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Sad to say, an extremely bad and stupid bill was signed into law in Georgia today.

Greg Bluestein reports:

Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation today that would vastly expand where Georgians can legally carry firearms … .

House Bill 60, which passed in the final hours of this year’s legislative session, allows Georgians to legally carry firearms in a wide range of new places, including schools, bars, churches and government buildings. A recent analysis also said it could let felons use the state’s “stand your ground” rules to claim self-defense if they feel threatened. …

Critics have dubbed it the “guns everywhere” bill for its broad scope, and opponents including former Rep. Gabby Giffords have tried to block its passage.

The Irish Times reports:

"When US congressman John Lewis, the civil rights leader who walked beside Martin Luther King jnr on many of the marches for social change in 1960s America, visited Montgomery, Alabama, a year ago, local police chief Kevin Murphy apologised and handed him his police shield in a gesture of respect.

"Murphy expressed regret for failing to protect Lewis and his fellow civil rights activists when they were beaten by a mob at a bus station in Montgomery in 1961. Lewis said he had been arrested about 40 times during civil rights campaigns and Murphy was the first police officer to apologise.

"The Freedom Riders, led by Lewis, travelled on interstate buses in the south in a campaign seeking to have a US supreme court ruling enforced that would end segregation five years after African-American seamstress Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger in Montgomery.

“ ‘For a police chief to give their shield to someone is one of the most ultimate signs of respect. It is a great recognition of sacrifice. I felt Congressman Lewis epitomised that sacrifice,’ said Murphy, ahead of his arrival in Ireland today on a five-day trip with Lewis and Maryland governor Martin O’Malley.”

The New York Times writes in an editorial:

"A blinkered view of race in America won out in the Supreme Court on Tuesday when six justices agreed, for various reasons, to allow Michigan voters to ban race-conscious admissions policies in higher education."

The Washington Post reports:

"CHARLESTON, S.C. — More than 750 people packed into a city auditorium here this week for a sold-out production of ‘Fun Home,’ a musical by a New York-based troupe about a woman coming to terms with her closeted gay father’s suicide. The crowd rose in a standing ovation before the show even began.

"The emotional reaction was part of a worsening political battle between South Carolina’s public universities and conservative Republican lawmakers, who argue that campus culture should reflect the socially conservative views of the state.

"The state’s House of Representatives recently voted to cut $52,000 in funding for the College of Charleston as punishment for assigning students to read ‘Fun Home,’ the graphic novel that formed the basis for the play. House lawmakers endorsed a similar budget cut for the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg for using a different book with gay themes in its reading program."

The New York Times reports:

"The serene campus [of the College of Charleston] is now the site of regular demonstrations by some of its more than 11,000 students. The Faculty Senate has decreed that it has no confidence in the college’s governing board. And in Columbia, the capital, certain conservative lawmakers speak openly of reducing the college’s budget. For a place that occasionally markets itself as offering an ‘education in paradise,’ the extent and longevity of the furor has showcased the depth of the rift between the institution and the elected officials who help oversee it."

The bill was opposed not only by gun-control groups, but also by the state’s police chiefs association and restaurant association, Episcopal and Catholic churches, and the federal Transportation Security Administration. A majority of Georgians also opposed it, according to several polls.

[Gov. Nathan] Deal, a Republican, who is expected to sign the bill, is up for re-election this year, but there is no sign of a political backlash against him or anyone who voted for the legislation. The governor’s Democratic opponent, State Senator Jason Carter, President Jimmy Carter’s grandson, also voted for the bill.

Carl Hulse reports:

When Democrats changed Senate rules last year to limit the filibuster against White House nominees, it raised hopes among some liberals that President Obama would use his new power to reshape the federal judiciary. Now, just over three months later, some Democrats and progressive groups are instead trying to stop two of the president’s latest nominees to the federal bench on the grounds that they are too conservative.

Black lawmakers, civil rights advocates and abortion rights groups are challenging two Georgia nominees put forward by the White House under an agreement with the state’s two Republican senators. The two Republicans were given a say in picking candidates for district court in exchange for allowing a stalled nominee to a federal appeals court to advance.

It seems unions are having a little too much success in Tennessee for the comfort of Republicans there, so the state legislature is planning to do something about it. Spurred by the fact that Tennessee added 31,000 union members last year, state Rep. Jeremy Durham has introduced a bill that would create a new “mass picketing” misdemeanor specifically aimed at labor activists: “I feel like if that’s such a growing part of our economy, we need to take preemptive measures to make sure our businesses have the rights and protections they should be entitled to.”

Thom Tillis, the speaker of the North Carolina state House and a Republican challenger to U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, isn’t quite saying he wants to abolish the minimum wage outright. But only because “you can’t unring that bell.” As for raising the minimum wage, Tillis is obviously opposed. But this is the best part:

Asked what he considered a living wage, Tillis dodged. He pivoted to say private industry ought to answer the question. “I think for the most part the market needs to define that,” he answered.

The Lower Oconee Community Hospital in southeastern Georgia has just 25 beds, but it is a “critical access” hospital. It’s closing because, without Medicaid expansion, there are too few patients in the area who can afford to pay for their medical services.

Patients in the Wheeler County region who need more extensive medical care after the hospital closes will need to travel upwards of thirty miles in order to receive it.

“We just did not have sufficient volume to support the expenses,” said CEO Karen O’Neal in an interview with local CBS affiliate WMAZ. “It’s a terrible situation, and it’s tragic, the loss of jobs and the economic impact.”

Last fall, Bloomberg reported that at least five public hospitals in Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia — including three in Georgia alone — were cutting staff and services in the wake of their refusal to expand Medicaid. These hospitals are so-called “Disproportionate Share Hospitals” — providers that serve a disproportionate number of poor and uninsured Americans, and as such don’t always receive payments for the care they give patients.

Lawmakers writing Obamacare assumed that the Medicaid expansion would reduce the number of uninsured and poor people these hospitals would serve, and that Medicaid would pick up those costs. So those payments have been cut back, and a steady stream of these hospitals are going to be closing in red states unless the states’ Republican leaders relent on expanding Medicaid.