A Virginia state senator filed suit against the U.S. Forest Service on Wednesday, claiming that federal officials are illegally blocking access to a road in the Jefferson National Forest where several people are protesting construction of a natural gas pipeline. State Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax), who is a lawyer, filed the suit at the federal courthouse in Roanoke after being prohibited from using the road to reach the protesters last week.His action opens another legal front in the fight over the right to protest the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a 303-mile project that starts in West Virginia and crosses through Virginia’s southwest mountains.
Maine lawmakers overrode Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of an adult-use marijuana regulatory bill Wednesday, putting the state on track to regulate a retail market that has been in limbo since voters legalized recreational marijuana use in 2016. The proposal that survived the Republican governor’s pen was Maine’s second attempt to create a framework for the system after a veto of an earlier bill was upheld in 2017, sending a special committee that was convened to handle the issue back to rehash it.
Gov. Nathan Deal opened a new door of opportunity for economic revitalization for rural Georgia on Wednesday afternoon when he signed House Bill 951, creating a Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation that will be housed at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. “On behalf of all Georgians who live in rural Georgia or who grew up in rural Georgia, I want to thank Governor Deal and the legislators who turned this idea into reality,” ABAC President David Bridges said. “Rural communities face many challenges, hurdles, and obstacles as they attempt to revitalize and strengthen their situations.”Bridges grew up in rural Terrell County in the tiny town of Parrott. President of ABAC since 2006, he is the longest serving president among the 26 institutions in the University System of Georgia. He prepared a proposal for enhancing community and economic development in rural Georgia and presented it the Georgia House of Representatives Rural Development Council in February.“Shrinking populations, export of the most ambitious and talented young people, failing businesses, loss of access to primary health care services, closure of hospitals and loss of tax-paying brick and mortar retail stores plague much of rural Georgia,” Bridges said in the report.
Niles officials awarded a contract for textile recycling, such as used clothing and rags, to a company last month which will begin pick up services in late June. Village trustees signed a contract with Great Lakes Recycling, which runs Simple Recycling, at their April 24 board meeting. The contract is expected to earn the village $900 in direct revenue and save Niles taxpayers nearly $28,000 by diverting nearly 600 tons of trash from landfills each year. Beginning Monday, June 25, Simple Recycling trucks will follow trucks from the village’s regular waste hauler Groot, along trash and recycling pickup routes on a weekly basis to collect textiles that residents want to recycle.
A new land bill introduced in Congress Wednesday seeks to set aside more than a half-million acres of wilderness in Utah’s Emery County.Backed by Utah Rep. John Curtis and Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Emery County Public Land Management Act would also create a 4-square-mile national monument at the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry and national conservation areas totaling 383,380 acres, mostly around the iconic San Rafael Swell.Proponents lauded the bill, nearly 20 years in the making, as a locally driven solution to long-standing land-use conflicts, bringing “desired certainty to a broad range of stakeholders.”
Located in the sprawling farmland of southern Colorado’s San Luis Valley, five hours away from Denver, the closest major city, Alamosa can feel about as far removed from D.C. politics as you can get. But not when it comes to immigration enforcement: More than half of the town’s 15,000 people are Hispanic, many of them immigrants from Mexico and Guatemala who now find themselves in the crosshairs of the government’s immigration crackdown. It wasn’t just immigrants and their families who felt targeted. Since the 2016 election, the Trump administration has ramped up pressure on local law enforcement across the country into becoming a “deportation force.” From signaling its intention to aggressively promote the 287(g) program, which allows local law enforcement to question people about their immigration status, to withholding federal grants from so-called sanctuary jurisdictions, the White House has made it clear that it aims to enlist local police and county sheriffs in its war against unauthorized immigration. While some law enforcement officials support the administration’s efforts, others feel caught between these new demands and their legal and ethical ramifications.
Doctors who are cutting back on prescribing opioids increasingly are opting for gabapentin, a safer, non-narcotic drug recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By doing so, they may be putting their opioid-using patients at even greater risk.Recently, gabapentin has started showing up in a substantial number of overdose deaths in hard-hit Appalachian states. The neuropathic (nerve-related) pain reliever was involved in more than a third of Kentucky overdose deaths last year.Drug users say gabapentin pills, known as “johnnies” or “gabbies,” which often sell for less than a dollar each, enhance the euphoric effects of heroin and when taken alone in high doses can produce a marijuana-like high.Medical researchers stress that more study is needed to determine the role gabapentin may have played in recent overdose deaths. However, a study of heroin users in England and Wales published last fall concluded that combining opioids and gabapentin“potentially increases the risk of acute overdose death” by hampering breathing and reversing users’ tolerance to heroin and other powerful opioids.
More than 30,000 Medicaid recipients in Louisiana, many in nursing or group homes, could lose their benefits due to proposed state cuts -- a situation that could force thousands to move.Louisiana Department of Health Deputy Secretary Michelle Alletto said the agency will notify about 37,000 Medicaid recipients, whose eligibility to receive the benefit could end on July 1, they may have to move out of the nursing and group home facilities because of the lack of state funding.The letters, which will be mailed out Thursday, also will go to Medicaid patients with developmental disabilities and some who receive home-based services to give recipients time to develop appropriate plans, the agency said. The health department also will evaluate any eligibility options, according to the agency.
Republican Governor Phil Scott plans to study a bill passed by the Vermont Legislature that would set up a first-in-the-nation system to allow the state to import prescription drugs from Canada before deciding whether he will sign it. Scott spokeswoman Rebecca Kelley said Wednesday the governor supports the goal of making prescription drugs more affordable, but he has questions about the implementation of the bill.The National Academy for State Health Policy says Vermont is the first state in the nation to approve the importation of less costly prescription drugs from Canada.
Federal fishing managers are considering allowing commercial fishermen to take a species of endangered skate that is currently prohibited. Fishermen catch skates for use as food and bait on both coasts. They are currently prohibited from possessing barndoor skates, or bringing them to shore. Barndoor skates are considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says proposed changes to the skate fishery include an allowance for limited possession of barndoor skates. The new rules weren't yet in place on May 1, which was the start of the new fishing year, and the skates are still prohibited at the moment.