State & Local

S.C. Sen. DeMint says he won't run in 2016

"Pending some unforeseen circumstances," U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint told the Columbia Rotary Club Monday he will not run for re-election in 2016. DeMint added he will not run for president, either, quipping, "I think I'm the only senator who does not see a president when I look in the mirror." | 08/30/11 07:20:06 By - Adam Beam

Missouri Senators angry that FEMA cutbacks affect Joplin tornado repairs

One of the first jobs facing Congress when it returns to work will be finding billions of dollars to pay for damage caused by a summer of natural disasters stretching from Joplin to the Jersey Shore. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is suspending payments for some projects in tornado-ravaged Joplin because of immediate disaster needs along the East Coast after Hurricane Irene. | 08/30/11 06:59:47 By - Dave Helling

Army Ranger's widow removed from Donald Rumsfeld book signing

Two people were removed from a Donald Rumsfeld book signing last Friday at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, including the Yelm widow of an Army Ranger who blames the military for her husband’s suicide. | 08/29/11 07:45:45 By - Jordan Schrader

Texas Gov. Perry became a millionaire while serving in office

Since his first race for office more than a quarter-century ago, Gov. Rick Perry has emphasized his roots as a rural farmer. Yet Perry's bank account no longer reflects those humble beginnings as his bottom line has soared in recent years, records show, thanks largely to a handful of real estate deals that critics allege were achieved through the presidential candidates' political connections. | 08/29/11 07:32:57 By - Aman Batheja

Refugees in Kentucky may lose benefits without Congressional action

Each year, hundreds of refugees come to Kentucky with the approval of the federal government to escape persecution in their home countries. Although they're here legally, up to 605 elderly and disabled refugees in the state stand to lose their Supplemental Security Income benefits if Congress doesn't act by Sept. 30, according to local advocates. | 08/26/11 07:12:42 By - Valarie Honeycutt Spears

Texas Railroad Commission wants EPA's cross-state pollution rule challenged

The Texas Railroad Commission is asking Attorney General Greg Abbott to "bring a prompt legal action" to delay implementation of a new Environmental Protection Agency rule that state officials say would jeopardize electric reliability in the state. | 08/25/11 07:41:37 By - Jack Z. Smith

Ex-Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush shared 'lessons' with Rick Scott

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush offered to be a confidential sounding board for newly elected Gov. Rick Scott while urging him to expand school vouchers to all students, release elderly prisoners early and consider taxing online purchases in exchange for cuts to other taxes. | 08/25/11 07:01:07 By - Michael C. Bender

Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown proposes new corporate tax package

Gov. Jerry Brown will ask lawmakers today to tighten a corporate tax formula in exchange for giving manufacturers a sales tax exemption and offering enhanced job tax credits, according to legislative sources. | 08/25/11 06:44:13 By - Kevin Yamamura

Perry's promise to duplicate Texas' job record resonates in South Carolina

With a double-digit unemployment rate that exceeds the national average, South Carolina appears to be fertile ground for Texas Gov. Rick Perry's focus on the economy and his promise to "get America working again." | 08/24/11 13:03:59 By - Dave Montgomery

Cook Inlet oil, beluga whales are topic of NOAA and gas industry talks

Alaska U.S. Sen. Mark Begich and a top Obama administration official sat down Tuesday with Cook Inlet gas and oil interests to discuss whether exploration and production could get a boost by streamlining requirements for protection of endangered Cook Inlet beluga whales. | 08/24/11 06:47:45 By - Lisa Demer

Kansas Sen. Moran calls Congress 'dysfunctional'

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran said Monday that being a member of Congress is embarrassing because it isn't doing anything. The first-year senator told about 250 members of the Wichita Downtown Rotary Club that Congress hasn't passed a budget in two years, leading to uncertainty for local businesses to plan their own budgets. | 08/23/11 06:38:53 By - Fred Mann

Texas' 2012 election calendar creates confusion

Despite efforts by state lawmakers to avoid a confusing election schedule in 2012, that may be exactly what many Texas voters face next year anyway. Gov. Rick Perry signed a bill this summer tweaking the election laws to comply with new federal rules designed to make it easier for members of the military to vote. | 08/22/11 07:46:22 By - Aman Batheja

Kansas farmers wary as Congress eyes farm subsidies cuts

Farm income is up nationally, and grain prices are high. The economy is down, and Congress is in a cutting mood. So expect the folks in Washington to try to take a sharp knife to federal farm subsidies, which totaled more than $15 billion nationally and nearly $1 billion in Kansas in 2010. | 08/22/11 07:14:33 By - Rick Plumlee

Perry's prayer rally email list used to mobilize conservative Christian voters

The organizers of a Houston prayer rally featuring Texas Gov. Rick Perry are now using the event's registration list to influence the 2012 elections. | 08/19/11 07:41:34 By - Aman Batheja

Fla. Gov. Scott's transition email accounts deleted, state says

The email accounts of Rick Scott and most of the governor-elect’s transition team were deleted soon after he took office, potentially erasing public records that Florida state law requires be kept. | 08/19/11 06:54:08 By - Michael C. Bender

Alaska expected to cover Knik Arm bridge project shortfall

Consultants on Alaska's billion-dollar Knik Arm bridge project were pretty clear Thursday the financial plan for the bridge is for the state to foot the bill for any difference between how much money is collected in tolls and how much the private developer will be paid. | 08/19/11 06:32:26 By - Sean Cockerham

Kentucky's coal ash regulations criticized by environmental groups

Kentucky and other states do a poor job of regulating coal ash in order to protect water supplies, two environmental groups said in a study released Wednesday. | 08/18/11 07:19:58 By - Bill Estep

Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown backs high-speed rail plan

Gov. Jerry Brown said Wednesday that California should press forward with its troubled high-speed rail project, despite growing criticism about the project's management and cost. | 08/18/11 06:53:52 By - David Siders

Commentary: Texas' low-paying jobs aren't the whole story

Does the Texas job machine have a fatal flaw? As Gov. Rick Perry ramps up his campaign for the presidency, critics are seizing on the fact that the state has created hundreds of thousands of minimum-wage jobs during his tenure, including many without benefits. | 08/17/11 10:57:51 By - Mitchell Schnurman

Fla. Rep. Rivera wants to restrict Cubans from returning to Cuba

U.S. Rep. David Rivera said Tuesday he wants to sanction Cuban Americans who return to the island less than five years after they left, alleging that they are abusing a loophole in the Cuban Adjustment Act and helping the country’s communist system. | 08/17/11 07:11:50 By - Juan O. Tamayo

Florida gets $97 million in federal funds for small business loans

Florida will receive $97 million for a new federal program that supports state-level, small-business lending programs, the U.S. Treasury Department announced Tuesday. | 08/17/11 07:05:09 By - Erika Bolstad

Gov. Scott 'overstepped constitutional authority,' Fla. Supreme Court rules

The Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that Gov. Rick Scott “overstepped his constitutional authority and violated the separation of powers” with an executive order freezing all pending rules until he could approve them. | 08/17/11 07:00:17 By - Janet Zink

Kansas wants federal funds to promote marriage

While turning down one federal handout last week, the administration of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback was applying for a different one. No, thanks: $31.5 million for implementing the new federal health care law. Please remit: $6.6 million to promote marriage. | 08/16/11 07:17:28 By - Brad Cooper

Alaska Gov. Parnell rekindles push to ease oil taxes

Gov. Sean Parnell is getting ready to renew his push to roll back Alaska's oil tax while supporters of the tax are pointing to news of increased exploration and jobs on the North Slope. The latest report getting attention from lawmakers came from Petroleum News. It reported in an Aug. 14 article that "operators on the North Slope and nearshore Beaufort Sea are preparing for what promises to be one of the busiest exploration seasons since 1969, when 33 exploration wells were drilled following the discovery of the Prudhoe Bay oil field." | 08/16/11 06:47:00 By - Richard Mauer

Wichita congressman, Moran, supports balanced budget amendment

Before a sympathetic audience Saturday, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran argued that the federal government should have to balance its budget — only spend what it takes in — just as states do. | 08/15/11 15:08:10 By - Tim Potter

Rick Perry's Paint Creek, Texas, roots run deep

Despite its sudden fame as the boyhood home of new presidential contender Rick Perry, Paint Creek is still easy to overlook. Long before the governor's office and presidential politics, he was Ray and Amelia's boy, the high-energy teenager who quarterbacked the six-man football team and helped with chores on his parents' farm. | 08/15/11 07:45:38 By - Dave Montgomery

'U.S. needs balanced budget amendment,' says Kansas Sen. Moran

Before a sympathetic audience Saturday, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran argued that the federal government should have to balance its budget — only spend what it takes in — just as states do. The only way to do that is to add a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution | 08/15/11 07:10:46 By - Tim Potter

Ex-aide to Pete Wilson went for walk — and vanished

The disappearance of a former political appointee and aide to Republican Gov. Pete Wilson has rattled friends and former colleagues from the Capitol. Martin Dyer, who vanished the evening of July 30, was last seen going for a walk after dinner at a friend's encampment on Henthorne Lake in rural southeastern Trinity County. | 08/13/11 09:21:31 By - Torey Van Oot

Washington state candidate won't back down on illegals comments

Kennewick City Council candidate Loren Nichols says he "will not yield" and will continue his campaign to rid the city and country of illegal immigrants despite a wave of outrage about his proposal to use lethal force to secure U.S. borders. | 08/12/11 13:43:30 By - John Trumbo

Washington state faces tax revenue shortages

A new state tax-collections report showed Washington took in $9.4 million less in the past month than was forecast, and the state’s top economist said he is more pessimistic and recession risks are higher for the state and nation. | 08/12/11 13:05:19 By - Brad Shannon

Texas Rep. Burgess tries to clarify impeach Obama remarks

The national profile of U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess rose this week after his comment at a Tea Party meeting regarding possible efforts to impeach President Barack Obama, though his remarks after the event are drawing more questions. | 08/12/11 07:32:01 By - Aman Batheja

Clyburn calls on GOP to compromise on taxes

U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, one of 12 lawmakers appointed to the so-called “super committee” to slash the federal deficit, said Thursday that he is willing to sacrifice some spending on entitlement programs, such as Medicare, but only if Republicans agree to raise taxes on the wealthy. | 08/12/11 07:28:02 By - Adam Beam

N.C. man launches effort to thwart Rick Perry's 2012 run

A Raleigh, N.C. supporter of presidential candidate Michele Bachmann is starting an independent campaign aimed at blunting the candidacy of Texas Gov. Rick Perry. | 08/12/11 07:22:36 By - Rob Christensen and Mary Cornatzer

