What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/25
US: Judge restores protections for grizzly bears, blocking hunts
A U.S. judge ordered federal protections restored for grizzly bears in the Northern Rocky Mountains, a move the blocks the first grizzly bear hunts planned in the Lower 48 states in almost three decades. Wyoming and Idaho had been on the cusp of allowing hunters to kill bears this fall.
NY: New Yorkers notified of drinking water issues late, not at all, audit finds
An audit of the New York State Health Department's drinking water monitoring program found that district and local offices did not always notify the public of drinking water violations in a timely or appropriate fashion. Over 760 water safety violations around the state were recorded between January 2014 and March 2018.
PA: Smoke lingers at bars and casinos 10 years after Pennsylvania's no-smoking law took effect
Smoke remains in roughly 2,000 workplaces across Pennsylvania, including certain bars and casino gaming floors. Pennsylvania’s Clean Indoor Air Act allows bars to apply for an exemption if food accounts for 20 percent or less of their overall sales and no one under 18 is permitted to enter.
NJ: New Jersey lawmakers to upgrade harassment policy as #MeToo fallout continues
New Jersey lawmakers are overhauling their harassment policies for the first time in nearly a decade, mandating training for legislators and staff and creating a process by which complaints can be made public.
DE: Delaware DMV program helps new drivers protect personal information
One of the easiest ways for identity thieves to snatch personal information is when drivers post photos of their licenses on social media. The Delaware Department of Transportation's Division of Motor Vehicles has established “Safe Selfie Zones” to allow new drivers to brag about passing the driving test without compromising their personal information.
DC: Washington, D.C., police to take fewer people into custody for using marijuana in public
District of Columbia police say they will take fewer people into custody when they are caught using marijuana in public, and instead cite them the way they would someone caught for a moving violation. There will be some exceptions, including for juveniles and people who refuse to identify themselves.
CA: Los Angeles reduces water deliveries because of climate change, risking California ranchers’ way of life
For nearly a century, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has flooded the lush plains east of Yosemite National Park, helping maintain cattle forage and keeping alive a culture of California ranching. Now city water officials say they must change the policy as decreased snowmelt leaves them little water to spare.
TN: Tennessee campuses competing in voter registration drive
Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, a Republican, has launched a statewide competition for voter registration at college campuses. Three winning schools will be chosen based on the number of students registered, social media presence and campus creativity in promoting the drive.
VT: Drought takes a toll on wells in northern Vermont
Vermonters already struggling with dried-up springs and failing wells could face the bleak prospect that their water systems won’t recover before the ground freezes. Vermont has been experiencing one of its worst droughts in two decades. There’s no indication that the dry conditions will break anytime soon.
ND: Court ruling a setback for Native American challenge to North Dakota voter ID law
In a split decision representing a setback for Native Americans challenging North Dakota’s voter identification laws, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit suspended a federal judge’s ruling mandating that North Dakota accept IDs and supplemental documentation with a current mailing address.
RI: U.S. Census Bureau’s high-tech test in Rhode Island a success, director says
The test, which originally was scheduled to take place in three locations nationally but was reduced to Rhode Island because of budget constraints, focused on testing technological systems supporting the census. The U.S. Census Bureau recorded a 50 percent higher efficiency rate for enumerators using their phones compared with paper.
OH: Ohio governor moves to close gaps in gun background checks
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, is moving to close background-reporting gaps that could permit criminal suspects and mentally ill individuals to buy guns. He signed an order requiring state law enforcement agencies to report protective orders in domestic-violence and other cases and arrest warrants that have not yet been served.