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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Safiya Khalid, seen speaking at a candidates forum in Lewiston, Maine, was elected to its city council.

Thursday, November 07, 2019 1:00 am

Politics

Rule allowing abortion refusals nixed

Associated Press

NEW YORK – A federal judge Wednesday struck down a new Trump administration rule that could open the way for more health care workers to refuse to participate in abortions or other procedures on moral or religious grounds.

U.S. District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer said the U.S. Health and Human Services Department overstepped its authority and went beyond existing law in issuing the rule. He also said that the measure could be costly, burdensome and damaging to emergency care and that the whole rationale for the rule was based on a lie.

He said the department's claim that there was a significant increase in complaints about workers being forced to violate their conscience was “flatly untrue.” The HHS rule, he said, is a classic “solution in search of a problem.”

Sessions planning to run for Senate

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions will announce that he is entering the race for his old U.S. Senate seat in Alabama, two Republicans with direct knowledge of his plans said Wednesday.

Sessions, 72, will be making a return to the political stage a year after stepping down as President Donald Trump's first attorney general when their relationship soured over his recusal from special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

Governor wants Kentucky recount

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin asked Wednesday for a recanvass of Kentucky election results that showed him more than 5,000 votes behind Democrat Andy Beshear, who discounted the challenge and began preparing to take office.

With 100% of precincts reporting, Beshear led by a little over 5,000 votes out of more than 1.4 million counted, or a margin of less than 0.4 percentage point. That's inside the margin that would trigger a recount in most states.

Bevin's campaign manager, Davis Paine, said Kentuckians deserve a “fair and honest election,” adding that “we are exercising the right to ensure that every lawful vote was counted.” Beshear, the state's attorney general, said he's confident in the election outcome, saying any review would show he won the hard-fought campaign.

Coloradans OK sports betting

Colorado became the 19th U.S. state to legalize some form of sports betting as election officials tallied Wednesday a surprisingly close vote in which ballots for the measure narrowly surpassed “no” votes.

More than 1.3 million Coloradans voted Tuesday on Proposition DD, a bipartisan ballot measure crafted by lawmakers that legalizes sports betting next year and taxes it to fund a state water conservation plan. It led by a 51%-49% margin midafternoon Wednesday, according to unofficial returns.

Legal sports betting has spread since New Jersey won a U.S. Supreme Court case in 2018 allowing all 50 states to offer it. But most states have generated limited tax revenue.

Somali American wins council seat

The second-largest city in Maine, home to thousands of African newcomers, has elected a Somali American to its city council.

Safiya Khalid, 23, soundly defeated a fellow Democrat on Tuesday for a seat on the Lewiston City Council in a campaign that was marred in the final days by nasty attacks and threats fueled by social media. Shrugging off the attacks, Khalid declared that her victory is proof that “community organizers beat internet trolls.”

The attacks didn't seem to faze voters. Khalid won with nearly 70% of the vote to make history.

Tucson won't be 'sanctuary city'

Arizona's second-largest city wanted to send a message after the state passed a law that required police to check the immigration status of people suspected of being in the country illegally.

Democrats who control Tucson designated their town an “immigrant welcoming city” in 2012, and its police adopted rules limiting when officers can ask about immigration status.

But on Tuesday, given a chance to push the envelope further, the heavily Democratic city voted overwhelmingly not to become an official “sanctuary city” with more restrictions on how and when police can enforce immigration laws.

Stone not real insider: Attorney

Prosecutors in the trial of Roger Stone told jurors Wednesday that the longtime Donald Trump confidant repeatedly lied to Congress “because the truth looked bad” for the president.

Stone, a self-proclaimed dirty trickster, is accused of testifying falsely to lawmakers about his attempts to communicate with the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. He is also charged with tampering with witnesses and obstructing a House Intelligence Committee investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to tip the 2016 election.

Defense lawyer Bruce Rogow didn't deny that Stone had said things that were untrue before the House committee. Rogow described his own client as a natural braggart whose claims of insider information didn't match reality.

Judges leery of tax returns rule

California Supreme Court justices seemed skeptical Wednesday of a state law requiring President Donald Trump to disclose his tax returns if he wants to be a candidate in the state's primary election next year.

The justices wondered in a rapid-fire hour of questioning whether the nation's first such law might be expanded to require all sorts of things, from birth certificates to psychiatric and medical records. Could candidates also be required to swear they're not communists or never committed adultery, asked Justice Joshua Groban. How about five years of their school report cards, added Justice Ming Chin.

Supervising state Deputy Attorney General Jay Russell argued the Legislature can set restrictions.