Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill into law that will help prevent animal-abuse offenders from owning pets. Ponce’s Law is named after Ponce, a Labrador retriever puppy found beaten to death in Ponce Inlet last year. The puppy’s owner, Travis Archer, is awaiting trial on felony animal cruelty charges. What the animal-cruelty law does do is allow judges to bar offenders from owning a pet for a court-ordered period of time.The law also increases the chances of offenders receiving a sentencing that includes jail time. Ponce’s Law increased the severity ranking of an animal abuse-related crime. For example; before Ponce’s Law, an offender would have scored a Level 3 offense, which carries 16 points. After the law that same offense is a Level 5, with 28 points, meaning if a person is convicted on an animal cruelty charge they are more likely to do jail time.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill Monday withholding state business from internet providers who throttle traffic, making the state the second to finalize a proposal aimed at thwarting moves by federal regulators to relax net neutrality requirements. The bill stops short of actually putting new requirements on internet service providers in the state, but blocks the state from doing business with providers that offer preferential treatment to some internet content or apps, starting in 2019. The move follows a December vote by the Federal Communications Commission repealing Obama-era rules that prohibited such preferential treatment, referred to generally as throttling, by providers like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon.
A Washington state court judge has rejected OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP’s bid to dismiss a lawsuit by the state’s attorney general seeking to hold the pharmaceutical company accountable for its role the opioid epidemic. King County Superior Court Judge Catherine Moore on Friday denied Purdue’s motion to dismiss Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s case, becoming the third judge nationally to allow a state to pursue claims against the opioid manufacturer.
Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith was sworn in as the first female senator from Mississippi on Monday, bringing a record number of 23 women serving in the U.S. Senate.
Annette Sweeney, a former state legislator with strong ties to agriculture, won a special election Tuesday to replace Republican state Sen. Bill Dix, who resigned in March after video surfaced of him kissing a female lobbyist in a Des Moines tavern. Sweeney, 60, a Republican who lives near Alden, defeated Democrat Tracy Freese, 35, of Dike, a marketing professional and chair of the Grundy County Democratic Party.The vote was 4,742 to 3,726, or 56 percent for Sweeney to 44 percent for Freese, according to the Iowa Secretary of State's office. Her election means Republicans will hold 29 seats in the Iowa Senate. Democrats hold 20 seats and there is one independent.
The president called for enforcing work requirements that are already in the law and reviewing all waivers and exemptions to such mandates. Also, the executive order asked agencies to consider adding work requirements to government aid programs that lack them. The agencies have 90 days to submit a list of recommended policy and regulatory changes.The move is the latest step in the administration's effort to require low-income Americans to work for their federal benefits. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services earlier this year began allowing states to mandate that certain Medicaid enrollees must work for the first time in the program's history, while the Department of Housing and Urban Development is looking into the issue for those in subsidized housing. Consumer advocates, however, argue that work requirements will lead to millions of people losing crucial assistance. Putting in place such mandates doesn't take into account barriers to employment, such as medical conditions, child care and transportation."So-called 'work requirements' are premised on a set of myths about poverty," said Rebecca Vallas, vice president of the Poverty to Prosperity Program at the left-leaning Center for American Progress."First, that 'the poor' are some stagnant group of people who 'just don't want to work.' Second, that anyone who wants a well-paying job can snap her fingers to make one appear. And third, that having a job is all it takes to not be poor," she said.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday signed new limits on welfare programs into law, committing state and federal taxpayers to nearly $80 million in spending to draw more people into the labor force. "Our ... welfare reform bills ensure help to those who truly need it, while providing the training and assistance they need to re-enter the workforce and regain independence," Walker said in a statement.Supporters have said that, with the state's unemployment rate at an all-time low of 2.9%, it's the ideal time to shift more people from food stamps and other public benefits to jobs. Though these measures could cost state taxpayers in the short run, they could save money for the federal taxpayers who cover that program's benefits, they say.
Iowa cities and counties that intentionally violate federal immigration law will have their state funding revoked under a bill signed into law by Gov. Kim Reynolds Tuesday. Senate File 481 targets so-called sanctuary communities across the state and has drawn widespread debate in the Capitol and across the state. It takes effect July 1. Reynolds, a Republican, did not hold a public bill signing event. Supporters say the new law will maintain public safety and uphold the rule of law, but critics argue that Iowa has no sanctuary cities and that the bill will only stoke racial fears that could fuel discrimination.
A program is now in place to bring fast internet to hard-to-reach rural communities in Georgia. Now, lawmakers just have to fight about the money. Both chambers passed state Sen. Steve Gooch's Achieving Connectivity Everywhere Act last week, creating a grant program to fund broadband expansion. But the bill, which will go to Gov. Nathan Deal's desk, does not guarantee funding. Instead, it creates a source for added revenue — with a stated desire that lawmakers invest the money into rural counties.The bill allows private companies to build fiber optic lines along Georgia's 1,247 miles of interstate. The Georgia Department of Transportation will award contracts for this work. The winning companies, in turn, will make money leasing fiber access to internet providers.
The Canadian government recently announced the launch of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a C$3 billion commitment that will help chart the course for government investments in the sector over the next five years. The partnership aims to help the sector grow trade, advance innovation and strengthen public confidence in the food system, the government said. In addition, business risk management programs will continue to help producers manage significant risks that threaten the viability of their farms and are beyond their capacity to manage.