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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | A bedbug infestation sends state employees home to work ... New strategy with proposed Utah water pipeline ... Vape store owners predict closures with Massachusetts four-month ban.
A new Michigan policy that forbids the state from contracting with adoption or foster agencies that won’t work with gay couples was put on hold Thursday by a federal judge. St. Vincent Catholic Charities sued after Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel in April settled another lawsuit against the state about its former adoption policy, which allowed the state to work with agencies that wouldn’t allow gay or transgender people to adopt. Nessel had asked U.S. District Court Judge Robert Jonker to throw out the lawsuit. But the judge said it can proceed, and in a preliminary ruling wrote that the AG had targeted St. Vincent because of its religious beliefs. “Under the attorney general’s current interpretation of Michigan law and the parties’ contracts, St. Vincent must choose between its traditional religious belief, and the privilege of continuing to place children with foster and adoptive parents of all types," Jonker wrote. Jay Kaplan, an attorney for the ACLU, said when adoption agencies are acting on behalf of the state they shouldn’t be able to invoke religious principles to discriminate against certain families. [Detroit News; Bridge Michigan]
OFFICE BEDBUGS | A bedbug infestation is forcing Arizona to down a Department of Economic Security office through the end of the month, with employees told to work from home and not remove any belongings that they don’t absolutely have to take. The office will be fumigated and workers who find bedbugs at home should report it, officials said. Earlier this month, employees contacted the Phoenix New Times and complained management of the office, where people apply for food stamps and workers coordinate assistance for people with disabilities, were not taking the problem seriously. [Arizona Republic]
140-MILE UTAH PIPELINE | In a move that could speed up permitting for a 140-mile water pipeline from the Colorado River to the St. George region, Utah has decided to take out most hydropower components of its plan. The state had spent millions putting together a permitting application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Its latest decision means they will be asking the U.S. Department of the Interior to instead look at the project. [Salt Lake Star Tribune]
ELECTION COMMISSIONERS | Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson issued an opinion that the state’s practice of appointing some election commissioners—either by the governor or local boards—is “constitutionally suspect.” Peterson said because the commissioners are county officers, the state’s constitution stipulates they should be elected. [Omaha World-Herald]
VAPE BAN FALLOUT | The owners of vape stores across Massachusetts are saying they will go out of business because of Gov. Charlie Baker’s four-month ban on sale of vaping products. While other states have banned flavored e-cigarettes popular with kids, the Massachusetts ban is an across-the-board moratorium. One store owner has filed a lawsuit seeking a temporary injunction to block the ban. Baker declared a public health emergency on Tuesday because of the increasing number of cases of severe lung disease linked to vaping. [Boston Globe; WCVB]
Laura Maggi is the Managing Editor of Route Fifty.
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