What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/24

Top State Stories 1/24

NY: Lawmakers want New York to enforce net neutrality 

The recent decision by the Federal Communications Commission to deregulate the internet has prompted a group of New York lawmakers to seek measures that would cause internet service providers to lose their state government contracts for altering the speed or connections for various users. 

NV: Nevada tax proceeds from marijuana exceed expectations for another month 

Nevada brought in more than $5.5 million in revenue from marijuana sales in November, which includes a 15 percent wholesale tax fo both medical and recreational pot and a 10 percent excise tax on recreational weed sales. 

MN: Confusion, varying thresholds keep many Minnesota agencies from reporting hate crime data 

Data reviewed by the Star Tribune suggests ongoing inconsistency and confusion among Minnesota agencies about what constitutes a hate or bias crime. Victims, advocates and federal authorities say these varying standards, along with a general unwillingness among many victims to call police, means residents often have an inaccurate understanding of the prevalence of hate in their communities. 

KY: Kentucky Legislature goes silent for victims of school shooting 

Kentucky’s House of Representatives paused for a moment of silence and the Senate opened with a prayer for the victims of a shooting at Marshall County High School, which killed two 15-year-old children and wounded 17 other people. Though recent mass shootings have often resulted in immediate calls for gun control laws by some politicians, lawmakers in Frankfort mostly stuck to offering prayers. 

SC:  South Carolina lottery glitch could result in $35M in payouts, New Jersey firm to investigate 

South Carolina lottery officials said a computer glitch that made winners out of everyone who played a holiday game for two hours on Christmas Day could result in a more than $35 million prize payout — nearly double the initial estimate. 

WY: Second woman accuses Wyoming Secretary of State of sexual misconduct 

Facing a second accusation of sexual misconduct, Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Murray has said he won’t run for reelection or enter the governor’s race — where the Republican was widely predicted to be a front-runner. 

PA: Bill to trim about a quarter of Pennsylvania state House districts advances 

A move to let voters decide whether to cut about a quarter of the 203 districts in the Pennsylvania House passed a key hurdle, raising the prospect it could go before the electorate for final approval later this year. Pennsylvania has the largest full-time Legislature in the country, with a massive staff and budget to match. 

NJ: Governor moves to expand access to medical marijuana in New Jersey 

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy ordered a 60-day review of New Jersey's "constrained" medical marijuana program, saying he would consider allowing home delivery, purchases beyond the 2-ounce limit, and expanding the number of licensed dispensaries to improve patient access. 

NH: New Hampshire considers lowering drinking age to 20 

A New Hampshire bill would allow 20-year-olds to drink alcohol in private settings while still prohibiting them from buying it or consuming it in public until age 21. The federal government since 1984 has required states to set the legal drinking age at 21 in order to receive funding for highway repairs and other transportation projects. 

CA: How California lawmakers are preparing for more natural disasters 

In response to recent wildfires and other natural disasters in California, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and legislators want to change insurance rules, emergency alert systems and debris removal policies and spend more money on fire protection. California already has numerous laws designed to help people who have experienced natural disasters, including substantial relief from property taxes. 

IL: Legionnaire’s disease outbreak at Illinois Capitol 

Employees at the Illinois Capitol have been told to use just a “pencil-sized stream of water” to wash their hands after a test revealed the possible presence of the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease. It’s unclear how those washing their hands in bathrooms with automatic faucets should follow those guidelines, but faucet aerators are being disabled. The disease spreads through inhaled water vapor. 

WI: Wisconsin Senate votes to force out state Ethics and Elections leaders 

Wisconsin state Senate Republicans have voted on party lines to reject confirmation of the state’s top ethics and elections officials — which Republicans said will effectively fire them. Democrats decried the action as political score-settling that will hamper oversight of elections and public officials. 

AL: Alabama lawmakers join fight against asset seizure law 

Two Republican lawmakers in Alabama want to upend a decades-old system that allows law enforcement to seize cash, cars, houses and other property that they believe to be linked to a crime. Advocates for change believe the programs violate individual liberties and property rights and say that law enforcement officers’ ability to keep proceeds from the seizures heavily incentivizes officers to take assets. 

GA: Georgia’s bid for Amazon becomes a prime issue in governor’s race 

Georgia’s maneuvering for Amazon’s second headquarters — and the $1 billion or more in incentives it will likely require — has fast become a dividing line in the race for governor. Republican candidates are under pressure to reject the incentives. Democrats are using the opportunity to renew their opposition to “religious liberty” legislation that they say could irreparably damage the state’s chances.

Stricter Welfare Rules Net Neutrality