Missouri Lt. Gov. Kinder says ex-Penthouse Pet's story is 'bizarre'

Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder on Thursday broke his two-day silence on his reported ties to a woman described as a former Penthouse Pet, calling her story “bizarre” and “not true.” Kinder, a Republican who is expected next month to announce his plans to run for Missouri governor, made his comments in an email to reporters. | 08/12/11 07:05:06 By - Steve Kraske

Federal debt deal's impact may be felt by state budget writers

The federal debt debate that has divided Congress and disrupted financial markets could affect state budget writers next. The debt deal in Congress includes between $2.1 trillion and $2.4 trillion in cuts over the next decade, which could trickle down to states like Florida, where federal spending remains the state budget’s largest source of money. | 08/12/11 06:48:14 By - Michael C. Bender

Murkowski aide Fuglvog pleads guilty to breaking fishing law

Arne Fuglvog, who was Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski's top fisheries adviser, pleaded guilty Thursday to breaking commercial fishing law and also indicated he could be feeding information to prosecutors in an attempt to lighten his sentence. | 08/12/11 06:28:34 By - Sean Cockerham

Missouri Lt. Gov. Kinder won't comment on tie to ex-Penthouse Pet

Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder’s refusal to comment on a report about his alleged ties to a woman described as a former Penthouse magazine Pet is raising questions about his soon-to-be-launched gubernatorial campaign. | 08/11/11 07:28:17 By - Steve Kraske

Son of late Alaska Sen. Stevens won't face corruption charges

Ben Stevens has been told he's off the hook in the rapidly fading Alaska political corruption investigation, according to people with knowledge of the case. Family friends of Stevens, the former Alaska Senate president and son of the late U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, say he's recently received a letter from federal prosecutors that he won't face charges. | 08/11/11 06:42:42 By - Richard Mauer

S.C. Rep. Clyburn calls for end to Bush tax cuts, loopholes

U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn said Tuesday that a soon-to-be-appointed bipartisan congressional committee, charged with finding ways to cut federal spending, should sunset tax cuts, passed under President George W. Bush, and eliminate corporate tax loopholes, not cut entitlement programs. | 08/10/11 07:28:41 By - Gina Smith

Kansas' Planned Parenthood defunding faces federal scrutiny

Kansas' decision to take federal family planning funds away from Planned Parenthood has put the state in a vise. On one side, the state is facing a legal assault from Planned Parenthood, which contends it is being punished because it advocates for abortion rights. And it is getting squeezed by the federal government, which is concerned about ensuring access to family planning services in certain areas of the state. | 08/10/11 07:14:50 By - Brad Cooper

Rand Paul says debt is No. 1 U.S. problem

During his first town-hall meeting in Kentucky since he was elected in November, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul ran into a crowd Tuesday frustrated and angered by the sour economy. Paul, a Bowling Green Republican who was swept into office with support of the tea party movement, was pounded with questions that ranged from excessive regulations to federal health care changes. | 08/10/11 07:04:06 By - Jack Brammer

Kansas Gov. Brownback rejects federal health care grant

Citing the federal government's debt obligations, Gov. Sam Brownback said Tuesday he will return a $31.5 million federal grant intended to help implement the new federal health care law. Kansas had applied for the money last December as part of its effort to integrate the state's complicated health insurance databases and policy networks into a user-friendly system. | 08/10/11 06:58:50 By - Brent D. Wistrom

Ex-Alaska Speaker Kott seeks secret FBI files for retrial

There are still thousands of secret documents in the FBI's Alaska corruption investigation. Former House Speaker Pete Kott says about 4,500 pages of them should be unsealed to ensure his retrial is fair. | 08/10/11 06:45:19 By - Richard Mauer

Gregoire warns Washington state agencies of deeper cuts

Rattled by global economic uncertainty, Gov. Chris Gregoire has asked state agency leaders and front-line workers to start getting ready for budget cuts as deep as 10 percent, or $1.7 billion, in January – in case state revenue plunges again. | 08/09/11 13:05:46 By - Brad Shannon

'Impeach Obama,' tea party group tells Texas Rep. Burgess

During a meeting with a Texas tea party group, U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess was told they were unhappy that he supported the landmark deal that raised the country's debt ceiling by $2 trillion while cutting more than that in public spending. When one attendee suggested that the House push for impeachment proceedings against President Barack Obama to obstruct the president from pushing his agenda, Burgess was receptive. | 08/09/11 07:39:58 By - Aman Batheja

S.C. groups ask Justice Dept. to block voter ID law

A coalition of six S.C. groups, including the ACLU and the League of Women Voters of South Carolina, moved Friday to halt a new state law that requires voters to present a picture ID to cast a ballot at the polls. | 08/08/11 07:41:46 By - Gina Smith

In California's redrawn political districts, white voters will dominate

Most of California's legislators and congressional representatives will be elected over the next decade from districts dominated by white voters, the state's new political maps show. | 08/08/11 06:42:39 By - Jim Sanders

Washington Sen. Murray wants veterans' suicides tracked nationally

Washington Sen. Patty Murray on Wednesday encouraged state governments to start tallying veteran suicides, as her state already does. Her goal is to quantify an under-reported number that could help health agencies improve their outreach to service members who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. | 08/05/11 07:44:44 By - Adam Ashton

Perry's prayer rally goes too far, critics say

Gov. Rick Perry has never been hesitant about proclaiming his deep devotion to God and the lifelong "walk of faith" that has carried him from his boyhood on a West Texas tenant farm to the state's highest office. Even some of his sharpest critics don't dispute the sincerity of Perry's beliefs. But they say the Republican governor has gone too far with his leadership role in behalf of The Response, a seven-hour gathering of prayer and fasting expected to draw about 8,000 participants to Houston's Reliant Stadium on Saturday. | 08/05/11 07:38:33 By - Dave Montgomery

International House of Prayer aids Perry's 'The Response' rally

One day from kickoff, critics are increasingly piling on Texas Gov. Rick Perry for a big NFL stadium prayer rally set for Saturday in Houston. The rally is called "The Response." A spin through its website indicates heavy influence by the International House of Prayer, which draws thousands of young people from all over the world to Kansas City. | 08/05/11 07:20:48 By - Donald Bradley

Poll: Romney leads GOP race in Florida, voters upset with Obama

Most Floridians say President Barack Obama doesn't deserve a second term following an emotional debate over the national debt ceiling, according to a Quinnipiac poll released Thursday. The survey also showed Mitt Romney leading the pack of GOP presidential candidates in Florida. | 08/05/11 07:07:15 By - Michael C. Bender

Murkowski learned of Fuglvog's plea deal 3 months after it was made

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Thursday that she had no idea for three months that her fisheries adviser had signed a plea deal with federal prosecutors in which he'd admitted illegal fishing and agreed to nearly a year in federal prison. But Murkowski said she still kept him on the job for a month after he told her of his crime in June. | 08/05/11 06:47:22 By - Sean Cockerham

Gov. Perry's prayer day event is nonpolitical, organizers say

Organizers of Saturday's daylong Houston prayer service initiated by Gov. Rick Perry say it will be devoid of politics, but the event will nevertheless put a spotlight on Christian voters and social conservatives who intend to be a potent force in the 2012 presidential election. | 08/04/11 07:37:24 By - Dave Montgomery

Murkowski fails to answer questions about fisheries aide Fuglvog

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Wednesday continued to refuse to answer questions about her top fisheries advisor Arne Fuglvog, who faces nearly a year in prison after he admitted lying about illegally catching at least $100,000 worth of sablefish. Murkowski has repeatedly declined to answer any questions about Fuglvog, including when she learned Fuglvog was under criminal investigation and whether she knew he admitted his crime to federal prosecutors four months ago. | 08/04/11 06:34:44 By - Sean Cockerham and Richard Mauer

Michigan group wants to appeal Kansas abortion rules injunction

An out-of-state group of physicians opposed to abortion is trying to nudge its way into the legal battle over new Kansas rules for abortion clinics. The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists wants to intervene in the lawsuit and appeal the federal court ruling that temporarily blocked Kansas from imposing new licensing rules for abortion providers. | 08/03/11 07:18:51 By - Brad Cooper

California asked to investigate group running identity-fraud ad

The state attorney general and California's campaign watchdog agency have been asked to investigate a new labor-backed group telling voters that signing initiative petitions increases risk of identity fraud. Californians Against Identity Theft's 60-second radio ad, which is airing on stations in Sacramento and Southern California, urges listeners not to sign initiative petitions. | 08/03/11 06:52:11 By - Torey Van Oot

Murkowski aide Fuglvog resigns, agrees to plea deal for falsifying records

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski's fisheries aide has resigned and faces prison time after admitting to breaking commercial fisheries laws. Arne Fuglvog, who has long played an influential role in Alaska fisheries politics, will be sentenced to 10 months in jail if a judge agrees to his plea deal on the charge of falsifying fishing records. The deal also includes $150,000 in fines and an admission of guilt. | 08/03/11 06:34:06 By - Casey Grove and Sean Cockerham

Florida, key 2012 battleground, shows split on debt ceiling

Florida's U.S. senators parted ways on the debt ceiling Tuesday, a split that serves as an indicator of just how hard fought the 2012 election cycle is likely to be in a crucial battleground state. | 08/03/11 06:22:14 By - Erika Bolstad

Judge blocks Kansas' Planned Parenthood de-funding plan

What flies with the Kansas Legislature doesn't always fly in federal court. U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten issued a preliminary injunction Monday that blocks Kansas from stripping federal family-planning funds from Planned Parenthood. He ordered the state to start distributing the money to the agency. | 08/02/11 07:22:13 By - Brad Cooper

California lawmaker questions state's unspent stimulus funds

With deadlines approaching to spend more than $250 million in federal stimulus funds, some California officials fear much of the money might never reach Main Street California. If the money isn't spent by early next spring, the federal government could demand a refund. | 08/02/11 06:54:14 By - Paresh Dave

Federal spending cuts may hit California farm subsidies, high-speed rail

There are about 866,000 Californians who are paying for college with federal Pell grants. This week, they should count themselves lucky. California, overall, will take a special whack in the budget-cutting to come, if for no other reason than it currently soaks up so many federal dollars. The federal government spent $345 billion in California in 2009, and that will shrink. | 08/02/11 06:49:15 By - Michael Doyle

Rick Perry's political rise fueled by Texas' wealthiest

En route to becoming Texas' longest-serving governor, Rick Perry has forged a network of reliable big-money donors who could help fuel a Perry presidential bid and would be in position to exert expanded influence on the national stage if another Texan lands in the White House. | 08/01/11 07:35:50 By - Dave Montgomery

