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Senate breaks filibuster on Asian-American hate crime bill

Apr 16, 2021
The Senate opened debate Wednesday on legislation confronting the rise of potential hate crimes against Asian Americans, a growing problem during the coronavirus crisis that will also test whether the chamber can push past partisanship on an issue important to many constituents. Typically, the Democratic-sponsored COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act might quickly face a filibuster, opposed by Republicans who prefer a different approach. But under the Senate leaders' agreement struck at the start of the year, Republicans and Democrats pledged to try to at least try to debate bills to see if they could reach agreement through the legislative process. Senators voted overwhelmingly, 92-6, to proceed Wednesday to consideration of the bill.

Wright's family wants stiffer charge for Minnesota ex-cop

Apr 16, 2021
Daunte Wright's family members joined with community leaders Thursday in calling for more serious charges against the white former police officer who fatally shot him, comparing her case to the murder charge brought against a Black officer who killed a white woman in nearby Minneapolis. Former Brooklyn Center police Officer Kim Potter was charged with second-degree manslaughter in Sunday's shooting of Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, during a traffic stop. The former police chief in Brooklyn Center, a majority nonwhite suburb, said Potter mistakenly fired her handgun when she meant to use her Taser. Both the chief and Potter resigned Tuesday.

In Texas, GOP voting bills zero in on Democratic Houston

Apr 16, 2021
The nation’s next big voting battle underway in Texas would outlaw 24-hour polling places, drive-thru voting and make it a crime for elections officials to mail unsolicited absentee ballot applications. Put another way: Everything Houston — the state’s biggest Democratic stronghold — did to expand ballot access last year, when the threat of the coronavirus made voting in-person more hazardous.

Equal pay bill passed by House but faces long odds in Senate

Apr 16, 2021
House Democrats approved legislation Thursday that they say would help close the gap between what men and women are paid in the workplace, though the measure faces little chance of overcoming Republican opposition in the Senate. The bill, which is supported by President Joe Biden's administration, passed 217-210 on a mostly party-line vote. It is the latest salvo in a long-running debate about equality of pay and the government's role in ensuring it.

Alaska denied benefits to gay couples despite court rulings

Apr 16, 2021
Alaska wrongly denied some same-sex spouses benefits for years by claiming their unions were not recognized even after courts struck down gay marriage bans, court documents obtained by The Associated Press show. The agency that determines eligibility for a yearly oil wealth check paid to nearly all Alaska residents denied a payout for same-sex spouses or dependents of military members stationed in other states for five years after a federal court invalidated Alaska's ban on same-sex marriage in 2014, the documents show. The practice also persisted after the Supreme Court legalized the unions nationwide in 2015.

French lawmakers OK security bill increasing police powers

Apr 16, 2021
France's parliament passed a security bill Thursday to extend police powers despite criticism from civil rights activists who fear it threatens efforts to denounce police abuse. The bill was approved 75 votes for to 33 against at the National Assembly, where French President Emmanuel Macron's party, which proposed the measure, has a large majority. The Senate has already adopted the bill.

California Gold Rush town to remove noose from city logo

Apr 15, 2021
The California Gold Rush town of Placerville will change its logo to remove a noose that stems from its mid-19th century reputation as “Hangtown” following lynchings of criminal suspects by mobs of miners. The City Council voted Tuesday night to remove the noose after listening to emotional comment from residents, CBS 13 Sacramento reported.

House panel votes to advance bill on slavery reparations

Apr 15, 2021
A House panel advanced a decades-long effort to pay reparations to the descendants of slaves by approving legislation Wednesday that would create a commission to study the issue. It's the first time the House Judiciary Committee has acted on the legislation. Still, prospects for final passage remain poor in such a closely divided Congress. The vote to advance the measure to the full House passed 25-17 after a lengthy and often passionate debate that stretched late into the night.

Conservatives propose revised sex ed rules in LGBTQ pushback

Apr 15, 2021
Two years after Arizona lawmakers repealed a ban on any HIV/AIDS instruction that “promotes a homosexual lifestyle" as they faced a lawsuit, they have approved revamping the state's sex education laws to make them some of the strictest in the nation when it comes to teaching about LGBTQ issues. The measure pushed by a powerful social conservative group is framed as a parental rights issue and would require schools to get parents' permission for discussions about gender identity, sexual orientation or HIV/AIDS in sex education classes.

Kansas fight shows how election 'reforms' may favor one side

Apr 15, 2021
Charley Crabtree was looking to help voters in nursing homes get absentee ballots delivered on time last year, so he picked up about 75 from at least 10 locations in his hometown of Lawrence. Republicans who control the Kansas Legislature want to make what he did a crime punishable by up to six months in jail. Republican lawmakers said they're protecting the integrity of the state's elections by making it less likely that ballots will go missing or get altered. Democrats describe the measure that cleared the GOP-controlled Legislature this month as an attack on get-out-the-vote efforts helping elderly, disabled and poor voters.