WORLD NEWS BRIEFS, Jan.29: Jealousy killings; road salt worries; #MeToo dividing; more

A photo of shooting victim William Porterfield sits under a lit candle along the wall of Ed’s Car Wash after a deadly shooting Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018, in Saltlick Township, Pa. State police said Timothy Smith opened fire early Sunday morning at the car wash. (©Stephanie Strasburg/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP) – Associated Press

Victims’ families: Jealousy drove car wash shooting suspect

A man suspected of gunning down four people at a Pennsylvania car wash was driven by jealousy, according to family members of the shooting victims.

State police said Timothy Smith, 28, was armed with a semi-automatic rifle, a .308-calibre rifle and a handgun and was wearing a body armour carrier without the ballistic panels inserted when he opened fire early Sunday morning at Ed’s Car Wash in Saltlick Township, a rural town about 55 miles (89 kilometres) southeast of Pittsburgh.

Twenty-seven-year-old William Porterfield, 25-year-old Chelsie Cline, 23-year-old Courtney Snyder and 21-year-old Seth Cline were all killed.

Smith was on life support Sunday and not expected to survive after suffering a gunshot wound to his head. State police said it was possible that the gunshot wound was self-inflicted.

Authorities would not reveal how Smith knew the victims, but Chelsie Cline’s half-sister, Sierra Kolarik, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that Smith had developed an obsession with Cline. TO READ COMPLETE STORY, PLEASE CLICK/TAP HERE

Salt, the solution to winter’s dangers, threatens US waters

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – When roads turn into ice rinks, consider trying beet juice, molasses, and even beer or cheese waste to make them safer. So say experts who fear road salt is starting to take a toll on the nation’s waterways, putting everything from fish and frogs to microscopic zooplankton at risk.

Tossed onto sidewalks and dumped onto highways, salt for decades has provided the cheapest and most effective way to cut down on traffic accidents and pedestrian falls during winter storms. But researchers cite mounting evidence that those tons of sodium chloride crystals – more than 20 million nationwide each year – are increasing the salinity of hundreds of lakes, especially in the Northeast and Midwest.

“There has been a sense of alarm on the impacts of road salt on organisms and ecosystems,” said Victoria Kelly, a road salt expert at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in New York. “We’ve seen increasing concentrations in river water, lakes, streams. Then, scientists started asking the question: What is going to happen to the organisms living in freshwater bodies and what will happen to the freshwater bodies as a whole?”

Believed to be first used in the 1940s in New Hampshire, salt became the go-to de-icing agent as cities expanded, highways were built and motorists came to expect clear roads. More than a million truckloads a year are deployed in ice-prone climes, most heavily in the Northeast and Midwest.

But many state and local agencies are seeking ways to reduce salt use as its environmental impacts are becoming more apparent. TO READ COMPLETE STORY, PLEASE CLICK/TAP HERE

#MeToo movement starting to show generational divides

Where there has been solidarity and safety in numbers in the #MeToo movement, there is now also an increasingly apparent generational divide. And it’s not just among women.

Compared to their elders, younger women are seen as generally more willing to speak out about being sexually harassed, and bring a new set of expectations to their sexual relationships. There are also generational differences in approach to dating relationships, and in expectations that, if spoken, their concerns about sexual misconduct would be received without repercussion.

Baby Boomer women “took it for granted they wouldn’t be heard” by men, especially in sexual situations, said Amy Lynch, a Nashville-based consultant who helps employers navigate generational relationships in the workplace. Millennial women – those in their 20s and 30s – are more likely to have grown up in environment supportive of gender equality, with the expectation – not always fulfilled – that they’ll be attentively listened to in those circumstances.

“I have sometimes joked that my generation is feminism’s Frankensteins,” said Courtney Martin, 38, an author and blogger. “Our mothers raised us to believe we deserved sexual equality, but now that we’re actually demanding it, it can seem overly entitled or sensitive to them.”

Debra Katz, a Washington lawyer specializing in cases of sexual harassment and sex discrimination, says younger women make up the bulk of clients bringing complaints to her firm. TO READ COMPLETE STORY, PLEASE SCROLL DOWN BELOW

In State of Union, Trump to make case that America is back

WASHINGTON (AP) – Seeking to move past the shadow of the Russia investigation, President Donald Trump intends to use his first State of the Union address to cite economic progress under his watch while pushing for bipartisanship with Democrats on issues such as rebuilding roads and bridges.

