadline to issue statewide guidance on the library materials law, which the General Assembly passed this year in response to pushback from conservatives alleging students were being exposed to “inappropriate” school materials. The commission must provide schools’ guidance on determining what is age-appropriate, which is not settled in state law, in addition to establishing an appeals process for local decisions on contested materials.
Dallas: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton ran out of his house and jumped into a truck driven by his wife, a state senator, to avoid being served a subpoena to testify Tuesday in an abortion access case, according to court documents. A process server wrote in an affidavit that he was attempting to deliver the federal court subpoena Monday at Paxton’s home and ultimately had to leave the document on the ground. He said the Republican avoided him for more than an hour from inside his house, then dashed toward the truck, and the couple drove off. Paxton, who is facing a variety of legal troubles as he seeks to win a third term in November, said he avoided the server out of safety concerns and said the news media should be ashamed for reporting on what happened. “It’s clear that the media wants to drum up another controversy involving my work as Attorney General, so they’re attacking me for having the audacity to avoid a stranger lingering outside my home and showing concern about the safety and well-being of my family,” Paxton wrote on Twitter on Monday night. On Tuesday, a judge hearing the lawsuit by nonprofit groups that want to help Texans pay for abortions out of state granted Paxton’s request to quash the subpoena.
St. George: State wildlife officers are launching a new drone team to help prevent vandalism and provide law enforcement on public lands. Five Division of Wildlife Resources officers completed various licensing and training requirements with the Federal Aviation Administration to become certified law enforcement drone operators and staff the first Unmanned Aerial Systems team. “Using drones will help us more effectively solve wildlife crimes, and having trained law enforcement drone pilots will also allow us to assist other law enforcement agencies with search-and-rescue efforts or any other investigations,” DWR Captain Wade Hovinga said. The specialized drone officers function similarly to a K-9 officer team, called in to help with situations like search-and-rescue operations, searching for evidence of illegally taken wildlife, assisting biologists with wildlife surveys and investigating hunting-related shooting incidents. “Utah conservation officers are public servants, and these new tools will help us better serve the public, whether we’re solving poaching crimes or locating lost hunters,” Hovinga said. DWR officers patrol Utah’s mountains, lakes and unpopulated areas, often on foot or on off-road vehicles or even on horseback, investigating wildlife-related violations.
Northfield: A student at a military college who sued top Pentagon officials after he was deemed unfit for service because he tested positive for HIV has settled his lawsuit and plans to pursue his dream of becoming an Army officer, his lawyers said Tuesday. “I am incredibly grateful to be back on track to obtain a contract with the ROTC and then commission as an officer,” Eddie Diaz, a student at Norwich University, said in a statement released by Lawyers for Civil Rights. “I just want an opportunity to serve my country, and I believe that should be available to all eligible Americans.” The plaintiff in the lawsuit filed in Burlington in May was listed as John Doe, but Diaz is now using his real name publicly. Diaz, 21, of Revere, Massachusetts, said in the complaint that he tested positive for HIV in October 2020 during his sophomore year at Norwich, the nation’s oldest private military college. He was deemed unfit for service and dropped from the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and the Vermont National Guard in violation of the U.S. Constitution and federal law despite being “healthy, asymptomatic and on a treatment regimen that renders his viral load undetectable,” according to the suit. Military officials never asked him how he manages his HIV or spoke to his treating physician, and he was never examined by a military doctor, the suit said.
Charlottesville: The Albemarle-Charlottesville Historical Society is creating a database with the information it has uncovered about enslaved people in the area so descendants can make connections. The goal is to allow descendants’ voices to guide the process for creating some kind of memorial for the site, The Daily Progress reports. Charlottesville native Diane Brown Townes knew some of her family history from records kept in an old tattered family Bible passed down for generations, and she knew she had ancestors who were enslaved in the region. But until recently, she had no idea some of her people may be buried in unmarked graves in a city park she’d spent lots of time in over the years or that she’s been living next door to relatives without knowing it. The Charlottesville officials believe there are at least 43 enslaved people buried at Pen Park in unmarked graves. The graves are adjacent to a cemetery belonging to the Gilmer family, which owned a tobacco plantation on the land where the city-owned park and golf course are today. The Albemarle-Charlottesville Historical Society started researching the probable identities of the people buried in the park last year. Members have been able to identify and connect with several area residents likely to have ancestors buried in the park. “For me, it’s finally being able to understand your feeling, a sense of being. I really never felt connected to history. I was always taught dates from a more white, patriarchal perspective,” Townes said.
