Sniffing Out Im-paws-ters

Massachusetts lawmakers are the latest to consider a bill cracking down on pet owners who pass their dogs off as service animals. Nineteen states have enacted similar measures, Pew's Stateline reports. Generally, the laws make it a misdemeanor to represent an untrained dog as a service animal, and come with fines of $500 or less per incident. But, because there's no way to verify whether a dog has had service-animal training, the laws have little bite. Until there's a national service-dog registry, advocates hope the laws teach people not to put animals in situations they aren't trained to handle.


Election Audit Passes Muster

Colorado election officials announced in July that the state would become the first to regularly do a type of post-election audit that cybersecurity experts have long called for to ensure that hackers aren't meddling with vote counts, Politico reports. Using what's known as a "risk-limiting" audit, officials double-check a sample of paper ballots against digital tallies to determine whether results were tabulated correctly. November's election was the system's trial run. "We had a little over 30 counties that were implementing this for the first time in this election and it went very well," Secretary of State Wayne Williams says. Colorado is making the technology available to other states.


A Lawmaker's Historic Win

Former journalist Danica Roem is the first known transgender person to win a seat in a state legislature in the United States. Roem, a Democrat, unseated Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall (R), a social conservative. Roem campaigned on jobs, schools and transportation, especially easing congestion on northern Virginia's Route 28. "No matter what you look like, where you come from, how you worship or who you love, if you have good public policy ideas, if you're qualified for office, you have every right to bring your ideas to the table," she told The Associated Press.


File Under: You're on Notice

Oklahoma lawmakers haven't had a raise since 1997, but any who were hoping for a hike when the state's Legislative Compensation Board met in October were left disappointed. The board noted that the state faces a $215 million budget gap and "a perception from the public that lawmakers are doing a poor job," according to an Associated Press report. Instead of backing a bump, the board voted to maintain the annual salary at $38,400 and revisit the issue in March, with several members...

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