What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/22

  • January 22, 2018

HI: Hawaii governor knew within two minutes that missile alert was false 

staradvertiser.com 

Democratic Gov. David Ige was told last week’s missile alert was a false alarm just two minutes after the warning message was sent to cellphones across the state, the director of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency told lawmakers. But Ige’s office did not get a cancellation message out until 17 minutes after the warning alert. 

TX: Texas’ drinking water contamination is more pronounced in rural areas 

texastribune.org 

Dozens of small and rural utilities in the state have for years provided water that contains illegal levels of radiation, lead and arsenic. Lack of resources is largely to blame — but there's more to it than that. Some blame former President Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency. 

CA: California regulators approve long-awaited fire risk map 

sfchronicle.com 

The detailed map, which shows the risk of utility-related fires in different parts of California, will govern how electric companies maintain their equipment in the field. Stricter regulations — on inspection schedules and tree trimming around power lines — will apply in areas facing an elevated or extreme risk of wildfires. 

CO: Colorado transportation department considers designated highway lane for autonomous vehicles 

denverpost.com 

As part of a larger plan to ease congestion in the Denver area, Colorado Department of Transportation officials are considering eventually setting aside a highway lane for autonomous vehicles. Exactly how those vehicles would be integrated into traffic flow is still uncertain. 

UT: Utah lawmakers try to stave off Medicaid expansion, education funding ballot initiatives 

sltrib.com 

As Utah's 2018 Legislature convenes, state leaders acknowledge they want to undercut two ballot initiatives: one that seeks to raise taxes for education by $715 million annually, and one to expand Medicaid fully for the poor. 

AL: Bill to eliminate Alabama Senate special elections advances 

al.com 

A bill to eliminate special elections when there are vacancies in the U.S. Senate is in position for a vote in the Alabama House of Representatives this week. It comes in the wake of last year's bruising battle to fill the seat Jeff Sessions left to become attorney general, won by Democrat Doug Jones. 

MA: Massachusetts debates safe sites for drug users 

concordmonitor.com 

In Massachusetts, legislation has been filed that would let state health officials permit drug injection sites. Among those skeptical is Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, who said he doesn’t see the sites as gateways to treatment. 

OK: Reversal of immigration could stunt Oklahoma’s growth 

oklahoman.com 

One in five new residents to Oklahoma since 2000 was born outside the United States, making immigration a major part of the state's growth over the last two decades. White House efforts to slow immigration into the United States could have a powerfully negative impact on the state's economy. 

OR: Oregon struggles to staff prisons as retirements balloon 

statesmanjournal.com 

With a staff of 4,700, the Oregon Department of Corrections is struggling to attract new employees as almost one-fifth of its workforce becomes retirement eligible in 2018. Officials blame the improving economy. 

MN: Minnesota colleges to charge in-state tuition to hurricane victims 

twincities.com 

Minnesota's colleges and universities will offer in-state tuition rates to college students displaced by the hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The board of trustees is expected to approve the plan this week, joining schools in several other states. 

SD: South Dakota state employees to take more anti-harassment training 

argusleader.com 

South Dakota executive branch employees are set to take additional training to prevent harassment, Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard said. All executive branch employees are required to take the training by mid-February; about 60 percent have completed it. 

MS: Watchdog group finds errors with work on Mississippi prison food service 

clarionledger.com 

A private company is not meeting all the obligations under a food service contract with Mississippi prisons, according to a legislative watchdog group that looked at the work provided by the contractor. Since July 2016, the company has done food preparation and delivery for 22 prisons and regional jails in the state.

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