What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/18

HI: Hawaii has long way to go to reach nuclear missile preparedness

While the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency has issued guidance on what to do during an attack, it hasn’t explained what the plans are in the weeks after an attack, when the state could be facing as many as 143,000 dead and 168,000 injured. The focus so far, at least publicly, has been on education and preparation for the nuclear blast and immediate fallout.

SD: South Dakota lawmakers train to avoid sex harassment, some lament effort as unnecessary

South Dakota lawmakers underwent training aimed at helping them understand and prevent sexual harassment in the Statehouse. The effort comes after an Argus Leader investigation found that dozens of women had experienced or witnessed harassment in the Capitol.

VA: Virginia Senate Republicans stop bill to give localities power to move Confederate monuments

Virginia Senate Republicans indicated they aren't going to let localities in Virginia decide whether they want to move or take down Confederate monuments. So far, they've rejected one bill along party lines. A similar bill is pending in the House.

DE: Delaware's transgender students: Separate but equal?

A proposed statewide anti-discrimination regulation, designed to protect transgender students and other vulnerable groups, has touched off an explosive debate in Delaware that threatens to derail the policy's implementation. The conflict pits Democrats against 14 House Republicans, conservative Christians against LGBTQ advocates, and parents against school superintendents.

IN: Indiana Senate panel kills cold beer bill while Sunday alcohol sales gains momentum

An Indiana Senate committee has voted down a bill that would have expanded the sale of cold beer to grocery and convenience stores, but a House panel advanced a separate bill promoting Sunday alcohol sales. With a few exceptions, current Indiana law allows only liquor stores to sell cold beer for carryout. Indiana is the last state to regulate the sale of beer by temperature.

OR: Oregon drops field tests amid fear of police exposure to deadly fentanyl

Oregon State Police have abandoned a long-standing practice of spot-testing drugs found during traffic stops out of fear that troopers may be exposed to the synthetic painkiller fentanyl. The move comes as police nationwide, including in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, shift away from field-testing drugs due to a rise in fentanyl trafficking and concerns about police safety.

CT: Connecticut Supreme Court rules education in poor districts meet constitutional standards

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that the state is providing students in the most impoverished school districts with the minimally adequate education the constitution mandates. The 4-3 decision probably draws a close to a 12-year legal saga in which school officials and parents teamed up to sue the state, alleging it is not providing enough funding for the state’s poorest districts.

CO: Colorado legislator faces third sexual harassment complaint

A former legislative aide has filed a formal complaint against Colorado state Rep. Steve Lebsock alleging sexual harassment, the third leveled against the Democratic lawmaker and state treasurer candidate.

UT: Utah governor creates task force on teen suicide

Utah’s Republican Gov. Gary Herbert has formed a task force to address a troubling increase of teen suicides in the state. The rate of suicides among young people aged 10-17 more than doubled from 2011 to 2015.

NE: New Nebraska prison policy will offer free tampons, lower prices on other hygiene products

Women in Nebraska prisons will get easier access to feminine hygiene products under a policy change announced by the state Department of Correctional Services. Under the new policy, women will be able to get generic tampons and pads for free and will be able to buy brand-name products at cost in prison canteens.

WA: Bump stock ban passes Washington state Senate committee

Washington state would ban certain trigger devices that allow semi-automatic rifles to fire more rapidly under a bill approved by a Senate panel. The devices, known as bump stocks or bump-fire stocks, were used in the Las Vegas mass shooting to increase the firing rate of some rifles used by the shooter.

TX: Texas AG says it’s illegal to use buses to drive kids to polling places

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an official, nonbinding opinion saying school districts cannot drive students to polling places unless the trip serves an educational purpose. State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, a Republican, asked Paxton to weigh in on the issue last month, arguing that a civic engagement group called Texas Educators Vote was violating state law.

PA: Pennsylvania governor taking steps to expand who gets overtime pay

Stymied by Republicans in his effort to pass a law raising the minimum wage, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is moving to boost pay in Pennsylvania through another means — by making hundreds of thousands of additional salaried employees eligible for overtime pay.

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