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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/23

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/23

ME: Maine House gives final approval to ending vaccine opt-outs

apnews.com

A bill to end Maine’s religious and philosophical exemptions to vaccines is headed to the state Senate for a final vote before heading to the governor’s desk. Democratic Gov. Janet Mills’ administration has backed the bill to end nonmedical vaccine opt-outs by 2021 for schoolchildren, as well as nursery school and health care facility employees.

FL: Florida governor orders statewide elections security review

orlandosentinel.com

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is calling for a sweeping review of election systems security and cyber security across Florida in the wake of revelations that Russian hackers infiltrated two counties in 2016. The Washington Post and Politico have reported that Washington County in the Panhandle was one of the affected counties.

UT: Utah will test hidden technology to find weapons among crowds

sltrib.com

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, a Republican, is partnering with a Georgia-based company to test and promote a product that uses 3D imaging and artificial intelligence to detect concealed weapons on people in public spaces. Because the imaging technology identifies objects, rather than people, Reyes said he believes it could be less invasive than, say, facial recognition technology.

TX: Texas expansion of medical cannabis nears finish line after Senate approval

texastribune.org

The Texas Senate unanimously voted to expand the state's Compassionate Use Program, which currently limits the sale of cannabis oil to some people with intractable epilepsy. The bill approved by the Senate would expand the list to other conditions, including multiple sclerosis, ALS, terminal cancer and autism.

WI: Wisconsin tries to tempt lawyers north with walk through giant fish

jsonline.com

Wisconsin officials desperate to find attorneys for indigent defendants up north have resorted to promoting tourist opportunities for long-haul lawyers — including the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame and its big musky, a four-plus-story-high fish. The state pays private lawyers who agree to take cases the public defender can't because of conflicts only $40 an hour — the lowest in the nation.

MI: Michigan residents could get priority when booking state campground reservations

freep.com

A Michigan lawmaker wants to give state residents a two-week head start over out-of-staters in making reservations at campgrounds in state parks. Michigan taxpayers at least partially subsidize state parks, reasoned bill sponsor Rep. Steven Johnson, a Republican, so they should get first crack at the primo spots.

MD: Maryland bill mandating 50% renewable energy by 2030 to become law 

baltimoresun.com

Half of Maryland’s energy will come from renewable sources by 2030 under a bill that is set to become law without Republican Gov. Larry Hogan's signature. The General Assembly passed the measure last month, requiring utilities in the state to subsidize solar and wind farms.

AZ: Arizona governor signs law regulating short-term rental ‘party houses’

azceentral.com

Arizona’s Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill allowing for more regulations of short-term rental operators in the state. The new law targets “party houses,” or rentals used for weddings and other large events. Residents have raised complaints after a 2017 law expanded protections for short-term rentals.

CO: Colorado governor signs equal pay legislation

denverpost.com

The new Colorado law allows employees who believe they are being paid less because of their gender to file a lawsuit within two years. Employers found to have paid someone less because of their gender must pay the amount the employee would have made the previous three years if there had not been discrimination.

LA: Environmental groups sue over Louisiana law allowing felony arrests for pipeline protesters

theadvocate.com

Environmentalists and activists arrested for protesting around the Bayou Bridge pipeline have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a Louisiana law that allows law enforcement to charge protesters as felons. Detractors say the law infringes on first amendment rights of free speech.

CA: Why California’s effort to build more in single-family-home neighborhoods failed

latimes.com

To many residents in suburban areas, the California legislation was a threat — one they felt would have taken power away from local officials, destroyed the character of neighborhoods and allowed development interests to overrun communities with expensive new projects.

AK: Alaska governor at odds with lawmakers over school funding

apnews.com

Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration says there is no valid appropriation to fund Alaska public schools for the upcoming fiscal year. Lawmakers last year passed legislation approving K-12 funding for the upcoming year, but Attorney General Kevin Clarkson has said it improperly binds the governor and violates a constitutional prohibition against dedicating state revenue.

MN: Minnesota governor signs opioid crisis response bill

startribune.com

Democratic Gov. Tim Walz signed into law a plan to increase fees on prescription drug manufacturers and distributors to pay for a statewide response to the opioid epidemic in Minnesota. The legislation, which passed both chambers with bipartisan support, is expected to raise more than $20 million a year for addiction prevention and treatment.

RI: Rhode Island House committee OKs bill to reimburse the wrongfully convicted

providencejournal.com

The Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved legislation to pay $50,000 a year out of the state treasury for each year spent in prison to: “innocent persons who have been wrongfully convicted of crimes who through no fault of their own have been uniquely victimized, and are deserving of consideration and remuneration for this miscarriage of justice.”

Trump Pledges $16B for Farmers Immigration and Public Housing
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