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By Steve Barnes LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Reuters) - Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson told lawmakers on Wednesday to revise a bill that rights activists and U.S. businesses said allowed discrimination against gays, and home-state corporate giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc praised his action. The state's Senate took up the challenge late on Wednesday, sending to the House of Representatives legislation that would bring the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) into line with federal statutes. Indiana's governor a day earlier said lawmakers should fix a similar RFRA. In a news conference at the Capitol in Little Rock, Hutchinson, who previously said he would sign the bill, said he was sending the act back to the Republican-controlled legislature to be rewritten so it can better balance tolerance for diversity and protections of religious freedom.
By Sharon Bernstein PHILLIPS, Calif. (Reuters) - California Governor Jerry Brown, in his most sweeping action to combat a devastating multi-year drought, ordered residents and businesses on Wednesday to cut water use by 25 percent in the first mandatory statewide reduction in California history. The move comes as California's snowpack, which generally provides about a third of the state's water, is at its lowest level on record in a sign the state's drought, now entering its fourth year, is far from over. We're just doing it through the different water districts." Brown said the state would develop rebate plans to help families and businesses remove a planned 50 million square feet (4.6 million square meters) of lawns, and replace old appliances with newer, more water-efficient models. Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the state Water Resources Control Board, said regulators would not hesitate to issue fines of up to $10,000 a day to water districts that do not succeed in implementing the cutbacks.
By David Schwartz PHOENIX (Reuters) - No criminal charges will be filed against a white Phoenix police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man in December during what authorities described as a struggle, county prosecutors said on Wednesday. Prosecutors found that Officer Mark Rine was justified in using deadly force against Rumain Brisbon, said Jerry Cobb, a Maricopa County attorney spokesman. It was later learned that Brisbon was actually carrying a pill bottle in the struggle outside an apartment complex in Phoenix. Marci Kratter, the attorney for Brisbon?s family, said she was not surprised that Rine will not be held accountable.
MARION, Ind. (AP) ? An assistant fire chief in Indiana has accepted a demotion after tying a rope into a noose in the presence of a black firefighter whose wife belongs to the family of a lynching victim.
WASHINGTON (AP) ? Police have charged a 21-year-old woman in the stabbing death of a lawyer at an upscale hotel in Washington, D.C.
DENVER (AP) ? Public spending to investigate and prosecute Colorado theater shooting defendant James Holmes has surpassed $2.2 million, weeks before opening statements in his trial, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.