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News Scan

Justice Department Investigates Pennsylvania Voter ID Law: Leigh Ann Caldwell of CBS News reports the Justice Department on Monday asked Pennsylvania to hand over the state's voter registration list that includes voter history and race of registered voters and the state's current driver's license and ID list. The Justice Department also wants documents that support the state's assessment that 758,000 registered voters lack proper identification, and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett's statement in March 2012 that "99 percent of Pennsylvania's eligible voters already have acceptable photo ID." On Wednesday, Scott Kraus of The Morning Call reports a coalition of voting rights groups, led by the ACLU, will argue in Commonwealth Court that the state's voter ID law will disenfranchise a significant number of legitimate voters. They are seeking an injunction preventing Pennsylvania from enforcing the law.

Massachusetts Legislature Passes Three-Strikes Bill: Kimberly Ashton, Chris Helms, and Theresa Knapp of Patch report the Massachusetts Legislature last week passed "Melissa's Law," which eliminates parole for offenders convicted three times of one of 40 violent crimes. As reported in the News Scan, the bill was passed in the House 139-14 last Wednesday. The state Senate passed the bill 31-7 last Thursday. The law is named after Melissa Gosule, a 27-year-old schoolteacher who in 1999 was raped and murdered by a repeat violent offender who had 27 previous convictions. The movement started after her death was brought back into the spotlight in 2010 after a police officer in the state was murdered by a repeat felon. The bill has gone to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick's desk, and he has until July 31 to act on it.

Jerry Brown Signs Bill Clarifying Felonies for Elected Officials: Patrick McGreevy of the Los Angeles Times reports California Governor Jerry Brown said on Monday that he signed legislation that bans people from running for elective office in the state if they have been convicted of a felony that involved a violation of the public trust. A law already exists to prohibit those convicted of certain felonies from holding elective office, and the new law extends that to people convicted of accepting  bribes or committing voter fraud or perjruy. The law takes effect January 1, and applies to those charged and convicted after Jan. 1, 2013,

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