- The Washington Times - Monday, May 31, 2010

EDUCATION

Va., W.Va. shun ‘Race to Top’ cash

MINNEAPOLIS | About two dozen states are taking a second shot at millions of dollars for schools in the federal “Race to the Top” grant program, but at least nine others are opting out.



For those nine, the chance at hundreds of millions of dollars wasn’t enough to overcome the objections of teachers unions, reluctance to pass laws to suit the program or fears of giving up too much local control.

Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Oregon, South Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming will all be on the sidelines for the second round.

None of the nine did very well in the first round and needed to pass new education laws to be competitive. Some wanted to do so, but decided there wasn’t enough time before the Tuesday deadline for the second round.

So far, only two states, Delaware and Tennessee, have been approved for the money.

HEALTH CARE

Calif. begins steps to enact reforms

SACRAMENTO, Calif. | The debate over national health care reform has moved to the California Legislature, which will begin taking the initial steps to implement overhauls prescribed by Congress.

More than 20 bills have been introduced and as many as a dozen might be voted on this week.

The legislation would prohibit health insurers from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions and create an exchange through which people could buy insurance.

Another bill would make insurance companies obtain state approval before raising their fees.

Republican lawmakers say the state is acting prematurely and that some of the changes could make health insurance more expensive.

CONNECTICUT

Summer primaries seen hotly contested

HARTFORD, Conn. | A changing of the guard in Connecticut politics is expected to lead to one of the largest state primary ballots in recent memory.

Democrats and Republicans will be battling to be their parties’ choices in the general election for governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of the state, comptroller and attorney general, among other seats.

Republican primaries are also anticipated for U.S. House of Representatives races.

The deadline is June 4 for the state Democratic and Republican parties to provide the Secretary of the State’s Office their lists of endorsed candidates and challengers. The lists include those who qualified to participate in a primary by garnering 15 percent of the convention delegates on May 22. The primary is Aug. 10.

DRUG TREATMENT

Idaho cuts off drug treatment

BOISE, Idaho | The state says budget woes means there is no money to pay for drug treatment for those on a long waiting list for the help.

Outpatient drug treatment is suffering along with the rest of the state budget.

The outpatient drug-treatment budget ran dry in April. Another round of money comes in July, but a piece of that will pay for last year’s bills.

The Idaho Statesman reports that about 2,000 people are on a waiting list for state-funded outpatient treatment.

GEORGIA

Scarce cash alters governor’s race

ATLANTA | The lousy economy and a crowded field of candidates has made it tough for those running for governor in Georgia to raise money heading into the July 20 primary.

The scarce cash could change how the race is run.

Strategists are predicting fewer television ads and more Internet video ads on social-networking sites like Facebook. Campaigns might have fewer paid staffers and rely more on volunteers for things like posting signs and phone banks. And targeted robocalls and direct mail may be used increasingly to reach voters inclined to support a particular candidate rather than more scattershot — and expensive — statewide appeals.

It could be a primary election that plays out on a far smaller stage and only hits its stride as the summer months heat up.

“I think you may see most of this campaign unfold in the last three weeks,” said Eric Tannenblatt, a prominent Republican fundraiser who is supporting Karen Handel. “This could be a very unconventional election.”

The 13 men and one woman who have qualified to run for governor have reported raising a combined $15.5 million. That’s $3.1 million less than what the three gubernatorial candidates had at the same point in the 2006 race. Incumbent Sonny Perdue and the two Democrats battling to unseat him had amassed $18.6 million, according to their campaign filings for the same period in 2006.

NEBRASKA

Group lobbying for medicinal pot

LINCOLN, Neb. | A group that believes in the medicinal value of marijuana is looking for support from the Nebraska pharmacy licensing board.

The group is named Helping End Marijuana Prohibition. It wants the pharmacy board to recommend that the Nebraska Legislature clear the way for medicinal marijuana.

Advocates say marijuana has many medical uses, including pain relief.

Critics say, among other things, that other medications are available that eliminate any need for medicinal marijuana.

State Sen. Brad Ashford is chairman of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, where any medicinal-marijuana bill likely would be heard. He told the Lincoln Journal Star that drugs “have created such a huge crisis, I can’t even imagine” someone introducing a bill to legalize marijuana use.

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