What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/5

ID: Idaho Senate passes bill to expand ‘stand your ground’ definition 

Idaho’s Senate approved legislation expanding the definition of justifiable homicide to include people defending a place of employment or an occupied vehicle. The bill would codify existing case law surrounding protections for a person who uses deadly force under a serious threat of harm. 

FL: Why Florida has so much trouble passing gun laws 

The Florida Senate shocked even itself when it voted to approve a two-year moratorium on sales of AR-15 semiautomatic rifles, going far beyond the gun-related measures that Republican legislative leaders said they would consider. Tellingly, though, that two-year moratorium lasted only 15 minutes. 

LA: Louisiana House kills sales tax bill 

Louisiana legislators look likely to give up on solving the state's budget crisis after their largest tax bill failed for a second time to get out of the Louisiana House. The Legislature did not make any progress toward closing the $994 million budget gap arriving July 1. 

OR: Oregon Legislature OKs $93M in additional spending 

Oregon lawmakers passed an omnibus budget bill to authorize a wide variety of mid-biennium spending, from paying 2017 wildfire fighting bills to establishing Democratic Gov. Kate Brown’s new Carbon Policy Office. The bill will allow the state to spend an additional $93 million by 2019 if Brown signs it into law. 

NM: New Mexico governor to sign anti-auto theft bill 

New Mexico Republican Gov. Susana Martinez said she plans to sign a bill meant to stop car thieves from selling to salvage yards; it would establish an electronic system to verify that recycled cars are not stolen. Albuquerque has the nation’s highest rate of car theft. 

RI: In Rhode Island, momentum builds for gun control legislation 

In the wake of the massacre at a Florida high school last month, even NRA-endorsed lawmakers agree that some action is warranted. Forty gun bills have been introduced in the Rhode Island state House and Senate, the vast majority by gun control advocates. Hearings on many are scheduled for this week. 

AL: Alabama fails to stop many with mental illness from buying guns 

A system that's supposed to keep guns out of the hands of people with dangerous mental illness misses thousands of people reported to local authorities for disturbing behavior in Alabama, despite efforts in recent years to tighten requirements. 

MI: Michigan House to explore arming teachers, red flag laws 

Michigan legislators and the governor’s office are roiling over two gun-control measures: arming trained teachers and removing guns from individuals with mental health symptoms. One bill that would permit teachers and staff to carry firearms is under development. “Red flag” legislation has been introduced and endorsed by the governor. 

TN: Tennessee senators complete sexual harassment training 

All 33 Tennessee state senators have watched a mandatory 16-minute sexual harassment training video. The video offered to senators and staffers was an alternative to an in-person training House members underwent in January. 

AK: Alaska’s monthly cannabis tax revenue topped $1 million for first time in January 

Alaska marijuana growers pay the state tax of $50 an ounce of cannabis bud, and $15 an ounce for other parts of the plant, like the trimmings of leaves and stems. A total of 1,061 pounds of marijuana, and 797 of trim, were sold wholesale in January. 

TX: Despite massive projects, thousands still live in Houston floodplains 

Massive, multimillion dollar flood control projects underway still will not be able to completely protect some Houston neighborhoods from so-called 100-year storms. The projections reflect the reality that truly protecting Houston against what many expect to be a growing natural threat is, at least for the near future, constrained by the limitations of public coffers and taxpayers’ willingness to pay. 

AZ: Snowpack shortage could cut Arizona water supplies in half 

Arizona water managers are struggling to deal with forecasts that predict water flows on the Colorado River will drop by half this year because snow failed to pile up in mountains at normal levels. State government and local water managers are debating whether to make normal water deliveries to Phoenix and Tucson or hold some back to prevent future shortages.

Foreign Trade Zones Guns at School