State Net Capitol Journal - News and View from the 50 States
Volume XXII, No. 22
July 21, 2014
HEADLINE: Renewable energy
Budget & taxes
Philadelphia cigarette tax in limbo
Politics & leadership
KS gov faces revolt from middle
Nixon issues near-record number of vetoes
The next issue of Capitol Journal will be available on August 4th.
State mandates to use more renewable energy have run into some roadblocks, but many are still on target in spite of these setbacks.
SNCJ Spotlight
Renewable energy on track despite setbacks
The relentless march of the states to greater use of renewable energy has hit some bumps on the road.
The biggest bump occurred in Ohio, where the legislature last month approved a law delaying the state's commitment to obtain 25 percent of its energy use from renewable energy by 2025. The Ohio measure was the latest battle in a regional assault on renewable standards by Republicans, who contend that green energy mandates are expensive and threaten economic growth. In the Kansas legislature, a measure to revise clean-energy standards was narrowly defeated, but proponents vow they will try again. In April, the Indiana legislature took the dramatic, if largely symbolic, step of eliminating the state's energy-efficiency standards. 
The Ohio measure is "clearly a setback" for renewable energy, said Dick Munson, director of Midwest Clean Energy for the Environmental Defense Fund. But he does not see it as a lasting defeat. Munson observed that many other states are adhering to commitments to increase use of renewables or expanding these goals. 
California, the poster child for renewable energy, is on target to meet its goal of generating a third of its energy from renewables by 2020, according to Lauren Navarro, Munson's counterpart in the Golden State. The landmark California measure was supported and signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) in 2002. It has been embraced by his successor, Gov. Jerry Brown (D), and twice expanded since its enactment. In 2010 California voters rejected a ballot initiative that opponents said would cripple the law. 
Following California's lead, some 30 states in the last dozen years have adopted mandates, known as renewable portfolio standards, which set goals for utilities to increase their percentage of green energy use. They have for the most part been widely accepted, but some utility companies such as First Energy in Ohio have balked at the goals or the means of achieving them. Wind and solar power are subsidized in various ways by federal, state and local governments. In Ohio, some Republicans argued that the costs of producing these alternative energies have declined enough that they should stand on their own feet without subsidies. 
The argument cuts two ways. The reduced costs of producing renewable energy may weigh against continued subsidies but they also herald a day when renewable energy will routinely be part of the electrical generation mix. A recent study of 24 states with renewable portfolio standards by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, CO, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, CA, found they increased utility bills by only 1 percent. 
Nationally, renewable energy accounts for about 10 percent of U.S. energy consumption and 13 percent of electricity generation. More than half of this electric power comes from water (hydropower) and roughly a third from wind power. The rest comes from biomass wood and waste, geothermal and solar, which accounts for only 2 percent of renewable energy generation. 
In signing the Ohio bill, Gov. John Kasich (R) took credit for brokering what he called a balanced compromise between clean-energy advocates and "those who would like to kill renewable energy altogether." The bill delayed by two years the Ohio target of obtaining 25 percent of its energy from alternative sources by 2025. During this two-year freeze, as Kasich calls it, a commission will study the issue. 
Some environmentalists don't believe the Ohio delay is truly balanced. Noting that Kasich had also approved a $400 million state budget restricting wind farm siting, the green energy website, Clean Technica, headlined its report on the Ohio situation: "Ohio to Wind Power: Drop Dead." (This echoed, "FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD," a 1975 headline in the New York Daily News after President Gerald Ford denied federal bankruptcy assistance to New York City.) 
Balanced or not, the Ohio bill and Indiana's scrapping of its efficiency standards, have raised doubts that are not helpful to the cause of renewable energy. 
"Energy markets are highly policy-driven," Todd Foley of the American Council on Renewable Energy told the New York Times. "When states and even the federal government continually revisit these policies, it sends a signal of uncertainty. It chills market and investment momentum." 
