What We're Reading: Top State Stories 10/30

NY: Five years after Hurricane Sandy, is New York City better prepared?

Five years after Hurricane Sandy struck, much of the New York City region’s inundated infrastructure has been repaired and some of it has been improved. But most of the big plans to stormproof New York City remain just that: plans. And throughout the planning, the city has continued to advance toward the water, with glass high-rises stretching across the riverfront in Queens, Brooklyn and the Far West Side of Manhattan.

MA: Massachusetts House speaker wants review of sexual harassment policies

Massachusetts House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, after meeting with his leadership team, will propose a comprehensive review of all House sexual harassment policies. DeLeo’s move comes shortly after a Boston Globe columnist reported a series of incidents of sexual harassment at the State House and amid a broader spate of stories about such behavior.

AZ: Arizona revenue down as state tax audits dwindle

Arizona has cut back on efforts to ensure taxpayers — especially businesses — pay what they owe. Revenue from audits fell from $155 million in 2016 to $80 million in 2017.

OH: Spotlight on Ohio firefighter cancer threat prompts call to action

Federal and state lawmakers, local officials and fire-service leaders reacted swiftly and strongly to a series in The Columbus Dispatch showing the high rate of cancer among Ohio firefighters, calling for specific action and developing a wish list to better protect firefighters.

OR, NC: Christmas tree prices up amid shortages in North Carolina, Oregon

Americans will pay more for pre-cut Christmas trees this year as shortages deepen from the country's top two producers, Oregon and North Carolina. Many growers got out of the business after the Great Recession. Oregon farms harvest the most trees in the United States, exporting them to places like Asia and California. Trees from North Carolina are generally shipped to states east of the Mississippi River. 

CA: Some tough choices — and pushback — along proposed route of California bullet train

Urban neighborhoods, protected wetlands, olive orchards, a federal reservoir and a few quiet towns will go by the passenger windows of the first California bullet train when it pulls out of San Jose on its way to the Central Valley. But before that inaugural journey planned for 2025, state officials — already facing financing and technical challenges — will have to deal with opposition from landowners and expensive mitigation demands from others along the way.

HI: Hawaii lawmakers search for way to collect taxes from Airbnb

Hawaii House and Senate leaders will convene an informal working group of lawmakers in the weeks ahead to develop a viable system for collecting hotel room taxes from Airbnb and other companies that market transient vacation units across the islands. Democratic Gov. David Ige last year vetoed a bill that would have authorized Airbnb to collect taxes on behalf of the state from vacation rental owners that market their units on the Airbnb platform.

AK: More households using food stamps, Medicaid in sluggish Alaska economy

The number of Alaska households using food stamps was up about 24 percent in September compared with the same time last year. About 44,000 households used the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, also known as food stamps, last month, compared with about 35,600 in September 2016, according to numbers from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

MN: Minnesota child care providers balk at fingerprinting their kids

A new Minnesota law requires that children ages 13 through 17 who live in a child care home must be fingerprinted and photographed. But some state legislators say it goes too far and want it repealed.

LA: Number of Louisiana opioid deaths revised, up 84 percent

Louisiana has for years been drastically undercounting the number of people who die with drugs like heroin in their bodies, but a new project at the state Department of Health aims to correct the tally. That initiative has already yielded a stunning 84 percent upward adjustment in the number of people who died in Louisiana last year, from 305 deaths to 561.

VT: Vermont lawmakers approve tighter sound rules on wind power

The rule will limit noise from large wind projects in Vermont to 42 dBA during the day and 39 dBA at night, as measured 100 feet from the residence of a homeowner who isn't participating in the project.

NH: New Hampshire Senate bill to impose rules on women receiving food stamps unanimously opposed by House committee

The bill, sponsored by several New Hampshire Republican senators, proposed new rules for administering the food stamp program, including requiring mothers on the program to cooperate with the state in establishing the paternity of dependent children and in enforcing child support orders.

IL: Chicago’s top cop calls for stronger regulation of Illinois gun dealers

Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson called on state lawmakers to approve legislation to more aggressively regulate gun dealers in Illinois, pointing to a newly released trove of data that shows many guns recovered by police in connection with crimes can be traced back to licensed gun stores in the Chicago area.

Michigan Governor Signs Volunteer Cyber Corps Bill Regulating Inflatables