Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/23

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/23

WA: Washington state considers new privacy law to regulate data collection

geekwire.com

Lawmakers in Washington state are pushing for a new privacy law that would attempt to give consumers more control over the information that big tech companies and data brokers collect about them.

CA: L.A. teachers union and school district reach a contract agreement

latimes.com

Los Angeles teachers are poised to end their first strike in 30 years after union leaders reached a tentative deal with the L.A. Unified School District. The Board of Education in the California city is expected to move quickly to ratify the deal. 

CT: Connecticut legislature OKs interest-free loans for furloughed employees

courant.com

The Connecticut legislature voted overwhelmingly for Gov. Ned Lamont’s plan to provide state-backed, no-interest loans to federal employees who have not been paid during the shutdown. Lamont, a Democrat, said that "dozens'' of federal employees had submitted their applications for bank loans even before the measure was passed.

DC: Washington housing project is refuge for grandparents raising young children

washingtonpost.com

Grandparents taking in their grandchildren isn’t a new phenomenon, but their numbers have been growing in recent years. In Washington, D.C., 7,250 kids are being raised by grandparents. Plaza West is a housing project that reserves 50 of its 223 units for “grandfamilies.”

MD: Bloomberg wants private, armed security in Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins

baltimoresun.com

Johns Hopkins is seeking approval from the General Assembly for a private police force to patrol the university campus. The proposal has support from some key leaders, but has met with opposition from others. Michael Bloomberg said, “When you have a city that has the murder rate that Baltimore has, I think it’s ridiculous to think that they shouldn’t be armed.”

MA: Massachusetts governor proposes ban on handheld cellphone use while driving

bostonglobe.com

Massachusetts already bans texting while driving, but advocates say motorists are still distracted when holding a phone to their ear. Moreover, law enforcement officials say the texting ban is insufficient because drivers caught looking at their phones can say they were merely dialing a number — which is still allowed by state law.

IA: Iowa abortion restriction struck down by judge

desmoinesregister.com

A state judge has struck down the nation's most restrictive abortion law, ruling that the Iowa Constitution makes the "fetal heartbeat" law unacceptable. 

CO: Federal appeals court in Colorado hears bail reform case 

denverpost.com

A federal appeals court in Denver is set to hear arguments in a case that could shape the future of bail reform in states across the country, including Colorado. Plaintiffs argue that criminal defendants have a constitutional right to post monetary bail, which the state eliminated in many cases. 

UT: Utah lawmaker wants to lower penalties for some crimes to help immigrants avoid deportation 

sltrib.com

Utah state Rep. Eric Hutchings, a Republican, plans to introduce a bill that would drop the maximum penalty for a class A misdemeanor from one year to 364 days. The proposal responds to a federal law that says a conviction that carries a penalty of a year or more in jail is a “violent felony” that can trigger deportation proceedings.

AZ: Arizona court hears arguments over gay wedding invitations 

apnews.com

Lawyers squared off this week at the Arizona Supreme Court over whether two Christian artists who make wedding invitations as part of their business can refuse service to same-sex couples for religious reasons. An attorney for the artists argued that complying with Phoenix’s anti-discrimination ordinance would violate their clients’ free-speech and exercise-of-religion rights.

NC: Judge allows investigation to continue in North Carolina congressional race

cnn.com

A North Carolina judge denied a request from Republican Mark Harris' campaign to certify the results in the disputed 9th District race. After the election in November, Harris led Democratic candidate Dan McCready by 905 votes, but the state has refused to certify the results as it investigates allegations that Harris illegally hired someone to collect ballots.

VA: Virginia passes bill to address food deserts

apnews.com

More grocery stores might open in areas of Virginia lacking easy access to healthy food options under a bill unanimously passed by the state Senate. It would provide a $5 million fund to build and expand grocery stores in underserved areas.

WI: Wisconsin Assembly approves pre-existing coverage bill

apnews.com

The Wisconsin Assembly overwhelmingly approved a bill that would force health insurers to cover pre-existing conditions if Republicans succeed in dismantling the Affordable Care Act, heading off potential criticism of GOP legislators on the 2020 campaign trail. Democrats have blasted the bill as a publicity stunt, saying it doesn’t go nearly far enough. 

MN: Minnesota Court of Appeals dismisses teacher-tenure lawsuit

startribune.com

The Minnesota Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit arguing that state laws make it too hard to get rid of bad teachers and threaten students’ right to an adequate education. The ruling comes nearly three years after a group of parents sued the state, contending that laws related to teacher contracts, tenure and dismissal protected ineffective teachers. 

NM: New Mexico panel signs off on minimum wage hike

abqjournal.com

A bill seeking to bump up the minimum wage to $10 an hour — and even higher in coming years — cleared its first legislative hurdle on a 6-3 party-line vote, with majority Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed. New Mexico hasn’t increased its $7.50 an hour statewide minimum wage for a decade.

OR: Oregon bottle redemption rate reaches 90 percent

bendbulletin.com

During a year clouded by disruption to Oregon’s overseas markets for its recyclables, some good news emerged from the state’s recycling industry: Oregonians recycled more bottles, cans and other contains than ever before through the bottle deposit program.

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