The White House said Sunday that the president would point to a robust economy and low unemployment during his first year and the benefits of a tax overhaul during Tuesday’s address to Congress and the nation. Aides have said Trump, who stayed at the White House over the weekend as he prepared, is expected to set aside his more combative tone for one of compromise and bipartisanship.

“The president is going to talk about how America’s back,” said White House legislative director Marc Short. “The president is also going to make an appeal to Democrats … to say we need to rebuild our country. And to make an appeal that to do infrastructure, we need to do it in a bipartisan way.”

Short said Trump would urge Democrats to support additional military spending in light of “dramatic threats on the global scene.”

White House officials have said the theme of the annual address will be “building a safe, strong and proud America” and that Trump was looking to showcase the accomplishments of his first year while setting the tone for the second. TO READ COMPLETE STORY, PLEASE CLICK/TAP HERE

Many Puerto Ricans adrift in US hotels after Hurricane Maria

NEW YORK (AP) – After they lost their home in Puerto Rico to flooding during Hurricane Maria, Enghie Melendez fled with her family to the U.S. mainland with three suitcases and the hope it wouldn’t take long to rebuild their lives. It hasn’t worked out that way.

More than four months later, the family of five is squeezed into two rooms in a hotel in Brooklyn. While her husband looks for work, they are stuck in limbo, eating off paper plates and stepping over clothes in cramped quarters as they try to get settled in an unfamiliar city.

“After the hurricane hit we told the kids that every day was going to be an adventure, but not like this,” said the 43-year-old Melendez. “This is turning out to be really hard.”

Around the U.S., many Puerto Ricans are similarly adrift in hotels because of the Sept. 20 hurricane. The move north spared them from the misery of the storm’s aftermath on the island. But the transition has often proved to be difficult, disruptive and expensive as people try to find housing, jobs, schools and even furniture and clothes to start fresh in the mainland.

Melendez and her family shuffled between staying with relatives to a homeless shelter to a small hotel in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, forcing her to change schools for her three daughters in the middle of the semester. TO READ COMPLETE STORY, PLEASE SCROLL DOWN BELOW

Bruno Mars has a magical night at Grammys, winning 6 for 6

NEW YORK (AP) – Bruno Mars owned the Grammys with his R&B-inspired album “24K Magic,” winning all six awards he was nominated for at a show where hip-hop was expected to have a historical night.

Jay-Z, the leading nominee with eight, walked away empty handed Sunday – a year after his wife lost album of the year to Adele, causing fans and peers to criticize the Recording Academy for not properly rewarding Beyonce’s bold “Lemonade” project.

And though Kendrick Lamar won five awards, he lost in the top categories, marking another year where rappers were restricted to wins in the rap categories, instead of earning coveted prizes like album of the year.

Mars picked up album of the year for “24K Magic,” record of the year for the title track, and song of the year – shared with seven co-writers – for the No. 1 hit, “That’s What I Like.”

Jay-Z and Lamar could have become the first rapper to win song or record of the year, and the third rap-based act to win album of the year. TO READ COMPLETE STORY, PLEASE CLICK/TAP HERE

GOP senators: Trump needs to show restraint in Russia probe

WASHINGTON (AP) – Two Republican senators said Sunday that President Donald Trump would be wise to keep a public silence on an independent investigation into his 2016 campaign’s contacts with Russia in the wake of news reports that he sought to fire the special counsel.

The senators, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Susan Collins of Maine, also urged special counsel Robert Mueller to review whether Trump tried to fire him last June, an accusation the president has labeled “fake news.”

“Mueller is the best person to look at it,” said Graham, describing the allegation as grave if proved true. “I’m sure that there will be an investigation around whether or not President Trump did try to fire Mr. Mueller.”

Graham, co-sponsor of legislation that would protect Mueller from being fired without a legal basis, said he would be “glad to pass it tomorrow.” But he insisted that Mueller’s job appeared to be in no immediate danger, pointing to the political costs if Trump did remove him.

