WASHINGTON IN BRIEF

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Texas Court Orders DeLay to Appear at Jail

A Texas court issued a warrant yesterday for Rep. Tom DeLay, ordering him to appear at the Fort Bend County jail for booking on state conspiracy and money-laundering charges.

The court set an initial $10,000 bail as a routine step before the Texas Republican's first court appearance tomorrow.

DeLay could be fingerprinted and photographed, although his lawyers had hoped to avoid this step. DeLay will surrender in his home county, near Houston, although his court appearance will be in Austin.

The warrant is "a matter of routine, and bond will be posted," said DeLay's lawyer, Dick DeGuerin.

DeLay has stepped down as House majority leader -- at least temporarily -- under a Republican rule requiring him to relinquish the post if charged with a felony.

Two grand juries have charged DeLay and two political associates in an alleged scheme to violate state election law, by funneling corporate donations to candidates for the Texas Legislature. State law prohibits use of corporate donations to finance state campaigns, although the money can be used for administrative expenses.

States Freeze, Reduce Medicaid Payments

All 50 states froze or reduced Medicaid payments to health care providers such as doctors and hospitals while 43 states targeted drug costs this year, and more cost controls are on the way, according to a survey.

The measures helped states slow growth in Medicaid spending and enrollment for the third straight year, according to the survey of state directors of the government health care program for the poor, released today by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. As a result, the gap between increases in Medicaid spending and the growth of state tax revenue narrowed to its lowest level since 1999.

The success in slowing cost increases to a pace closer to growth of tax revenue is emboldening states to plan more cuts, the survey found.

Times Reporter Urges Federal Shield Law

New York Times reporter Judith Miller, jailed 85 days for refusing to testify in a federal probe that now threatens the White House, urged Congress yesterday to protect journalists from having to reveal confidential sources.

"I hope you will agree that an uncoerced, uncoercible press, though at times irritating, is vital to the perpetuation of the freedom and democracy we so often take for granted," Miller told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Proposed legislation, opposed by the Bush administration, would allow reporters to shield sources in most cases. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia have such shield laws, and efforts to obtain a federal one have gained traction largely because of Miller's case.

-- From News Services


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