Local Judges Defy S.C. Gay Marriage Ban; Kansas vs. Nebraska Water Fight

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Here is our State & Local roundup for Wednesday, October 8, 2014 …

SACRAMENTO, California: The Union Pacific and BNSF railroads and the Association of American Railroads have filed a lawsuit in federal court aiming to block a new California law that impacts freight railroads. As Tony Bizjak of The Sacramento Bee reports:

The lawsuit targets sections of a law, SB 861, that require railroads transporting crude oil to participate in a state program that assures financing to clean up crude oil spills. It also requires the railroads to obtain a “certificate of financial responsibility” from the state, as proof that they have enough money to cover oil spill damages.

The railroads contend that federal law prevents states from enacting their own railroad safety measures.

CHARLESTON, South Carolina: Judges in two South Carolina counties on Wednesday gave the green light to the issuing of marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. “It’s a fundamental right to be with who you want to be with,” Richland County Probate Judge McCulloch said, according to The State newspaper. South Carolina falls under the federal appeals court circuit where the U.S. Supreme Court this week refused to hear an appeal on same-sex marriage, which prompted Charleston County Probate Judge Irvin Condon to issue a statement saying that marriage licenses should be accepted and issued to same-sex couples in his jurisdiction.

TOPEKA, Kansas: Did Nebraska take more than its fair share of water from the Republican River? A dispute between Nebraska and Kansas is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court next week. According to Rick Dean of the Topeka Capital-Journal, a 1943 agreement divided the river’s water resources among Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado, but for 2005 and 2006, Kansas farmers says that Nebraska used more water than it was supposed to. Kansas wants Nebraska to pay $5.5 million for its overuse.

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico: The state’s Department of Public Health is supporting new federal rules aimed at curbing the abuse of prescription painkillers. As Oliver Uyttebrouck of the Albuquerque Journal reports, prescriptions for Vicodin, Lorcet, Norco and Tussionex can no longer be refilled without having a doctor fill out a new handwritten prescription. New Mexico law permits nurse practitioners and physicians assistants to write prescriptions for hydrocodone and other narcotic drugs, which will continue to be allowed under the new federal rules. 

ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey: As ocean levels rise, towns along the Jersey Shore will face increased tidal flooding, according to a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists. As Erin O’Neill reports for The Star-Ledger, Atlantic City currently experiences tidal flooding nearly 30 days per year on average, up from five days per year in 1970. “But as sea levels increase, the report says the city — and other coastal towns — can expect more frequent and disruptive flooding from high tides,” O’Neill writes. In 15 years, that number could rise to 90 days per year.

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