Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/7

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/7

US: U.S. plans to end wolf protections; critics say it’s premature

apnews.com

Federal wildlife officials plan to lift protections for gray wolves across the Lower 48 states, reigniting the legal battle over a predator that has run into conflicts with farmers and ranchers after rebounding in some regions.

WA: Ban on single-use plastic bags passes Washington state Senate

seattletimes.com

A bill that passed the Washington state Senate would ban stores from giving out single-use plastic carryout bags, give them until 2020 to use up existing stocks and require an 8-cent charge for other bags handed out. It heads to the state House for consideration.

GA: Bill for new Georgia voting machines clears Senate committee

ajc.com

A state Senate committee voted along party lines to replace Georgia’s voting system so that it includes paper ballots, clearing the way for final votes on the legislation. The measure now is set for a vote in the full state Senate.

KY: Staff of Kentucky’s secretary of state searched voting records for investigators and rivals

kentucky.com

Kentucky officials publicly released records that show employees in the secretary of state’s office used the voter registration system to look up political rivals, state investigators and a range of political operatives.

NE: Nebraska lawmakers advance bill to outlaw eyeball tattoos

apnews.com

Nebraska lawmakers unanimously advanced a bill to prevent people from getting tattoos on the whites of their eyes. The proposal received strong support from eye doctors who warn that such tattoos are risky and could cause people to lose their sight.

ND: North Dakota governor signs bill removing mandatory minimums for repeat drug crimes

bismarcktribune.com

The measure signed by North Dakota Republican Gov. Doug Burgum removes mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug crimes. The bill doesn't change the class of convictions, such as a Class B felony, but proponents argued judges needed more leeway in sentencing offenders.

HI: Hawaii lawmakers pass automatic recount, voter registration

apnews.com

The Hawaii state House approved measures that include requiring automatic recounts when victory margins are exceptionally narrow, voting by mail across the state and automatic voter registration. They head to the Senate, which passed a voting-by-mail bill and an automatic recount measure that head to the House.

SC: South Carolina House passes education reforms

apnews.com

The measure approved by the South Carolina House would hike minimum starting teacher pay to $35,000, give the state education superintendent more ability to take over low-performing school districts, and create a nearly $100 million fund to help bring businesses to places where schools are poor and struggling.

IL: Illinois bill would boost punishment for understaffed nursing homes

chicagotribune.com

An Illinois state senator has introduced legislation that would stiffen penalties for short-staffed nursing homes as a way to limit deadly sepsis infections and boost overall care.

CO: Colorado lawmakers advance oil and gas bill

denverpost.com

After a 12-hour public hearing, a Colorado legislative committee approved a bill that would dramatically overhaul how the state regulates the oil and gas industry by making health and safety the priority when considering development.

FL: Florida legislators want to cap pain and suffering damages at $1M

miamiherald.com

A Florida bill that would prevent juries from awarding plaintiffs more than $1 million for “pain and suffering” in lawsuits passed its first House committee. The measure could affect anyone killed or injured by a company or product.

MA: Massachusetts governor wants increased state oversight of private colleges

bostonglobe.com

Massachusetts Republican Gov. Charlie Baker filed legislation that would authorize a state board to request information from colleges to determine their financial health and require schools that believe they may be on the brink of closing to notify the state.

AL: Governor calls special session to consider Alabama gas tax increase

al.com

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, made official what had been expected for several days, calling the legislature into a special session to consider an increase in state fuel taxes to increase funding for roads, bridges and the state port in Mobile.

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