What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/6

PA: State crackdowns on toll road scofflaws include criminal charges

Drivers who routinely don’t pay tolls in Pennsylvania could be convicted of a felony. The state’s top 100 toll evaders each have more than $21,000 in unpaid tolls. Other states are withholding license plate renewals or publishing “shame and name” lists of toll evaders.

CA: Southern California city files lawsuit challenging state’s 'sanctuary' laws

Huntington Beach filed suit against California, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic Attorney General Xavier Becerra, challenging state "sanctuary" laws that provide expanded protection for illegal immigrants.  The laws, including one that prohibits state and local police agencies from notifying federal officials when they are about to release immigrants who may be subject to deportation, have sparked a wave of opposition in Orange County.

AZ: Arizona teachers consider strike for 20 percent raise

Arizona teachers have so far refrained from striking, but more than 1,800 schools have announced plans for a "walk-in" protest before school hours next week to demand a 20 percent raise and other concessions. If they went on strike, Arizona teachers would join similar protests in Oklahoma and Kentucky.

OH: Ohio governor signs bill closing domestic violence loophole

Victims of dating violence now have legal protections in Ohio after Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, signed a bipartisan bill closing what some said was a gaping loophole in Ohio’s domestic violence laws.

CO: Report finds sexual harassment widespread at Colorado Capitol 

An outside review of the climate at the Colorado General Assembly found that sexual harassment and misconduct are widespread and rarely reported — and that tougher policies are needed to hold lawmakers accountable.

TX: Teachers in other states are striking. Those in Texas can’t.

Texas state law says teachers could lose their teaching certificates and pensions if they go on strike.  In 2016, educators in the state earned roughly $6,500 below the national average for teacher pay.

LA: Louisiana senators back more DNA testing kit transparency

Louisiana senators want companies selling DNA testing kits, like 23andMe and AncestryDNA, to notify consumers that people using those kits lose control over genetic material they submit. The House next considers the bill.

KY: Kentucky governor vetoes bill allowing cities to phase in huge pension costs

Kentucky’s Republican governor, Matt Bevin, shocked public officials statewide when he vetoed a measure allowing cities, counties, school boards and other government bodies to phase in soaring pension costs, saying that a provision that allows some smaller entities to "buy out" of the public pension system is fiscally irresponsible.

CT: Connecticut committee passes recreational marijuana bill

The legislation calls for developing a plan for the legalization and regulation of cannabis. It also seeks to provide substance abuse treatment, prevention, education and awareness programs. It now goes to the full Connecticut General Assembly.

IA: Limits on drunk driving lawsuits passes Iowa Senate, heads to governor

Legislation that limits lawsuits against Iowa businesses serving alcoholic beverages to drunken drivers received final approval in the Iowa Senate amid heated remarks from lawmakers on both sides of the issue.

MD: Maryland legislature overrides two of governor’s vetoes

The Democratic-controlled Maryland General Assembly voted to override two vetoes from Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, restoring two measures that will decide when and how schools are built and how educators are disciplined. 

AK: Alaska city’s vote-by-mail was supposed to boost participation; it shattered records

Turnout in Anchorage's first vote-by-mail election was the highest in the city's history, buoyed by a wave of last-minute votes. About 80,000 ballots had been received by elections officials, and there were more coming in. Until now, the largest number of ballots the city had ever received in a local race was 71,099 in 2012.

Automatic Voter Registration Bump Stocks