What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/5

US: States with legal pot denounce federal marijuana crackdown

Lawmakers in U.S. states that have legalized marijuana criticized the Trump administration for canceling a policy that had kept federal prosecutors at bay, saying the move amounted to meddling in states’ affairs and ignored more pressing priorities like the opioid crisis.

IL: Illinois investigation shows secret lottery contract deal

A top staffer for the Illinois Lottery failed to disclose her relationships and contact with lobbyists for a firm that was bidding for a massive contract to manage the lottery, a state investigation has found. The lack of disclosure led the state’s top contract officer to suspend the contract with the British lottery firm Camelot, potentially worth at least $2 billion, according to records reviewed by the Chicago Tribune.

MT: Hope revived for second Montana congressional seat

If Montana's population keeps growing at the current pace, it could get a second congressional seat it lost 26 years ago. Montana leaders have argued for decades that by having only one House seat the state is underrepresented and that the size of the district — more than a 10-hour car ride east to west — is unworkable.

ID: Idaho farm spying ban held unconstitutional

Idaho's ban on spying at farms, dairies and slaughterhouses violated free speech rights, a federal appeals court ruled. A 2014 law made it a crime to surreptitiously record video of agriculture operations after the state's $2.5 billion dairy industry complained that videos of cows being abused at a dairy two years earlier unfairly hurt their businesses.

NE: Nebraska bill would exempt feminine hygiene products from tax

Nebraska taxes feminine hygiene products as a luxury good, though few women would tell you buying tampons is a luxury, but rather that they’re a necessity.

NY: New York’s new judges head to boot camp

Each new year, about 100 freshly sworn-in New York state judges get robe fittings, courthouse assignments, chambers and staff members as they prepare to take the bench. They also get sent to “Judge School,” a four-day judicial boot camp offered the first week in January to make judges out of lawyers accustomed to using their legal expertise to battle for clients.

PA: Pennsylvania regulators halt pipeline construction

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection halted construction of a shale pipeline near Philadelphia, dealing a major setback to a $2.5 billion energy infrastructure project that has been plagued by spills and contamination of private water wells. The agency cited several violations, including unauthorized drilling to install the pipeline and failure to notify the agency about spills.

IN: Cursive writing crusade begins again, becoming Indiana lawmaker's signature issue

For the seventh year in a row, an Indiana state senator has introduced a bill that would require elementary schools in the state to teach cursive handwriting.

FL: Proposed Florida law would require police to hold undocumented migrants if ICE requests it

A bill in the Florida Legislature to outlaw “sanctuary cities” would also force some sheriffs and jail workers to break with judicial precedent, opening cities and counties up to civil rights lawsuits.

NC: North Carolina says it doesn’t have the equipment to deal with new pollution threats

Top North Carolina public health officials said it’s still tough to tell exactly what levels of chemicals like the one called GenX should be considered safe in the state’s drinking water, and that they don’t have the equipment to identify potential emerging pollution threats.

MD: ‘Obamacare’ enrollment in Maryland fall just below last year's numbers

Marylanders enrolled in private health plans under “Obamacare” in almost the same numbers as last year, despite threats to the landmark law that made health insurance more accessible. Some had worried that an enrollment period that was about half as long as a year ago might mean far fewer people would buy plans, but that was not the case.

WV: West Virginia revenue collections break 59-month losing streak

For the first time in 59 months — since 2012 — West Virginia tax collection for December lacked one thing: red ink. The collection of $367.54 million topped estimates for the month by $16.8 million, or 5 percent.

CT: Medicare program fix adds red ink to Connecticut’s finances

To find some of the money to reverse cuts to a popular social services program that helps poor seniors and the disabled, the Connecticut Legislature is expected to raid $17.8 million owed to next fiscal year’s state budget — which already is at risk of a significant deficit.

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