What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/26

MI: Michigan lawmakers voted on bills even after admitting conflicts of interest

Seven Michigan state legislators voted on bills even when they publicly noted their own conflicts of interest, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of more than 50,000 pages of official legislative journals. A new bill would make voting on such conflicts of interest a felony punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and as much as four years in prison.

WY: Wyoming leaders embrace blockchain

Wyoming went from one of just a small handful of states that barred virtual currency trading to a playground for blockchain entrepreneurs, thanks to a series of bills passed by the Legislature this year. But what blockchain can actually do for the state remains unclear.

MD: Ban on ‘bump stocks’ among new gun regs in Maryland

Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed three new gun regulations into law, including a ban on “bump stocks.” Introduced to the Maryland Legislature in the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas last year, the bill would prohibit even the possession of “bump stocks,” devices used to accelerate fire in semiautomatic weapons.

NV: Nevada teachers who don’t take a college course could lose their jobs

Nevada’s longstanding teacher reciprocity law was intended to simplify the process for qualified out-of-state teachers to come to Nevada. But a separate 2015 regulation requiring teachers to pay for and pass a college course on “family engagement” to keep their licenses could undo some of that progress. 

LA: Bid to strike Louisiana's Jim Crow-era jury law advances

Louisiana is a step closer to striking a Jim Crow-era law that allows divided juries to settle criminal cases. The House criminal justice committee voted to advance a constitutional amendment to require unanimous verdicts in serious felony cases. If successful in the full House, the proposal would go before voters in the fall.

NM: New Mexico court reverses governor's veto of 10 bills

The New Mexico Supreme Court ordered that 10 bills vetoed by the governor go into effect. The vetoed bills sought to expand access to high-speed internet, open the way for industrial hemp research, and allow high school computer science classes to count toward math credits, among other provisions.

ME: Maine governor vetoes bill to increase access to overdose-reversing drug

Maine Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, vetoed a bill that would give everyone, regardless of age, easier access to the lifesaving overdose-reversing drug naloxone. According to the state Attorney General’s Office, a record 418 people died from overdoses in Maine in 2017, up 11 percent from the 376 reported in 2016.

VT: Vermont governor's administration suggests tax penalty to coerce school staff cuts

The Vermont proposal would create a property tax penalty against school districts that have a relatively high number of staff members compared to their student population. If schools increase their overall student-to-staff ratio to 5.5 to 1, up from the current average of 5.15 to 1, it could save about $45 million.

CO: Class canceled as Colorado teachers rally at Statehouse

Teachers from Douglas County and Jefferson County school districts were set to rally at the Capitol Thursday to demand more education funding, while teachers from Denver Public Schools — the state’s largest district — are set to join educators from Aurora, Boulder Valley, Cherry Creek and 20 other districts at the Statehouse Friday.

IL: Proposed hospital law requires sexual assault nurses too soon, hospitals say

Illinois hospitals cannot train enough nurses to meet requirements of a new amendment to legislation seeking to improve treatment for sexual assault patients, a group that represents hospitals said. Hospitals would have had until 2021 to have a specially trained medical provider present within 90 minutes of a sexual assault patient’s arrival.

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