“It’s pretty clear to me that everybody in the White House knows it would be the end of President Trump’s presidency if he fired Mr. Mueller,” he said. TO READ COMPLETE STORY, PLEASE CLICK/TAP HERE

Jeff Sessions weathers turbulent year as attorney general

WASHINGTON (AP) – Jeff Sessions was in his office, looking unusually deflated. He had just received another public lashing from President Donald Trump.

Trump had browbeaten his attorney general for months after Sessions’ decision to step aside from the intensifying Russia investigation. Never mind that Sessions has proved fiercely devoted to his boss, carrying out Trump’s agenda while giving him credit every step of the way. Trump was unforgiving.

This attack came on an autumn day, and Sessions discussed it with a longtime friend and adviser who had stopped by to chat.

Sessions shrugged. “I do the best I can,” he said. Then he got back to work.

And, somewhat surprisingly, he’s still working. TO READ COMPLETE STORY, PLEASE CLICK/TAP HERE

Strong health sign-ups under Obamacare encourage Democrats

DENVER (AP) – Republicans on the campaign trail this year will be eager to tout the potential benefits of their tax cut plan.

Voters like Jeanine Limone Draut, a freelance technical writer in Denver, have something else in mind: health care.

Failed efforts by congressional Republicans last year to repeal former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act exposed not only deep divisions within the party but also revealed core benefits of the law that millions of Americans now take for granted. Draut is tired of the attacks and the uncertainty surrounding the law’s future.

“As a small business owner, it just wreaks havoc on how you do business,” Draut, an independent, said of the on-again, off-again repeal talk from Republicans. “I don’t know if either party has a solution. My vote is pretty closely tied to my livelihood.”

Both parties are paying attention, especially after a better-than-expected enrolment season under the health care law. Democrats especially have used health care to go on the attack, and the issue is coming up in congressional races in California, Colorado, Michigan, Washington and elsewhere. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll released Friday found health care as the top issue voters want congressional candidates to address. TO READ COMPLETE STORY, PLEASE SCROLL DOWN BELOW

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#MeToo movement starting to show generational divides

By David Crary And Tamara Lush

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Where there has been solidarity and safety in numbers in the #MeToo movement, there is now also an increasingly apparent generational divide. And it’s not just among women.

Compared to their elders, younger women are seen as generally more willing to speak out about being sexually harassed, and bring a new set of expectations to their sexual relationships. There are also generational differences in approach to dating relationships, and in expectations that, if spoken, their concerns about sexual misconduct would be received without repercussion.

Baby Boomer women “took it for granted they wouldn’t be heard” by men, especially in sexual situations, said Amy Lynch, a Nashville-based consultant who helps employers navigate generational relationships in the workplace. Millennial women – those in their 20s and 30s – are more likely to have grown up in environment supportive of gender equality, with the expectation – not always fulfilled – that they’ll be attentively listened to in those circumstances.

“I have sometimes joked that my generation is feminism’s Frankensteins,” said Courtney Martin, 38, an author and blogger. “Our mothers raised us to believe we deserved sexual equality, but now that we’re actually demanding it, it can seem overly entitled or sensitive to them.”

Debra Katz, a Washington lawyer specializing in cases of sexual harassment and sex discrimination, says younger women make up the bulk of clients bringing complaints to her firm.

“Women historically felt they would immediately lose their job if they came forward with sexual harassment complaints,” Katz said. “Among the younger generation, people are not suffering in silence… The advice they’re getting now is to come forward and report it.”

Generational differences surfaced in two highly publicized offshoots of the #MeToo movement earlier this month.

In France, there was a notable backlash – led by younger women – in response to an open letter signed by 74-year-old movie star Catherine Deneuve and dozens of other women about men being unfairly targeted by sexual misconduct allegations. Among those assailing Deneuve were feminist Caroline De Haas, 37, and France’s gender equality minister, 35-year-old Marlene Schiappa.

In the U.S., some perceived a generational gap in reaction to the detailed account by a woman identified as “Grace” of a sexual encounter with comedian Aziz Ansari that left her feeling disrespected and abused. Among older women, there were suggestions that Grace should have been more vocal and assertive in dealing with what amounted to a bad date. Among younger women, there was blame for Ansari and suggestions he had pressured Grace without heeding her words and body language.

Among millennial men such as Ansari – who is 34 – there’s a cultural contradiction at play, according to sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia.

