Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/21

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/21

US: Trump's EPA shifts more environmental enforcement to states

apnews.com

The EPA under President Donald Trump is delegating a widening range of public health and environmental enforcement to states, saying local officials know best how to deal with local problems. Critics contend federal regulators are making a dangerous retreat on enforcement that puts people and the environment at greater risk.

NY: New York bill to let US House see Trump’s state returns narrowed

nytimes.com

Lawmakers in New York are seeking to sharply narrow a proposal that would grant congressional committees access to state tax returns filed by President Donald Trump to address concerns that it could jeopardize the privacy of anyone who pays taxes in the state.

MS: Mississippi lawmakers funneled $1.5M to Weight Watchers

clarionledger.com

Mississippi lawmakers gave Weight Watchers about $300,000 a year from 2011 to 2016 to help teachers and school staff slim down. Documents from the Mississippi Department of Education show the voucher program at times needed about half that amount — or less — to operate. Weight Watchers never appeared in any education funding bills and never had a contract with the state of Mississippi.

MS: US judge to consider blocking new Mississippi abortion law

apnews.com

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves is scheduled to hear arguments over a Mississippi clinic’s request for him to stop the new abortion law from taking effect July 1. The law says physicians who perform abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected could face revocation of their state medical licenses.

CT: Connecticut tolls debate could spill over into special legislative session

courant.com

Connecticut’s emotional battle over highway tolls could spill over into a special session, Democratic House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz said. Gov. Ned Lamont, also a Democrat, has made tolls the signature issue of his administration, saying that the state’s economic future is directly tied to improved transportation.

MN: Minnesota legislature approves protections for the elderly

apnews.com

A major package of protections for Minnesota’s elderly has cleared the legislature and awaits the governor’s signature. The most important component is a framework for licensing assisted living facilities that contains expanded enforcement powers.

CO: Colorado Supreme Court rules police need probable cause before using pot-sniffing dogs

denverpost.com

Colorado’s highest court ruled that police using K9s trained to alert to marijuana now require more evidence about a suspected crime before they can use dogs in a search. Previously, officers needed only to suspect that a crime had occurred — a much lower standard.

LA: Louisiana sales tax phase-out advances, while gas tax stalls

apnews.com

Louisiana House Republicans pushed ahead with a proposal to undo the seven-year sales tax passed last year to stabilize state finances, while elsewhere, efforts to boost the state’s gasoline tax and to centralize sales tax collections fizzled after meeting opposition.

CA: California regulators aren’t acting against care homes that ignore wage theft judgments

revealnews.org

Across California, at least 20 companies providing care for the elderly, disabled and mentally ill continue to operate illegally after being cited for failing to pay their workers more than $1.4 million in back wages and penalties.

NM: New Mexico sheriffs got NRA advocacy help, says gun control group

apnews.com

A nonprofit that pushes for gun control laws nationwide says emails obtained through public records requests show New Mexico sheriffs received extensive help from the National Rifle Association in their stance against state gun control legislation.

VT: Vermont governor will let abortion legislation become law

vtdigger.org

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott will approve an abortion bill that would enact the broadest protections of reproductive rights of any state in the country. The move would paint a stark contrast between Vermont’s Republican governor and his colleagues in other states, particularly in the South, who have supported new restrictions on abortion access.

MT: Veto override poll goes out to legislators over prescription drug costs bill

billingsgazette.com

Montana's state auditor is trying to override a veto on a bill his office backed to regulate the interactions insurance companies have with pharmacy benefit managers. If two-thirds of both the House and Senate vote to override Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock’s veto, the bill will become law. 

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