Washington state’s top lawyer was set to unveil legislation on Wednesday seeking to raise the legal smoking age to 21 from 18 in a move that could make the state the first in the nation with such a threshold, his office said. Attorney General Bob Ferguson will announce the bill later on Wednesday in Olympia, the state capital, his office said. “The drive behind this is the health and well-being of our youth in the state of Washington,” spokesman Peter Lavallee said. “Some other jurisdictions have raised the age and seen some real impact on youth smoking rates.” Consumers age 18 and up can buy cigarettes in many U.S. states, with four states – Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey and Utah – selling to those ages 19 and older, Lavallee said.
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — After a 2007 report showed that Iowa had the nation's highest disparity for sending blacks to prison, state lawmakers took a novel step: They passed a law requiring analysts to draft "racial-impact statements" on any proposals to create new crimes or tougher penalties.
By Lawrence Hurley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that a former air marshal can seek whistleblower protections for disclosing sensitive information to the news media about the absence of security officers on certain flights. On a 7-2 vote, the court rejected arguments made by President Barack Obama's administration, which was seeking to reverse an appeals court ruling favoring whistleblower Robert MacLean, who was fired for the 2003 leak. In an opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court concluded that U.S. Transportation Security Administration regulations that prohibited MacLean's disclosures did not have sufficient legal force to bar him from receiving protections under the Whistleblower Protection Act. MacLean told a reporter with the MSNBC cable TV network that the TSA had decided not to assign air marshals to certain long-distance flights, a decision he disagreed with.
By Jon Herskovitz AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Texas plans to execute on Wednesday a man who was convicted of stabbing three people to death with a screwdriver, including his great-uncle and great-aunt, in a San Antonio home robbery in 1993. Arnold Prieto's execution by injection is planned for 6 p.m. CST at the state's prison death chamber in Huntsville. If it takes place, Prieto, 41, will be the 519th person executed in Texas since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, the most of any state. Prieto and two other men went to the home of Rodolfo Rodriguez, 72, and his wife, Virginia, 62, who cooked the visitors breakfast.
A grand jury says there are reasonable grounds to charge Pennsylvania's attorney general with perjury, false swearing, official oppression and obstruction after an investigation into leaks of secret grand jury material.