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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/29

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/29

KY: Kentucky secretary of state’s staff searched voting records of workers and rivals

kentucky.com

An investigation by ProPublica and the Lexington Herald-Leader shows that the searches by the Kentucky secretary of state’s staffers were extensive and targeted prominent state politicians, including a gubernatorial candidate who could have been her opponent in the Democratic primary.

MD: Maryland lawmakers want to open unemployment benefits to all federal workers

baltimoresun.com

Although a 35-day partial federal shutdown ended, Maryland Democrats are moving forward with emergency legislation to allow federal employees forced to work without pay during a government shutdown to collect unemployment insurance in the state.

TN: Driven by opioid crisis, more children in Tennessee living in foster care

tennessean.com

Driven largely by the opioid epidemic, the number of kids entering foster care in Tennessee has jumped by more than 10 percent in the past two years, straining the budget of the state Department of Children’s Services. The agency’s chief says it needs an additional $78 million to care for them.

TX: Civil rights groups warn that Texas voter citizenship check could violate federal law

texastribune.org

Lawyers with 13 organizations are demanding that Texas rescind an advisory to local election officials that they check the citizenship status of 95,000 registered voters. The groups claim the state’s data is flawed and demand more information about the methodology it used.

KS: Trump incumbency has Kansas GOP considering scrapping 2020 presidential caucus

kansas.com

The Kansas caucus doesn’t select the delegates to the Republican National Convention, where the party’s nominee will be chosen. But it does bind the state’s delegates to support particular candidates, based roughly on the percentage of rank-and-file Republicans who voted for them.             

VA: In a shift, Virginia speaker backs redistricting commission

apnews.com

Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox, a Republican, is backing a plan to have a bipartisan commission draw new legislative boundaries, a major shift in the yearslong fight over redistricting. Lengthy court battles over the 2011 redistricting lines have prompted the switch.

WI: Wisconsin attorney general declines to represent governor in lame-duck lawsuit

jsonline.com

Wisconsin Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul has declined to represent Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in a suit over lame-duck laws that limits their powers, saying it was a conflict of interest because one of the laws curbed Kaul’s Department of Justice. 

UT: Utah House speaker calls for $225 million tax cut

sltrib.com

Utah’s Republican Gov. Gary Herbert has proposed a $200 million tax cut, and House Speaker Brad Wilson — also a Republican — has proposed an additional $25 million. But talk of tax cuts comes at a time when state analysts are warning of an impending recession.

CA: Lawmakers want to cut California’s pot taxes to help lagging legal market

latimes.com

Frustrated that California’s licensed marijuana industry is struggling to compete against the black market, a group of state officials is pressing to slash taxes on legal pot shops and growers.

FL: Florida governor seems open to medical marijuana

miamiherald.com

Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes, who filed a bill to repeal Florida’s medical marijuana smoking ban, appears to have found a receptive ear in Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

ND: North Dakota House passes bill requiring doctors to inform women of potential for abortion reversal

inforum.com

The North Dakota House easily passed a contentious bill requiring physicians to inform women that they could reverse drug-induced abortions, a claim opponents have said isn’t supported by science.

NY: Victims of child sexual abuse are poised to win expanded protections in New York

nytimes.com

For more than a decade, Democratic lawmakers in New York have tried to allow victims of decades-old childhood sexual abuse to seek justice — only to meet fierce opposition from powerful interests including insurance companies, private schools and religious leaders from the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish communities.

SD: South Dakotans one step closer to carrying concealed handguns without a permit

argusleader.com

Legislation allowing people to carry concealed handguns without a permit in South Dakota, also called “constitutional carry,” passed another hurdle. The House State Affairs Committee gave the bill its blessing in a 10-3 vote after hearing 90 minutes of testimony about the measure.

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