.Monday Must Reads: Supreme Court Ruling Greenlights Lethal Injections; High Court Also Blocks Regulations of Coal Plants

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The US Supreme Court voted 5-4 to okay the use of a controversial drug that played a part in three botched executions last year, The New York Times$ reports. The high court’s conservative majority rejected arguments made by inmates and civil libertarians who contended that the sedative midazolam is ineffective and makes lethal injections cruel and unusual. The Supreme Court’s ruling will greenlight executions across the United States and is expected to jumpstart them in California, the AP reports (via the Trib$).

2. The Supreme Court conservative majority also prevailed in 5-4 decision that blocked the Obama administration’s attempts to curb mercury and other toxic emissions from coal power plants, The New York Times$ reports. The high court ruled that the US Environmental Protection Agency should have conducted a financial cost-benefit analysis of its power plant regulations. Fossil fuel companies contended that it would have cost $9.6 billion to comply with the EPA’s rules.

3. The Supreme Court also upheld Arizona’s independent redistricting law, with Justice Anthony Kennedy, a moderate conservative, joining the liberal wing of the court, The New York Times$ reports. Republicans had sued to overturn voter-approved independent redistricting, contending that it illegally infringed on the power of legislatures. The high court’s decision also likely upholds California’s independent redistricting commission, which also was approved by voters, the Bay Area News Group$ reports.

4. A loophole in California law allowed Segue Construction — the Pleasanton-based company that built the Berkeley balcony that collapsed and killed six people — to keep its past problems a secret from state regulators, the Chron$ reports. As a result, the Contractors State License Board had no idea that Segue had paid out at least $26.5 million in legal settlements stemming from its shoddy workmanship in recent years.

5. The California Public Utilities Commission will take up two energy-rate proposals later this week, both of which call for raising rates on people who use the least amount of energy and lowering rates for energy hogs, the Chron$ reports. One of the proposals calls for drastically reducing rates for heavy energy users, while the other calls for a modest reform. Utilities, including PG&E, have long complained that rates are too low for people who hardly use any energy.

6. And about a million people attended San Francisco’s Gay Pride parade on Sunday to celebrate the Supreme Court’s historic decision to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, the Mercury News$ reports.


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