What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/15

OK: Oklahoma teachers call on state’s high court to keep taxes; pay raise

A group representing Oklahoma teachers is asking the state’s highest court to stop an effort to overturn a tax-hike package to fund teacher pay raises the Legislature approved. “Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite” is seeking a public vote on whether to toss tax hikes on cigarettes, motor fuel and energy production to fund an average teacher pay raise of $6,100.

NY: Two New York district attorneys may stop prosecuting most marijuana offenses

The district attorneys in Manhattan and Brooklyn may stop prosecuting the vast majority of people arrested on marijuana charges, potentially curbing the consequences of a law that in New York City is enforced most heavily against black and Hispanic people. Of the more than 5,000 people arrested on low-level marijuana charges in Manhattan last year, only 100 to 200 would have been prosecuted under the plan being considered. 

UT: ‘Free-range parenting’ law goes into effect in Utah

Believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, the Utah law would prevent parents from being prosecuted under child-neglect statutes for simply allowing mature kids with good judgment to do things alone — provided they are otherwise cared for and are “of sufficient age and maturity.” 

IL: Illinois governor proposes reinstatement of death penalty

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner proposed reinstating the death penalty in Illinois for mass killers and people who are convicted of murdering law enforcement officers. The death penalty provision would create a new category of homicide called “death penalty murder,” which could apply to adults who kill police officers or more than one person.  

WA: Seattle City Council levies tax on large employers

The Seattle City Council voted unanimously to tax the city’s largest employers to help address homelessness. Starting next year, the tax will be $275 per employee, per year on for-profit companies that gross at least $20 million per year in the city. 

MO: Prosecutors drop sex-related charge against Missouri governor

Prosecutors abruptly dropped a felony invasion-of-privacy charge against Republican Gov. Eric Greitens of Missouri, alleging that he took a revealing photo of a woman with whom he has acknowledged having an affair. However, Republican legislative leaders renewed calls for Greitens to resign, and said they will convene Friday in a month-long special session to consider impeachment.

CO: Colorado law that aimed to keep guns away from domestic abusers is often ignored

A 2013 Colorado law aims to protect victims of domestic violence by ordering alleged abusers to relinquish guns and ammunition while under a protection order, but a media investigation found that defendants frequently fail or refuse to file proof of relinquishment to the court. 

MN: Minnesota Senate passes bill increasing penalties for freeway protests

The measure, which already passed the Minnesota House, would increase fines and penalties for protesters who block freeways, transit lines and airports. It is headed for Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton’s desk. 

SC: South Carolina unlikely to legalize sports betting, despite U.S. Supreme Court ruling

A short stack of South Carolina legislators is pushing to allow sports betting in the Palmetto State following a U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned a federal ban. But the odds of success are long: In South Carolina, even church raffles weren't legal until 2015.  

FL: Florida governor wants federal grant to close gun-check loophole

Republican Gov. Rick Scott wants Florida to seek nearly $1 million in federal money to reduce the chance that mentally ill people can get guns. Scott said elected county court clerks have not consistently entered data into criminal justice databases that alert law enforcement agencies to gun applicants' mental health histories.

TN: Could North Korea's nuclear weapon arsenal end up in Tennessee?

A top Trump administration says North Korea’s nuclear weapons should be shipped to East Tennessee if that rogue regime makes good on its promise to dismantle its nuclear-testing program. The U.S. Department of Energy operates a national research laboratory and a nuclear weapons complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Marijuana Businesses Pedestrian Safety