What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 1/21

US: U.S. illegal immigrant population falls below 11 million

The illegal immigrant population in the U.S. has fallen below 11 million, continuing a nearly decade-long decline, according to a new study. The total undocumented immigrant population of 10.9 million is the lowest since 2003.

KS: U.S. Supreme Court overrules Kansas Supreme Court in death penalty case

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Kansas officials seeking to reinstate the death penalty for two brothers convicted in a crime spree known as the “Wichita massacre.” The high court said the Kansas Supreme Court was wrong to overturn the death sentences, a ruling that helped spark a call to change how Kansas Supreme Court justices are chosen.

AZ: Arizona Regents vote to oppose guns-on-campus bill

Three months after a Northern Arizona University student was killed and three others wounded in a campus shooting, the Arizona Board of Regents is taking a stand against a bill that would allow students to carry concealed weapons on campuses statewide.

LA: Draft rules would legalize short-term rentals in New Orleans

Airbnb-style operations, currently banned in most New Orleans neighborhoods, would be legalized citywide. The rules, which must be approved by the city council, would place almost no restrictions on “shotgun doubles” where the owner lives in one half and rents out the other.

UT: Utah-made roadster’s ban from auto show reignites debate on dealer laws

A Utah County company that makes high-end three-wheeled roadsters was banned from the Utah International Auto Expo last weekend, bringing to a head the boiling dispute over state laws requiring cars to be sold by franchised dealerships.

VA: Committee kills Virginia gun control proposals

A Virginia Senate panel abandoned a package of gun control bills, while advancing gun-rights measures. One of the proposals would have allowed authorities to take guns away from people considered at risk for hurting themselves or others.

OH: Ohio guidelines urge alternatives to prescribing opioid painkillers

New Ohio guidelines seek to deter the overprescribing of opioid painkillers by getting doctors to not prescribe them at all. An estimated 3 million Ohioans are prescribed opioids each year, which is leading to high rates of addiction and heroin abuse.

OR: Oregon governor asks for federal help on standoff

Democratic Gov. Kate Brown called on the federal government to help end a 19-day standoff at the Malheur National Wildfire Refuge, saying Oregon is spending $100,000 a week to handle the crisis and should get reimbursement and faster action to end it.

TX: Texas fights back against judge’s foster care reforms

Last month, a federal judge ordered Texas to appoint a special master to clean up a foster care system that subjected children to “years of abuse [and] neglect,” violating their civil rights. But the state is appealing the ruling, calling it a “misguided federal takeover of the Texas foster care system.”

SC: South Carolina governor asks lawmakers to focus on K-12

During her State of the State address, Republican Gov. Nikki Haley asked South Carolina lawmakers to put more attention on fixing K-12 schools, rather than spending more money on the state’s colleges.

MN: Minnesota aims to better protect abuse victims

The Minnesota Judicial Branch has completed implementing a new statewide initiative aimed at improving safety for domestic violence victims and enhancing enforcement of protective orders.

CO: Legislation would replace Columbus Day state holiday in Colorado

Colorado’s Columbus Day state holiday could soon be history. State Rep. Joe Salazar, a Democrat from Thornton, is offering legislation to change the name of the holiday to Indigenous Peoples' Day.

VT: Vermont bills would ban industrial wind projects

Bills introduced in the Vermont House and Senate would ban any wind energy project with a capacity of 500 kilowatts or more. Backers of the bills cited the impact on the environment as well as the preservation of Vermont’s scenic resources. Small, individual windmills would be allowed.

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