Seattle: The National Transportation Safety Board and the U.S. Navy have started efforts to recover the wreckage of a floatplane that crashed in the Puget Sound earlier this month, killing all 10 people on board. A barge that’s been equipped to conduct the recovery entered the shipping channel Monday, KING-5 News reports. It was expected to drop anchors near the suspected wreckage location before a team arrived at the barge Tuesday. The U.S. Navy will use a remotely operated vehicle Deep Drone 8,000, a barge and a crane in recovery efforts. The remotely operated vehicle will collect smaller pieces of wreckage into baskets for the crane to lift, the NTSB said. Some items from the plane have already been recovered, including foam fragments, a seat cushion, a seat belt, dispatch paperwork, flooring structure remnants and some personal items belonging to the victims, according to the NTSB. The plane was traveling from Friday Harbor on San Juan Island to the Seattle suburb of Renton when it crashed Sept. 4. Only one body was found, identified as Gabby Hanna, of Seattle. Officials say determining the probable cause of the crash could take 12 to 24 months.
Charleston: A protester who was forcefully removed from the House of Delegates gallery after allegedly disrupting debate on a bill to ban abortion earlier this month was arrested more than a week after she and others rallied against the ban at the state Capitol. Lindsey Jacobs, a 38-year-old lawyer from Morgantown, was arrested Friday and charged with three misdemeanors: obstructing an officer, willful disruption of governmental processes, and disorderly conduct against “the peace and dignity of the state,” according to a copy of the arrest warrant. Jacobs, who runs advocacy programs for a nonprofit legal services organization, was removed from the House chamber’s gallery Sept. 13 while listening to lawmakers discuss legislation that bans abortion at all stages of pregnancy, with few exceptions. Republican Del. Margitta Mazzocchi said people who want to protect against pregnancy can buy emergency contraceptives – known as “Plan B” pills – over the counter. “Not if you’re poor,” Jacobs shouted down at lawmakers, followed by shouts from others sitting in the gallery. Jacobs said she became frustrated listening to Mazzocchi’s speech because she felt like the lawmaker was overlooking that the pills cost between $40 and $50, an amount she said is “cost-prohibitive for a lot of people.”
Madison: All records from the closed Republican-ordered investigation into the 2020 presidential election in the state are being uploaded to a website “for all to see,” an attorney told a judge Tuesday. The investigation was led by former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, who was fired in August by Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. He fired Gableman just days after Vos won his primary over an opponent whom Gableman and ex-President Donald Trump endorsed. But the office Gableman led still exists after he was fired. American Oversight, a liberal watchdog group, has filed four open records lawsuits against Gableman, Vos and the office seeking records created during the investigation. On Tuesday, during a hearing over a lawsuit American Oversight filed seeking to stop the deletion of records, attorney James Bopp said that all electronic and paper records from the office have been turned over to the Assembly chief clerk’s office. The files are being uploaded to a website that will soon be available “for all to see,” said Bopp, who represents the office, which he said has no employees. Hundreds of pages of documents have already been made public as the result of other American Oversight lawsuits. Bopp said the data yet-to-be made public that’s being processed now includes text messages on cellphones used in the course of the investigation.
Casper: Gov. Mark Gordon plans to propose spending $25 million in federal pandemic relief on affordable housing projects, the Casper Star-Tribune reports. The governor’s office plans to submit its proposal to a legislative committee for a grant program aimed at funding “shovel-ready” projects with the American Rescue Plan Act money, according to the newspaper.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Prairie power, beer pig: News from around our 50 states