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February 12, 2019: What to Know

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  • On Monday night, congressional negotiators reached a tentative deal to prevent another government shutdown. The arrangement would provide $1.375 billion for "fencing and other physical barriers" at the U.S.-Mexico border, The New York Times reports, but would fall short of funding the border wall that was the sticking point for the stalled negotiations between the legislative and executive branches in December and January. The deal still has to clear the House and Senate, as well as garner the president's signature. After hearing about the progress of the negotiations, Trump told a crowd in El Paso, Texas, "We're building the wall anyway."

  • ERIC MOLINA FROM NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES [CC BY 2.0], VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
    • eric molina from New York City, United States [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
    A group based in Maine, the Church of Safe Injection, is distributing clean needles and Narcan to drug users in a bid to save lives, according to NPR. Volunteers with the religious organization believe the measures will help reduce rates of blood-transmitted infections associated with injection-drug use and help stave off fatal drug overdoses, and they now operate in cities around the United States. Law enforcement has had a mixed reaction, with some saying the group shares a police mandate to save lives and others argue that distributing needles, which is illegal in many states, could result in criminal penalties regardless of their intentions.

  • A proposal from Gov. Brad Little could pave the way for funding voter-approved Medicaid expansion, Betsy Russell of the Idaho Press reports. The plan would use money from Idaho's tobacco settlement fund and savings from expansion to cover the state's buy-in for the program. "I think it's a pretty clear and concise way to do it," said the co-chair of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, Sen. Steve Bair (R-Blackfoot).

  • Meanwhile, the Idaho Senate State Affairs Committee has voted down a measure that would have swept away the state's population-based quota system for liquor licenses and shifted authority over them to cities and counties, writes Idaho Press reporter Savannah Cardon. Under the current rules, the state allots one liquor license for every 1,500 people, which has created a scarcity of the $750 licenses, leading to a secondary market where the licenses are bought and sold for $100,000 or more.