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Geoff Mulvihill/Associated Press

  • With U.S. overdose fatalities at an all-time high, state legislatures are considering tougher penalties for possession of fentanyl, the powerful opioid linked to most of the deaths. Proponents say prosecutors and police need more tools to help with the fight because fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are so deadly. But other advocates worry harsher penalties will result in even more dangerous drug supplies and punish people who really need help.
  • he top state courts in conservative Idaho and South Carolina have gone in opposite directions on challenges to abortion bans. The contradictory decisions Thursday are part of a patchwork of policies that have sprung up since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that there is no federally protected right to abortion, pushing the issue to states. Across the country, advocates for abortion rights are making similar arguments to try to get restrictions and bans struck down. But differences in state constitutions and state justices can lead to different outcomes in those cases.
  • Abortion bans are temporarily blocked in Louisiana and Utah, while a federal court in South Carolina says a law sharply restricting the procedure can take effect there immediately. The decisions emerged as the battle over whether women may end pregnancies shifted from the nation's highest court to courthouses around the country. The U.S. Supreme Court's decision Friday to end constitutional protection for abortion opened the gates for a wave of litigation.
  • The attorneys general of 26 states have filed federal lawsuits challenging a vaccine mandate for employers issued by the Biden administration. They generally contend that the authority to compel vaccinations rests with the states, not the federal government. The new mandate applies to private employers with at least 100 workers. The Biden administration says it is confident its requirement will withstand the challenges, but legal experts are divided over which side is likely to prevail. Several businesses also joined the lawsuits filed Friday, saying they don't want to insert themselves into their employees' health care decisions.