What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/15

MA: Massachusetts Legislature might drop ban on gun silencers

Massachusetts is one of eight states where silencers — or suppressors, as they’re known in the industry — are banned for civilian use. The Legislature’s public safety and homeland security committee is scheduled to discuss bills that would end the ban.

NE: Nebraska Public Service Commission will deliver decision on Keystone XL pipeline next Monday

Even if the route receives the green light from Nebraska, it could be months before construction begins because of promised lawsuits and uncertainty over the economic viability of the $8 billion project.

CA: All sexual harassment investigations in California Senate to be sent to outside attorneys

Until now, the California Senate Rules Committee has handled all human resources issues, similar to the process used by the state Assembly. High-ranking staffers in both houses oversee those efforts, though lawmakers are the ultimate judges of both improper behavior and the appropriate discipline.

HI: Hawaii need not identify Airbnb hosts

The proposed agreement that Democratic Gov. David Ige’s administration has been negotiating with Airbnb to collect taxes on vacation rentals would not allow Hawaii to disclose rental property owners’ names or rental locations to the city for enforcement purposes, according to an Airbnb representative.

NH: New Hampshire House committee rejects marijuana legalization bill

Opponents warned that full legalization in New Hampshire could add to the opioid crisis by encouraging drug use and put the state in direct conflict with federal law, which continues to classify marijuana as a prohibited drug.

DC: Mayor announces partnership to help D.C. employees, families become citizens

The District of Columbia plans to help up to 2,000 green-card holders who work for the D.C. government and their family members apply for U.S. citizenship, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser, a Democrat, said. The city is joining with the National Immigration Forum to provide information sessions, legal help, assistance finding language classes and coaching for the citizenship test. D.C. is the eighth city to participate in the program, joining Los Angeles, Houston, Miami and others.

SC: Judge sides with South Carolina news media in fight over Republican caucus records

A judge has refused a request by South Carolina House Republicans to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a coalition of news outlets challenging the party's caucus contention it has a constitutional right to ban public access to its meetings and records.

TX: ‘Mass exodus’ of Texas prison guards leaves some units understaffed

Texas prisons are shedding officers with a staggering 28 percent turnover rate in the last fiscal year, a "mass exodus" that some experts say stems from a strengthening economy and recovering oil and gas sector.

IA: Iowa legislators promise to revisit policy on retroactive Medicaid

A bipartisan group of legislators expressed concern over a new law that will reduce coverage for thousands of new Medicaid beneficiaries in Iowa.

PA: State authority approves borrowing against Pennsylvania tobacco settlement funds

Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Financing Authority voted to approve borrowing up to $1.5 billion against future revenues from the 1998 multi-state tobacco settlement to cover a deficit from the 2016-17 fiscal year. The borrowing means that a significant portion of Pennsylvania's annual payment could be diverted from the health and research programs it has traditionally supported.

NJ: New Jersey approves tax break for Mars candy maker to bring 483 jobs to Newark

The state Economic Development Authority approved a 10-year, $31 million tax enticement to the Mars candy company that would bring 483 jobs to Newark, including 113 new jobs for New Jersey. The candy maker is planning to expand in either New Jersey or Illinois, where it already operates regional facilities.

MT: Montana Legislature outlines plan to plug budget gap

In a special session to solve a $227 million budget gap, Republican lawmakers proposed furloughs for state employees, cuts to health insurance subsidies, a halt to new gender designation on birth certificates, and setting up the state to accept a $30 million bailout from Montana's only private prison. The proposals contrast with Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock's plans to solve the crisis with temporary tax increases and budget cuts.

Voting Rights Statehouse Sexual Harassment