What We're Reading: Top State Stories 12/4

Top State Stories 12/4

US: High court betting case pits states against sports leagues

New Jersey is leading the challenge against a 25-year-old federal law that prevents states from authorizing sports betting, with all four major U.S. professional sports leagues and the federal government on the other side. If the Supreme Court strikes down the law, dozens of states could quickly make sports betting legal. 

IA: Iowa House to require new sexual harassment training

Legislators and staff in the Iowa House will be required to undergo sexual harassment training before the start of the next legislative session. The move comes as officials grapple with the fallout of a sexual harassment and wrongful termination case that resulted in a $1.75 million settlement payment to a former Iowa Senate staffer. Previously, House members and staffers were required to sign a form saying they had read the sexual harassment policy.

FL: 100-plus proposals to change Florida Constitution affect taxes, schools, health

More than 100 proposals to change Florida’s Constitution — ranging from restoring convicts’ civil rights to a ban on “vaping” in public places — are being vetted by a powerful commission that only meets once every 20 years.

RI: Some Rhode Island teachers afraid to hug students under new law

When Providence's school district revised its policies to adhere to Rhode Island state law on reporting alleged child abuse, the system found unintended consequences: More teachers and principals have been placed on administrative leave, leaving some schools and classrooms temporarily short-handed.

US: To boost enlistments, U.S. Army relaxes its rules on marijuana

As more states lessen or eliminate marijuana penalties, the Army is granting hundreds of waivers to enlist people who used the drug in their youth — as long as they realize they can't do so again in the military.

NM: Sexual harassment widespread in New Mexico politics, some women say

At a time when allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault have been grabbing headlines across the nation, several women in New Mexico politics have been speaking up about their own experiences with harassment, groping and unwanted advances.

NY: Fewer people are contracting HIV, New York state officials say

For the second year in a row the number of new diagnoses of HIV infections in men who have sex with men dropped in New York state, and the number of new infections in the overall population also fell. The decline follows the adoption of new preventive drugs as well as crisis measures instituted by the state in 2014.

HI: Hawaii ramps up efforts to combat opioid addiction

Hawaii lawmakers are setting aside $200,000 annually to start a law enforcement diversion program that allows police officers to refer people suspected of low-level substance abuse crimes to social services agencies for treatment instead of arresting them. State officials also are working on a single, coordinated phone system that will make it easier to find appropriate treatment.

US: Charter schools put growing numbers in racial isolation

Charter schools are among the nation’s most segregated — an outcome at odds, critics say, with their goal of offering a better alternative to failing traditional public schools. As of school year 2014-2015, more than 1,000 of the nation’s 6,747 charter schools had minority enrollment of at least 99 percent, and the number has been rising steadily.

AK: More self-employed Alaskans are choosing faith-based health coverage

A growing number of Alaskans are opting out of the state's individual health care market, where premiums for people who don't qualify for subsidies are among the highest in the country, to join faith-based cooperatives. The Division of Insurance estimates that 10,000 Alaskans are now members of "sharing ministries" in which members directly pay a portion of one another's medical bills.

CO: Colorado bill would make truckers part of the fight against human trafficking

Colorado legislators may require all new commercial driver’s license candidates in the state to go through a course teaching them how to identify the signs of human trafficking.

IN: Effort to expand cold beer sales in Indiana fizzles in tight vote by legislative commission

A panel working to revise Indiana’s alcohol laws will not recommend allowing pharmacies, grocers and convenience stores to sell cold beer — something that has long been the well-protected province of liquor stores. 

SC: South Carolina attorney general's office: Laws missing state seal likely still valid

More than 100 South Carolina laws that didn't receive the constitutionally required seal after the Legislature passed them are likely still valid, the state attorney general's office said.

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