But this momentum, even if slowed, may be inexorable. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported in July that renewable consumption for electricity and heat generation is on track to grow by nearly 3 percent in 2014 and by 4 percent in 2015. Munson believes this trend is irreversible. 
Two recent developments may have given alternative energy a boost. The first was a June announcement by President Obama of a climate change initiative intended to reduce carbon pollution from power plants by 30 percent by 2030. Later in the month the Supreme Court upheld the Obama administration's efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The 7-2 ruling, in which Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Antonin Scalia joined the court's moderates and liberals, was the latest in a string of decisions endorsing the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to issue Clear Air Act regulations to curb climate change. 
The administration's efforts to curb carbon emissions, especially from coal, come at a time of extensive natural gas production that has brought the United States to the brink of energy independence. Thirty-nine of total U.S. electricity generation in 2013 came from coal, but natural gas accounted for 27 percent of the generation and is rapidly gaining. A year ago Citi Group predicted that the United States or at least North America could be energy independent by 2020. By then, according to the consultancy firm, McKinsey and Co., U.S. energy consumption could be down 23 per cent with increased use of energy efficiency measures. 
Energy efficiency is important because there's no free lunch in energy generation. Much of the increased natural gas production comes from the hydraulic fracturing or fracking of shale, a process that releases toxic emissions and is under political attack. Hydropower will experience a slight downturn in 2014, according to the EIA, even as electricity generation from other renewable energy sources increases, largely because of the Western drought. Wind power, which is expanding globally, is criticized for the destruction of bird flocks. 
Despite such obstacles and the pullback in Ohio and Indiana, renewable energy projects continue to entice. Early this year, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti promised that his city, the second most populous in the nation, would derive 20 percent of its electricity from rooftop solar power by 2020. This month, in North Carolina, two universities, a hospital and the utility Duke Energy declared they will soon begin construction of a 52-megawatt solar project, the largest east of the Mississippi. Encouraging others to follow suit, the federal government recently announced it would make $4 billion available in loan guarantees for innovative renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that avoid or reduce greenhouse gases. 
California continues to show the way on renewable energy and its accomplice, energy efficiency, which Lauren Navarro calls the "lowest hanging fruit" in the effort to reduce carbon pollution. Under a program known as "demand response," utility users lower thermostats during periods of peak electricity use in return for a refund on their electricity bills. Although still in its infancy, this program is seen by the California Public Utility Commission as the wave of the future. 
What happened in Ohio is a reminder that the path to alternative energy is not straight. The ultimate direction is nonetheless clear. As the American Council on Renewable Energy declared in its 2014 forecast: "The potential of America's clean energy...provides the country with an unparalleled opportunity to reinvigorate our economy while protecting our environment."
— By Lou Cannon
The Week in Session
States in Regular Session: DC, MA, NC, NJ, OH, US 
States in Special Session: 
States currently prefiling for 2015 Session: KY, MT, NV, WY 
States adjourned in 2014: AK, AL, AR, AR "a", AZ, AZ "a", CA "a", CO, CT, DE, DE "b", FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL "a", IL "b", IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, ME, MN, MO, MS, MS "a", MS "b", NE, NH, NM, OK, OR, PR "a", PR "b", RI, SC, SD, TN, UT, VA, VT, WA, WA "a", WA "b", WA "c", WI, WI "c", WV, WV "a", WV "b", WY 
*Letters indicate special/extraordinary sessions 
— Compiled By Dena Blodgett
(Session information current as of 07/16/2014)
Source: State Net database
Bird’s eye view
Wide variation in renewable energy production across states
Graphic for Bird’s Eye View article Idaho obtains about 85 percent of its net electricity generation from renewable resources, more than any other state, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Most of the state's renewable power comes from hydroelectric facilities. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Wyoming, which derives less than 10 percent of its net electricity production from renewable sources, mostly wind power.
U.S.A. map for Bird’s Eye View article
Budget & taxes