“There’s a public embrace of more egalitarian, feminist sensibilities and ideas,” he said, but that often doesn’t carry over to their private approach to sexual encounters.

As for millennial women, Wilcox said, “there’s a tension between what they’re expecting in terms of men being more egalitarian, and then finding in private that things don’t match their expectations.”

At a crowded coffee shop in St. Petersburg, Florida, Lauren Caplinger, 20, said this moment in gender relations is an “overwhelming” and “ambiguous” time for both sexes.

“The set rules and lines, things that we thought were rules, are kind of dissipating, and everything is becoming blurry,” said Caplinger, a public relations major at the University of South Florida.

On one hand, she felt comfortable enough to go up to a guy at a club and offer to buy him a drink – something her mother chided her for – and on the other, is curious about some of the dating rituals of old that she’s heard her mother and grandmother talk about.

“I haven’t been picked up for a date in like, pfft, ever,” she said. “I’ve always wanted my way out in case I want to leave.”

A few seats away, Kelsey Stephenson, 28, discussed the differences she sees in how older and younger women view the #MeToo movement.

Older women look at the some of the troublesome incidents and assume, “that’s the way men are, and we had to deal with that,” Stephenson said. “Younger women have the vocabulary and tools to describe it… These are conversations that are uncomfortable but are important to get to a better place in society.”

Millennial women “think that men should be more in tune with the way a woman says things,” said Nicole Slaughter, 31, a freelance journalist. “The culture has changed so much, so quickly. We’re still feeling out where the line should be drawn on these kinds of behaviours.”

A former president of the National Organization for Women, Kim Gandy, is heartened by the increasing willingness of younger women to speak up about workplace harassment. She recalled working for a telephone company in Louisiana in the 1970s where a district manager remained on the job long after word spread among female employees about his predatory behaviour.

“There was an expectation of rotten behaviour being something that went with the territory,” Gandy said. “Today there would have been a much quicker response.”

Yet Gandy is cautious about predicting a generational sea change. She’s now CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, and says the age group of 18-to-24-year-olds has one of the highest levels of dating violence and domestic violence.

Jeremy Fischbach, 39, a New Orleans-based entrepreneur who has written about “redefining masculinity,” says he’d like to be hopeful about the future of gender relations, but sees a worrisome void on the male side.

“Who are the younger generation going to emulate and follow?” he asked. “Where are the good ideas and the good men? How do we get young men on that path, so they’re not bragging about how many women and girls they slept with, but how many they supported?”

Many Puerto Ricans adrift in US hotels after Hurricane Maria

By Claudia Torrens

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK – After they lost their home in Puerto Rico to flooding during Hurricane Maria, Enghie Melendez fled with her family to the U.S. mainland with three suitcases and the hope it wouldn’t take long to rebuild their lives. It hasn’t worked out that way.

More than four months later, the family of five is squeezed into two rooms in a hotel in Brooklyn. While her husband looks for work, they are stuck in limbo, eating off paper plates and stepping over clothes in cramped quarters as they try to get settled in an unfamiliar city.

“After the hurricane hit we told the kids that every day was going to be an adventure, but not like this,” said the 43-year-old Melendez. “This is turning out to be really hard.”

Around the U.S., many Puerto Ricans are similarly adrift in hotels because of the Sept. 20 hurricane. The move north spared them from the misery of the storm’s aftermath on the island. But the transition has often proved to be difficult, disruptive and expensive as people try to find housing, jobs, schools and even furniture and clothes to start fresh on the mainland.

Melendez and her family shuffled between staying with relatives to a homeless shelter to a small hotel in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, forcing her to change schools for her three daughters in the middle of the semester.

“The instability is terrible,” she said as her husband, who worked as a cook at an Army base near San Juan, used a glass bottle to mash plantains to make a traditional Puerto Rican dish.

Adding to the worries for large numbers of Puerto Ricans is that hotel reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency have started to run out and many say they can’t afford temporary housing without assistance.

“It’s stressful,” said Yalitza Rodriguez, a 35-year-old from the southern Puerto Rico town of Yauco who has been staying at a hotel in Queens with her elderly mother and husband while he looks for work. “If we don’t get an extension we will have nowhere to live.”

