- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 6, 2009

INDIANA

Liquor-law changes delayed

INDIANAPOLIS | Hoosiers hoping to buy a six-pack of beer or a bottle of wine on Sundays will have to wait at least another year for legislators to tackle the proposal.

A group called Hoosiers for Beverage Choices was formed in August to push for an update of the state’s alcohol laws, the Journal Gazette reports.

However, Grant Monahan, president of the Indiana Retail Council, said no bill will be introduced this session because legislative leaders are calling for a moratorium on alcohol-related legislation.

Instead, the topic likely will be assigned to a two-year interim study committee on alcoholic beverage issues for this summer.

“We’re kind of nowhere for this session,” said Mr. Monahan, who also acts as spokesman for Hoosiers for Beverage Choices.

Nevertheless, he said the reaction from legislators and the public was positive, including thousands of Hoosiers who signed an online petition for the legislative changes, and he hopes for success in 2010.

KANSAS

Boy fights, defeats hedgehog restriction

LAWRENCE | It is legal to have pet hedgehogs in Lawrence after an 11-year-old boy spent three years lobbying against a ban on them.

Judson King, a sixth-grader at Corpus Christi Catholic School, wanted a pet hedgehog but found out the city’s animal code prohibits them within city limits.

His mother, Rebecca Weeks, says she was hoping the law would be a good excuse to quash the idea, but Judson kept researching how to change the law. He spent two years researching and sent a letter to commissioners a year ago. They say they found few serious reasons to keep the law on the books and approved the change on Dec. 30.

Judson soon received a 2 1/2-month-old hedgehog named Little Luke.

MICHIGAN

Term-limits law churns Legislature

LANSING | The 110-member Michigan House will have 46 new lawmakers when it reconvenes for a new session this month. Forty-four of the seats were open in last year’s election because the incumbents were term-limited.

Michigan’s term-limits law restricts House members to three terms of two years, or six years total.

The 38 members of the Michigan Senate are limited to two terms of four years, or eight years total. Senate seats were not up for election last year. Both the House and Senate will be up for election in 2010.

KANSAS

Lawmakers say delay in grant costs jobs

WICHITA | Some Wichita lawmakers are accusing the Kansas Bioscience Authority of costing their city jobs by delaying a $31 million grant.

Wichita State University and the University of Kansas made a joint request for the grant in July.

The proposal is to create an industry in Kansas that would invent and manufacture a new generation of medical implants.

However, the two universities have engaged in protracted negotiations about who would lead a new innovation center.

Rep. Steve Brunk of Bel Aire and outgoing House speaker Melvin Neufeld of Ingalls say the authority appears to be biased against Wichita State. They worry the money will go to help state budget shortfalls.

Authority president Tom Thornton denies any bias or foot-dragging.

NEW MEXICO

Minimum wage jumps a buck statewide

SANTA FE | New Mexico is ringing in the new year with three new laws, including one that calls for a $1 increase in the minimum wage.

The state’s minimum wage officially jumped Thursday to $7.50 an hour for most businesses. The governor’s office said an estimated 160,000 workers will benefit from the higher wage.

“The increase will be a boost to some of New Mexico’s hardest-working families, those men and women who help drive our economy,” said Gov. Bill Richardson in a statement.

TENNESSEE

Lawmakers request hundreds of plates

NASHVILLE | Tennessee’s 132 lawmakers have ordered more than 300 special state House and Senate license plates for themselves and family members, a public records request has found.

Just 34 lawmakers declined the blue-lettered plates for themselves or their relatives. On the other end of the spectrum was state Rep. John Deberry, who topped the list of eligible plates with 11 - though he said not all of those are currently in use.

The Memphis Democrat said he has received both speeding and parking tickets in cars with the special plates.

“Quite frankly, other than designating the car as having a state official or the family of a state official, I can’t see anything that it does for you,” Mr. Deberry said. “I’m not so sure it doesn’t target you.”

Rep. Henry Fincher, Cookeville Democrat, said the plates may be a nod to a state law that bans lawmakers from being arrested on their way to the General Assembly, but he acknowledged that “there’s been no threat of that at least since Reconstruction.”

WASHINGTON

Senate leader wants to optimize stimulus

OLYMPIA | The deep cuts in Gov. Chris Gregoire’s budget could interfere with the economic recovery efforts proposed by President-elect Barack Obama, according to the Senate majority leader, the Post Intelligencer reports.

Sen. Lisa Brown, Spokane Democrat, is working on a state stimulus package that she says she hopes would better optimize the much-anticipated federal stimulus package.

Miss Brown said the idea is a work in progress and that a group of Senate Democrats hoped to have major details ready by next week, before the Legislature convenes Jan. 12. The basic framework calls for investments in clean energy and the energy grid, broadband access and health information technology.

Miss Brown has assembled a team of Senate leaders to brainstorm a list of policy legislation that could be passed in the 2009 session and complement the federal stimulus package expected from the incoming Obama administration.

From combined dispatch and wire reports

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