What We're Reading: Top State Stories 12/11

US: For female lobbyists, harassment often accompanies access to statehouses

Female lobbyists have emerged as especially vulnerable in state legislatures and in Congress because, unlike government employees, they often have no avenue to report complaints and receive due process. Lobbyists who have been harassed are essentially powerless in their workplaces, all-dependent on access to mostly male lawmakers for meetings and influence to advance legislation and earn their living.

MD: Supreme Court agrees to hear Maryland redistricting case

The Supreme Court said it will hear a challenge to Maryland’s congressional districts brought by seven Republican voters who say the state’s 2011 redistricting violated their First Amendment rights. The voters’ case relies on a novel argument: that the redistricting amounted to retaliation against them because of how they voted.

NE, NV: Nebraska, Nevada want to use opioids for executions

With states struggling to obtain the drugs they have long used to carry out the death penalty, Nevada and Nebraska want to use the synthetic painkiller fentanyl to execute prisoners on death row.

CA: Thousands of California state workers face criminal background checks

Thousands of California workers at nine state departments will undergo criminal background checks that could cause them to lose their jobs, according to notices sent to labor unions. The reviews are intended to bring California in compliance with Internal Revenue Service guidelines for contractors and public employees with access to federal taxpayer information.

OK: Oklahoma governor issues executive order to crack down on sexual harassment

Republican Gov. Mary Fallin issued an executive order instructing Oklahoma officials and agency directors to be proactive in training their employees about inappropriate behavior and prohibiting employees from engaging in such behavior.

TX: Investigation shows Harvey’s hit to Texas a result of 50 years of decisions 

A Houston Chronicle investigation shows how Hurricane Harvey was both a natural and man-made disaster, and how decades of policy in Texas and Washington laid the groundwork.

NY: For New York’s homeless children, negative effects don’t end when they move into a new home

Formerly homeless students in New York continue to struggle in school for years, scoring as poorly on state tests as their peers with no place to live, a new study finds.

IA: 2020 Iowa caucuses could include absentee voting, public vote totals

Iowa’s first-in-the-nation Democratic presidential caucuses could break with decades of tradition in 2020 by allowing voters to cast absentee ballots and then releasing the raw total of votes won by each candidate under changes proposed by party officials.

ME: The changing face of Maine's classrooms

Maine's funding for English Language Learners — or ELL students — has almost tripled in the last dozen years, according to the Maine Department of Education, as waves of new immigrants have moved to the state.

AK: Alaska’s economy is still struggling, but the worst may have passed

About two years into Alaska's recession, almost every industry continues to lose jobs, according to preliminary job estimates from the Alaska department of labor. But the state's year-to-year job losses have gradually slowed this year, and some economists believe the worst may have passed.

CT: Connecticut population slowing, but cities could rebound

Population projections over the next couple of decades offer good and bad news for Connecticut: Millennials are avoiding having babies, slowing overall growth, but the state’s beleaguered cites are expected to rebound.

FL: Florida senators push for criminal justice reform

An aging inmate population with higher medical costs and state sentencing laws that keep convicts in prison for longer periods are driving up Florida’s cost for imprisoning nearly 100,000 inmates — and prompting a bipartisan group of senators to propose bills designed to reduce sentences.

No Parking Opioid Prescribing