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Need to Know honored by Casey Medals

Need to Know was honored by the Casey Medals for Meritorious Journalism. Watch both recognized pieces below:

Watch Drugs in the System on PBS. See more from Need To Know.

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Health care law: How it might work

Now that we can all stop guessing how the U.S. Supreme court will rule on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act –- it upheld the individual mandate, but limited the Medicaid expansion — we can now all start speculating about how it will actually work, right?

Well, the answers might be closer than you think.

As we reported earlier this month, Massachusetts passed its own individual mandate and Medicaid expansion in 2006, part of a health insurance overhaul law that was signed by then-governor Mitt Romney and served as a template for the federal law.

Watch The Massachusetts mandate on PBS. See more from Need To Know.

But the vast majority of the state’s 439,000 newly insured were the poor and low-income workers, who gained insurance through the expanded Medicaid program and other new subsidized options.

The Supreme Court ruled the federal Medicaid expansion constitutional, but limited the government’s ability to enforce it. The government can offer money as an incentive, but it can’t deny funds as a punishment.

As we saw in Massachusetts, the Medicaid expansion played a large role in getting everyone covered in that state, and it was expected to play a large role in expanding coverage under the federal law, too. As it rolls out in the 49 other states, a big question will be how many opt for the Medicaid expansion, and how those that don’t will cover their poor.

Egypt in transition

President-elect Mohammed Morsi, shakes hands with an Egyptian police general in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, June 26, 2012. Photo: AP Photo/Middle East News Agency, HO

This past Sunday, Egyptian election officials declared Mohammed Morsi Egypt’s first freely elected president in the country’s history. Although it is unclear what authority he will have, his win is considered a huge victory for the Muslim Brotherhood. The 84-year-old Islamist group was outlawed under Hosni Mubarak but formed its own political party after his fall last year. They captured 47 percent of the parliament late last year. However, days before the presidential run-off election, Egypt’s Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) dissolved the parliament and reinstated their authority to operate unchallenged.
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SCOTUS rules on sentencing juvenile offenders

This artist rendering shows Supreme Court Justices inside the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday, June 25, 2012. Photo: AP Photo/Dana Verkouteren

The United States Supreme Court ruled today that it is unconstitutional for juveniles 17 or younger convicted of murder to be automatically sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

This decision follows a ruling two years ago, which said life sentences for juveniles convicted crimes other than homicide could no longer be imposed.
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Energy jobs vulnerable to boom-bust cycles

Workers at a Range Resources site are seen behind the top of a pump where the hydraulic fracturing process in the Marcellus Shale layer to release natural gas was underway in Claysville, Pa. Photo: AP/Keith Srakocic

At campaign rallies across the country, both the Romney and Obama camps have stressed the energy sector as the industry that offers perhaps the most promise for business growth and employment opportunities in the United States today.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has campaigned hard on this issue, promising federal support for energy development in resource-rich swing states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, where the natural gas boom has brought a sense of economic optimism to rural towns across the region. Not to be outdone on the energy jobs front, President Barack Obama endorsed natural gas drilling and the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing in his 2012 State of the Union address, saying “nowhere is the promise of innovation greater than in American-made energy.”

While job creation is a big political selling point for oil and gas companies looking to sway state and federal officials on lessened regulations and corporate tax breaks, the blue-collar employment opportunities offered are sometimes short-term, contractual jobs. Moreover, even the natural gas industry — a thriving business by most accounts — has started to cut back on capital-heavy operations and hiring as the price of natural gas has fallen.
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U.S. to stop deporting some young immigrants

President Barack Obama responds as he is interrupted while announcing that his administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives, Friday, June 15, 2012, during a statement in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. Photo: AP/Susan Walsh

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced today that young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and are deemed “low enforcement priorities” may be able to avoid deportation and become eligible for work authorization, effective immediately.

The policy is expected to impact several hundred thousand undocumented residents facing possible deportation.

“Our nation’s immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner,” Secretary Janet Napolitano said in the Dept. of Homeland Security press release.  “But they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case.”