Matthew Perry, federal judge and civil rights pioneer, dead at 89

U.S. District Judge Matthew J. Perry, a towering civil rights figure who used intellect, hard work and courage to end segregation in South Carolina and usher in a more just society, was found dead at his home on Sunday. He would have turned 90 this week. | 08/01/11 07:30:21 By - Dawn Hinshaw

Kentucky Gov. Beshear says Obama wasn't snubbed during visit

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said Thursday that he did not mislead the public when he said a scheduling conflict prevented him from appearing with President Barack Obama at Fort Campbell in May. Beshear was criticized by many for appearing to snub the president and the troops Obama was honoring who were involved in the killing of Osama Bin Laden. | 07/29/11 07:06:26 By - Beth Musgrave

California will move presidential primary to June

Tired of presidential candidates treating California like an ATM, raising vast sums of money here but spending it in states where campaigns cost less and matter more, state officials four years ago agreed to hold the 2008 primary in February. Now, Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign legislation moving next year's presidential primary back to June, consolidating it with the statewide primary election. | 07/29/11 06:37:12 By - David Siders

Without debt deal, 7,300 S.C. workers could face furloughs

South Carolina will consider furloughing more than 7,000 state workers whose salaries are paid by the federal government if a deal to increase the federal debt ceiling is not reached by next week. | 07/28/11 12:18:30 By - Gina Smith

S.C. Lt. Gov. Ard says he won't resign

South Carolina Lt. Gov. Ken Ard, facing a state grand jury investigation into his admitted ethics violations, showed up for work Tuesday to say he will not resign — quieting whispers of back-door maneuvering to succeed the embattled Florence Republican as the state’s second-highest-ranking elected official. | 07/27/11 07:30:32 By - Adam Beam

N.C. House overrides abortion bill veto

By a single vote, the North Carolina House on Tuesday overrode the governor's veto of a bill intended to discourage abortions by requiring women to wait 24 hours, receive counseling and be shown an ultrasound before the operation can take place. | 07/27/11 07:27:33 By - Craig Jarvis and Lynn Bonner

Jerry Brown picks Goodwin Liu for California Supreme Court

California Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday nominated UC Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu to the California Supreme Court, two months after Republican opposition forced Liu to withdraw his nomination to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. | 07/27/11 06:52:59 By - David Siders

Florida Rep. Rivera faces federal probe over casino contract

Federal investigators have opened a second criminal probe of U.S. Rep. David Rivera, examining undisclosed payments from a Miami gambling enterprise to a company tied to the Republican congressman, The Miami Herald has learned. | 07/22/11 06:51:15 By - Scott Hiaasen and Marc Caputo

Lawmakers want VA to pressure state on veterans homes

California lawmakers are now trying to use federal dollars as leverage to open long-stalled veterans' homes in Fresno and Redding. In a lobbying bank shot, House members want Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to pressure California about opening the Central Valley homes. Shinseki certainly has clout, if he chooses to use it. | 07/21/11 11:11:15 By - Michael Doyle

S.C. Lt. Gov. Ard to face grand jury

S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson said Wednesday that he will ask the state grand jury to investigate allegations of illegal use of campaign money by Lt. Gov. Ken Ard. The decision to have the state grand jury investigate a sitting state constitutional officer is historic. After the governor, the lieutenant governor is the second-ranking official in the state. | 07/21/11 07:34:01 By - John Monk and Adam Beam

Obama's remarks on corporate plane tax breaks spark anger in Kansas

About 100 people, including Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, gathered in an aircraft engine shop Wednesday to protest President Obama’s recent comments about tax breaks for corporate planes. During ongoing battles over the budget and the federal debt ceiling, the president has cited corporate aircraft as an area where he wants to repeal tax breaks to generate more revenue for government. | 07/21/11 07:17:25 By - Dion Lefler

Florida rejects child-abuse prevention funds tied to health care law

Florida lawmakers have rejected more than $50 million in federal child-abuse prevention money. The grants were tied to the Obama administration’s health care reform package, which many lawmakers oppose on philosophical grounds. | 07/21/11 07:10:11 By - Carol Marbin Miller

Revisions hit congressional maps in North Carolina

What began as an adjustment involving five N.C. counties on Tuesday turned into a congressional map that jumbles districts across the state and pits four Democrats against other incumbents. Republican lawmakers had promised a ripple effect when they began redrawing their 2-week-old map. | 07/20/11 12:23:25 By - Jim Morrill and Craig Jarvis

Charlotte mayor lobbies DNC for $55M in convention funds

Charlotte, N.C. Mayor Anthony Foxx said he's confident the city will get $55 million in security funds for the Democratic National Convention, but the impasse in Congress over the debt ceiling concerns him. Foxx and the mayor of Tampa, which is hosting the Republican National Convention, were in Washington, D.C., last week lobbying Congress for the money. | 07/20/11 07:25:23 By - Steve Harrison

San Francisco circumcision ban vote may be derailed by new bill

San Francisco could not ban circumcision of children under new state legislation proposed this month in the California Assembly. The Bill would apply to any city or county government but was introduced in response to a San Francisco ballot measure designed to prohibit child circumcision there. | 07/20/11 06:45:38 By - Jim Sanders

Anonymous election flier in Georgia race condemned for racist caricatures

An anonymous flier purporting to endorse a number of candidates in Tuesday’s election in Macon, Georgia, is drawing widespread condemnation for its tone and racist caricatures. | 07/19/11 12:49:00 By - Jim Gaines

Perry plays coy about presidential run

Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Monday highlighted themes that he would likely unleash in a campaign against President Barack Obama, but he offered no firm clues on when — or if — he plans to climb into a race for the White House. | 07/19/11 07:21:15 By - Dave Montgomery

DeMint urges S.C. GOP donors to 'keep the powder dry'

S.C. Republicans have given the least money to presidential candidates — a scant $105,000 — of any of the five early primary states, according to the Federal Election Commission. | 07/19/11 07:13:37 By - Adam Beam

GOP ads go after Kentucky Gov. Beshear

Kentucky's race for governor heated up Monday as the state Republican Party ripped Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear for use of state aircraft and Beshear's re-election campaign aired two new TV ads touting his record on the economy. | 07/19/11 06:51:31 By - Jack Brammer

Partisan group launches anti-Capps ad

An anonymously funded ad volley Monday targeting Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, kicked off what's likely to be one of California's most hotly contested 2012 campaigns. | 07/19/11 06:27:31 By - Michael Doyle

Brownback's tax incentives to draw people to rural Kansas questioned

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is trolling for people, but with bait that may not work. Trying to rebuild rural Kansas, the Brownback administration is offering income tax breaks and student loan subsidies to lure people into areas with dwindling populations. | 07/18/11 07:15:57 By - Brad Cooper

Texas spending kept rising for years with Perry as governor

Gov. Rick Perry's political stock has soared in recent months as he has traveled the country touting a decade of fiscal restraint in Texas under his leadership. Yet before the budget he signed last month, the Texas budget had consistently grown during Perry's time as governor, with total spending rising faster than inflation and population growth, state data show. | 07/18/11 06:19:18 By - Aman Batheja

More late-term abortion restrictions will become Missouri law

New restrictions on late-term abortions in Missouri will become law Aug. 28 without Gov. Jay Nixon’s signature. Nixon, a Democrat, announced Thursday that he will not veto legislation passed earlier this year by the General Assembly, but he would not formally sign it either. | 07/15/11 06:53:18 By - Jason Noble

Kentucky Republican files complaint over homeless voter registration

Bill Johnson, Republican candidate for secretary of state in Kentucky, filed an ethics complaint Thursday against Secretary of State Elaine Walker and the State Board of Elections over voter registration of homeless people. | 07/15/11 06:45:37 By - Jack Brammer

Teaching gay history becomes law in California

California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation requiring public schools to teach students about the contributions of gay and lesbian people, making California the first state to adopt such a measure. The legislation requires instruction in the social sciences to include the role and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, as well as people with disabilities and members of other cultural groups. | 07/15/11 06:27:20 By - David Siders

House GOP proposes deep cuts to highway, transit funding

A six-year transportation funding bill that Republicans in the House of Representatives outlined Thursday would sharply cut highway and transit funding and seek to curb Amtrak and high-speed rail projects that the Obama administration supports. | 07/07/11 17:14:36 By - Daniel Lippman and Curtis Tate

1,500 new laws will affect day-to-day life in Texas

Maybe you won't notice until you buy a scratch-off lottery ticket, decide to go fishing without a pole, sign your child up for a driver's education class or have a loved one in a nursing home or hospice on a hot day. But those are among the times Texans will see and feel the impact of the work that state lawmakers did -- and Gov. Rick Perry signed off on -- during the 82nd Legislature this year. | 07/06/11 12:13:21 By - Anna M. Tinsley

California state budget gives 1% tax break

It might be time to buy that Tiffany necklace, Sony plasma TV or Winnebago you've been hankering for. Starting Friday, California shoppers will pay 1% less for taxable goods, meaning potentially hundreds of dollars of savings on big-ticket items | 07/01/11 13:16:01 By - Kurtis Alexander

Florida Rep. Wilson steps in for jailed Navy photographer

A South Florida congresswoman is going to bat for a U.S. military war veteran from her district who is in a Miami lockup on a passport fraud charge and fears deportation to his mother’s native Bahamas. | 07/01/11 12:51:17 By - Carol Rosenberg

Rising star in Idaho GOP charged with truck theft, DUI

Idaho Senate Caucus Chairman John McGee was released from the jail on a $5,000 bond after a short 10-minute hearing Monday afternoon. The 38-year-old Republican was arrested early Sunday morning and charged with a felony truck theft and misdemeanor DUI after police found him in the backseat of an SUV — towing a 20-foot trailer — that witnesses say he initially tried to drive off in. | 06/20/11 21:23:25 By - Kathleen Kreller

In Kentucky's governor's race, religion isn't an issue

All three campaigns in this year's race for governor and lieutenant governor say none should try to make an issue of any opponent's religious affiliation. They also say their campaign would denounce any person or group that tries to make religious affiliation an issue in the race. | 06/20/11 13:07:24 By - Jack Brammer

Fla. Gov. Scott is sued by teachers' union

The Florida Education Associate announced today it has filed a class action lawsuit against Gov. Rick Scott and other trustess of the state retirement plan for unconstitutionally imposing a 3 percent pay cut on teachers to balance the budget. | 06/20/11 11:56:02 By - Mary Ellen Klas

Missouri Gov. Nixon vetoes voter-ID bill

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon on Friday vetoed legislation that would have required voters to show photo identification at the polls and allowed some ballots to be cast before Election Day. In his formal veto message, Nixon said the bill would disenfranchise voters who don’t have access to a photo ID or the documents necessary to obtain one, such as a birth certificate. | 06/20/11 07:23:15 By - Jason Noble

