These United States

A compendium of news worthy events from around the country.

Delaware Senate Passes a Civil Union Bill. The Delaware Senate by 13 to 6 with 2 abstentions passed the Diamond State's first civil unions bill. The bill, sponsored by state Sen. David Sokola, D-Newark, with about two dozen co-sponsors, would grant same-sex couples the same legal protections and responsibilities as married couples. The bill now heads to the House. If the bill were to become law, Delaware would become the eighth state to recognize same-sex civil unions. More from Delaware Online.

In Florida, Rick Scott's Approval Rating Sinking Fast. According to the latest Quinnipiac University survey of 1,499 registered Florida voters, 48 percent of Floridians disapprove of Governor Rick Scott's performance — more than double the level measured in a February poll. Only 35 percent gave the Republican newcomer a favorable rating, exactly what it was more than a month ago. The full story in the Miami Herald.

Arkansas Supreme Court Overturns Ban on Gay Adoptions. The Arkansas Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s opinion that a recently passed law that would prohibit unmarried, cohabitating couples from adopting or fostering children is unconstitutional. The court ruled that the law, which was targeted at gay and lesbian families, needlessly violated their right to privacy. As Arkansas Justice Robert Brown maintained, under the ban such couples “must choose either to lead a life of private, sexual intimacy with a partner without the opportunity to adopt or foster children or forego sexual cohabitation and, thereby, attain eligibility to adopt or foster.” More from Fox 16 News.

Surreal California Budget Proposals. The Los Angeles Times termed the budget cuts proposals under discussion in the Golden State as "surreal."

Cut teachers' pay by 5%. Close a public university or two. Fire the entire state workforce.

Those were among the proposals bandied about by state lawmakers in a budget hearing Thursday that at times had a touch of the surreal. 

A $15 billion budget shortfall remains to be fixed, and the Senate Budget Committee hearing was the first held since talks for a referendum on taxes between Gov. Jerry Brown and Republicans collapsed late last month. 

Democrats made it clear they saw this and upcoming hearings as an opportunity to rally public support for raising taxes without GOP backing. They talked about how low state spending is today by historic measures -- spending per personal income is the lowest in four decades -- and how firing every state worker would not close the gap. 

Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) asked about shuttering a UC or CSU campus in the state to preserve some of the state’s flagship schools, such as UC Berkeley in her district. "Do you have a viable economy if you don't have a first-class higher education system?" she asked.

Sen. Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) asked about cutting teachers' pay by 5%, admitting the question was politically "like lighting a fuse on a rocket."

Partisan squabbling punctuated the hearing, and no consensus emerged.

Surging Oil Prices Brings Huge Surplus in Alaska. With more than $11 billion already in its savings accounts, Alaska is projecting a new $3.4 billion surplus because of soaring oil prices. The debate now turns to what to do with all the money. Stateline looks at the enviable fiscal position up in the Last Frontier.

Bishop E.W. Jackson Seeks GOP Nod in Virginia Senate Race. Bishop E.W. Jackson, the head of STAND for America (Staying True to America’s National Destiny), is filing paperwork to run for the Virginia Senate seat being vacated by Senator Jim Webb.  Bishop Jackson will face former Senator George Allen and at least one other Tea Party-backed candidate. Right Wing Watch has more on Bishop E.W. Jackson.

Tags: LGTB Issues, Arkansas Politics, Governor Rick Scott, Delaware Politics, California politics, Virginia Politics (all tags)

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