What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/29

WI: Wisconsin governor signs bill to crack down on the straw purchases of guns

Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation that will make it a felony to buy a gun with the intention of passing it on to someone who is barred from possessing a firearm. The bill would also require a minimum sentence of four years in prison for those who commit gun crimes if in the previous five years they had been convicted of a felony or three misdemeanors.

WA: New drug take-back law in Washington state said to be most comprehensive

After years of skirmishes, the most comprehensive statewide drug take-back program in the nation became law late last week in Washington state, potentially creating a new template for states to press the pharmaceutical industry to underwrite these efforts. The Washington law requires drugmakers to fully finance and operate the program.

MS: Mississippi attorney general investigates Facebook

Mississippi Republican Attorney General Jim Hood believes the social media network could have violated the Mississippi Consumer Protection Act by allegedly providing users' personal information to third parties without consumer consent or knowledge. Hood wrote a letter to the company asking them to preserve any relevant information.  

CA: California regulators target web ads for illegal pot shops

Weedmaps operates in over two dozen states, but the issue is coming to a head in California, which in January became the nation’s largest legal marketplace. State regulators last month warned Weedmaps to stop advertising shops operating outside the law. Company executives say the online directory doesn’t fall under state authority.

KS: Kansas to audit water park where boy died on slide

The Kansas Department of Labor said it will review reports from daily inspections of rides by park staff at the Schlitterbahn park in Kansas City, Kansas, before it is scheduled to reopen May 25 for its annual season. A state law enacted last year after Caleb Schwab’s death requires amusement parks to keep daily reports on their rides and to inspect them annually.

WA: ‘Lunch shaming’ banned in Washington state cafeterias

It is now against the law in Washington state to throw away a student’s lunch when the student can’t pay, a practice that some refer to as “lunch shaming.” Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill that bans schools from throwing out trays of food and forces schools to reach out to parents without burdening kids.

AZ: Emails show Arizona governor’s tight connection with Uber

Emails just released show that Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s staff worked closely with Uber as it began experimenting with autonomous vehicles, and that the company began testing on public roads in August 2016 without informing the public. The governor’s staff pushed back, saying Ducey’s embrace of Uber and autonomous vehicles was one of his administration’s most visible and public initiatives.

MA: United States investigating treatment of addicted prisoners in Massachusetts

The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating whether Massachusetts prison officials are violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by forcing incoming inmates who had been taking medications for addiction to stop the drugs once behind bars. Individuals receiving medication-assisted treatment for opioid-use disorder are protected by the ADA.

NV: Audit finds Nevada mishandled millions in federal crime victim grants

An audit released by the U.S. Department of Justice’s inspector general examined $45.6 million in grants awarded to Nevada over four years for rape treatment centers, domestic violence shelters, centers for missing children and other community-based victim coalitions. It concluded that the state’s process to distribute the grants was flawed.

LA: Louisiana Senate agrees to boost civil penalties for hazing deaths

People who file civil lawsuits in Louisiana when someone dies from hazing could be in line for higher penalty payments, under a bill that won easy passage from the state Senate. The proposal comes after the death of a Louisiana State University student allegedly subjected to a hazing ritual.

Foxconn and the Great Lakes Tuition Overtakes State Money as Funding Source for Public Colleges