What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/10

Top State Stories 1/10

NC: North Carolina congressional map ruled unconstitutionally gerrymandered

A panel of federal judges struck down North Carolina’s congressional map, condemning it as unconstitutional because Republicans had drawn the map seeking a political advantage. The ruling was the first time that a federal court had blocked a congressional map because of a partisan gerrymander, and it instantly endangered Republican seats in the coming elections.

AK: Alaska releases first detailed report on negative health impacts of climate change

The potential health implications of climate change in Alaska include new diseases; an increase in accidents; an increase in anxiety and depression; a worsening allergy season; and increasingly dangerous hunting and harvesting conditions limiting subsistence activity, according to the state Division of Public Health. Over the past century, air and water temperatures have warmed faster in Alaska than in the rest of the country.

NH: New Hampshire House gives initial OK to marijuana bill

New Hampshire lawmakers took a step toward legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, even though a commission studying the issue is months away from finishing its work. The House gave preliminary approval to a bill that would allow adults to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and to cultivate it in limited quantities.

VA: Thousands of Virginians may have voted in the wrong state House districts

In a statewide analysis, The Washington Post found addresses of about 6,000 registered Virginia voters that appear to lie outside a map of the assigned House district. If their turnout tracked the state average, more than 2,800 mistaken state House votes could have been cast in November.

NJ: Boastful and unabashed, New Jersey governor gives final State of the State address

In a speech that was boastful and reminiscent, Gov. Chris Christie delivered his final State of the State address, capping a tumultuous eight-year tenure as the Republican governor of New Jersey marked by soaring highs, brought by reforms and a tough-talking style, and historic lows, from scandal and a failed presidential bid.

SD: South Dakota legislative group to reconsider sexual harassment rules with focus on lobbyists

South Dakota lawmakers are re-opening conversations about their rules regarding harassment with a focus on investigating lobbyists who engage in offensive behaviors. The move was prompted by a request to expand protections against lobbyists and require lawmakers who witness or learn of harassment to report it.

TN: U.S. appeals court upholds Tennessee anti-abortion vote

A federal appeals court upheld the validity of a 2014 Tennessee ballot measure that removed the right to an abortion from the state constitution. The decision, which overturned a lower court ruling ordering a recount, may encourage the adoption of tighter abortion restrictions in the state.

MT: Some public assistance offices to close due to Montana’s budget crisis

By the end of the month more than half of Montana's public assistance offices, which help low-income people get food stamps, health care and other benefits, will permanently close because of state budget cuts.

HI: Hawaii tax collections forecast to rise

Economic experts in charge of forecasting Hawaii’s tax collections say the state’s revenue will grow at a slightly higher rate than expected, citing in part an anticipated stimulus effect from the Republicans’ federal tax cuts. The state Council on Revenues revised its year-over-year growth prediction for the current fiscal year to 4.5 percent growth from 4.3 percent, which would give the state roughly $13 million to $14 million more in collections.

MD: Maryland General Assembly to create panel to examine harassment issues

Maryland’s top lawmakers will form a commission to strengthen the General Assembly’s policy on sexual harassment, examining ways to prevent misconduct and how best to handle complaints.

CA: California State University turns away more students than ever before

California State University turned away more qualified applicants than ever last year — 1 in 10 students, or 31,000 people — even though the state’s Master Plan for Higher Education says they should be admitted. Only six of the 23 CSU campuses have enough room to accommodate all qualified freshmen, while just seven can take all qualified transfer students.

PA: Pennsylvania governor to declare state emergency on opioid epidemic

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s declaration will make Pennsylvania the eighth state to take such a step. The declaration could open the door to policy changes sought by officials and drug-prevention organizations in the state’s hardest-hit areas — such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh — including allowing medics to leave behind a life-saving drug with people who have overdosed but are reluctant to enter treatment.

NV: After federal move on marijuana, Nevada city puts lounge plan on hold

Las Vegas’ plan to be the first major U.S. city to develop and open lounges for marijuana consumption is in limbo in the wake of a recent federal move to roll back guidelines that shielded legal marijuana users, growers and distributors from prosecution. The Nevada city originally planned to open the lounges in March or April of this year.

Legalizing Marijuana Ivory Sales