Dennis Smith , Wisconsin Governor-elect Scott Walker 's pick to head the Department of Health Services, has written that states should consider dropping out of Medicaid, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports . Just before the new year, Walker announced his full cabinet, which includes Republican state legislators, longtime state government hands and several outsiders. Smith was one of Walker's more controversial selections. Democrats have criticized Smith for co-authoring an article for the Heritage Foundation titled, "Medicaid Meltdown: Dropping Medicaid Could Save States $1 Trillion." But Democrats' power to block Smith's appointment is limited now that Walker's fellow Republicans are in control in the state Senate. When George W. Bush was president, Smith served as director of the federal Center for Medicaid and State Operations.
Governor-elect Terry Branstad , a Republican, has picked a prominent Democratic politician as Iowa 's new labor commissioner, the Des Moines Registerreports . Michael Mauro comes to the job after narrowly losing his bid for reelection as Iowa's secretary of state to Republican Matt Shultz . "I was impressed with the fair and even way he administered election laws and how he effectively managed the Iowa secretary of state's office," Branstad said in a statement. Mauro won't take over until the current labor commissioner's term ends May 1.
Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox plans to hold a vote on legalizing gay marriage early in the upcoming legislative session, the Providence Journal reports . The move comes after the elections brightened the prospects for gay marriage in Rhode Island. Incoming Governor Lincoln Chafee , an independent, favors allowing gays to marry, differing with outgoing Republican Governor Don Carcieri. Democrats hold large majorities in both the Rhode Island House and Senate, but there could be a split between the two chambers. Fox favors gay marriage, but Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed doesn't.
One of Arnold Schwarzenegger's last acts as governor of California was to commute the prison sentence of a son of a prominent politician, the Los Angeles Times reports . Esteban Nuñez, the son of former California House Speaker Fabian Nuñez, had his sentence of 16 years for manslaughter and assault cut to 7 years. Schwarzenegger is a Republican and the elder Nuñez is a Democrat, but they worked together while in office, notably on Assembly Bill 32, California's nationally recognized global warming law. Family members of the victim criticized Schwarzenegger's decision.