Poll: Romney is favored by California Republicans

California Republicans favor presidential candidate Mitt Romney by a comfortable margin over other Republicans, a Field Poll released today shows. When stacked up against 11 other announced or potential Republican candidates, Romney is the first choice of an eye-catching 25 percent of GOP voters in the state. | 06/20/11 06:52:20 By - Michael Doyle

John Edwards wins stay in sex tape case

John Edwards has been spared from having to sit down with attorneys for his former campaign aide next week, when he was scheduled to respond to questions under oath about an alleged sex tape with his mistress. | 06/17/11 07:23:32 By - Anne Blythe

Holder, McConnell at odds over Kentucky terror suspects

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Thursday night strongly defended plans to keep two accused terrorists in the United States to stand trial in federal court. His position puts him at odds with Kentucky politicians and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who want the two Iraqi-born Bowling Green residents to be moved to a detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. | 06/17/11 07:10:30 By - Halimah Abdullah

Circumcision ban ballot measure called anti-Semitic

A San Francisco ballot measure to ban circumcision is spurring charges of anti-Semitism while galvanizing faith leaders and politicians who believe the initiative threatens religious freedom. The initiative, which qualified for the San Francisco ballot in May, has drawn national attention. The measure would make circumcision illegal for boys under 18. | 06/17/11 06:40:29 By - Jennifer Garza

Fla. Gov Scott suspends drug testing for state workers

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has suspended his executive order requiring state agencies to conduct drug screenings of job candidates and random drug tests of current employees, according to a memo issued by his office. | 06/16/11 14:11:04 By - Katie Sanders

As Missouri River rises, Brownback calls for flood control study

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback on Wednesday called for a 9/11-type federal commission to study flood-control policy along the Missouri River — as muddy, rising water swirled only a few feet away. | 06/16/11 07:16:55 By - Dave Helling

'Sopranos' comment sparks fight on California Assembly floor

A fight broke out Wednesday on the Assembly floor as Assemblyman Warren Furutani confronted Assemblyman Don Wagner over comments deemed offensive. The two members jawed angrily in each other's faces before Furutani, D-Gardena, appeared to give Wagner a shove, prompting several colleagues to separate them in the final minutes of the day's budget session. | 06/16/11 06:57:04 By - Kevin Yamamura

Palin emails highlight Alaska Gov. Parnell's loyalty to her

Sean Parnell’s role as a faithful Sarah Palin loyalist is underscored in the Palin emails released last week, which show him feeding her information about a critic, praying for her and defending the oil tax increase he’s now trying to roll back. Parnell, now Alaska’s governor, was always publicly supportive of Palin when he was her lieutenant governor. | 06/16/11 06:50:07 By - Sean Cockerham

House farm spending bill hits California growers, poor

California farmers and the poor get nicked in a slimmed-down farm spending bill whose expected approval this week foreshadows harder choices to come. | 06/15/11 18:31:23 By - Michael Doyle

Texas Senate passes 'sanctuary cities' bill

Embracing one of Gov. Rick Perry's top priorities, the Texas Senate voted 19-12 on party lines early Wednesday to pass a so-called sanctuary city bill despite impassioned warnings from the chamber's Hispanics that the bill will breed discrimination and make Texas "an unwelcoming place." | 06/15/11 07:27:34 By - Dave Montgomery

Texas police oppose 'sanctuary cities' bill

The largest law enforcement agencies in Texas joined forces with Hispanic leaders Monday in opposing a so-called sanctuary cities bill that supporters say is a needed tool against illegal immigration. The emotion-charged bill, which Gov. Rick Rick Perry has designated as a top priority, would let law officers ask about immigration status when they arrest or detain someone. | 06/14/11 07:31:09 By - Dave Montgomery

Job growth is theme of Obama's N.C. visit

President Barack Obama visited the Triangle on Monday with some of the nation's leading corporate executives in tow, pledging to find ways to accelerate job growth in an economy where high unemployment continues to be a drag on the recovery. | 06/14/11 07:19:29 By - Rob Christensen

About one month of Palin's emails missing from documents

Nearly a month of former Gov. Sarah Palin's emails are missing from the documents released to media organizations last week, a gap that raises questions about what other emails might also be missing from what's being nationally reported as her record as Alaska governor. | 06/14/11 06:37:15 By - Sean Cockerham

Administration, Delta farmers oppose bill to halt river restoration

A controversial bill blocking restoration of the San Joaquin River would "ignore universally accepted" science and "hasten the decline of numerous species," a top Obama administration official declared Monday. | 06/13/11 18:10:20 By - Michael Doyle

Texas light bulb bill would skirt federal plan

Texas could soon be in a position to turn the lights off on a federal plan to phase out certain light bulbs. State lawmakers have passed a bill that allows Texans to skirt federal efforts to promote more efficient light bulbs, which ultimately pushes the swirled, compact fluorescent bulbs over the 100-watt incandescent bulbs many grew up with. | 06/13/11 07:36:13 By - Anna M. Tinsley

Obama's visit highlights N.C. political battleground

When President Barack Obama flies into North Carolina's Triangle area today, he will enter a state that has shifted from reliably Republican in national politics to one of the newest presidential battleground states. The Obama visit is not overtly political, and he is expected to focus on job training and economic issues when he visits Cree, the LED lighting manufacturing company in Durham. | 06/13/11 07:21:11 By - Rob Christensen

Bob Dole drops by his Kansas hometown

The long lines of well-wishers were here again. So were the Dole for President T-shirts and the striking red, white and blue “America’s Choice” campaign buttons. This time, though, Bob Dole was back not to launch another presidential campaign but to hang out for a few days in his old hometown. | 06/13/11 07:14:33 By - Steve Kraske

Gay California couple challenges federal marriage act

It was not the proudest moment of their married life. When Brenda and Lynda Ziviello-Howell found themselves in financial trouble earlier this year, they filed for joint bankruptcy as spouses. Not so fast, said the U.S. Trustee, the federal agency that oversees such cases. Just like that, the Ziviello-Howells found themselves in the thick of an ongoing battle over the legal rights of gay married couples. | 06/13/11 06:44:43 By - Cynthia Hubert

Isakson quietly goes about his senatorial business

Sen. Johnny Isakson isn't one of those flashy types of Washington lawmakers who regularly spar with the gaggle of reporters clogging the halls on Capitol Hill or pontificate for the major network news cameras after press conferences | 06/10/11 19:13:14 By - Halimah Abdullah

Vote on Lejeune contamination expected this month

Sen. Richard Burr expects his legislation to help victims of Camp Lejeune's water contamination will get a vote in the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee this month. | 06/10/11 15:30:12 By - Barbara Barrett

Perry 2012 bid speculation fueled by Gingrich shake-ups

Speculation that Gov. Rick Perry might run for president reached a fever pitch Thursday when several key aides to Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign quit, including two key former members of Perry's political team. Perry's spokesman, Mark Miner, said the turnover in Gingrich's campaign doesn't signal a shift in Perry's position, which is that he's still thinking about a run for president. | 06/10/11 07:12:32 By - Aman Batheja

S.C. Gov. Haley gets mixed reviews in poll

A new poll finds S.C. voters evenly divided on Gov. Nikki Haley’s performance as governor but still willing to elect her again if they went back to the polls today. Forty-two percent approve of Haley’s job performance thus far while 41 percent disapprove, and 17 percent are undecided, according to the survey of 741 S.C. voters by Public Policy Polling. | 06/10/11 07:06:26 By - Gina Smith

With John Edwards indicted, U.S. Attorney Holding likely to step down

George E.B. Holding, the top federal prosecutor in Raleigh, N.C., since 2006, is expected to resign today. Holding's departure is not a surprise after the indictment last week of former U.S. Sen. John Edwards on campaign finance violations. Holding, a Republican, was appointed as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina under former President George W. Bush. | 06/10/11 06:58:17 By - J. Andrew Curliss

Administration, farmers hold talks on river restoration

The Obama administration is quietly negotiating with a handful of California farmers who say San Joaquin River restoration efforts damage their land east of Los Banos. | 06/08/11 17:40:17 By - Michael Doyle

Romney leads S.C. poll for GOP nomination

A new poll affirms former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as South Carolina’s early favorite for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling quizzed 1,000 South Carolinians who usually vote in GOP primaries and found Romney leading with 27 percent support. The poll’s margin of error is 3.1 percent. | 06/08/11 07:40:11 By - Gina Smith

Perry invited U.S. governors to 'prayer and fasting' event

Just a few weeks after urging Texans to pray for rain in response to severe drought conditions and wildfires, Gov. Rick Perry announced Monday that he was helping organize a "prayer and fasting" event in Houston and inviting the nation's other governors to attend. | 06/07/11 07:36:30 By - Aman Batheja

Sarah Palin's emails to be released by Alaska on Friday

The state of Alaska on Monday announced the time and place for release of 24,199 pages of Sarah Palin's emails as Friday morning in Juneau. The long-delayed release will be available to media organizations and others paying for paper copies. But Juneau Sen. Dennis Egan is pushing for the state to also ship public review copies to Anchorage and Fairbanks. | 06/07/11 06:39:14 By - Sean Cockerham

Jim DeMint wants labor board's Boeing documents

Sen. Jim DeMint filed a Freedom of Information Act request Monday seeking communications that the federal labor agency may have had with union and Obama administration officials tied to Boeing's bid to open an aircraft plant in South Carolina. | 06/06/11 19:12:18 By - James Rosen

Is California's high-speed rail plan another 'bridge to nowhere?'