Maria destroyed between 70,000 and 75,000 homes and damaged an additional 300,000, said Leticia Jover, a spokeswoman for Puerto Rico’s Housing Department. The effects of the storm included the widespread loss of power, which is still not restored in some places. Many businesses closed. The result has been an exodus to the mainland.

The Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College estimated in an October study that between 114,000 and 213,000 Puerto Ricans would move to the U.S. mainland over the next 12 months. Most were expected to settle in Florida, followed by Pennsylvania, Texas and New York.

FEMA says there are nearly 4,000 families, more than 10,000 people, receiving hotel assistance from the agency in 42 states because their homes in Puerto Rico are too damaged to occupy. The agency has set March 20 as a deadline for the program to end overall but all cases are reviewed for eligibility every 30 days. It’s impossible to know how many are in temporary housing without any aid or staying with families.

Leslie Rivera, from the central town of Caguas, has been shuffling among hotels in Tampa, Florida, since December with her three kids, ages 13, 10 and 2. She was approved for subsidized housing and expects to be settled soon but it has been difficult.

“I feel like I am on the streets because I have no clothes. I have nothing for my kids,” the 35-year-old said with tears in her eyes.

Marytza Sanz, president of Latino Leadership Orlando, which has been helping displaced families, said many don’t know where they will go after FEMA stops paying for their rooms.

“There are people with five dollars in their pockets,” she said. “They can’t buy detergent, deodorant, medicine.”

In Kissimmee, in central Florida, Desiree Torres feels nervous. She has spent more than two months in a hotel with her three children. She says she can’t find a job and several local shelters have told her there is no space for her and her children.

“I can’t sleep at night,” said the 30-year-old Torres, who lost her home in Las Piedras, a southeastern town near where the eye of the storm first crossed the island. “I’m worried about my kids.”

After the hurricane, Melendez and her family were forced to sleep for more than three weeks in their garage because of flooding and sewage that entered the home. They left their four dogs with a friend and managed to get on a humanitarian flight. They spent 10 days at Melendez’s father-in-law’s Manhattan apartment and a month and a half in a Brooklyn shelter. A Puerto Rican activist helped them enter the hotel.

“My kids were in a Manhattan school. We would wake up before 5 a.m. at the shelter to take them there. Now they are in a Brooklyn school,” she said. “Where will they be tomorrow?”

For now, they survive on a $1,700 monthly disability payment that Melendez receives along with about $300 a month in food stamps.

Her 16-year-old daughter, Enghiemar, does her homework on the floor of the hotel room and tries to keep in touch with friends back home by text.

“I always wanted to come and live here,” she said. “But not like this.”

Associated Press writers Gisela Salomon in Miami and Tamara Lush in Tampa, Florida, contributed to this report.

Strong health sign-ups under Obamacare encourage Democrats

By James Anderson

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

DENVER – Republicans on the campaign trail this year will be eager to tout the potential benefits of their tax cut plan.

Voters like Jeanine Limone Draut, a freelance technical writer in Denver, have something else in mind: health care.

Failed efforts by congressional Republicans last year to repeal former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act exposed not only deep divisions within the party but also revealed core benefits of the law that millions of Americans now take for granted. Draut is tired of the attacks and the uncertainty surrounding the law’s future.

“As a small business owner, it just wreaks havoc on how you do business,” Draut, an independent, said of the on-again, off-again repeal talk from Republicans. “I don’t know if either party has a solution. My vote is pretty closely tied to my livelihood.”

Both parties are paying attention, especially after a better-than-expected enrolment season under the health care law. Democrats especially have used health care to go on the attack, and the issue is coming up in congressional races in California, Colorado, Michigan, Washington and elsewhere. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll released Friday found health care as the top issue voters want congressional candidates to address.

Enrolment was especially robust in many of the states that operate their own insurance marketplaces, where enrolment periods were longer than on the federal exchange and promotional budgets were beefed up. Strong sign-ups came despite Republican attacks against the law and President Donald Trump’s administration taking several steps to undermine it, including cutting the federal sign-up period in half and slashing advertising.

California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Maryland, New York, Vermont and other states with their own exchanges saw enrolment approach or surpass 2017 levels. Minnesota’s health insurance exchange set a record for private plans with an enrolment period that was more than two weeks shorter than in 2017.

