Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/24

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/24

OR, WA: Washington officials in anti-vaccination ‘hotspot’ near Portland declare an emergency over measles outbreak

washingtonpost.com

A quickly escalating measles outbreak around Portland, Oregon, has led health officials in nearby Clark County, Washington, to declare a public health emergency as they warn that people infected with the highly contagious virus have visited schools and churches, a dentist’s office, a Costco, an Ikea and an Amazon locker pickup station.

CA: California judge’s wildfire safety plan could cost $75 million

sacbee.com

The embattled utility PG&E blasted a federal judge’s plan for wildfire safety as unrealistic, saying his proposal for the company to inspect every inch of its electrical grid and remove risky trees would cost $75 billion to $150 billion. PG&E already potentially owes $30 billion to wildfire survivors.

TN: Tennessee governor’s first executive order calls for accelerated rural development

tennessean.com

Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee's first executive order calls for accelerated development in the state’s distressed rural counties, a priority he emphasized throughout his campaign for governor. The order requires all state executive departments to provide recommendations for how they can better serve rural Tennessee through a "statement of rural impact."

DC: Washington mayor offers unemployment pay to federal workers

wtop.com

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser says she will introduce emergency legislation that she says would allow federal employees who live in D.C. and who have been working without pay during the partial government shutdown to file for unemployment benefits. Bowser’s announcement could trigger a legal showdown with the U.S. Labor Department, which has maintained that only furloughed federal workers are eligible to sign up for employment benefits.

NJ: Medical marijuana can now be used to treat opioid addiction in New Jersey

nj.com

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, announced a broad attack on opioid addiction by adding it to the list of illnesses that qualify residents for medical marijuana and expanding Medicaid coverage for medication-assisted treatment, a scientifically proven method of preventing relapses.

NV: Nevada county to spend marijuana money on homelessness fight

reviewjournal.com

Clark County, Nevada, will direct up to $12 million in marijuana business license fees each year to homelessness programs, using unallocated revenue from the nascent cannabis industry to expand housing and case management services.

NM: New Mexico legislators weigh changes to tax law to move away from oil

apnews.com

New Mexico legislators pushed forward with tax reform efforts aimed at reducing state government’s dependence on a volatile oil and natural gas sector and providing steady funding for road maintenance, public schools and teacher pay increases. The legislation would increase some state personal income tax rates and the gas tax.

KS: Kansas lawmakers still allowed to take unrecorded votes

apnews.com

Even as Kansas House and Senate leaders say they're promoting transparency, both sets of chamber rules maintain a long-standing practice of allowing committees to take unrecorded votes on bills, leaving no record of how members vote most of the time. Both chambers also can take unrecorded votes on amendments to bills and on advancing them to final action.

VA: Court picks Virginia redistricting plan that benefits Democrats

apnews.com

Federal judges ordered a new map in June after ruling that lawmakers had racially gerrymandered eleven House districts by packing black voters into them. The new map could shift six Republican-held districts toward Democrats. 

MN: Minnesota lawmakers introduce bill to address failings in sex assault investigations

startribune.com

A bipartisan pair of lawmakers introduced the Minnesota session's first legislation, designed to address widespread failings in the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault. The bill would require Minnesota's 400-plus law enforcement agencies to adopt and follow a state-issued policy on how to best investigate sexual assault.

WI: Wisconsin governor not directing AG to withdraw from ‘Obamacare’ lawsuit

jsonline.com

Less than 24 hours after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said in his State of the State address that he was directing the state's attorney general to withdraw Wisconsin from a lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act, he reversed himself. Evers' spokeswoman said the governor "has not directed the attorney general to take any specific course of action."

ND: North Dakota legislators renew efforts to bring whole state into Central time

bismarcktribune.com

North Dakota lawmakers are again trying to put the entire state in a single time zone, introducing legislation that would bring 11 southwestern counties in the Mountain time district into Central time. It marks the issue's return to the State Capitol, where a similar proposal gained statewide attention in 2017.

MT: A Montana lawmaker wants to limit straw use, charge for plastic bags in stores

helenair.com

Two bills sponsored by a Missoula senator wending their way through the legislature could change life as some Montanans know it by limiting plastic straws in retail food establishments and charging for plastic bags in stores. A bill by another lawmaker would send Styrofoam containers packing.

RI: Rhode Island lawmaker reintroduces bill to give sex-abuse victims more time to sue

providencejournal.com

The Rhode Island bill would extend the filing deadline to 35 years after the alleged act occurred, or seven years “from the time the victim discovered or reasonably should have discovered” that “an emotional or psychological injury or condition was caused” by the abuse, “whichever period expires later.”

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