The plan for high-speed rail in California is to start on the Fresno side of the San Joaquin River, between Bakersfield and Chowchilla, and go until the money runs out. The Central Valley, for many reasons, is a practical place to begin. However, the initial tracks, through towns like Wasco and Madera, are conspicuously far from where most people live and the location has become a political and public relations challenge. | 06/06/11 07:02:22 By - David Siders

Palin losing favor with Alaskans

Former Gov. Sarah Palin's bus touring around the Lower 48 had a big image of the state of Alaska, and she's constantly talking up her home state. But back home, her main initiatives as governor continue to be under attack from fellow Republicans and her poll numbers aren't looking good. | 06/06/11 06:49:43 By - Sean Cockerham

Alaska policy forces two scientists off beluga recovery team

A Parnell administration rule that requires Alaska state scientists to adhere to official policy and not the principles of independent science when they work outside their agencies continues to fuel debate more than a month after two biologists were removed from a federal beluga whale recovery team. | 06/06/11 06:41:30 By - Richard Mauer

John Edwards indictment might come today

Today is likely a decision day for John Edwards. Edwards' legal team was gathered in the Triangle late Thursday, apparently in the final stages of negotiations over a plea deal or indictment. | 06/03/11 08:17:24 By - J. Andrew Curliss and Joseph Neff

California lawmakers won't get paid without budget deal, controller says

California's controller told lawmakers Thursday that he won't pay them if a budget deal isn't reached by midmonth, while Gov. Jerry Brown said talks are at a critical point. | 06/03/11 06:52:28 By - David Siders

Administration opposes bill to scuttle San Joaquin River restoration

California officials and the Obama administration on Thursday strongly objected to a politically divisive bill that blocks San Joaquin River restoration efforts, casting the bill's long-term prospects into doubt. | 06/02/11 16:38:33 By - Michael Doyle

Texas Sen. Cornyn says Perry would be good presidential candidate

Even though Gov. Rick Perry has spent more than a year talking about what's wrong with the federal government, he would likely have better than average odds if he makes a run for the White House. "I think he'd have a good story to tell ... about the Texas success story and the Texas model," U.S. Sen. John Cornyn said Wednesday. | 06/02/11 07:40:22 By - Anna M. Tinsley

S.C. immigration bill would require businesses to use E-verify program

Proposed changes to South Carolina’s immigration laws would require all businesses to check their workers’ legal status by using a federal database, a move that is receiving little resistance from the business community. The changes are being considered in the 11th hour of the legislative session after the U.S. Supreme Court last week issued an opinion on a similar law in Arizona. | 06/02/11 07:35:37 By - Noelle Phillips

U.S. Attorney Holding to leave after John Edwards case

The top federal prosecutor for the eastern third of North Carolina is expected to be replaced upon conclusion of the investigation of former U.S. Sen. John Edwards, whose actions are under review by a grand jury. George E.B. Holding, a Republican, has been the U.S. attorney in Raleigh since his appointment by President George W. Bush in 2006. | 06/02/11 07:25:26 By - J. Andrew Curliss

California lawmakers quietly shelve bills that police their behavior

Numerous bills to crack down on California lawmakers have been shelved quietly by the Legislature in recent weeks. Casualties included proposals to bar middle-of-the-night legislative sessions, to restrict lawmakers from receiving pay for serving on state boards within four years of leaving office, and to require annual disclosure by public officials of their pay, benefits, travel and other compensation. | 06/02/11 06:52:46 By - Jim Sanders

Welfare drug testing signed into law by Fla. Gov. Scott

Floridians must submit urine, blood or hair samples for drug testing before receiving cash benefits from the state under a bill Gov. Rick Scott signed into law Tuesday. The new law fulfills a campaign pledge from Scott, but has raised legal questions. The ACLU of Florida has signaled it might sue over the law. | 06/01/11 07:04:12 By - Michael C. Bender

Fla. Gov. Scott bashed Obama's stimulus but kept $370 million of it in budget

Florida Gov. Rick Scott campaigned against President Obama's "failed stimulus" program — yet the freshman politician kept nearly $370 million of the federal cash in the Florida budget he signed last week. | 06/01/11 06:49:44 By - Marc Caputo

Wal-Mart, big-box retailers face new hurdle in California

Wal-Mart and other big-box retailers once again are threatened by legislation that would make them clear an extra step before breaking ground on new locations. California's Senate on Tuesday approved a bill that forces cities and counties to review an economic impact report before approving or rejecting big-box retail projects. | 06/01/11 06:38:42 By - Paresh Dave

Campaign finance laws at heart of John Edwards case

Federal prosecutors and John Edwards' lawyers argued in secret for months over how campaign finance law deals with gifts and third-party payments. This area of the law would be at the core of a prosecution of the former North Carolina senator and two-time presidential candidate. The two-year probe could turn into criminal charges this week unless there is a plea deal. | 05/31/11 07:28:21 By - J. Andrew Curliss

Bill Clements, first GOP governor of Texas, is dead

Not content to be the millionaire founder of a worldwide oil-drilling company, Bill Clements sought to transfer his success in the business world into a successful career in politics. In his first try for office, in 1978, he won the governorship of the nation's third-largest state. | 05/30/11 19:07:08 By - Terrence Stutz

Amazon tax break deal approved by S.C. state Senate

A deal reached early today paves the way for online retailer Amazon to open a distribution center employing 2,000 people in South Carolina. The state Senate agreed shortly after midnight to give the company a sales tax exemption it wants for the project, ending a two-day talkathon that opponents launched to stall the measure. | 05/27/11 07:27:41 By - Tim Flach

Gov. Scott's $615 million budget veto hits Florida's most vulnerable

At a campaign-style event that banned some Democrats, Republican Gov. Rick Scott fashioned himself into Florida’s new veto king Thursday when he axed $615 million from the state budget before signing it. In his speech, Scott omitted many of the serious-sounding programs he cut: homeless veterans, meals for poor seniors, a council for deafness, a children’s hospital, cancer research, public radio, whooping-cough vaccines for poor mothers, or aid for the paralyzed. | 05/27/11 07:00:01 By - Marc Caputo and Aaron Sharockman

California bill limiting political gifts dies in state Senate committee

A California Senate committee on Thursday quietly killed a bill that would have stopped the flow of thousands of dollars' worth of gifts to state lawmakers and other elected officials. The bill would have prohibited lobbyists or the interests employing them from giving elected officials or their family members tickets to sporting events and concerts, gift cards, spa treatments, or golf, skiing or fishing trips. | 05/27/11 06:43:00 By - Dan Smith

Poll: Florida's Scott is nation's least-liked governor

Gov. Rick Scott is one of the least popular governors in America, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll that shows 57 percent of Florida voters disapprove of his job performance. | 05/26/11 06:58:07 By - Marc Caputo

Obama will head back to North Carolina in June

President Barack Obama will return to North Carolina in two weeks, when he is scheduled to visit the Triangle area — Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill — for a discussion about how the government can promote economic growth in the private sector. | 05/25/11 14:59:12 By - Barbara Barrett

Perry signs sonogram before abortion bill into Texas law

As Gov. Rick Perry touted Texas' new law that requires women seeking abortions to have a sonogram, a national abortion-rights group worked to prepare a legal challenge to what they call one of the most restrictive laws in the country. | 05/25/11 07:42:30 By - Anna M. Tinsley

S.C. House approves immigration crackdown bill

Those suspected of being in the country illegally soon may have to prove they are U.S. citizens, at least in South Carolina. S.C. House members approved an Arizona-style crackdown on illegal immigrants by a 69-43 vote. | 05/25/11 07:32:02 By - Gina Smith

Report: Justice Dept. to seek indictment against John Edwards

The U.S. Justice Department has given prosecutors the go-ahead to seek an indictment against former U.S. Sen. and two-time presidential candidate John Edwards, according to reports from ABC and NBC. | 05/25/11 07:24:53 By -

Justice Dept. won't reimburse ex.-Alaska Rep. Weyhrauch

Federal prosecutors said Tuesday that former Alaska Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch is not entitled to have the government reimburse $663,000 in legal fees he spent fighting corruption charges that eventually were dismissed. | 05/25/11 06:40:52 By - Richard Mauer

Alaska officials want more time to release Sarah Palin's emails

The state of Alaska says it needs more time to produce emails Sarah Palin sent as governor and that were requested under the public records act more than two years ago as she was running for vice president. | 05/25/11 06:37:37 By - Sean Cockerham

Texas Democrats unite to fight 'sanctuary cities' bill

The Texas Senate's 12 Democrats formed a united front against a revived "sanctuary cities" bill Monday as Hispanic leaders argued that it would lead to racial profiling and undercut relations between law enforcement and Latino communities. | 05/24/11 14:54:05 By - Dave Montgomery

Much of S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley's agenda is stalled by state Senate

Lawmakers are likely to get an “incomplete” on the end-of-session report cards that Gov. Nikki Haley gives them for acting on her first-year legislative agenda. | 05/24/11 07:38:22 By - John O'Connor

'R word' to be removed from S.C. state laws

What advocates for those with mental disabilities refer to as “the R word” is about to excised from South Carolina's state law. So is this an outbreak of political correctness in South Carolina? | 05/20/11 12:44:37 By - Joey Holleman

S.C. tea party has a tough week

The Columbia Tea Party went from Donald Trump to jilted chump after the celebrity businessman canceled his appearance at Thursday’s State House rally, and state legislators approved tax breaks and spending that the group opposed. | 05/20/11 12:21:38 By - John O'Connor

Romney takes jabs at Obama, praises Perry in Texas appearance

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney dropped in at a barbecue restaurant on Thursday, taking jabs at President Obama for his economic and healthcare policies and newly espoused stance on a Palestinian state. Romney also heaped praised on Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whom commentator Rush Limbaugh has been advancing as a candidate for president in 2012. | 05/20/11 07:39:44 By - Scott Nishimura

Kentucky gives Ark Encounter park $43 million tax break

A controversial Bible-themed amusement park received approval Thursday for up to $43 million in state tax incentives over a 10-year period. The Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority unanimously approved the tax credit for the Ark Encounter project. | 05/20/11 07:19:48 By - Beth Musgrave

Sanctuary cities bill halted by Texas Senate panel

Republican-led efforts to ban so-called sanctuary cities, which critics say provide safe haven to illegal immigrants across Texas, suffered what many considered a fatal blow Wednesday. | 05/19/11 07:38:36 By - Aman Batheja

Despite Limbaugh's support, Perry still says 'no' to presidential run

Despite his insistence that he's content to stay in Texas, Gov. Rick Perry is attracting more and more buzz as a potential presidential candidate, talk that could shift into hyperdrive after conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh proclaimed Wednesday that Perry has the "potential to light this up." | 05/19/11 07:34:11 By - Dave Montgomery

S.C. House approves Amazon tax break deal

After a dramatic turnaround Wednesday in the South Carolina House, the battle to win a prized tax incentive to lure moves to the state Senate, where the online retailer’s support has not been tested. | 05/19/11 07:27:55 By - Clif LeBlanc

Bill seeks more judges for federal bench in California, Arizona

Overworked federal judges in the Central Valley and Arizona would get reinforcements under a bill reintroduced this week by senators who hope for better luck this time. | 05/18/11 18:12:48 By - Michael Doyle

Perry for president? Rush Limbaugh thinks so

You can expect the revived talk of a Rick Perry for president campaign to shift into hyperdrive now that Rush Limbaugh is declaring the Texas governor the best hope Republicans have to bring life to a lackluster presidential field. | 05/18/11 14:54:52 By - John Gravois