California’s state exchange, the nation’s largest, has reported more than 1.2 million renewals for 2018 and an additional 342,000 new customers. Its 2018 enrolment period doesn’t end until Wednesday, as does New York’s.

Democrats say the level of consumer interest presents a political opportunity.

“We’re definitely making it an issue,” said Jason Crow, a Democrat who is challenging five-term Republican Congressman Mike Coffman in a suburban Denver district.

Crow has criticized Coffman’s vote for the GOP tax bill, which eliminated the tax penalty for people who don’t get health insurance. That move is expected to undermine the individual insurance market starting next year.

More than 22,000 people enrolled last year for coverage on the state exchange in Coffman’s district, which went for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

“People in our district recognize the progress we’ve made under health care. The fact that 20 million more people have health care matters – it matters a lot,” Crow said. “And under Trump, we are now moving in the opposite direction.”

Coffman encountered hoots and boos at town halls last year for his insistence that Obama’s health law be repealed, even though he eventually voted against the legislation. He insists that any replacement guarantee coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.

Coffman’s campaign manager, Tyler Sandberg, described the incumbent’s approach to health care as nuanced.

“His stance ultimately is about pre-existing conditions. It’s something everyone can relate to,” Sandberg said. “And if Democrats think they can hit him over the head with it, I think they’re going to be sorely mistaken.”

Democrats also are making health care a key part of their strategy in this year’s race to select a successor to Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. The Democrat last year worked with moderate Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, lobbying Congress in an unsuccessful attempt to maintain the requirement that all Americans have health insurance.

A Republican field that includes former Rep. Tom Tancredo and Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is focusing on roads, education, immigration and spending limits. The Democrats, including Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, a longtime health care executive, and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, have made protecting the state exchange a central campaign theme.

Safeguarding the Obama-era health care reforms is essential to Colorado voters such as Draut, 45, who said her state exchange policy gives her peace of mind that she’ll be covered if she becomes ill, and Caleb Jackson, a 27-year-old graduate student at the University of Colorado-Denver.

Under the Affordable Care Act, Jackson was covered until last year on his parents’ policy, which allowed him to receive a $200,000 bone marrow transplant that stabilized a debilitating neurological condition. Now treatment-free, he has taken advantage of the law’s Medicaid expansion while he pursues an advanced degree in public administration and urban planning.

He said he switched his voter registration from Republican to Democrat because of the GOP’s repeated attempts to repeal the law.

“At this point I couldn’t, in good conscience, vote for people who voted to repeal the ACA,” Jackson said. “I think it will come back to haunt them.”

Democrats began using health care as part of their congressional campaign strategy last fall. That’s when the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ran its first radio and cable TV ads of the 2018 election cycle. They were in 11 Republican-held congressional districts and asserted that a Republican-run federal government would keep trying to undo Obama’s overhaul: “They’ll never stop,” the ad said.

Democratic committee spokesman Tyler Law said health care is an issue that should help his party in races across the country.

Jesse Hunt, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said his party won’t run away from the health care debate, but the focus will be different. If Democrats take control of the federal government in the future, he said, they are likely to push for government-run, single-payer health care.

“It’s become the litmus-test issue for Democrats,” Hunt said.

In California, many Democratic candidates are unapologetic about their support for a single-payer system and say it’s time for the U.S. to follow the health care models in most other wealthy countries.

Among Republicans considered vulnerable in the state is Rep. Steve Knight, a former state lawmaker who has drawn criticism from progressive groups for his vote on the GOP health care bill. Knight’s 25th Congressional District stretches from the middle class suburbs north of Los Angeles to the high desert. An estimated 34 per cent of its residents rely on public health coverage.

He defended his vote, saying structural problems with the Affordable Care Act discourage people from buying insurance, which has driven up premiums and forced insurance companies to leave the marketplace.

Two leading Democratic contenders, attorney Bryan Caforio and Katie Hill, a former head of a non-profit helping the homeless, have made health care a top issue and support a universal health care system.

“We know that the ACA has been a dramatic improvement from where we were, but we still have a ways to go before we get to a health care system that works for everyone,” Hill said.

Associated Press writers Christina A. Cassidy in Atlanta and Geoff Mulvihill in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, contributed to this report.

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