What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/9
CA: California disability clients, state employees hit by data breach
Vandals who ransacked a California state office in Sacramento in February stole 12 government computers and briefly had access to the personal health records of 582,000 people, the state Department of Developmental Services disclosed. The group also had access to personal information regarding thousands of employees, contractors, job applicants and others.
TN: Cash payments led to immigration raid on Tennessee plant
A Tennessee meatpacking plant evaded $2.5 million in payroll taxes by paying employees in envelopes of cash. A local bank tipped off authorities when the plant went through $25 million in cash, leading to a raid and detention of almost 100 people who may be deported as unauthorized immigrants.
AK: Paralyzed by partisanship, Alaska Legislature passes few bills
Alaska lawmakers passed 37 bills since the start of their two-year session last year, according to a state analysis. That’s the fewest since record-keeping began in 1994.
GA: New Georgia legislation to change school funding, discipline, testing
Kindergarten students will start learning about sexual assault, schools will find it more difficult to expel misbehaving tykes, and people who speed through a school zone could get caught by a machine instead of a police officer, if Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican, signs these recently passed bills.
NE: Drug-packed drone tests Nebraska prison security
A crashed drone packed with marijuana and tobacco signals the start of a new challenge for Nebraska prisons. More high-tech smuggling attempts are likely, given that drones are more affordable, and that wherever there's a prison there are smugglers trying to sneak contraband — drugs, weapons, cellphones, anything — inside.
NJ: New Jersey to report on guns from other states
New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy ordered monthly reports online about gun crimes, showing where they occur, how many people were killed or injured, and the type of weapon involved. And every three months, New Jersey will publish a report listing the states from which those guns originated.
MI: Michigan law eliminating life-without-parole drug sentences goes into effect
Habitual drug offenders in Michigan will be eligible for parole after serving five years under the new law. Previously, they were required to serve up to life in prison without parole.
DC: D.C. lawmakers want to undo congressional Republicans’ estate-tax break
When Republican lawmakers muscled an overhaul of the federal tax code through Congress, they celebrated a provision that doubled the exemption from the estate tax. Now Democratic lawmakers in the district are maneuvering to undo it at the local level.
MS: Syphilis is on rise in Mississippi
Syphilis cases are rising in Mississippi at nearly twice the national rate. According to the state Department of Health, Mississippi saw a 32 percent increase in reported syphilis cases between 2016 and 2017. Syphilis cases increased 18 percent nationally.
PA: Pennsylvania's horse-racing industry gets more state money than health or ag departments
Pennsylvania dropped $239 million into the state’s struggling horse-racing industry last year, bringing the total amount given to the moribund Sport of Kings to $2.6 billion during the last decade. The state handed more than 10 percent of slot-machine revenue to the horse-racing industry’s Race Horse Development Fund.
AZ: Sessions calls for ‘zero tolerance’ as illegal border crossings triple
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a "zero-tolerance" policy for immigrants who crossed into the country illegally through the Southwest border. The crackdown comes after the Department of Homeland Security reported that illegal border crossings tripled from March 2017 to March 2018.
NM: Child killings put spotlight on New Mexico agency supervision
A series of heinous New Mexico child killings revealed gaping holes in the oversight of kids who don’t attend school and raised questions about safekeeping of children when a parent is incarcerated. State agencies have taken steps to strengthen the child protection system.
MI: Michigan to stop free bottled water for Flint
Michigan will stop providing free bottled water to the city of Flint, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has announced. City officials criticized the decision, in part because Flint is still recovering from a crisis that left residents with dangerous levels of lead in their tap water beginning in 2014.