California health care bill would initiate single-payer reform

The national debate over health care can be summed up in a bill being debated in Sacramento, California. Supporters of Senate Bill 810 say the legislation would be the only way to provide medical coverage for every Californian. Opponents deride the measure as socialized medicine. | 05/18/11 11:48:10 By - Yesenia Amaro

N.C. gay marriage foes rally for constitutional ban

North Carolina supporters of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage came to Raleigh on Tuesday with new confidence that the Republican-controlled legislature, eager to take on social issues, will back their cause. | 05/18/11 07:31:35 By - Eden Stiffman and Lynn Bonner

S.C. illegal immigration bill moves to state House floor

A controversial bill that tasks police officers with determining the immigration status of people they stop is heading to the South Carolina House floor, where Republicans have made its passage a priority. | 05/18/11 07:28:31 By - Gina Smith

Tea party is going to Kansas City for rally

A coalition of national tea party groups is planning a weekend political rally at The Woodlands racetrack in Kansas City this fall. The Freedom Jamboree will begin Sept. 30 and organizers said the event will include speeches, music and fireworks. The event will climax with a presidential straw poll on Oct. 1. | 05/18/11 07:13:05 By - Dave Helling

Little national arts funding trickles into San Joaquin Valley

The National Endowment for the Arts on Tuesday bestowed millions of dollars on assorted artists, musicians and storytellers, but left little for the San Joaquin Valley. | 05/17/11 17:23:05 By - Michael Doyle

Gov. Jerry Brown tries to tackle California's 'wall of debt'

With state revenues rising, Gov. Jerry Brown reframed his call for tax extensions Monday, saying they are still necessary to help the state whittle down an accumulated "wall of debt." | 05/17/11 06:42:06 By - Kevin Yamamura

Schwarzenegger fathered child with longtime household staff member

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife, Maria Shriver, separated after she learned he had fathered a child more than a decade ago — before his first run for office — with a longtime member of their household staff. | 05/17/11 06:37:44 By - Mark Z. Barabak and Victoria Kim

Democratic Party pays $85,000 for Kentucky Gov. Beshear's plane use

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear used a state plane in April to take his family to the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament in Houston, but the state Democratic Party picked up the $6,105 tab for the flight. Since Beshear became governor in December 2008, he has made much use of state aircraft for political and non-governmental purposes — but not at state expense. | 05/16/11 07:08:15 By - Jack Brammer and John Cheves

California lawmakers sit on sidelines during redistricting

California's 53 House members seem to be simmering on the sidelines as an independent commission draws the new map that will determine their political futures. | 05/13/11 17:49:56 By - Michael Doyle

California Latinos hope Gov. Brown will sign farm, immigration bills

Latino leaders who went to bat for Jerry Brown in last year's campaign are now counting on the governor to help them pass bills supporting farm workers and illegal immigrants. | 05/13/11 06:46:20 By - Jim Sanders

Fracking chemical disclosure bill passes Texas House

The Texas House gave tentative approval Wednesday to a bill requiring natural gas drillers to publicly disclose the chemicals they use in the controversial practice known as hydraulic fracturing. | 05/12/11 07:32:06 By - Aman Batheja

GOP lawmakers resume bid to sink San Joaquin River restoration plan

Republican lawmakers on Wednesday resumed their controversial efforts to repeal a San Joaquin River restoration plan and curtail fish and wildlife protections. | 05/11/11 18:10:37 By - Michael Doyle

N.C. lawmakers seek more abortion limits

North Carolina is doing an about-face on abortion policy, with a slate of proposals that seek to limit abortions under consideration in the legislature. A House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote today on a package of changes that abortion-rights opponents have pushed for years. | 05/11/11 07:34:14 By - Lynn Bonner

Analyst's report slams California's high-speed rail plan

The California Legislative Analyst's Office on Tuesday recommended that the state's proposed high-speed rail system start in Los Angeles or the Bay Area – not in the Central Valley. The recommendation was part of a blistering report that found a host of faults with the project. | 05/11/11 06:53:50 By - John Ellis

Former Palin aide Bailey calls ethics complaint 'baseless'

The lawyer for former Sarah Palin aide and author Frank Bailey said Tuesday that Bailey is fully cooperating with the state's investigation into how he put together his upcoming "expose" of Palin. | 05/11/11 06:38:33 By - Sean Cockerham

'Sanctuary cities' bill passes in Texas House

After hours of emotional debate, the Republican-led Texas House voted 100-47 on Monday night to give preliminary approval to legislation that would ban so-called sanctuary cities that critics contend are havens for illegal immigrants. | 05/10/11 07:33:11 By - Dave Montgomery

Diplomats will 'Experience America' in Alaska this summer

Dozens of diplomats from around the world will be headed to Alaska this summer as part of a four-day trip to showcase this country's uniquely American places. | 05/10/11 06:42:30 By - Erika Bolstad

Ex-Sarah Palin aide and author Bailey faces ethics complaint over email use

The Alaska attorney general's office says it's investigating a charge that former Sarah Palin aide Frank Bailey wrongfully used state emails as the basis for his coming book slamming the ex-governor. | 05/10/11 06:35:24 By - Sean Cockerham

Critics call Kansas Gov. Brownback's agenda a 'power grab'

Kansas' new governor, Sam Brownback, is facing early criticism for what’s called an unprecedented effort to consolidate authority within the executive branch. Critics, including some of Brownback's fellow Republicans, cite examples from the former U.S. senator’s first months in office in which he's brought independent agencies under his control — or at least tried. | 05/09/11 07:21:53 By - Steve Kraske

Grumpy Republicans await Obama in visit to Texas

President Barack Obama may be visiting Texas on Tuesday, with stops in El Paso and a fundraiser in Austin, but he won't be feeling the love — at least not from a growing chorus of unhappy GOP lawmakers who see the administration's refusal to designate the wildfire-battered state a disaster area the latest slap in the face to the very Republican Lone Star State. | 05/09/11 06:27:46 By - Maria Recio

Welfare drug test bill heads to Fla. Gov. Scott

Applying for welfare benefits in Florida? Soon you’ll need to get drug tested. A measure requiring the tests passed the Senate on Thursday and is headed to Gov. Rick Scott, who called it one of his legislative priorities. | 05/06/11 07:06:02 By - Jodie Tillman

'Dream Act' approved by California Assembly

llegal immigrants could receive college financial aid under legislation approved Thursday by the California Assembly and apparently destined for the desk of a new Democratic governor who supports the concept. California could add fuel to the national debate over illegal immigrants' rights by signing into law the "Dream Act" measure, Assembly Bill 130. | 05/06/11 06:49:24 By - Jim Sanders

Kansas' adult business restrictions bill may be dead

In a vote that could foreshadow campaign postcards of 2012, Kansas state senators Wednesday almost certainly killed a bill designed to drive sexually oriented businesses out of business. By a vote of 22-17, the senators opted not to pull the “Community Defense Act” out of a committee that had voted down an identical measure earlier this year. | 05/05/11 07:07:01 By - Dion Lefler

South Carolina natural resources chief calls some lawmakers 'jackasses'

Calling some lawmakers "self-serving jackasses," South Carolina's natural resources chief told conservationists Tuesday they must work harder to gain the attention of legislators at the State House. | 05/04/11 13:21:36 By - Sammy Fretwell

Sonogram before abortion bill moves to Texas House

As Texas senators gave final approval Tuesday to a bill requiring doctors to conduct sonograms before performing abortions, moving it closer to the governor's desk, a new fight is ramping up over another abortion-related bill. | 05/04/11 07:40:54 By - Anna M. Tinsley

S.C. lawmakers want generic drugs for cancer, HIV treatment for Medicaid patients

South Carolina state senators voted Tuesday to require the state’s poorest residents to first try generic drugs to treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and mental illness if a generic is available. If the generic drugs are not effective, their doctor then could prescribe a name-brand drug. | 05/04/11 07:33:03 By - Gina Smith

Sarah Palin targets water issues during speech at California college

Former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin touched on everything from the nation's mounting debt to Valley water issues during a 35-minute speech and fundraiser Sunday at West Hills College. Her speech came just a few hours before news broke that Osama bin Laden was dead. | 05/02/11 12:07:47 By - Tracy Correa

John Edwards sex tape testimony to be heard in private

Superior Court Judge Carl Fox Friday agreed to unseal attorneys' motions in the John Edwards sex tape case but declined to unseal any portion of Edwards' testimony in the case. | 04/29/11 13:38:59 By - Jesse James DeConto

Sarah Palin to speak at California college's arena opening

The new Golden Eagle Arena at West Hills College in Lemoore wanted to make its first event a headline-grabbing affair. So they invited Sarah Palin to speak. The event is sponsored by the West Hills College Foundation, which said it is paying $115,000 to have her appear. | 04/29/11 11:49:27 By - Lewis Griswold

Texas lawmaker still questions Obama's birth certificate

President Barack Obama released a copy of his long-form birth certificate this morning in hopes of quelling critics like Donald Trump who question whether the president was actually born in Hawaii. Texas state Rep. Leo Berman remains skeptical. | 04/29/11 07:47:17 By - Aman Batheja

S.C. Amazon vote reflects a shift in strategy

The S.C. House’s rejection of a five-year sales tax break for — which cost the Midlands 1,249 jobs — represents a sea change in the way the state of South Carolina approaches job recruitment and could hamper those efforts in the future, some recruiters and experts say. | 04/29/11 07:42:35 By - Jeff Wilkinson

Charlotte's preparations for Democratic National Convention to ramp up

Preparations for next year's Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., will ramp up next month with local staff hirings and the expected arrival of the party's convention organizers. | 04/29/11 07:36:14 By - Jim Morrill

Puppy mill compromise is now Missouri law

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon on Wednesday signed into law not one but two bills addressing dog breeding and the state’s rampant problem with puppy mills. Only one, however, will have the force of law. | 04/29/11 07:25:36 By - Jason Noble

Fla. Gov. Scott's anti-union bill rejected by state senators

Florida Gov. Rick Scott paid a rare, personal visit to the offices of four Republican senators Wednesday in a last-minute attempt to rescue an anti-union bill that appeared destined for defeat. | 04/29/11 07:18:09 By - Mary Ellen Klas

N.C. Republicans want state legislation against "foreign" law in courts

A group of Republican legislators is backing a measure that would make it illegal for judges to consider "foreign law" when making rulings in North Carolina's courts. Primary sponsor Rep. George Cleveland said he is concerned that Shariah law could gain a foothold in American communities with sizable Muslim populations. | 04/28/11 12:48:06 By -

