Stateline Story

WORTH NOTING: Justice Takes Strange Twists

O'Reilly? Oh, really? A new Illinois law cracks down on judicial candidates who adopt Irish names just to boost their popularity on Election Day. Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) signed a bill requiring candidates who switch names within three years of an election to also be identified on the ballot by their previous name, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. In the Chicago area, judicial candidates with Irish and female names usually get a big boost from voters.

Former Rhode Island state Sen. John Celona (D) is headed to jail, and at least seven other politicians could be in trouble, too, reports the Providence Journal . Celona was sentenced to 30 months after being bought off for $319,000 by health care companies. He's cooperating with an ongoing federal probe. Celona's explanation for his misdeeds? "I was living in a superficial world in the State House," he said at the sentencing.

Michigan motorists can go up to 70 m.p.h. on state freeways where signs say the speed limit is only 65 m.p.h., the Detroit Free Press notes. It seems lawmakers approved a hike in the speed limit last year but didn't budget enough money for new signs.

Men who owe child support because they think, incorrectly, that they fathered a child may get a break in Colorado. Under what's dubbed the "Duped Dad" bill, men could avoid court-ordered payments if they produce DNA tests disproving paternity at any point during the child's life, instead of the eight-month window in current law, reports the Rocky Mountain News.

The separation of church and state would take on new meaning under one Arizona lawmaker's proposal. State Sen. Karen Johnson (R) wants the state constitution to block judges from ruling on religious questions, such as whether to mention God in the Pledge of Allegiance or to allow religious monuments on public grounds, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

A California measure to ban incandescent bulbs is actually called the "How Many Legislators Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb Act," notes the San Jose Mercury News . Connecticut is considering similar legislation, minus the cute name, according to the New Haven Register.

A panel of New Jersey senators wants to remove the term "idiot" in the state's constitution, along with the charter's prohibition against any "idiot or insane person" from voting. "Certainly these words have no place in a document that embodies our highest ideals and protect our liberties," the state's public advocate said, according to The Star-Ledger.

Eight states are looking at ways to prevent car crashes with deer. Among the ideas of how to minimize accidents is spreading wolf urine along roadways, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

One California lawmaker has an idea for making high school students better citizens: Make them register to vote before they can get a diploma. Students could opt out of the requirement by writing a letter. But Republicans are skeptical because they figure the new voters likely would be Democrats, according to the Mercury News.

Looking forward: States will read President Bush's budget proposal closely when it's released on Monday. … The Indiana House will be empty Monday. The legislative session was canceled because so many lawmakers are going to the Super Bowl Sunday. … Tolls could be soaring on one of the nation's first privately run roadways. The company that controls Virginia's Dulles Greenway wants to hike tolls on the road from $3.20 to $4.80 during peak hours, phasing in the hikes through 2012.