What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/20

PA: Supreme Court upholds Pennsylvania’s new congressional district map

The new congressional map imposed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will be used in the 2018 elections. Hours after a panel of federal judges dismissed a lawsuit challenging the map, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a separate request from top Republican state lawmakers that the court step in and block the map.

US: States fight Trump offshore drilling plan with local bans

States including New Jersey, New York, California, South Carolina and Rhode Island have introduced bills prohibiting any infrastructure related to offshore oil or gas production from being built in or crossing their state waters. The coastal states are responding to President Donald Trump’s plan to allow oil and gas drilling off most of the nation’s coastline.

MS: Mississippi imposes 15-week abortion ban — nation’s toughest

A new Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of gestation has already sparked a legal fight. The state’s lone abortion clinic has sued, and a federal judge has set a hearing to consider blocking the restrictions.

AZ: Arizona governor proposes more police, mental health services to prevent school shootings

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has proposed boosts to mental health services at Arizona schools, a greater law enforcement presence on school campuses, and fixing some, but not all, loopholes in background checks on gun sales in response to a mass shooting a month ago in Florida. 

TN: Federal judge dismisses Tennessee's lawsuit seeking to halt refugee resettlement

A federal judge has dismissed the state of Tennessee’s lawsuit accusing the U.S. government of unconstitutionally coercing it into subsidizing the federal refugee resettlement program. Tennessee accused the government of invading its sovereignty by requiring it to provide Medicaid benefits to refugees or risk losing Medicaid funds.

WA: Soft-drink makers push to ban local taxes on soda in Washington state

Soft drink companies are backing a statewide initiative to bar cities and counties from imposing their own taxes on sweetened beverages as well as other food and drinks typically sold in supermarkets. Currently, Seattle is the only community with a soda tax in Washington state.

MD: Maryland House approves overhaul of anti-harassment policy

A bill that would significantly overhaul how the Maryland General Assembly deals with allegations of sexual harassment passed the House of Delegates. It would allow alleged victims to request an independent investigator and mandate anti-harassment training for lobbyists and lawmakers.

DE: Delaware budget outlook improves by $101 million

Delaware's financial outlook for the coming fiscal year got markedly better, and at least some of the credit is owed to the federal tax cuts championed by President Donald Trump — a combined $101 million more than originally forecast. 

NE: Governor eases rules for Nebraska military spouses to teach

Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts has signed a rule change that will make it easier for military spouses to teach in Nebraska if they recently arrived from out of state. Ricketts hailed the rule as a way to lift a regulatory burden on spouses who want to work in the state.

GA: Georgia House votes to keep lottery winners’ identities secret upon request

Big lottery winners will be able to prevent their names from going public under a bill that passed the Georgia House. The legislation guarantees anonymity for anyone who wins more than $250,000 from the state lottery upon written request.

CO: Colorado social impact bond program has promising results

Over 250 homeless people who frequently use jails, detox and emergency departments have been given apartments through Denver’s social-impact bond program. About two years into the five-year program backed by private investors in the Colorado city, researchers have noted a drop in the number of days those people spent in jail.

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