Maryland passed the nation's first statewide "living wage" law Tuesday. It requires state contractors to pay at least $8.50 an hour, $11.30 in urban areas.

Thirty-one states announced Tuesday they will create a Climate Registry to jointly track greenhouse-gas emissions by major industries and thus standardize measurements. "States are taking the lead in the absence of federal action," said Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D). Data collection will begin next January.

The Education Department announced Tuesday that the head of its student loan office is leaving her post. Theresa Shaw will step down as chief operating officer of the Federal Student Aid office, amid growing criticism that the agency has too many ties to the student-loan industry.

Firefighters had contained about half of a wildfire Wednesday morning in Griffith Park, a Los Angeles landmark with well-known sites such as the Greek Theatre and Observatory. The 600-acre blaze is thought to be the park's worst in 30 years. It is one of many ongoing fires in California, Minnesota, Florida, and Georgia.

Speaking at a biotechnology convention in Boston, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) proposed Tuesday that the state invest $1 billion in biotechnology and challenge California as a hub for stem-cell research.

Scientists announced a 10-year plan to publish online all available data about Earth's 1.8 million known species. The Encyclopedia of Life's first pages were shown Wednesday in Washington.

Tennessee carried out its third lethal injection since 2000 Wednesday, after the state Supreme Court rejected a defense request for more time to challenge the three-chemical procedure. Philip Workman was convicted of killing a police officer in 1981.

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