What We're Reading: Top State Stories 12/3
MI: Big wins on Michigan ballot proposals don't deter GOP from going after changes
Michigan voters approved three ballot proposals in November by double-digit margins. But that isn't stopping Republican lawmakers from trying to alter the measures that legalized marijuana for recreational use, changed the way state and federal legislative district lines are drawn and increased access to voting.
NY: Few New York businesses sign up for state program to bypass Trump tax limits
New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said a program enacted in April would help protect employees from new federal limits on the deductibility of state and local taxes. A state official said 220 businesses had opted into the plan as of Friday, a figure representing less than 0.1 percent of the state’s employers.
WI: Wisconsin governor says he will try to prevent GOP from taking away his power
Wisconsin Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers said he "will take any steps possible" to prevent Republican legislators from removing key powers from his new administration. GOP lawmakers are to hold a hearing on a sweeping plan to weaken his authority, and both chambers could vote to approve the measures this week.
CA: California takes over failing insurer after wildfire
California regulators moved to take over an insurance company that can’t pay out all claims following the Camp Fire, a massive wildfire that destroyed more than 13,000 homes. Merced Property & Casualty Company was pushed to insolvency by the fire that sparked Nov. 8 and nearly destroyed Paradise and surrounding towns.
NM: D.C. agency apologizes for not knowing New Mexico is a state
A District of Columbia court clerk and a supervisor initially rejected a New Mexico driver's license as identification for a marriage license, thinking it was not part of the United States. The employees asked for a "New Mexico passport" before realizing their mistake.
ME: Bill would allow local-option sales tax to help Maine cities raise revenue
The Maine legislature will consider a bill next year that would allow cities and towns to levy local sales taxes. With Democrats in control of the legislature, the push for a local-option sales tax law is likely to win more support than in previous sessions, when such proposals have been beaten back.
NJ: New Jersey medical marijuana dispensaries skirt nonprofit law
Medical marijuana has become big business in New Jersey, with some of the dispensaries pushing the limits of the nonprofit law. Two of the dispensaries have struck agreements with out-of-state, for-profit corporations to manage operations, while leaders of a third formed a pair of for-profit businesses affiliated with the dispensary. Another dispensary pays rent for a building owned by its chief executive.
WY: Wyoming lawmakers search for ways to meet legal water flow obligations
Wyoming lawmakers have tabled a troubled water banking bill and are seeking new ways to meet the state’s legal obligation to let a minimum volume of water flow out of Wyoming and into the Colorado River Basin system. The flow obligations could mandate water-use restrictions.
PA: Crunch time nears in Pennsylvania to buy new voting machines
Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration has told county officials he wants the state to cover at least half the cost of switching to voting machines that leave a paper trail as a safeguard against hacking. Counties are under pressure to assemble fiscal-year budgets and try out machines that are expected to be included in a state purchasing contract being finalized in the coming weeks.
CO: Colorado grapples with snowplow driver shortage
As winter hits, the Colorado Department of Transportation is still seeking to fill more than 100 snowplow driver and highway maintenance employee positions. Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania and South Dakota also are reportedly facing a shortage of snowplow operators.
IN: Judge says retroactive Indiana law doesn't prevent release of death penalty records
The Indiana Department of Corrections must release records on how it carries out executions, including names of lethal drugs and the companies that make them, a circuit court judge ruled. The judge said the legislature's 2017 retroactive law meant to subvert such requests does not apply in this case.
NE: Nebraska looks to replace vote-counting equipment; paper ballots remain 'gold standard'
Just like old computers need to be replaced, Nebraska’s vote-counting equipment is becoming obsolete and will need to be replaced. The secretary of state has estimated that new equipment for all the state’s 93 counties would cost about $12 million.
MA: Massachusetts governor resists court orders on stripping gun licenses
Massachusetts Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration is resisting a mounting number of court orders from judges charging that it overstepped its legal authority, or misinterpreted the law, when it pushed to strip firearm licenses from hundreds of people it previously cleared to own a gun.