Women lead fight against S.C. immigration bills

As dusk settled across the State House grounds on a recent Wednesday night, scores of people opposed to South Carolina's latest immigration bill gathered for a candlelight prayer vigil. As the S.C. General Assembly has considered the bill during the past year, the opposition to it has been steady and strong. And it has been driven by women. | 04/25/11 07:33:35 By - Noelle Phillips

Evangelist Franklin Graham says Trump 'may be right'

Franklin Graham gave his blessing Sunday to possible Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, saying he likes what the billionaire is saying and that Trump could end up being his preferred candidate. | 04/25/11 07:26:06 By - Tim Funk

Poll: Palin, Miller are out of favor with Alaskans

A poll released this week by Dittman Research suggests Alaskans have had it with Joe Miller, aren't crazy about Sarah Palin and are pretty happy with the congressional delegation, especially Lisa Murkowski. | 04/25/11 06:38:44 By - David Hulen

McCain visits rebels in Libya, urges formal U.S. recognition

Calling his visit here, "one of the most exciting and inspiring days of my life" Republican Sen. John McCain called for the U.S. to formally recognize the transitional — yet largely unknown — rebel council here. | 04/22/11 17:29:30 By - Nancy A. Youssef

California lawmakers seek to exempt water projects from key law

Central Valley water projects would be exempt from a key environmental law under a controversial measure introduced by rural California lawmakers. | 04/19/11 18:21:16 By - Michael Doyle

Politics likely to become harder for Idaho Democrats

Even with an equal partisan split on the Redistricting Commission in Idaho that will remap legislative districts for 2012-2020, Democrats have the most to lose. | 04/18/11 12:33:34 By - Dan Popkey

Ron Paul's son Robert considering a congressional run

First it was just Ron Paul, an obstetrician-gynecologist and libertarian-leaning Republican who was elected to the U.S. House more than 20 years ago. Then he was joined by his son, Rand, a Republican ophthalmologist, who became a darling of the Tea Party movement. Now a third Paul -- Robert, a doctor who runs a family medical practice and lives in Fort Worth -- is mulling a congressional bid of his own. | 04/15/11 07:38:13 By - Anna M. Tinsley

N.C. lawmakers take up Planned Parenthood fight

A week after funding for Planned Parenthood was a key sticking point in the congressional negotiations to avoid a federal government shutdown, Republican leaders in North Carolina are seeking to bar the state from granting any money to the organization. | 04/15/11 07:32:01 By - Michael Biesecker

Fetal-pain abortion bans up for consideration in several states

Kansas joined an exclusive club when it became only the second state to ban late-term abortions because of fetal pain. But not for long. The Idaho governor signed a similar bill Thursday, and more like it are advancing in Oklahoma and a dozen other states. | 04/15/11 07:21:48 By - Brad Cooper

Florida's immigration bill has lawmakers walking a political tightrope

For evidence of the political minefield that is immigration reform, look no further than the Florida Senate. On one side is Senate President Mike Haridopolos, who is looking to attract tea-party conservatives to his Republican bid for U.S. Senate. On the other side are the state’s powerful Hispanic caucus and some of the biggest special interests in Florida: the Chamber of Commerce, Associated Industries of Florida, the Florida Catholic Conference, farmers and other agricultural interests. | 04/15/11 07:03:45 By - Patricia Mazzei

California lawmakers lose taxpayer-funded car perk

California legislators no longer will receive a car, gas and maintenance paid largely by taxpayers. The state's independent compensation commission voted Thursday to replace the existing program in December with a $300 monthly allowance to defray legislators' costs of driving their personal vehicles. | 04/15/11 06:51:32 By - Jim Sanders and Torey Van Oot

BP promises investment in Alaska if oil tax break passes

BP's top Alaska official seconded the earlier pledge of Conoco Phillips to invest $5 billion on the North Slope if the governor's oil tax cuts pass, then promised even more but said he couldn't be specific. The question of what the major oil companies will do in return for billions of dollars in tax savings has been one of the critical issues hanging up Gov. Sean Parnell's efforts to reduce state taxes when oil prices are high. | 04/15/11 06:40:54 By - Richard Mauer

California officials to study how Texas lawmakers work

Gov. Rick Perry wants to show California how business is done in Texas. That's why he and other lawmakers plan to welcome a delegation of California officials on Thursday. As the GOP-led Texas Legislature faces a multibillion-dollar deficit and struggles to craft a balanced budget, Perry touts the state's success in job creation, its lack of income tax and its ability to refrain from raising taxes. | 04/14/11 07:28:10 By - Anna M. Tinsley

Puppy mill law modification bill goes to Missouri Gov. Nixon

Missouri lawmakers on Wednesday rolled back voter-approved restrictions on state dog breeders and passed new rules that supporters say will target puppy mills without harming legitimate breeders. The legislation now goes to Gov. Jay Nixon, who declined to say whether he would sign it. | 04/14/11 07:08:10 By - Jason Noble

Florida Gov. Scott closes deal to sell his urgent care business

Two weeks after insisting he was "not involved in that company," Florida Gov. Rick Scott finalized a deal Wednesday to sell Solantic Inc., the Jacksonville chain of urgent care clinics he founded. | 04/14/11 06:50:28 By - Michael C. Bender

EPA appeals panel is accused of thwarting Arctic drilling

Saying the Environmental Protection Agency's air-permitting process has "run amok," House Republicans on Wednesday debated legislation that would make it easier for companies such as Shell to get permission to drill offshore in the Arctic region. | 04/13/11 16:30:27 By - Erika Bolstad

S.C. Gov. Haley signs on-the-record voting into law

With music thumping and about 200 supporters gathered round, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signed into law Tuesday her signature piece of legislation, requiring lawmakers to cast more on-the-record votes. The Lexington County Republican made her political name by calling for more openness and transparency in government, including more on-the-record voting by legislators. | 04/13/11 07:25:36 By - Gina Smith

Florida Gov. Scott urged to sue over BP Gulf oil spill

The rosy scene bothered Tampa attorney Steve Yerrid. There was Gov. Rick Scott on Monday, happily announcing a $30 million marketing and tourism grant from BP for seven Panhandle counties, thanking a BP senior executive at his side for "stepping up." | 04/13/11 07:05:04 By - Katie Sanders

Jerry Brown is proud to be 'Governor Moonbeam'

California Gov. Jerry Brown, reflecting on his advanced age and decades-old nickname, said on the 100th day of his third term that he is still the "moonbeam" governor he was before. Brown, last governor from 1975 to 1983, said the title "implies something different, something unexpected." | 04/13/11 06:49:08 By - David Siders

Limiting 'open carry' of guns on California lawmakers' agenda

California state lawmakers seeking to revive two controversial gun bills made progress Tuesday, as an Assembly committee approved proposals targeting the "open carry" protest movement and requiring records on long gun sales. | 04/13/11 06:41:18 By - Torey Van Oot

Alaska state lawmakers look for new office space

Alaska legislators are pursuing a plan for constructing a new office building in downtown Anchorage for themselves and their staffers. It's at a site next to City Hall that's used for parking as well as Dark Horse Coffee and Alaska's Gourmet Subs. | 04/13/11 06:34:09 By - Sean Cockerham

Coming federal budget cuts will have impact throughout California

California firefighters, college students and the children of prison inmates will be doing their part to reduce the federal deficit, whether they like it or not. All told, hundreds of federal programs will be cut in a wide-ranging package intended to save $38.5 billion. One by one, the cuts bring home the abstract political exercise that has captivated Capitol Hill. | 04/12/11 18:07:11 By - Michael Doyle

Ethics complaint filed against Florida Gov. Rick Scott

A Clearwater, Florida, activist has filed an ethics complaint accusing Gov. Rick Scott of using his office to benefit the chain of walk-in clinics he founded. David Plyer based his complaint on a report that Scott’s health care policies — drug testing state workers, switching Medicaid patients to private HMOs and shrinking public health clinics — could benefit Solantic Corp., a chain of 32 urgent-care centers in Florida. | 04/12/11 07:10:44 By - Michael C. Bender

Death of political consultant Kam Kuwata stuns California Democrats

The body of highly regarded Democratic political consultant Kam Kuwata was found in his Southern California condominium Monday, sending shock waves that reached all the way to Capitol Hill. Kuwata was 57, a wily and good-humored operator who helped some of California's most well-known politicians win election time and time again. | 04/12/11 06:57:50 By - Michael Doyle

Complaint: City is racist for favoring single-family homes

An Illinois landlord filed a second complaint in February with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, alleging that the city of Belleville's denial of his intention to rent out a mobile home constitutes racism in that it denied access to low-income housing, thereby keeping out minority residents. | 04/11/11 18:09:52 By - Laura Girresch

Texas lawmakers considering Sharia law ban

Texas lawmakers are considering whether to ban state courts from considering foreign religious or cultural laws, such as the Islamic law of Sharia. Texas is among several states -- including Alaska, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Tennessee -- considering bans on the recognition of foreign laws, according to the Institute for U.S. Law. | 04/11/11 07:38:24 By - Anna M. Tinsley

S.C. Democrats call anti-union legislation a 'political ploy'

Gov. Nikki Haley and the Republican-controlled Legislature are working with increasing fervor to ensure that South Carolina — long an anti-union state — is a place where businesses can set up and grow without fear of organized labor. Some Democrats and union leaders say the focus this year on anti-union legislation is a political ploy to distract South Carolinians from the real problems plaguing the state. | 04/11/11 07:26:16 By - Gina Smith

N.C. bill aims to cap workers' compensation

When a coalition of business groups led by the powerful N.C. Chamber launched an assault on workers' compensation benefits six years ago, trial lawyers and organized labor turned back the attack with a grass-roots lobbying effort. This year the business groups are taking another run at the system they love to hate with the help of a not-so-secret weapon — both the state Senate and House are controlled by Republicans for the first time in more than a century. | 04/11/11 07:16:14 By - David Ranii

Remember the 'bridge to nowhere'? We're still paying for it

Alaska legislators have signed off on another $1.4 million in federal money to pay planners of the controversial Knik Arm bridge, which would connect Anchorage to mostly undeveloped land. Supporters estimate the bridge will cost about $700 million. Critics ridiculed it as a "bridge to nowhere" when Congress provided initial money to help pay for it. | 04/10/11 17:00:28 By - Sean Cockerham

California lawmakers told they can't carry guns in capitol

Assembly Chief Sergeant-at-Arms Ronald Pane had given permission to four legislators to carry concealed weapons in the state's capitol, where weapons are prohibited in most circumstances. As soon as news of the permission broke, however, the speaker of the assembly ordered that the permits be revoked. | 04/09/11 12:01:20 By - Torey Van Oot

