What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/30

Top State Stories 11/30

TX: How Texas curtailed traditional welfare without ending poverty 

Although poverty rates have remained consistent, Texas has significantly reduced the traditional welfare it provides to poor Texans through cash assistance over the last two decades. 

IA: Iowa's prison chief worries over spike in state's violent crime data 

Iowa is one of only two states nationally that has had increases in arrests in all four main categories of violent crimes over the past decade, which represents a troubling trend, the state's top prison administrator said Wednesday. 

NY: New York assemblyman is disciplined for sexual harassment 

A member of the New York Assembly was disciplined for sexual harassment after an investigation by the ethics committee found he had asked a female Assembly staff member for naked pictures. The sanctions include forbidding him to employ interns, and an official statement of admonition from the Assembly speaker. 

NJ, VA: Governors groups flooded New Jersey, Virginia races with cash 

The Democratic Governors Association and the Republican Governors Association put a combined $5.8 million into this year’s race for New Jersey governor, as outside groups nearly equaled the total spent by Republican Kim Guadagno and the victor, Democrat Phil Murphy. The associations spent a combined $15.8 million in the more competitive race for Virginia governor, which was won by Democrat Ralph Northam. 

PA: How many Pennsylvania bears did hunters kill in 2017? 

Hunters killed 1,796 bears in Pennsylvania's recent, four-day, firearms hunting season, down about 30 percent from the 2,579 killed last year. Driving rains, with fog and sleet in some areas, thwarted hunters on the first day of the firearms season and held down the overall harvest to the lowest in recent years. 

IL: Illinois ‘Obamacare’ enrollment much faster than last year 

Illinois consumers are snapping up “Obamacare” health insurance plans much faster than they did last year, despite continuing uncertainty over the Affordable Care Act. More than 95,000 Illinois residents selected Obamacare exchange plans during the first four weeks of open enrollment this year, compared with about 68,000 at about the same time last year, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. 

KS: Kansas nursing homes face soaring fines, citations 

Residents in nearly a third of Kansas nursing homes face possible harm or are in immediate jeopardy, according to citations issued this year – the fourth-highest percentage among all states. In Kansas, 30.3 percent of nursing facilities have citations for possible harm or immediate jeopardy so far in 2017. The national average is 13.4 percent. 

CO: Colorado grapples with jump in newborns going through opioid withdrawal 

The rise in Colorado newborns addicted to opioids has alarmed physicians and child advocates, jumping 83 percent from 2010 to 2015. The state’s rate climbed from 2 births out of 1,000 to 3.6 births in that five-year period. 

UT: Utah politicians share stories of sexual harassment 

Of course sexual harassment happens in Utah politics, say state lawmakers and members of Congress who represent the state. Thirteen leaders from around the state shared their stories of unwanted touching and kissing over the years with The Salt Lake Tribune

NM: Top New Mexico lawmakers plan to overhaul sexual harassment policy 

Top state lawmakers announced Wednesday that they plan to overhaul the New Mexico Legislature's policy on harassment by the end of January, outlining a framework for rewriting rules adopted nearly a decade ago. 

MD: Maryland’s top Democratic lawmakers want to ban ‘bump stocks’ for firearms

Maryland’s top legislative leaders are backing a proposal to expand the state’s automatic-weapons ban in 2018 by prohibiting the sale of bump stocks, a device used to accelerate the firing of semiautomatic weapons, including during last month’s Las Vegas mass shooting 

MI: Michigan House OKs tougher animal abuse penalties 

In a 90-15 vote, the Michigan House has approved a measure that would stiffen penalties against those who abuse animals. Supporters say domestic violence and abuse can sometimes involve a family pet as a way to exert control over a person who loves the animal. 

KY: Sexual harassment investigation in Kentucky House could cost taxpayers $50,000 

The Legislative Research Commission’s contract with a Louisville law firm to investigate sexual harassment in the state House of Representatives will cost Kentucky taxpayers up to $50,000. 

Child Support Scofflaws Foreclosure Starts