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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/9

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/9

FL: Florida’s 1.4M ex-felons have voting rights restored, and celebrations ensue

orlandosentinel.com

The right to vote was restored to more than 1.4 million former felons across Florida thanks to Amendment 4’s victory at the ballot box in November, leading to emotional scenes as tears flowed, confetti was thrown and U.S. flags were waved.

MA: Civilian food pantry opens at U.S. Coast Guard base in Massachusetts

bostonglobe.com

At the U.S. Coast Guard Base in Boston, Massachusetts, the partial government shutdown has led to some members searching for a way to feed families. A civilian-stocked food pantry will open on the base to provide free food to Coast Guard members, many with young children.

SC: South Carolina lawmakers quickly move to curb governor’s appointment powers

postandcourier.com

The South Carolina Senate used the first hours of the new legislative session to send a message to the governor’s office and wrest back control of key appointments in the state government. 

OK: Oklahoma delays $137M in highway projects due to federal government shutdown

newsok.com

About 45 new Oklahoma highway projects worth $137 million will be delayed because of the ongoing partial federal government shutdown, Oklahoma Department of Transportation officials said. The department is having to postpone taking bids on 26 projects worth about $101.7 million that were scheduled to take place in January, and it is expecting to push back 19 projects in February that are valued at about $35.6 million.

WA: Governor proposes state-run health care option in Washington state

mynorthwest.com

Democratic Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee introduced Cascade Care, a plan to provide a state-run health care system akin to “Medicare for All.” According to Inslee, the bill would direct the state to provide coverage statewide by contracting with health care carriers. Coverage would begin in 2021.

VT: Vermont House removes lawmakers’ contact information from website

vtdigger.org

Vermont lawmakers saw an increase in threats during the last legislative biennium. Representatives who prefer to list their personal information online will still be able to do so. There will also be official phone numbers listed online that can redirect to personal numbers. The Senate has not made any changes to its policy.

KY: Kentucky lawmakers want to end mandatory fluoride in tap water. Dentists disagree.

kentucky.com

Arguing against government overreach, two Kentucky lawmakers are sponsoring legislation that would let local communities stop fluoridating their drinking water.

GA: Georgia ethics chief suspended, denies misuse of computer

ajc.com

The Georgia ethics commission suspended its director with pay amid allegations that he misused state computers. Stefan Ritter, who has been the commission’s executive director since 2015, called allegations first reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News Monday “untrue,” adding that he had not seen the complaints against him.

VA: U.S. Supreme Court declines to delay Virginia redistricting process

washingtonpost.com

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to delay the process of drawing new districts for at least 11 Virginia House of Delegates seats, rejecting a request for a stay from state Republicans who are contesting the overall effort.

TX: Texas agencies lost nearly 29K workers from retirement and low pay last year

texastribune.org

Advocates for Texas state workers are calling for increased pay after a State Auditor’s Office report released in December found that agency turnover was at 19.3 percent in the 2018 budget year. The top reasons employees said they left were retirement, better pay and benefits and poor working conditions.

CT: Tribal supporters, MGM want piece of sports betting action in Connecticut

apnews.com

The southeastern Connecticut legislative delegation announced it has submitted bipartisan legislation to amend state law and allow online and in-person sports betting at Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino. They argue it makes sense to let the tribes operate any new operation, given the long-standing relationship the state has with the Mohegans and Mashantucket Pequots.

CA: California governor calls for more fire safety funding

sacbee.com

California Gov. Gavin Newsom called for $105 million in increased wildfire safety funding, saying the state needs to make prevention a higher priority in the wake of the devastating Camp Fire and the wine country fires of 2017. The Democrat wants more helicopters, remote infrared cameras that can help detect fires, better alert systems and new technologies for tapping satellite images.

MI: Michigan governor signs equal pay rules

detroitnews.com

A set of rules signed by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer aims to provide equal pay for male and female state workers doing the same work. State hiring directors cannot inquire into an applicant’s salary history under the executive directive signed by the week-old Democratic governor.

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