What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/16
OR: Oregon homeless students at an all-time high
The number of homeless students in Oregon increased 5.6 percent in 2016-17 over the previous year, according to a new count. The increase to 22,541 students without a permanent home of their own represents four solid years of growth in such students — and the continuation of more than a decade-long trend.
CO: Second Colorado lawmaker faces sexual harassment complaint
Colorado state Rep. Paul Rosenthal, a Democrat, allegedly groped a young man at a 2012 political event. Rosenthal, a 49-year-old teacher at a youth corrections facility, says he is “shocked” by the allegations and denied inappropriate touching.
MA: Massachusetts lawmakers approve bilingual education
The Massachusetts Legislature overwhelmingly approved a measure that would allow local schools to teach students in their native tongue. Massachusetts is one of the few states nationwide with a law that largely requires schools to teach students with language barriers only in English.
ND: Water use in North Dakota Oil Patch increased almost 20-fold in seven years
Water use for oil production in the Bakken oilfields increased almost 20-fold from 2008 to 2014, with water consumption climbing from 550 million gallons to 10,200 million gallons per year, according to North Dakota State University researchers.
UT: Utah lawmakers push to limit summer fireworks
Utah lawmakers are moving forward with a bill that would nearly cut in half the number of days state residents can ignite fireworks after cities reported calls from residents afraid of fires, annoyed with noise, and upset over air pollution around the state’s two July holidays — Independence Day and Pioneer Day.
WY: Wyoming could raise property taxes until energy industry recovers
A bill considered by Wyoming’s Interim Joint Revenue Committee would raise the taxable value of residential and commercial property by 2 percent for five years or until tax collections from minerals recover to pre-bust levels, whichever is first. The increases could generate about $284 million over the coming two-year budget cycle.
NM: New Mexico farmers seek truce in border water wars with Texas
Farmers in southern New Mexico, water policy experts, lawyers and others all are working behind the scenes to craft possible solutions that could help to end a lengthy battle with Texas over management of the Rio Grande.
TN: Tennessee lawmakers blast corrections agency over private prisons
In a rare procedural rebuke, state lawmakers delayed reauthorizing the Tennessee Department of Correction amid concerns highlighted in a recently released audit of the state’s largest, privately run prison, the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center, operated by CoreCivic, previously known as Corrections Corporation of America.
TX: Texas DOT wants to use accounting trick to circumvent ban on toll roads
A state lawmaker has asked the attorney general to weigh in on whether the state's transportation agency can use voter-approved funds to rebuild or expand highways that will also include toll lanes alongside them. The landslide support of two highway funding propositions came in part because the state touted the fact that the money would be constitutionally forbidden from being spent on toll lanes.
MT: Special session ends with Montana budget fix
A special session of the Montana Legislature called to address a $277 million budget shortfall has adjourned. State employees will be furloughed, schools will lose $13 million and a private prison operator will contribute $32 million in exchange for a contract extension, among other measures.
AL: Another Moore accuser from Alabama: ‘He didn’t pinch it; he grabbed it’
A Gadsden, Alabama, woman says Roy Moore groped her while she was in his law office on legal business with her mother in 1991. Moore was married at that time. In the past week, Moore, a Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate and former district attorney, has been accused by several other women of a range of behaviors that include sexual misconduct with a woman when she was 14, and sexual assault of another when she was 16. This is the first public accusation of physical contact that happened after Moore was married.
FL: Bethune statue at U.S. Capitol gets Florida lawmakers’ support
A statue of civil-rights leader and educator Mary McLeod Bethune is getting support in both chambers of the Florida Legislature as a replacement for a Confederate general who has long represented Florida in the U.S. Capitol.
AZ: Mexico seizes drug-launching bazooka near Arizona border
Mexican soldiers seized a handmade bazooka they say was used to launch packages containing drugs over the border fence into Douglas, Arizona. The device was mounted inside a van in Sonora, Mexico.