What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/20

US: Politics shorten Thanksgiving dinners, study finds 

It’s not just your family: Political disagreements are shortening Thanksgiving dinners across the United States. Politically divided families cut their Thanksgiving dinner short by 20 to 30 minutes in 2016, according to a draft paper by economists from Washington State University and the University of California at Los Angeles. 

FL: Florida let hepatitis C go untreated in prisons. Now it may cost taxpayers millions 

The state of Florida may have to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in treatment costs to as many as 20,000 sick inmates after a federal judge ruled that prison officials had failed to properly care for felons infected with the hepatitis C virus. 

PA: Pennsylvania Turnpike prepares cases against toll evaders 

For the first time, the Pennsylvania Turnpike is working with a half dozen district attorneys across the state to prepare criminal cases for theft of services against some of the drivers who blow through the turnpike’s cashless E-ZPass lanes without a transponder linked to a credit card for payment. 

TX: Fights, abuse, drugs: Texas juvenile lockup on verge of crisis, reports show 

Texas’ Gainesville State School for delinquent juveniles has been on the verge of crisis for more than a year, according to interviews and hundreds of pages of documents obtained by The Dallas Morning News. The youths — and staff who are supposed to protect them — are often abused and victimized. 

NY: New York offering free admission at state parks on Black Friday 

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New York’s state parks will have free admission on the day after Thanksgiving and will host various family-friendly events and programs throughout the holiday weekend. 

OK: Oklahoma cities, counties profiting off judgments against officials 

Oklahoma city and county governmental bodies are making hundreds of thousands of dollars in profits off the improper acts of their employees and elected officials — with local taxpayers being forced to pick up the tab. They've done it by purchasing the right to collect on court judgments rendered against them in cases where local elected officials or government employees were accused of wrongdoing. 

MO: Missouri moves to cut low-income housing tax credit 

In a move to save money, Gov. Eric Greitens, a Republican, and other members of a Missouri commission voted against giving out $140 million in state low-income housing tax credits to subsidize places to live in poor areas of the state. The vote is not final. A second vote is scheduled for December and the Legislature eventually will have to weigh in. 

MA: National group wants Massachusetts to share poaching records 

The Humane Society of the United States is backing legislation that would bring Massachusetts into the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact. At least 45 states have joined the reciprocal agreement, which allows them to deny licenses to hunters who violate the law in other jurisdictions. 

NH: Sexual harassment at the New Hampshire Statehouse? Opinions differ widely 

Barring legal action, the 424 members of the New Hampshire Legislature are only answerable to their peers and their constituents when it comes to allegations of sexual harassment, and that’s if they find out about it. Details of complaints against state employees are kept under wraps by a broad exemption to the state’s right-to-know law, which covers “records pertaining to personnel practices,” according to the state attorney general’s office. 

NM: New Mexico population growth at historic low 

With fewer births, more deaths and nearly no migration into New Mexico at a time when young people are seeking opportunities elsewhere, the state is in the midst of its slowest population growth since statehood — and that is not likely to change. 

MN: Gun-related cases running at 20-year highs in Minnesota 

In 2015 and 2016, Minnesota prosecutors statewide received about 1,200 gun-related cases each year from police, according to a report from the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission. Lawmakers recently toughened the penalties for illegal possession, extending the law to bullets. 

CA: California has a message for state’s legal pot industry: Pay your taxes 

California’s shift to legal sales of marijuana for recreational use hits a milestone this week when the state begins issuing tax permits to marijuana distributors. State regulators estimate the California market could eventually generate $1 billion in taxes and fees annually. But the industry has resisted handing over its share of profits to the state treasury, and the pressure is on to reduce delinquencies and force scofflaws to pay up. 

IA: Iowa Medicaid starts paying for mental crisis centers 

Iowa human services officials have opened a pipeline for Medicaid money to support informal mental-health crisis centers, shortly after a lack of Medicaid money contributed to the closure of a heralded southern-Iowa program.

Public Defenders Marijuana-Related Crimes