What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/21

NY: Landlords take advantage of overburdened New York City housing court 

New York City’s housing court system, created in part to shelter tenants from dangerous conditions, has instead become a tool for landlords to push them out and wrest a most precious civic commodity — affordable housing — out of regulation and into the free market, a New York Times investigation has found. 

TX: Anti-gun backlash after Texas school shooting? Probably not. 

In Texas, a place where guns are hard-wired into the state’s psyche, Republicans control virtually all the levers of power, and the victims of Friday’s rampage in a conservative rural area are showing little of the anti-gun fervor that followed the Parkland, Florida, shooting in a more diverse, suburban one. 

MI: Michigan close to finalizing stricter lead rules for water 

Michigan Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration is nearing completion of the country’s strictest drinking water rules for lead, a plan that would eventually result in the replacement of all 500,000 lead service pipes in the state despite opposition from municipalities and utilities. 

OH: Ohio Medicaid seeks transparency from prescription benefit managers 

In response to the criticism from some pharmacists and lawmakers about questionable drug pricing, Ohio Medicaid officials have demanded more transparency from prescription benefit managers and asked for numbers to determine whether they are charging inappropriate amounts for medications. 

WY: Wyoming set to vote on historic grizzly hunt 

Wyoming’s wildlife commission will soon vote on the first grizzly hunt in more than 40 years. If approved, only one bear hunter would be allowed at a time to roam the state’s far northwest corner with an unfilled tag. 

IL: Illinois governor to decide on medical marijuana in schools 

The Illinois Senate’s overwhelming vote to allow sick students to take medical marijuana in school sends the proposal to Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, for a decision on its fate. The state Senate voted 50-2 to allow students who qualify for medical marijuana to consume it on school premises, as long as they don’t smoke it and school officials agree that it won’t disrupt other students. 

MN: Minnesota governor vetoes plan to increase penalties for protesters 

Minnesota Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton said he vetoed the Republican-backed plan to hike penalties for protesters who clog up traffic because it went too far. Dayton said the wording was "unacceptably vague" and could have applied to any protest that delayed a bus route. 

NC: New North Carolina environmental bill could help polluters, activists say 

After failed attempts this year to address newly discovered pollution in North Carolina's drinking water, the state's Republican-led Legislature now appears ready to pass a wide-ranging bill that contains millions of dollars for pollution response as well as new regulatory powers for Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. 

CA: California cities and counties come out in support of 'sanctuary state' law 

In two friend-of-the court briefs, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Santa Clara County sided with California in a federal lawsuit brought forth by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions over its immigration policies. Holder’s brief was filed on behalf of the state Senate, and Santa Clara was joined by 22 other California cities and counties. 

VA: Law to help poor Virginians shows power, limits of bipartisanship 

The political partnership of a white Republican from coal country and a black Democrat from a troubled city was an unexpected symbol of unity in the Virginia General Assembly. Brought together by the economic desperation of their home districts, they came up with a seemingly radical idea to give tax breaks to the employees of companies that create jobs in distressed localities. 

MD: Maryland tops states in decline of prison population, report shows 

Maryland has surged to the front of a national trend of states reducing their prison populations, according to a new report by a nonprofit that tracks criminal justice issues. The reduction appears to have been triggered in part by the 2016 Justice Reinvestment Act, a sweeping measure that sought to divert nonviolent offenders from prison to drug treatment and other programs.

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