News briefs for the week of Sept. 7: Flying cars are up, up and away in New Hampshire; some legislative candidates tilt toward QAnon; and Nevada protects hospitality workers from the coronavirus.
New Hampshire: First in Flying Cars
Saving time between your plane landing and finding ground transportation has never been easier. At least in New Hampshire. In August, the state became the nation’s first to permit the operation of “roadable aircraft”—better known as flying cars.
If you imagine driver-pilots taking off from neighborhood streets to get to work or drop the kids at soccer practice, you’re getting ahead of yourself. New Hampshire’s “Jetsons Bill,” which the governor signed in August, requires that flying cars “take off and land from a suitable airstrip,” though they may be driven to and from those facilities on public roadways.
There are no flying cars ready for consumer production today, but several companies have models in the works. No surprise, they don’t come cheap. The AeroMobil likely will set you back roughly $1.2 million to $1.6 million, though the Terrafugia is a bargain by comparison at about $300,000.
The Granite State’s bill doesn’t spell out all the details of operating a flying car; rather, it establishes a commission “to study the on-road usage of non-traditional motor vehicles.” That group, which will include lawmakers from both chambers and numerous executive branch officials, presumably will address some of the more obvious questions: How will operators be trained and licensed? Are there limits to flying altitude? Do driver-pilots file flight plans?
Not quite a plane, not really a car, these drivable airships are in a regulatory gray zone. New Hampshire requires a valid aircraft registration and an annual aircraft inspection, and operators must pay a $2,000 municipal permit fee to the town where they live. But, on the positive side, no DMV—flying cars are exempt from motor vehicle inspections.
Dozens of Legislative Candidates Express QAnon Sympathies
Some two dozen candidates in more than a dozen state legislative races have expressed some level of support or interest in QAnon, The Associated Press reports. The AP’s statehouse reporters researched the state races in a partnership that includes the nonprofit group Media Matters for America. The groups stress that their numbers are rough estimates.
The candidates who have expressed interest in QAnon, based on their social media activity, make up a fraction of the thousands of state legislative candidates on the fall ballot, the AP reports. But a few are running in competitive districts in Arizona, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Most of the candidates the AP identified as having some history of posting about QAnon are Republicans, though some are independent or third-party candidates.
The QAnon conspiracy theory, which involves unfounded claims that President Donald Trump is battling against child sex traffickers and enemies in the “deep state,” gained mainstream attention after Marjorie Taylor Greene won the Republican primary for a U.S. House seat in a heavily GOP Georgia district last month. Greene was invited to attend Trump’s acceptance speech at the White House during the Republican National Convention.
Nevada Enacts Nation’s First COVID-19 Worker Protection Bill
Among Nevada lawmakers’ final acts during their special session this summer was passage of a bill that both protects hospitality industry workers from COVID-19 and shields most businesses in the state from “frivolous lawsuits” related to the virus.
Governor Steve Sisolak (D) signed the measure, known as the “Adolfo Fernandez Bill” after a hospitality worker who died from the virus, in August. The bill requires daily temperature screenings of employees, notification within 24 hours to employees found to have been in contact with an employee or customer who tested positive for COVID-19, and stops employers from requiring that employees with COVID-19 symptoms return to work while awaiting test results. It also requires employers to give employees who test positive 14 days off and pay them for 10 of them.
The bill provides legal protection to many businesses, nonprofits and governmental entities that have “substantially complied with controlling health standards.” To qualify for the protections, employers must follow government health and safety standards meant to prevent the spread of the virus.
Supporters say the bill’s focus on hospitality workers is necessary to protect the gaming industry, which is vital to the state’s economy. Critics point out that the law’s protections don’t extend to schools, hospitals and other health services.
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