Abortion Controversies Continue in Texas and North Dakota

Abortion Controversies Continue in Texas and North Dakota

GOVERNORS IN BRIEF: Abortion rights activists in TEXAS accused Gov. Rick Perry (R) of a conflict of interest last week after he signed HB 2, a sweeping measure that requires clinics that provide abortion services to upgrade their facilities to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers. Critics noted that Perry's sister has strong ties to the industry, both as an executive with United Surgical Partners International, based in Addison, and as a board member of the Texas Ambulatory Surgical Center Society. There are 420 such surgical centers in Texas, and under the new law they could begin performing abortion services. Perry signed the law last Wednesday (HOUSTON CHRONICLE).

SOCIAL POLICY: A NORTH DAKOTA judge rules that a 2011 Flickertail State law barring the use of a drug used in nonsurgical abortions is unconstitutional. East Central Judge Wickham Corwin had "no compelling interest" to impose the measure. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said he would appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court (GRAND FORKS HERALD). • TEXAS Gov. Rick Perry (R) signs HB 2, a bill that bans all abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy and requires that the procedure only be performed in ambulatory surgical centers (HOUSTON CHRONICLE).

STAN THE MAN FOREVER: When St. Louis Cardinals Hall-of-Famer Stan "The Man" Musial died in January, Missouri lawmakers quickly developed a plan to name the new Interstate 70 bridge connecting St. Louis and southwestern Illinois over the Mississippi River in his honor. Great idea, right? Uh, not to Prairie State lawmakers, who preferred to name the span in honor of military veterans. Not surprising, given how often Musial tormented the Chicago Cubs over his 22-year career. Not to be denied, on July 15 Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed a measure dubbing the Show Me State side of the bridge after Musial, and to heck with those folks on the other end. Alas, trouble was brilliantly averted a few days later when President Obama signed Congressional legislation that offered up the perfect solution, dubbing the span "The Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge." There you go. Who says Congress can't get anything done!

— Compiled by RICH EHISEN

CO MISMANAGING REGULATION OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA: For the second time in recent months state auditors in Colorado have found fault with a government agency charged with overseeing the state's medical marijuana industry. In March, auditors uncovered evidence of wasteful spending and incomplete enforcement at the Department of Revenue's Marijuana Enforcement Division. The audit released last week found that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has, among other things, been lax in its regulation of physicians who prescribe medical marijuana.

One doctor, for instance, approved medical marijuana for over 8,400 patients. Another recommended 501 marijuana plants for a single patient, far above the standard of six plants per patient.

The critical reports come as the state prepares for the arrival of recreational pot businesses early next year, as a result of voter approval of Amendment 64 last November. (DENVER POST)

VOTER ID BACK IN SPOTLIGHT: The legal battle over voter ID was back in the headlines again last week, but this time it was waged in a state court in Pennsylvania rather than the U.S. Supreme Court like last month, when a key part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was struck down.

The case before Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Court stems from a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and other groups in May 2012 alleging the state's voter ID law would disenfranchise voters. Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson temporarily blocked the law from taking effect before the 2012 election. It will now be up to Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard L. McGinley to determine whether that ruling should stand.

Federal courts have generally upheld voter ID laws that include accommodations to ease the burden on those without ID cards, and Gov. Tom Corbett (R) and other Republican backers of Pennsylvania's law say the special ID cards and other outreach efforts the state undertook before last year's election meet that requirement. But a statistics expert hired by those challenging the law testified last Tuesday that 500,000 registered voters do not have a valid ID issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (STATELINE.ORG, PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, STATE NET)

— Compiled by KOREY CLARK

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