AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) A bill to outlaw smoking in cars in which children under 16 are present moved closer to enactment with initial approval Thursday in the Senate, following House approval earlier in the week. There was no debate before the Senate's 23-12 vote. The bill, which faces final votes in both chambers, would authorize $50 fines for violations, but only after a first year of warnings.

SANDY HOOK, Md. (AP) The National Park Service objects to plans for a 190-foot emergency communications tower on the Maryland side of the Potomac River and in view of the main section of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in Harpers Ferry, W.Va. Washington County Commissioner James Kercheval says alternative tower sites suggested by the park service would not provide the level of service that emergency responders require.


BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) The state supreme court has enacted new rules that will force the state's judges to publicly disclose their sources of income. The high court announced in a written statement that the financial disclosure requirements will be comparable to those the Louisiana Legislature imposed on most other elected officials last month. The new rules will take effect in January.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) The number of state residents receiving food stamps has jumped by 11 percent in five years amid rising costs for food and fuel. The West Virginia health department says 274,487 residents received food stamps in February, compared to 246,890 in 2003. As food costs have risen at least 2.4 percent annually since 2004, DHHR policy specialist Sarah Young says more low-income residents are turning to food stamps.


HUNTINGTON, Ind. (AP) A dairy farm with a history of manure releases that threatened a nearby reservoir will be sold to an Ohio-based company as part of an order barring the farm's current owner from operating livestock farms in Indiana through 2048. The agreement resolves several legal proceedings that had been pending against DeGroot Dairy and its owner, Johannes DeGroot, because of spills into tributaries of the Salamonie Reservoir.

WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (AP) Five teachers here will have their e-mails to friends and family released after a judge ruled that the messages sent from work were open records. Don Bubolz of Vesper has said he asked for the e-mails to see if the teachers were doing their job "the way it's supposed to be done." An attorney for the state's teachers union said the judge's decision could lead to other government workers' e-mails being released.


YUMA, Ariz. (AP) A Marine now stationed here who disarmed a huge truck bomb outside a bombmaking factory in Iraq last year has been awarded the Bronze Star, with a "V' for valor. Staff Sgt. Alexander Mazza received the medal during a ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma. The ordinance disposal technician climbed into a dump truck packed with a ton of explosives in Fallujah to disarm it.

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) A computer hacker was sentenced to three years in prison for a 911 hoax that led a SWAT team to storm a family home. Prosecutors say Randal T. Ellis, 19, of Mukilteo, Wash., hacked the 911 system and transmitted phony information that made it appear he was calling from a Lake Forest, Calif., home to report a possible murder.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.