What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/10
CA: Trump threatens to cut off disaster funding for California fires
President Donald Trump, in a tweet, said he has ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency not to send more disaster funding to fire-ravaged California “unless they get their act together, which is unlikely.” Two Republicans who represent the fire site called Trump’s tweet "wholly unacceptable.”
NY: New York Gov. Cuomo says changes needed to stop illegal limos
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, is calling for changes in state law to prevent another tragedy like the Oct. 6 limousine crash in Schoharie County that killed 20 people. The governor said current law doesn’t allow the Department of Motor Vehicles to take unilateral action against a limo company to pull plates off their vehicles after a failed inspection. But that should change, he said.
MI: New bills would change how Michigan cops seize property
The new session of the Republican-controlled Michigan Legislature began on a bipartisan footing with the Democratic attorney general and lawmakers from both parties uniting behind a package of bills to reform civil asset forfeiture. The fact that police can sometimes seize property without charging the person whose property is seized has long been a controversial issue in Michigan.
MA: Massachusetts film tax subsidies hit record
Massachusetts issued nearly $90 million in film tax subsidies in 2016, a new high-water mark that includes tens of millions in previously unreported incentives paid out to movies inspired by the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.
IL: Former Illinois legislator indicted in posting of sexual photos of others without consent
Former Illinois Rep. Nick Sauer has been charged with 12 felonies for allegedly posting private sexual photos of two people online without their permission, according to the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office. The first-term Republican resigned in August as a result of the allegations made by a former girlfriend, which had been reported that day by Politico.
PA: Pennsylvania criticized for how it handles elder abuse cases
An internal Pennsylvania state government watchdog agency is criticizing how county-level agencies investigate thousands of complaints they receive about elder abuse and how the state ensures complaints are investigated adequately.
KY: Kentucky lawmaker to withdraw bill that would gut open records law
A Kentucky state senator says he will withdraw a controversial bill that critics had said would gut the state open records law. Rep. Danny Carroll, a Republican, says he was reacting to concerns raised by the Kentucky Press Association and others over its impact on access to public information.
VT: Vermont lawmakers to push for ethnic studies curriculum in schools
Last year’s iteration of the Vermont bill was championed by former state Rep. Kiah Morris, the Democrat whose decision not to run for re-election last year, in part because of racial threats, drew national headlines.
MT: Bill would eliminate practice of taking driver's licenses from Montanans with unpaid court fees
A lawmaker plans to bring up a bill that would do away with the practice of suspending driver's licenses as punishment for unpaid court fees. In Montana, 10,000 people have their driver's licenses suspended annually over unpaid court debt, according to the state American Civil Liberties Union branch.
VA: Virginia governor calls for teacher raises and tax breaks for low-income residents
Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam addressed the GOP-controlled Virginia legislature Wednesday, the start of the 2019 legislative session. Northam also proposed decriminalizing marijuana, extending high-speed internet access in rural areas and allowing no-excuse early voting.
NC: Ethics complaint against North Carolina speaker dismissed
The complaint filed against North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore, a Republican, involving his business interests and interactions with state environmental regulators, has been dismissed. The State Board of Elections and Ethics found only “miscommunication” behind allegations that Moore improperly tried to delay penalties against his own company over underground fuel tanks.
WI: Wisconsin bipartisan panel says public school funding needs to increase
After a year crisscrossing the state taking testimony on what many describe as Wisconsin's "broken" school finance system, a legislative panel is proposing a slate of measures that would significantly boost funding for public schools and include spending on mental health, special education, high-poverty students and more, as well as restore increases in revenue limits that keep up with inflation.
CO: Colorado-based food bank offers assistance to federal employees affected by shutdown
The Food Bank of the Rockies is adding three emergency food distributions sites in Colorado to help federal government workers facing their first no-paycheck week. The agency may add more distribution sites depending on the length of the shutdown.