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Archive for Sunday, February 22, 2004

Briefly

February 22, 2004

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Phoenix

Arizona governor says forest fires still a threat

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano on Saturday accused the Bush administration of mismanaging the federal forests, which she said could lead to "megafires" this summer.

"Once again, the Bush administration and the Republican Congress are shirking their responsibility to manage federal forests," she said. "So we must prepare to battle more megafires."

Napolitano, in the weekly Democrat radio address, said $760 million intended to pay for brush clearing and forest thinning on federal land wouldn't be given to states before Oct. 1.

But the Western forests are in danger now, with historic drought, unprecedented bark beetle infestations and "the administration's refusal to restore forests on federal land," Napolitano said.

New Jersey

Forced overtime banned for health care workers

After a five-year battle, New Jersey now has a state law barring hospitals and nursing homes from forcing health care employees to work overtime except in emergencies.

Nurses and union officials say the law, only the second in the nation, should improve patient safety and prevent mistakes that can be committed by people who have been on the job for up to 16 hours.

With the law that went into effect Tuesday, New Jersey joins only Washington state in banning mandatory overtime at health facilities. West Virginia lawmakers passed a ban that awaits the governor's signature.

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