Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/12

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/12

OK: Oklahoma judge, not jury, to decide case against drugmakers

apnews.com

An Oklahoma judge has ruled that he, not a jury, will decide the state’s case against several drug manufacturers for their alleged role in the nation’s deadly opioid crisis.

CA: These California communities could have the next major wildfire

sacbee.com

A McClatchy analysis reveals more than 350,000 Californians live in towns and cities that exist almost entirely within “very high fire hazard severity zones” — Cal Fire’s designation for places highly vulnerable to devastating wildfires. These designations have proven eerily predictive about some of the state’s most destructive wildfires in recent years.

TX: Texas fights US House request over bungled voter roll search

apnews.com

Texas’ attorney general is challenging efforts by Democrats in Congress to obtain documents related to the state’s bungled search for voters who aren’t U.S. citizens. The state’s botched search for illegal voters began when the state released a flawed list that called the U.S. citizenship of 98,000 registered voters into question.

CT: Connecticut’s loss of urban trees has long-term consequences

courant.com

Connecticut’s cities and towns are losing trees to disease, invasive pests, storm damage and old age at an alarming pace, and experts warn the loss of urban tree cover can impact everything from asthma rates to crime and property values. Experts say the problems are worse in cities like Hartford than in leafier suburbs that have more trees to lose, or rural areas where forests can regenerate themselves.

AZ: Arizona repeals controversial sex-ed law

azcentral.com

Arizona lawmakers have repealed a decades-old state law forbidding sexual education in public district and charter schools that promotes a "homosexual lifestyle." Conservative lawmakers added the amendment restricting discussions about homosexuality to a 1991 law requiring AIDS education in schools.

ND: North Dakota governor signs pipeline tampering bill

billingsgazette.com

North Dakota Republican Gov. Doug Burgum has signed a bill that supporters say will deter tampering with or damaging pipelines and other critical infrastructure. The bill came in response to activists who turned an emergency valve of an oil pipeline in northeast North Dakota in 2016.

ID: Idaho House kills Idaho hemp legislation

apnews.com

The Idaho House has voted to kill hemp legislation after the state Senate added amendments lawmakers say turned it into a decision to create a state plan for hemp rather than go with a federal plan yet to be released. The original bill was intended to allow hemp-loaded trucks to cross Idaho — where hemp is illegal.

SC: A year after prison riot, South Carolina claims progress

apnews.com

A year after seven South Carolina inmates died in an insurrection, myriad security measures are in place to crack down on the illegal cell phone use that facilitated the worst U.S. prison riot in 25 years, corrections officials said during a tour of the institution.

MS: Mississippi school board votes to take over 2 districts

apnews.com

Two school districts in Mississippi’s Delta region will be the first to be folded into a new statewide district aimed at improving academic performance.

MA: Proposed tax on high earners gets warm reception in Massachusetts

bostonglobe.com

Supporters say a surcharge of 4 percentage points on Massachusetts’ income tax for earnings above $1 million would generate $2 billion annually. Since it would require a change in state constitution, the tax would need majority votes in successive two-year legislative sessions before heading to the voters.

FL: Firefighters’ hopes for cancer coverage go up in smoke during Florida legislative session

miamiherald.com

A bill to give Florida firefighters who are diagnosed with cancer some additional benefits has broad popular support in the legislature, but virtually no chance of passage because of an obstacle in the House.

NJ: Farms in New Jersey are no longer shrinking

nj.com

The latest data from the U.S. Agriculture Department shows the number of acres used for farmland, which had been dropping in the Garden State, ticked up in 2017 for the first time in 20 years. The drop had been particularly pronounced for larger farms, yet those numbers are also up.

WA: Washington House passes panic button measure for isolated workers

apnews.com

Legislation requiring panic buttons for isolated workers including hotel housekeepers and janitors has passed its second-floor vote in Washington’s legislature. Because it was amended in the House, the bill will have to be reapproved by the state Senate.

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