Pawlenty joins in overhaul suit

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is stepping up his criticism of President Obama's health-care law with a federal court filing challenging its cost to states.

The potential 2012 GOP presidential candidate joined Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieri in Thursday's filing.

A judge in Florida ruled last month that parts of a lawsuit filed by 20 other states, including Pennsylvania, challenging the health-care overhaul could go to trial. The governors' filing seeks permission to submit a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the lawsuit.

The filing, written by a lawyer from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, says the governors are safeguarding their citizens from "federal abuse of the spending power." - AP

Executed Texan's guilt put in doubt

DALLAS - A DNA test on a single hair has cast doubt on the guilt of a Texas man put to death 10 years ago for a liquor-store murder - an execution that went forward after then-Gov. George W. Bush's staff failed to tell him the condemned man was asking for genetic analysis of the strand.

The hair had been the only piece of physical evidence linking Claude Jones to the crime scene. But the DNA analysis found it did not belong to Jones and may have come from the murder victim.

Barry Scheck, cofounder of the Innocence Project, which worked on Jones' case, said the findings mean the evidence was insufficient under Texas law to convict Jones.

Jones, 60, a career criminal who steadfastly denied killing the liquor-store owner, was executed by injection Dec. 7, 2000, in the middle of the recount dispute in Florida that ended with Bush elected president. As the execution drew near, Jones pressed the governor's office for permission to do a DNA test on the hair. But the briefing papers Bush was given by his staff didn't include that request, and Bush denied a reprieve, according to state documents. - AP

ACLU sues over gay soldier's pay

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the government on behalf of a gay former Air Force sergeant denied full separation pay after he was forced out under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Former Staff Sgt. Richard Collins says he wants only what is given to other veterans who leave involuntarily.

The Air Force paid Collins $12,351 instead of the expected $25,702 when he was honorably discharged in 2006 after nine years. Separation pay is granted to military personnel who served at least six years but were involuntarily discharged. But the Defense Department has a list of conditions that trigger an automatic reduction in that pay, including homosexuality or homosexual conduct. That policy took effect in 1991, two years before the enactment of "don't ask, don't tell."

The ACLU seeks full pay for Collins and others affected by the policy. A Pentagon spokeswoman said the department could not comment on pending litigation. - AP

Elsewhere:

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is calling a special session of the Legislature to take up a $6 billion deficit that emerged just weeks after he signed the state budget.