North Texas Daily

National/Regional Briefs

National/Regional Briefs

February 24
01:10 2012

NATIONAL

Seven states challenge birth control coverage rule

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Seven states are asking a federal judge to block an Obama administration mandate that requires birth control coverage for employees of religious-affiliated hospitals, schools and outreach programs.

The lawsuit in U.S. District Court of Nebraska alleges that the new rule violates the First Amendment rights of groups that object to the use of contraceptives.

The rule, announced as part of the federal health care law, has come under fire from religious groups that object to the use of birth control. In response to the criticism, Obama administration officials have said they will shift the requirement from the employers to health insurers themselves.

Six other states are joining the lawsuit, including Texas.

REGIONAL

Map shows Texas loses more of drought stage

LUBBOCK, Texas — Recent rains across parts of Texas have led to less than 15 percent of the state being in the worst category of drought for the first time since last spring.

The U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday shows 13.93 percent of Texas in exceptional drought, down from 20.41 percent last week.

No drought exists in about 6 percent of the state, the first time since last March it’s been above 5 percent.

San Angelo has had its wettest start to a year on record — 5.98 inches. College Station has seen 12.98 inches, its second-wettest start.

Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport has received 15.33 inches since Dec. 1, and Houston Hobby Airport’s is at 12.20 inches in that period.

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