By Andy Sullivan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Several Republican governors likely to run for president have secured hundreds millions of dollars under Obamacare while working to dismantle the healthcare law, according to a Reuters review of federal spending records. Governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Chris Christie of New Jersey, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and former Texas Governor Rick Perry, all staunch opponents of President Barack Obama's 2010 Affordable Care Act, have collectively applied for and won at least $352 million through grant programs set up by the law, federal records show. "Receiving federal grants that existed prior to the ACA is not the same as participating in the core elements of the ACA." The money in question stems from less controversial parts of the law that enhance public health and other nuts-and-bolts programs, rather than the insurance exchanges and expansion of the Medicaid program for the poor that have drawn fierce opposition from Republicans.
By Steve Barnes LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Reuters) - Republican Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson on Wednesday rejected a religion bill he had said he would sign into law, reversing course after a firestorm of criticism assailing such legislation as discriminating against gays and lesbians. In a news conference at the Capitol in Little Rock, Hutchinson said he was sending the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) back to the Republican-controlled legislature to be rewritten to better balance tolerance for diversity and protections of religious freedom. The governor said his own son had asked him to veto it, adding a personal element to the intense pressure to reject the bill he had already faced from businesses such as Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world's biggest retailer. While Hutchinson spoke, scores of protesters outside waved the rainbow flag of the gay rights movement.
By Sharon Bernstein SACRAMENTO (Reuters) - California Governor Jerry Brown, acting in the face of a devastating, multiyear drought, ordered the first statewide mandatory water restrictions on Wednesday, directing cities and communities to reduce usage by 25 percent. Brown, who made the announcement at a ski resort in the Sierra Nevada mountains, said the move, which comes as California reports its lowest snowpack levels on record, would save some 1.5 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months. Brown last week signed emergency legislation that fast-tracks over $1 billion in funding for drought relief and water infrastructure within the parched state. The proposed legislation would appropriate voter-approved bond funds to speed up water projects and programs and provide aid to struggling California cities and communities.Earlier in March, the state Water Resources Control Board imposed new drought regulations, outlawing lawn watering within 48 hours of rain and prohibiting water from being served in restaurants unless a customer requests it.The state is entering the fourth year of record-breaking drought that has prompted officials to sharply reduce water supplies to farmers and impose strict conservation measures statewide.