PHILADELPHIA CIGARETTE TAX IN LIMBO: The cash-strapped school district and city of Philadelphia have been pushing for a bill imposing a $2 surcharge on every pack of cigarettes sold in the city to provide enough funding to avert 1,300 layoffs and the ballooning of class sizes to 40 or more. But last week the Republicans who control the state's Senate made some last minute changes to the bill (HB 1177) that threw it into legislative limbo. 
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter attributed the Senate's action to the tobacco lobby, which he said he was told was "weighing in and literally trying to take away money from the schoolchildren in Philadelphia." 
The Senate amendments included a provision that would phase out the tax in five years, which Philadelphia School Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said "throws us back into uncertainty." 
"Ending the tax in five years will exacerbate our structural deficit, complicate our long-term planning efforts, and make it harder to access the capital markets, and strip our schools of educational services and supports," he said. 
That change and others allowing some municipalities to levy hotel taxes and offer tax incentives for economic development will also make it "very difficult" to muster the votes in the House to approve them, according to a spokesman for Republicans in the chamber. 
Mayor Nutter didn't seem too optimistic about the situation. 
"This is terrible for schoolchildren, for teachers, for parents, and for the taxpayers in the city of Philadelphia," he said. "We are caught in a vortex of political hell with no way out." (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER) 
IL HEADED FOR '$2B COLLAPSE': Illinois state finances are headed for "a $2 billion collapse" next year, according to the state's comptroller, Judy Baar Topinka. State lawmakers approved a temporary 1.25 percent increase in the state income tax in 2011 that is set to expire in January, leaving a budget hole that Topinka — a Republican facing an election challenge in November from Democratic Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon — compared to a "heart attack" to the state's finances. Gov. Pat Quinn (D) has called for an extension of the tax hike, but the idea has gained little traction with this being an election year. (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, STATE NET) 
TOP NY FINANCIAL REGULATOR PROPOSES 'BITLICENSE': New York's superintendent of financial services, Benjamin Lawsky, has proposed a regulatory framework for companies that issue, store or exchange virtual currencies like bitcoins for cash. 
Under Lawsky's proposal, such companies would be required to obtain a license from the state. They would also have to maintain a virtual currency reserve large enough to cover what they owe their customers and adhere to anti-money laundering rules, including those mandating the verification of customers' identities and addresses. 
"Setting up common-sense rules of the road is vital to the long-term future of the virtual currency industry, as well as the safety and soundness of customer assets," Lawsky said in a statement. 
The proposed regulations will be open for public comment for 45 days beginning July 23. (INSURANCE JOURNAL) 
BUDGETS IN BRIEF: A report from the state auditor of UTAH indicates the state may have collected $100 million less in property taxes over the past decade than it was entitled to because of a "significant error" in the calculations used to set certified property tax rates around the state. Tax collectors reportedly have been mistakenly double counting the amount that should be deducted from the calculation for reappraisal values in redevelopment areas (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE). • ILLINOIS has reduced its backlog of overdue bills to $3.9 billion from $9.9 billion in 2010. Gov. Pat Quinn (D) said the state "is in a stronger financial position than we were five years ago" in part because of the "tough decisions" he's made (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES). • Also in ILLINOIS transportation officials plan to test using smartphones to pay tolls on the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) (CHICAGO TRIBUNE).
— Compiled by KOREY CLARK
Politics & leadership