Florida drug database a 'go,' despite Gov. Scott's objection

Killing the database before it started was a top priority of Gov. Rick Scott and Republican House Speaker Dean Cannon, who say it would be an invasion of privacy and won’t help solve the state’s prescription drug abuse epidemic. But with the program mandated by statute, there is little opponents can do to stop it. The state's attorney general and the Republican president of the state senate back the database. | 04/09/11 11:20:42 By - Janet Zink

Carolina lawmakers debate rights of gun owners to 'be prepared'

Even if he could carry a concealed handgun into places like a restaurant or church, Jeff Barbee doesn't expect to use it. He'd just feel safer, packing his .45-caliber semi-automatic gun underneath a coat or shirt. The number of those places may soon expand dramatically in the Carolinas — if legislators in both states are successful pushing through a host of bills designed to ease gun laws. | 04/08/11 07:25:31 By - David Perlmutt

Mississippi Gov. Barbour talks presidential politics in Florida

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a likely Republican presidential candidate, made a trip to the most important swing state’s Capitol, but he wouldn’t answer the most important question on the minds of political insiders. Should Florida be punished for having an early primary? | 04/08/11 07:04:39 By - Marc Caputo

Florida lawmakers seek expansion of online school courses

More students could learn from a laptop in their bedroom rather than a whiteboard in a brick-and-mortar classroom under a pair of proposals in the Florida Legislature that would dramatically expand virtual school. The most immediate change: Starting next year, students entering high school would have to take at least one online course to graduate. | 04/08/11 07:01:03 By - Patricia Mazzei

Conoco CEO Mulva says oil tax break would spark investment in Alaska

The head of Conoco Phillips responded to critics of Alaska Governor Sean Parnell's oil tax break Thursday, pledging to increase investments by up to $5 billion in existing North Slope fields if the new tax rules take effect. | 04/08/11 06:39:23 By - Richard Mauer

Mississippi Gov. Barbour vetoes auto insurance requirement bill

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has vetoed a bill the Legislature passed that would have required motorists to have auto insurance before they could get a car tag. Mississippi has one of the highest rates in the nation of uninsured motorists, an estimated 28 percent compared with the national average of 16 percent. | 04/07/11 11:28:03 By - Geoff Pender

Fund diversion from Texas veterans lottery program raises questions

Beginning in 2009, Texans could start buying scratch-off lottery tickets that did something unusual amid all the convenience store offerings -- support a specific program. The $2 Veterans Cash game supports the Fund for Veterans' Assistance, which issues grants to nonprofits around the state to provide counseling, transportation, housing and child care for veterans and their families. But the budget crisis has arrived even to the Veterans Cash scratch-off game. | 04/07/11 07:33:59 By - Chris Vaughn

Oil prices give Alaska $3.4 billion revenue surplus

Alaska is rolling in money from the high oil prices, with the revenue department on Wednesday projecting a state surplus of $3.4 billion. The news comes as the Legislature prepares to decide how much it wants to spend on construction and maintenance projects in the coming year. Lawmakers had already planned a big budget, but this could inspire even more projects. | 04/07/11 06:42:43 By - Sean Cockerham

Alaska state lawmakers pass two bills in 78 days

Twelve days remain before Alaska's legislative session ends for the year and just two bills have passed, one of which is a set of guidelines for how to best handle the state flag. | 04/06/11 06:35:32 By - Sean Cockerham

Texas may allow hunting of feral hogs, wolves from helicopters

Hunters moved closer Monday to being able to use helicopters to kill feral hogs that are damaging the Texas landscape. With no discussion, Texas House members voted 137-9 to give preliminary approval to a bill that would let people hunt feral hogs and wolves from a helicopter. | 04/05/11 07:40:48 By - Anna M. Tinsley

TransCanada VP says Alaska bill may violate gas pipeline license

TransCanada Corp. on Monday disputed the legality of a bill that's a first step toward dumping the Alaska-subsidized natural gas pipeline project. TransCanada Vice President Tony Palmer said it appears to violate the license the state gave his firm under the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act. | 04/05/11 06:40:44 By - Sean Cockerham

Coastal lawmakers say ports tax should be used for ports

All six House members from South Carolina, in a rare display of bipartisan unity, have joined lawmakers from other coastal states in demanding that the federal government stop using harbor maintenance taxes for unrelated needs. | 04/04/11 21:38:11 By - James Rosen

Texas bill would prohibit texting, tweeting by elected officials during meetings

A Texas state lawmaker wants elected officials paying attention to the public during government meetings -- not texting, tweeting, Facebooking or e-mailing. State Rep. Todd Hunter has a bill that would make it illegal for any elected official to transmit an electronic message during such a meeting. | 04/04/11 07:34:36 By - Anna M. Tinsley

California may reconsider car perk for lawmakers

California is the only state that provides lawmakers with a car, gas and maintenance paid largely by taxpayers. The perk has withstood the recessionary economy and several rounds of budget-cutting, including $11.2 billion in measures the Legislature approved and Gov. Jerry Brown signed in March. | 04/04/11 06:43:42 By - Jim Sanders

Texas college students debate guns on campus bill

Peter Salas is a self-described gun-rights supporter whose family has a hunting tradition, but he opposes concealed handguns on college campuses. Clayton Smith, 21, went to federal court two years ago to win the right to stage "empty holster" protests on campus in support of gun rights. The disparate views reflect the divide among college students as Texas lawmakers continue to tinker with legislation that would allow students to carry guns. | 04/01/11 07:40:31 By - Diane Smith

Alaska House votes to undo Palin-era oil profits tax

The Alaska House of Representatives voted Thursday night for a massive rollback of the oil profits tax that the lawmakers put in place four years ago. The House vote was an attempt to torpedo one of the biggest legacies of Sarah Palin's time as governor. Gov. Sean Parnell supported the oil tax when he was her lieutenant governor but is now leading the effort to weaken it. | 04/01/11 06:39:51 By - Sean Cockerham

To keep guns out of Mexico, Texas lawmakers propose checkpoint

Some Texas lawmakers, tired of cash and guns illegally making their way into Mexico and fueling violence in the northern part of the country, say they think they know how to help. They are proposing southbound checkpoints where Texas law enforcers can stop vehicles about to cross the border and look for guns, cash and drugs. | 03/31/11 07:30:29 By - Anna M. Tinsley

Alaska lawmaker's Sharia law proposal called divisive

Palmer Republican Rep. Carl Gatto has set off a political firestorm with a bill aimed at stopping what he deems as the potential of Islamic religious law — Sharia — trumping the U.S. Constitution in Alaska courts. Gatto doesn't have examples of Alaska courts imposing Islamic Sharia law but said his bill is determined to make sure that it doesn't happen. | 03/31/11 06:35:19 By - Sean Cockerham

Kansas cracks down on metal dealers after thefts

To cut down on metal theft and the damage it does to utilities and other businesses, the state Senate on Tuesday approved a bill to require scrap dealers to register with their local government and keep detailed records on customers. | 03/30/11 13:13:50 By - Dion Lefler

Voter I.D. bill set to become law in Kansas

Kansans will have to show a photo ID to vote beginning next year. But new voters won't have to prove their citizenship to register until 2013 under a bill the House passed 111-11 and sent to the governor, who is expected to sign it into law. | 03/30/11 13:03:15 By - Todd Fertig and Brad Cooper

Texas bill seeks moratorium on executions

Clarence Brandley spent 10 years on Death Row for the slaying of a 16-year-old girl, a crime he didn't commit. Now, more than two decades after being cleared, the former custodian hopes to convince Texas lawmakers that it's time to abolish the death penalty in Texas — or least impose a moratorium on executions. Texas has executed more inmates than any other state — 446 since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. | 03/30/11 07:40:59 By - Dave Montgomery

S.C. bill would further loosen gun laws

Legislation weaving its way through the House of Representatives would increase the number of places that legal gun owners can carry their guns to include restaurants, day-care centers and churches. | 03/30/11 07:30:45 By - Gina Smith

N.C. bill would double solar power requirements

Solar energy is proving so successful in North Carolina that industry advocates want to double the amount of sun-powered electricity that is required by state law. | 03/30/11 07:25:11 By - John Murawski

Kansas 'fetal pain' abortion bill goes to Gov. Brownback

A bill to strictly limit abortions after 22 weeks based on disputed research that fetuses can feel pain is on its way to Gov. Sam Brownback, who has indicated he will sign it into law. | 03/30/11 07:09:19 By - Todd Fertig

Green energy law will increase rates for Californians, utilities say

California consumers could see sharp electricity rate increases under sweeping new legislation that would require them to ramp up their energy supplies from wind, solar and other green sources, local utilities said. The state Assembly approved a measure requiring power companies to obtain up to 33 percent of their energy supplies from green sources, up sharply from the current 20 percent. The state Senate already has passed the bill. But utilities say they face steep cost increases to comply with the measure. | 03/30/11 06:47:29 By - Rick Daysog

Alaska state lawmakers aren't buying oil tax reduction plan

Senate leaders said Tuesday the governor has failed to sell his plan to cut oil taxes by billions of dollars, and they're not interested in taking the gamble that it's going to lead to more drilling. | 03/30/11 06:34:59 By - Sean Cockerham

Florida lawmakers look to privatize prisons

In what could signal a massive private takeover of public prisons, the Florida Senate quietly slipped language into its newly proposed budget Monday that seeks to give corporations the chance to run correctional facilities and probation services in 18 counties | 03/29/11 07:11:04 By - Marc Caputo

Alaska's oil tax reduction plan moves ahead in state House

The effort to cut Alaska's oil-production tax is gaining speed in the state House, with a vote possible as soon as this week, even as the debate rages over whether it's a good bet to lower taxes by billions of dollars to encourage more drilling. | 03/29/11 06:41:51 By - Sean Cockerham

Mississippi Gov. Barbour had hand in early release of convicted killer

The Sun Herald has learned that Gov. Haley Barbour helped in the early release of convicted killer Joseph Goff, whose release today after serving eight years of a 20-year sentence has drawn outrage from law enforcement and the community. | 03/25/11 12:45:42 By - Geoff Pender and Margaret Baker

Oil tax cuts from Alaska Gov. Parnell stuck in state Senate

Gov. Sean Parnell's attempt to slash Alaska oil taxes appears to be going nowhere in the state Senate with less than a month before lawmakers adjourn for the year. | 03/25/11 06:30:16 By - Sean Cockerham

Mayor says he had nothing to do with 'porn convention' in Illinois

An anonymous flier accused Mayor Gail Mitchell of allowing a sex convention in town last weekend, but the mayor said he had no say in the private event. The "Beat Me in St. Louis" event at the Fountains at Fairview was for people exploring or practicing bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism in sexual relationships. | 03/24/11 11:58:11 By -

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