August 29, 2013 |
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration announced Thursday a limited pullback on federal enforcement of marijuana, saying it will not interfere with new state laws that permit recreational use of marijuana. The Justice Department said it will not seek to veto new state laws in Colorado and Washington that legalize the recreational use of marijuana, and it will not bring federal prosecutions against dispensaries or businesses that sell small amounts of marijuana to adults. A department official stressed, however, that marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and that U.S. prosecutors will continue to aggressively enforce the law against those who sell marijuana to minors and to criminal gangs that are involved in drug trafficking.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 28, 2013 |
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK -- Even as more than 4,000 firefighters battle the ferocious Rim fire -- the nation's top wildland fire priority -- they have to tread carefully in Yosemite National Park. Much of the park is designated as wilderness, where vehicles and roads are prohibited by federal law. For fire commanders, that means that they can't deploy bulldozers to plow fire lines, nor can they send crews in with fire trucks. In extreme cases, officials order smoke jumping crews to parachute into backcountry and drop supplies and tools.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 14, 2013 |
A long-running legal dispute over the use of a Hancock Park home as an Orthodox Jewish prayer house ended Wednesday with the city of Los Angeles agreeing to pay $950,000 in attorney fees and costs to settle the case. The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to pay lawyers representing Congregation Etz Chaim in the case involving a residential property at 3 rd Street and Highland Avenue. Synagogue leaders sued the city in 2010, challenging its denial of a conditional use permit to use the enlarged home as a religious sanctuary.
August 2, 2013 |
Six years ago, a California environmental group learned that certain baby bibs were made with potentially dangerous amounts of lead. A lawsuit followed, asserting that the bibs violated California's sweeping environmental toxins law. As a result, Wal-Mart and Toys R Us pulled the bibs from their stores, not just in California but around the country. This is just one of many cases in which California's strong environmental standards have protected health nationwide. But such protections could be undermined by a bill in Congress that is intended to replace the ineffectual, decades-old federal law governing industrial chemicals.
July 18, 2013 |
Utah officials have agreed to disagree with the federal government over what many have called Washington's controversial intrusion in matters involving the Beehive State. On Wednesday, the state Legislature repealed a measure intended to limit federal land agencies' law enforcement powers. Legislators backed off after U.S. District Judge David Nuffer last month issued a preliminary injunction to block the law's passage. The case highlights sometimes-simmering tensions between the Obama administration and legislators in many Western states, who object to being told how to manage their law enforcement efforts and natural resources.
July 11, 2013 |
Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation giving California consumers more protection from unfair debt-collection practices. The Fair Debt Buying Practices Act, authored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), requires debt collectors to verify that an obligation is real before going after consumers. Similar protections already exist at the federal level, but the state bill is more specific in its requirement that collectors go the extra mile in making sure money is owed. "Completely innocent Californians have been victimized by this industry," Leno told me. "At a time when we're coming out of a deep economic crisis, this is insult to injury for many families.
July 5, 2013 |
What is it about guns, healthcare and marijuana that bring out the antebellum nuttiness in state lawmakers? Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a bill Friday that would have declared virtually every federal gun law invalid and subjected federal agents to state charges for enforcing them. Among other things, the measure would have invalidated federal rules banning the possession of machine guns and silencers, requiring gun dealers to be licensed and mandating a waiting period on gun sales.
June 29, 2013 |
Two blockbuster cases decided in the final week of the Supreme Court's 2012-13 term invalidated critical provisions of federal statutes. In United States vs. Windsor, the court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, which defined marriage for purposes of federal law as a union between a man and a woman. In Shelby County vs. Holder, the court invalidated a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, effectively eliminating the requirement that certain jurisdictions submit proposed election-law changes to federal officials for review before implementation.
June 28, 2013 |
Let us now praise one of the many legacies that prove that, in addressing its citizens' economic dignity, the America of the Thirties was smarter and more humane than the America of today. The example at hand is the minimum wage law. The federal minimum wage celebrated its 75th birthday last week. The wage was enacted as part of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which arrived in 1938 just as the New Deal was running out of steam. The landmark measure banned child labor, set the maximum workweek at 44 hours, and imposed a minimum wage of 25 cents an hour.
June 27, 2013 |
At least three times this week, the Supreme Court has punched a hole in the protections that Americans have come to expect from the government or the courts. In at least one of those cases, though -- the one involving a generic drug that maimed a patient in New Hampshire -- the court appears to be taking a policy Congress adopted to its logical conclusion. The justices periodically interpret a statute or constitutional provision in an unexpected way, leaving Americans seemingly without legal remedies.