KS GOV FACES REVOLT FROM MIDDLE: Electoral challenges to establishment Republicans from Tea Party candidates further to the right have become fairly routine the last few years. But what's happening right now in Kansas is a little more unusual. More than 100 centrist Republicans there are endorsing the presumptive Democratic candidate for governor, state Rep. Paul Davis, over incumbent Gov. Sam Brownback (R). 
The moderate Republicans' extreme dissatisfaction with Brownback stems largely from the major income and corporate tax cuts he championed in 2012 and 2013 that have sent the state's revenues plummeting, while revenues in most other states are on the upswing, and done nothing to boost the state's job growth, which lags behind that of the nation. 
The state's voters don't appear to be very satisfied with Brownback either, with polls generally showing him trailing Davis slightly. And that too is pretty unusual. As Paul Waldman put it on The Washington Post's liberal blog Plum Line: "In a state as conservative as Kansas [where Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama by 22 points], you have to screw up pretty badly to be in that position." (WASHINGTON POST, REALCLEARPOLITICS.COM) 
REMAP TRIAL BEGINS IN TX: In a trial that began last Monday in San Antonio, the U.S. Justice Department told a three-judge federal panel that in 2011 Texas lawmakers deliberately crafted electoral maps for the state House and U.S. House marginalizing minority voters — including the state's exploding Hispanic population — in order to protect Republican incumbents. Attorneys for the state countered that lawmakers did the best they could, given they had to balance the need to obtain the support of the Republican majority against the desire to avoid the appearance of outright discrimination. 
Last year the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act requiring Texas and 14 other states with a history of voting discrimination to obtain federal preclearance before making any changes to the way they conduct their elections. But the Justice Department contends Texas has repeatedly violated another part of the act — left intact by the high court — prohibiting voting practices that discriminate on the basis of race or color. 
"The state of Texas, as it has in redistricting cycles since 1970, adopted maps that discriminated against its citizens," said Bryan Sells, an attorney for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, during opening remarks. 
The trial was expected to last only a week, but a ruling probably won't come for months. (HOUSTON CHRONICLE) 
FRACKING VOTE BOUND FOR CO BALLOT BOX: Democrats who control Colorado state government appear to have failed in their attempt to avoid a costly and divisive ballot-measure fight over fracking in November by passing a legislative compromise. Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) announced last week that he didn't have the support to pass a bill giving towns more power to allow or restrict the controversial oil and gas extraction process. 
"Despite our best efforts and those of other willing partners, we have not been able to secure the broader stakeholder support necessary to pass bipartisan legislation in a special session," the governor said in a statement. 
That development means energy producers and environmental groups will likely be battling the next few months over two proposed ballot measures aimed at outlawing drilling near homes and schools, and giving communities greater authority to restrict drilling. (NEW YORK TIMES, BOULDER COUNTY BUSINESS REPORT) 
POLITICS IN BRIEF: Last week — a year after the U.S. House approved the same plan — the U.S. Senate agreed to exchange 20,000 acres of state-held mineral rights in an Indian reservation in UTAH for mineral rights in another part of that reservation. The move will preserve cultural lands in the Hill Creek Extension of the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation while opening up the other area for energy production (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE). • The conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, backed by Charles and David Koch, has set up shop in KENTUCKY. The first priority for the new branch of AFP, which was already active in 33 other states, is reportedly to make KENTUCKY's tax structure more business-friendly (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER). • Casino interests have spent over $16.5 million on lobbying in MASSACHUSETTS between 2007 and 2013, mostly to try to obtain one of the state's few potentially lucrative casino licenses (BOSTON GLOBE).
— Compiled by KOREY CLARK
Upcoming Elections
(07/18/2014 - 08/08/2014)

