Net totals: March Madness opens with Texas fielding five teams in the NCAA men's basketball tournament vs. four teams each for rivals California, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia. Kentucky, Pennsylvania and North Carolina each netted three. It's tougher to crown the dominant geographic region, given the oddly configured tournament brackets: Only two teams in states that touch the Atlantic Ocean are in the East bracket, and only two states in the Pacific Time Zone are included in the West.
Pluto's still a planet, even if only in 0.06 percent of the sky. The New Mexico House this week passed a non-binding resolution solidifying Pluto's status as a full planet as long as it's in state skies, the Albuquerque Tribune reports. Astronomers from around the world voted Pluto out of the pantheon of planets in August, calling it instead a "dwarf planet." But all politics - even interplanetary politics - is local, and Pluto was discovered by a New Mexico astronomer in 1930.
A Web site known for its sing-along videos lampooning Washington, D.C., bigwigs is now mocking Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R), the Indianapolis Star reports. The video on JibJab.com, submitted by an anonymous poster, attacks Daniels for his proposal to raise cigarette taxes, in a ditty sung to the tune of ABBA's "Money."
He may live 2,000 miles away, but California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is under fire in the home territory of automakers. A Michigan congressman paid for billboards in the Detroit area attacking Schwarzenegger for his stance on reducing greenhouse gases. "Arnold to Michigan: DROP DEAD!" the signs read. U.S. Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R) singled out Schwarzenegger because "he has become the Republican Al Gore," the congressman told The Associated Press.
Donate a kidney or bone marrow and get half a year of freedom. That's the deal lawmakers in South Carolina are considering striking with prisoners there, The (Charleston) Post and Courier reports. Although the measure advanced through a state Senate panel, legislators are holding off on the proposal for now to see whether it's allowed under federal law.
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) has been avoiding reporters for months, even, as the Rockford Register Star points out, using a security detail to block the press at his inauguration. But now the governor insists he wasn't avoiding questions about scandals in his administration. He just thought reporters didn't want to talk to him, according to The (Springfield) State Journal-Register . He claims he thought the media was more interested in the presidential campaign of U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D) of Illinois and the re-election bid of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.
On the West Coast, two state senate leaders are flexing their muscles. In Oregon, state Senate President Peter Courtney (D) apologized for sending state troopers after two GOP senators who boycotted a Senate session, The Oregonian reports. In California, Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata (D) locked three members of his own party out of their offices for attending a business fundraiser, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"Pumping parties," where people pay to get silicone injections, are becoming a problem in Michigan, says the Detroit Free Press . Participants started showing up in Michigan hospitals last month, because of contaminants in the injection and needles that hadn't been sterilized, state officials told the paper.
West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) found the perfect candidate for the state school board right at home. Manchin named a former teacher, his wife, to the panel. "As one who talks about education a little bit - he thought if I talk so much, I ought to go to work," Gayle Manchin said, according to the Charleston Daily Mail.
On the state symbol front, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) officially made the bolo tie the official state tie, reports the AP's Santa Fe bureau . The Iowa Senate is insisting on naming the catfish the official state fish, but the House hasn't acted yet, the Sioux City Journal writes.
Looking forward: Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D) insists she will run for another term this year, despite speculation that former U.S. Sen. John Breaux (D) will get in the race, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reports… At least 10 of the 40 members of the New Jersey Senate will retire this year, the largest turnover since the Watergate era, notes the Philadelphia Enquirer.
Stateline.org Staff Writer Eric Kelderman contributed.