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MA & RI debate ‘conversion therapy’ ban

 (WNS)–Massachusetts lawmakers are debating a bill that would ban mental health professionals from engaging in therapy with minors who desire a change in sexual orientation or gender identity. The hotly contested legislation, H. 1190, had a hearing before a state House committee earlier this week. Two previous attempts by Massachusetts lawmakers to pass similar bills died in committee. Supporters claim the law will decrease the risk of suicide for LGBT youth. But opponents argue the bill denies patients access to the treatment of their choice, violates the confidential relationship between a counselor and client, flies in the face of scientific evidence about gender dysphoria, and threatens parents with permanent removal of their children if they don’t abide by the law. Eight other states have passed similar laws banning so-called conversion therapy. The Rhode Island legislature is currently debating its own bill.

Key Republicans reject GOP healthcare bill

 (WNS)–In a joint statement, four Republican senators announced June 22 they cannot support the GOP’s new healthcare bill, jeopardizing its path forward. Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, claim the plan, written by their party’s leaders, doesn’t go far enough to repeal Obamacare and lower healthcare costs. “Currently, for a variety of reasons, we are not ready to vote for this bill, but we are open to negotiation and obtaining more information before it is brought to the floor,” they wrote. “There are provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current health care system, but it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their healthcare costs.” Republicans hold a 52-48 majority in the Senate, which means the bill can only pass if two or fewer senators defect—assuming Vice President Mike Pence breaks the tie. Together, these four senators can scuttle the vote, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., plans to schedule before the end of June.

Free college tuition spreads

 (WNS)–Michigan students are the latest to get a chance to go to college for free. Last week, the University of Michigan Board of Regents approved a free tuition program for students from families making $65,000 or less annually. The state’s median family income is $63,893. Starting Jan. 1, 2018, the university will waive the $7,413 per-semester fee for qualifying students, who must still come up with money for room and board, and school administrators say other aid packages will help cover those costs. New York became the first state to offer free college tuition earlier this year. Other states, including Tennessee, offer free tuition at community colleges, but education policy experts say the free four-year model likely will spread.

Delaware legalizes abortion through all nine months

 (WNS)–Delaware gave pro-abortion advocates a rare but big win recently when Gov. John Carney signed a bill making it legal to kill unborn babies through all nine months of pregnancy. Proponents of the bill drafted it out of fear the Supreme Court might someday overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. “This is a reaction from the abortion lobby to President Trump winning, and Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation, and the anticipation of President Trump appointing additional Supreme Court justices,” Susan B. Anthony List spokeswoman Mallory Quigley said.

Marriage remains relevant

(WNS)–A new report from scholars at Washington’s American Enterprise Institute claims young adults succeed when they take traditional routes into marriage and parenthood. As more Americans delay marriage and choose nontraditional paths, AEI says millennials may want to reevaluate. Young Americans are more likely to economically flourish if they follow the “success sequence”—getting at least a high school degree, working full-time, and marrying before having any children, in that order. Millennials are the largest generation in U.S. history and 55 percent of those aged 28-34 had kids before they tied the knot. Nearly half who had a baby before marriage live in poverty while only 14 percent of those who married first are poor. Report authors Wendy Williams and W. Bradford Wilcox found 97 percent of millennials who follow the full “success sequence” are not poor by the time they reach their prime young adult years, ages 28-34.

Unity, prayer at congressional baseball game

(WNS)–Thousands gathered at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., on Thursday night for the annual congressional baseball game—one day after a 66-year-old Illinois man shot four people during the Republican team’s morning practice. Organizers said it was important to go through with the bipartisan tradition that began in 1909, and an unusually large crowd gathered to show support. Before the game, President Donald Trump delivered a video message asking the nation to embrace unity. He said while Washington has its disagreements, all are there “to serve this nation we love and the people who call it home. That’s the source of unity.” Republican and Democratic lawmakers gathered at second base, knelt together, and prayed during a moment of silence. The event sold about 20,000 tickets and raised $1 million for charity—more than double the amount raised last year. Democrats won the game, 11-2.

White House confirms Jerry Falwell’s task force claim

(WNS)–The White House has finally confirmed that Jerry Falwell Jr. will be part of a higher education task force—five months after the Liberty University president announced the appointment. No one from the Trump administration would confirm the task force at the time, but an official told The Chronicle of Higher Education on Sunday the committee definitely will happen. Late last week Falwell told The Chronicle the president’s team had asked him to vet a list of 15 other college presidents who would participate. Beyond confirming the committee’s existence, administration officials have offered no information on what it will be tasked to address. Falwell has said the group will review higher education regulations.

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