Connecticut Special Election
House District 122

Georgia Primary Runoff
House Districts 1, 22, 54, 112 and 153
Senate Districts 8, 9, 16, 22 and 27
Constitutional Officers: Superintendent 
of Education
US House (All)
US Senate (Class 2)

Kansas Primary Election
House (All)
Constitutional Officers: Governor, Lieutenant 
Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer, 
Attorney General, Commissioner of Insurance
US House (All)
US Senate (Class 2)

Michigan Primary Election
House (All)
Senate (All)
Constitutional Officers: Governor, Lieutenant 
Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General
US House (All)
US Senate (Class 2) 

Missouri Primary Election
House (All)
Senate (Even)
Constitutional Officers: Auditor
US House (All)

Missouri Special Election
House Districts 67, 120 and 151

Texas Special Runoff
Senate 4

Washington Primary Election
House (All)
Senate Districts 6-8, 13, 15, 21, 26, 29-38, 41-48
US House (All)

Tennessee Primary Election
House (All)
Senate (Odd)
Constitutional Officers: Governor
US House (All)
US Senate (Class 2) 

NIXON ISSUES NEAR-RECORD NUMBER OF VETOES: Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) addressed the last few bills awaiting his decisions last week. When it was over he had set a personal record by vetoing 33 measures, the most by a Show Me State governor since the 35 issued by Gov. John Dalton (D) in 1961. He also line-item vetoed 120 items in the state budget, which went into effect on July 1. 
The vetoes reflect what has been a tumultuous year for Nixon and the GOP-dominated legislature, who clashed on numerous issues. Those include $620 million in tax cuts Nixon sliced from the budget, which lawmakers have already overridden. Nixon recently broke out his veto pen again to kill other GOP-led bills, including a proposal that would have authorized specially-trained teachers to carry guns on campus and another that would have expanded the state's waiting period for obtaining an abortion from the current 24 hours to 72 hours. He also killed a bill that would have barred the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors, which he called a "thinly disguised and cynical attempt" to exempt e-cigarettes from the state's 17-cents-per-pack cigarette tax and state public health restrictions. He also incurred wrath from some members of his own party by vetoing a more bipartisan measure that would have allowed some public school students to transfer to private, non-religious schools. 
Lawmakers must now decide what if any of the measures they will attempt to override when they return to session in September. Ten of the bills Nixon cut granted tax breaks for restaurants, dry cleaners, data centers and power companies, among others. Of those, eight passed with veto-proof margins. The school transfer bill, however, was 20 votes short of that standard in the House, making an override less certain.  
Nixon has gone to great lengths to build public support for upholding the tax break vetoes, which he says would add up to a $776 million annual hit to state and local revenue. The governor has toured the state since May denouncing the tax breaks and their potential impact. (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, ST. LOUIS BUSINESS JOURNAL) 
GOVERNORS IN BRIEF: WISCONSIN Gov. Scott Walker (R) urged state lawmakers last week to pass legislation to repeal adoption of the Common Core curriculum standards. Badger State lawmakers are expected to take up a repeal measure when they return to session in January (WISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL [MADISON]). • CALIFORNIA Gov. Jerry Brown (D) allowed SB 1272, a bill that places an advisory question on the November ballot asking whether Congress should amend the Constitution to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court's controversial Citizens United decision, to become law without his signature. In a letter to lawmakers, Brown said he disagreed with the Court's decision on Citizens United but argued that "we should not make it a habit to clutter our ballots with nonbinding measures as citizens rightfully assume that their votes are meant to have legal effect" (SACRAMENTO BEE). • IOWA Gov. Terry Branstad (R) said last week that he doesn't want any of the thousands of Central American children who have crossed the Mexico-United States border to be sent to the Hawkeye State. Gov. Branstad said he feels sorry for children, who are trying to escape extreme violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, but "I also don't want to send the signal that [you] send your kids to America illegally. That's not the right message" (DES MOINES REGISTER). • TENNESSEE Gov. Bill Haslam (R) said the truck stop company he co-owns with his brother, Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, has reached a deal with federal prosecutors to pay a $92 million fine and acknowledge that employees cheated customers out of promised fuel rebates and other discounts. The agreement does not grant anyone immunity and requires the company to cooperate with the ongoing investigation (CHATTANOOGA TIMES-FREE PRESS).
Upcoming Stories
Here are some of the topics you will see covered in upcoming issues of the State Net Capitol Journal: 
- Fall elections 
- Voter ID 
- Student loan debt
Hot issues

