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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 10/29

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 10/29

US: U.S. election integrity depends on security-challenged firms

apnews.com

A trio of companies — ES&S of Omaha, Nebraska; Dominion Voting Systems of Denver and Hart InterCivic of Austin, Texas — sell and service more than 90 percent of the machinery on which votes are cast and results tabulated. Experts say they have long skimped on security in favor of convenience. They also face no significant federal oversight.

PA: Pennsylvania governor signs anti-welfare-fraud measure

post-gazette.com

Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has signed a bill into law that imposes bans on welfare benefits for recipients with certain drug-related convictions, lowers the threshold for what is considered welfare fraud, and charges a $100 replacement fee the second time someone loses the electronic card used for food stamps and cash assistance.

GA: Georgia’s strict laws lead to large purge of voters

myajc.com

Georgia — where people once died for the right to vote — has systematically enacted some of the strictest voting laws in the nation over the past two decades. While officials say the laws are aimed at preventing election fraud, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights says no state has done more than Georgia in recent years to make voting difficult, especially for minorities.

WI: Wisconsin lawmakers’ actions hidden from public view

wisconsinwatch.org

Since 2010, when voters swept Republicans into power, Wisconsin state legislators have increasingly used secretive maneuvers to keep the public in the dark about major spending and policy changes, an investigation by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism has found.

MI: Mostly outside groups pour $13.8M into Michigan redistricting proposal

detroitnews.com

Millions of dollars in outside money — much of it from liberal and left-leaning advocacy groups — is flowing into a ballot campaign to change the way political boundaries are drawn in Michigan.

WA: Washington state carbon-tax measure sees heavy spending

seattletimes.com

Four oil companies that operate Washington state refineries have invested more than $25 million to defeat the carbon fee on the fall ballot. Should the initiative fail, the companies would avoid hundreds of millions of dollars in fees over the next decade.

MD: Same-day voter registration on Maryland ballot

baltimoresun.com

Amid a national debate on access to the franchise, voters in Maryland are deciding whether to allow same-day registration, which would allow people to sign up to cast ballots on Election Day itself.

IL: Illinois governor’s administration knew of pollution problems

chicagotribune.com

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration knew in December that toxic air pollution from the Sterigenics plant in the Chicago suburbs likely was responsible for some of the highest cancer risks in the nation. A letter obtained by the Chicago Tribune shows that the Republican administration kept the information from the public for eight months.

ND: Foster care systems in North Dakota see rise in numbers

bismarcktribune.com

In North Dakota, the number of children entering foster care has gone up over the last five years, data from the state’s Department of Human Services shows. Nationwide, substance abuse among parents has led to rising foster care caseloads.

UT: To fight high drug prices, Utah insurer will pay patients to travel to Mexico

sltrib.com

A Utah insurer that covers 160,000 public employees and family members is offering plane tickets to San Diego, transportation to Tijuana, and a $500 cash payout to patients who need certain expensive drugs for multiple sclerosis, cancer and autoimmune disorders.

AK: Rethinking Alaska’s only maximum security prison

adn.com

Increasingly, prisoners at the Spring Creek Correctional Center in Seward, Alaska, are earning diplomas, turning to each other for sobriety and gathering for high-minded discussions. They also are spending fewer days in solitary confinement.

NM: New Mexico voters to decide on ethics commission

apnews.com

It will be up to New Mexico voters to allow an independent ethics commission to address complaints involving state officials, legislative employees, lobbyists and government contractors.

TN: Tennessee city violated consent decree by spying on protesters

commercialappeal.com

A federal judge ruled that the Memphis Police Department violated a consent decree between the ACLU of Tennessee and city of Memphis by spying on protesters through the department's political spying program.

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