Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/12

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/12

WA: Washington House approves minimum wage parity for disabled workers

apnews.com

The Washington House passed a bill that would require physically or mentally disabled workers to be paid the same minimum wage that other workers in the state receive. Under current law, employers can receive special certificates to pay wages below the minimum wage for workers with disabilities.   

CA: Rap sheets haunt former inmates. California may change that.

nytimes.com

Under a bill now making its way through the California legislature, millions of people in the state who have misdemeanor or lower-level felony records could be spared those problems: their criminal records would automatically be sealed from public view once they completed prison or jail sentences.

KY: Pension costs may close dozens of Kentucky health departments

courier-journal.com

About $38 million in increased pension costs could shutter health departments serving 42 Kentucky counties next fiscal year. State health leaders are pressing lawmakers for a one-year reprieve to allow time to fix a public health system now facing a financial crisis.

NY: Black lawmakers to block legalized marijuana in New York if their communities don’t benefit

nytimes.com

Black lawmakers and activists are warning that Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal could perpetuate the racial inequality that it purports to fight. The lawmakers say that unless people of color are guaranteed job training, adult education and licenses in the potentially $3 billion industry, there may be no legalization this year.

NC: North Carolina charter schools seen as segregation tool

washingtonpost.com

Trends of racial and economic segregation that were already worrisome in North Carolina public schools have deepened in the state's charter schools. Charter schools, since they are not required to offer transportation or reduced-price lunches, can prevent needy families from attending the best schools.

ND: North Dakota sees twenty-fold increase in meth seizures

wctrib.com

Methamphetamine seizures in North Dakota jumped from three pounds in 2017 to almost 62 pounds in 2018. Meth makes its way to the region from drug cartels in Mexico, where the price to produce the drug is dropping while purity levels are rising.

HI: Hawaii lawmakers advance bill to protect immigrants

staradvertiser.com

Hawaii would become the second “sanctuary state” for tax-paying undocumented immigrants with no criminal convictions under a bill that would give local law enforcement agencies the option to not cooperate with federal immigration authorities. The bill survived a vote on the Senate floor and has been referred to House committees.

NM: Changes likely for dark money in New Mexico elections

apnews.com

The sources of independent expenditures to influence elections in New Mexico must be made public under a bill headed to the governor. The bill seeks to provide information on the origin of so-called dark money that is spent on elections without direct coordination with candidates and campaigns.

UT: Collapse of tax reform proposal leads to budget stalemate in Utah

sltrib.com

Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson, a Republican, confirmed that House and Senate Republicans are at odds on how to proceed on the state’s budget after the collapse of a major tax reform proposal, and that the 2019 session could end Thursday with only a “skinny budget” in place — or potentially no agreement on new spending for public education and other state programs.

CO: Colorado Democrats look to delay governor’s pledge for full-day kindergarten

coloradosun.com

A slowing economy coupled with a backlog of unmet needs have left top Democrats in Colorado hesitant to fully fund all-day kindergarten, setting the stage for a possible budget fight with Democratic Gov. Jared Polis over one of his signature campaign promises.

AR: Arkansas House shifts focus to state agency reshuffle; lawmakers aim to vote on bill soon

arkansasonline.com

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson wants to reduce the number of Arkansas agencies reporting to him from 42 to 15. If enacted, the legislation would represent the most sweeping reorganization of state government since 1971 when Gov. Dale Bumpers, a Democrat, led an effort that reduced the number of agencies from 60 to 13.

OK: Medical marijuana 'Unity Bill' headed to governor after easy passage in Oklahoma Senate

tulsaworld.com

Among the most disputed aspects of the bill regulating Oklahoma’s medical marijuana industry is a provision allowing employers in "safety-sensitive" fields to inquire whether employees have medical marijuana licenses.

MO: Missouri faces a $118 million bill for prison guards' back pay as House finishes budget work

stltoday.com

The Missouri House Budget Committee is processing news that the state would need to pay $118 million in back pay to employees of the Department of Corrections. A Cole County circuit judge ordered the garnishment of $118 million from the state after officials failed to pay the amount, which stemmed from a lawsuit brought by guards for unpaid overtime.

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