In order to be eligible for the deferred action program, individuals must have been brought to the country before the age of 16 and have no criminal history. They must have resided in the U.S. for at least five consecutive years and be a student or have already graduated from high school or earned an equivalent GED, or served in the military. The deportation exemption does not extend to undocumented immigrants over the age of 30. Eligibility also hinges on the individual currently residing in the United States.

On Friday afternoon in the Rose House Garden, President Barack Obama urged Americans to consider how these young people facing expulsion must feel. “Imagine you’ve done everything right your entire life. Studied hard, worked hard,” he said. “Only to suddenly face threat of deportation to a country you may nothing about.”

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Arizona preps for SB 1070 ruling

Former Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce, the author of Arizona's SB 1070 immigration law, speaks to reporters outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, April 25, 2012, after the court's hearing on Arizona's "show me your papers" immigration law. Photo: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Presidents rarely meddle with state legislation, but two years ago on the day Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed Senate Bill 1070, a controversial bill that enacted stringent immigration measures, President Obama criticized the law as “misguided” and as undermining “basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans.”

In particular, there were four provisions that rankled President Obama as well as immigration advocates: law enforcement officers would be allowed to stop and ask the immigration status of a person; officers would be authorized to arrest immigrants without a warrant when there is “probable cause” of a crime; it would be a crime for immigrants to not carry documentation; and illegal for undocumented immigrants to work in the United States.

Critics argued that Arizona’s controversial immigration law encouraged racial profiling and discrimination, giving local law enforcement officers the power of federal immigration agents. Anti-immigration groups, however, applauded the  “attrition through enforcement” strategy, where aggressive laws would make life so difficult for unauthorized immigrants that they would choose to “self-deport” themselves.

So after the ink dried on SB 1070, Gov. Brewer backed her new law saying, “Arizona [has] been more than patient waiting for Washington to act. But decades of federal inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation.”

A couple months later, the Department of Justice came right back at Arizona with a lawsuit that challenged SB 1070, arguing that the federal government solely has jurisdiction over foreign policy issues like immigration – and not the states.
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Eric Cantor scores easy GOP primary win in Va.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor celebrates after a Republican primary win in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, June 12, 2012. Photo: AP Photo/Steve Helber

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, just off an easy win in his Republican primary race for the 7th Congressional District on Tuesday, has officially endorsed Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling for Governor of Virginia in 2013.

Congressman Cantor said the Lieutenant Governor has “the right experience, the conservative values and the ability to unite our Party so we can win in 2013,” according to the Bolling campaign’s press release.

Cantor’s support is important for the lieutenant governor, who is facing a weighty challenge from Tea Party-backed conservative candidate Ken Cuccinelli, the Attorney General of Virginia since 2009.

Cantor’s formal endorsement comes on the heels of a vote Friday, where the 81-member governing board of the state’s GOP will decide whether the state will hold a primary or convention to determine their gubernatorial nominee. If the governing board elects to hold a primary — ensuring all eligible residents have the opportunity to vote — the move is widely expected to benefit Bolling’s candidacy. A convention, attended by a few thousand conservative activists, is the preferred choice for Cuccinelli’s backers.

Congressman Cantor is the latest in a series of high-profile backings for Lt. Governor Bolling, who also won the endorsement of Governor Bob McDonnell.
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Cuomo signals limited NY fracking plan

A woman holds a sign during a New Yorkers Against Fracking rally at the Capitol in Albany, N.Y., on Tuesday, May 15, 2012. The group was calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ban hydraulic fracturing for gas in the Marcellus Shale region of southern New York. Photo: AP Photo/Mike Groll

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration is close to a decision on how to regulate the burgeoning natural gas industry seeking drilling rights across the upstate region of New York.

Hydraulic fracturing, known more commonly as fracking, is used to extract natural gas from shale rock located miles below the earth’s surface. When a drilling company “fracks” a well, it injects large quantities of sand, water and chemicals into the ground, creating fissures in the sediment that release the gas trapped deep inside. The Marcellus Shale, one of the largest shale formations, lies primarily underneath parts of New York and Pennsylvania, a state where companies — spurred on by the support of Republican Governor Tom Corbett — have drilled rigs on rural land by the hundreds.

Despite industry promises that the hydraulic fracturing process is safe, critics contend that the potential environmental impacts posed by natural gas drilling are not worth what they say may be short-lived economic gains.

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