BUSINESS: The MASSACHUSETTS Senate unanimously approves SB 2270, which would make it illegal in most circumstances for employers or school administrators to demand access to employees', applicants' or students' social media accounts. It moves to the House (BOSTON GLOBE). • Also in MASSACHUSETTS, the Senate approves HB 228, legislation that would allow liquor to be sold beginning at 10:00 A.M. on Sundays in the Bay State. It returns to the House (LASSLIVE.COM). • NEW HAMPSHIRE Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) signs SB 207, which among several things codifies that Granite State employers must pay workers equally for equal work regardless of gender. Gov. Hassan also signs HB 1188, which bars employers from restricting employees from disclosing how much they are paid (STATE NET). • MISSOURI Gov. Jay Nixon (D) vetoes SB 841, a bill that would have barred the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors but would also have exempted those products from being regulated or taxed as a tobacco product (OZARKSFIRST.COM). • Also in MISSOURI, Gov. Nixon vetoes SB 694, which would have barred Show Me State residents from being able to renew payday loans and capped interest on those loans at 35.5 percent. Nixon said that elements of the bill would still have allowed some loans with interest rates as high as 912.5 percent and permitted borrowers to take out multiple loans from multiple lenders (KANSAS CITY STAR). • ALASKA Gov. Sean Parnell (R) signs SB 173, which bans Last Frontier State retailers from selling synthetic drugs under misleading names such as "spice" and "bath salts." Violators face fines (KTUU.COM [ANCHORAGE]).  
CRIME & PUNISHMENT: A federal judge rules that a CALIFORNIA law allowing capital punishment is unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney said the decades that most condemned prisoners in the Golden State spend on death row have rendered the law basically "dysfunctional" and in need of a total makeover. The state is considering an appeal (SAN JOSE MERUCRY NEWS). • ALASKA Gov. Sean Parnell (R) signs SB 128, which criminalizes so-called "cyberbullying," the act of sending insulting or intimidating messages via electronic devices like smartphones to persons under age 18 (KTUU.COM [ANCHORAGE]). • Also in ALASKA, Gov. Parnell signs SB 64, an omnibus crime bill which among many things allows judges to consider whether combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder or a brain injury was a factor in a person committing a crime (KTUU.COM [ANCHORAGE]). • CALIFORNIA Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signs AB 1722, which bars anyone convicted of cattle rustling from obtaining a livestock permit in the Golden State for five years after their conviction (CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR'S OFFICE).  
EDUCATION: A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules that the University of TEXAS can consider race in its admissions policy. The plaintiff in the case is expected to appeal the ruling (HOUSTON CHRONICLE). • MISSOURI Gov. Jay Nixon (D) vetoes HB 1490, which would have allowed specially trained teachers to carry concealed guns on campus (COLUMBIA DAILY TRIBUNE). • Staying in MISSOURI, Gov. Nixon signs HB 1474, which allows the continued implementation of the Common Core State Standards in math and English while educators and parents develop recommendations to improve the Show Me State's own academic standards (COLUMBIA DAILY TRIBUNE, MISSOURI GOVERNOR'S OFFICE). • ALASKA Gov. Sean Parnell (R) signs HB 210, which among several things bars teachers from using physical restraints or chemicals to subdue an unruly student, or in restraining them in a way that hinders their breathing. All cases of the use of physical restraint must now also be documented and forwarded to state education officials (KTUU.COM [ANCHORAGE]).  
ENVIRONMENT: Faced with a historic drought, CALIFORNIA water officials adopt rules that impose a $500-per-day fine on residents who wantonly waste water in the Golden State. Acts that incur the fine include hosing off driveways and sidewalks or allowing landscaping water to spill over into the street (SACRAMENTO BEE).  
HEALTH & SCIENCE: MISSOURI Gov. Jay Nixon (D) signs HB 2238, which allows the use of low-THC cannabis oil in the treatment of epilepsy and other seizure disorders (KSDK.COM [ST. LOUIS]). • Also in MISSOURI, Gov. Nixon signs HB 1685, which allows terminally ill patients to use investigational drugs not yet approved by the federal government (KSDK.COM [ST. LOUIS]).  
SOCIAL POLICY: The MASSACHUSETTS Senate approves SB 2281, which would allow Bay State police to order one or more protesters to withdraw if they impede access to a clinic that provides abortion services. If so ordered, protesters would have to stay at least 25 feet from the building for up to eight hours. Violators would face having to pay fines and possible compensatory damages. It moves to the House (BOSTON GLOBE). • NEW HAMPSHIRE Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) signs SB 394, legislation which codifies that the state will recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states before those unions became legal in the Granite State (CONCORD MONITOR). • A FLORIDA court rules that the 2008 Sunshine State law barring same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Attorney General Pam Bondi (R) said the state will appeal the ruling to the Third U.S. District Court of Appeals (MIAMI HERALD). • The CONNECTICUT Supreme Court rules that some legal rights of same-sex couples predate the Constitution State's approvals of civil unions in 2005 and gay marriage in 2008. The decision overturns two lower court rulings and allows a widow to sue a doctor in a medical malpractice case for the death of her spouse even though the alleged malpractice occurred from 2001 to 2004, a time when only married couples were allowed to sue for loss of spousal "consortium" (ASSOCIATED PRESS).  
POTPOURRI: ARIZONA Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signs SB 1099, a bill that creates Arizona Navajo Code Talker Day in the Grand Canyon State to honor members of the Navajo nation that served as special communications specialists during World War II (KFYI.COM [PHOENIX]).
— Compiled by RICH EHISEN
In The Hopper
At any given time, State Net tracks tens of thousands of bills in all 50 states, US Congress, and the District of Columbia. Here's a snapshot of what's in the legislative works:
Number of 2014 Prefiles last week:
Number of 2015 Prefiles last week: 71 
Number of Intros last week: 318 
Number of Enacted/Adopted last week: 351 
Number of 2014 Prefiles to date: 21,427 
Number of 2015 Prefiles to date: 1,732 
Number of 2014 Intros to date: 80,062 
Number of 2013 Session Enacted/Adopted overall to date: 40,747 Number of 2014 Session Enacted/Adopted overall to date: 24,552 
Number of bills currently in State Net Database: 169,279 
(Measures current as of 07/15/2014)
Source: State Net database
Once around the statehouse lightly

HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE: Finding someone around the California Capitol who isn't talking on, staring at or otherwise fiddling with a cell phone is somewhat akin to spotting a Sasquatch. But you can bet that cell-talkers took a double take more than once of late when their phones detected a wifi signal with the chilling name "FBI mobile surveillance." Given that two Golden State senators this year have fallen victim to FBI stings, you couldn't blame folks for thinking they might be stepping into dangerous airwaves if they logged into that one. Alas, the feds were not behind this one. As the Sacramento Bee reports, the network belongs to the owners of a nearby shoe store who had grown sick of people poaching his signal and slowing down his Internet connectivity. Now, says store owner Chris Russo, "Nobody tries to hack into my wifi." We're sure they don't. 
KING OF THE ROAD: Hubbub over NBA superstar LeBron James' recent decision to leave the Miami Heat to return to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers has somehow become an issue in the Florida governor's race. As the Miami Herald reports, incumbent gov Rick Scott — clearly anticipating the same hissy fit from Heat fans that Cavs fans threw when James left in 2010 — jumped on the opportunity to poke his main challenger, Democrat Charlie Crist, emailing a picture showing both Crist and James with a caption reading: "What do these guys have in common? They both ran away," a reference to former governor Crist opting not to seek a second term in 2010 in lieu of a failed run at the U.S. Senate. Sadly for Scott, Heat fans not only were not mad at James, they were wishing him well in droves. The animus in fact was generally directed at Scott, much of it from GOP opinion leaders who noted the gov was comparing his top rival to someone voters really like. In hoop terms, you could say Scott tossed up a real brick on this one.  
CLEVELAND ROCKS: Scott isn't the only governor with some egg on his face over his reaction to LeBron's nomadic ways. Back in 2010, then-Ohio gubernatorial candidate John Kasich took several swipes at James himself. Later as governor, he even issued a proclamation congratulating the Dallas Mavericks and their star Dirk Nowitzki after the Mavs beat LeBron's Heat in the NBA Finals. So Kasich was indifferent to King James' return, right? Uh, no. Kasich last week sent out a tweet hailing the return and claiming "it looks like Ohioans created another job." Again, no. Unless the NBA is going to allow the Cavaliers to carry an extra player, someone currently employed by them is getting kicked to the curb to make room for James on the roster. So maybe Kasich and Scott would both be better off avoiding the sports tie-ins for a while. Yeesh.  
MERCY MERCY ME [THE ECOLOGY]: California environmental groups have a love-hate relationship with Gov. Jerry Brown: they love his dogged determination to build a high speed rail system and his support for other groundbreaking efforts to combat global climate change; they loathe his similar support for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. That enmity is on display this week at the California State Fair, where artist Laura Harling is showing her displeasure with Brown via her sculpture "Happy Fracking Day." The piece shows three of California's most visible political figures — Brown, First Dog Sutter and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom — preparing to carve into a California-shaped cake adorned with a giant oil derrick. As the Sacramento Bee reports, Harling has done other sculptures featuring Brown and thought she was done with it all. "But the fracking thing..." she says. Got it, but how did Newsom and Sutter end up in all this?
In Case You Missed It

This year has seen a heavy focus on technology-driven issues like the fast-developing sharing economy and the advent of digital currencies. But longstanding issues like pension reform and transportation are still as hot as ever. 
In case you missed it, the story can be found on our Web site at
Editor: Rich Ehisen
Associate Editor: Korey Clark
Contributing Editor: Mary Peck, David Giusti
Editorial Advisor: Lou Cannon
Correspondents: Richard Cox (CA), Steve Karas (CA) and Ben Livingood (PA), Dena Blodgett (CA), Cathy Santsche (CA), Felicia Carrillo (CA)
Graphic Design: Vanessa Perez Design
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