What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/29
PA: Three Mile Island's closure haunts Pennsylvania's nuclear debate
When the Pennsylvania General Assembly returns to session the first week in June, finding a way to compensate nuclear plants for providing power without emitting climate-heating carbon dioxide “will probably be back at the top of certain members’ agenda after the budget gets done,” said Mike Straub, spokesman for Pennsylvania’s House Republicans.
RI: Rhode Island House panel OKs bill shielding birth dates in voter lists
The decision by Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, a Democrat, to shield a key piece of the state’s voter rolls from public view could soon be enshrined in state law.
CO: Colorado cities can raise minimum wages starting in 2020
Colorado law blocked local governments from enacting their own minimum-wage laws for decades. That changed when Democratic Gov. Jared Polis signed a law giving cities and counties permission to set their own minimum wages starting in 2020. The new wages wouldn’t take effect until January 2021.
WY: Wyoming prosecutor finds no violation of state election law in tribal voting challenges
The Fremont County Attorney’s Office has determined local poll workers did not violate state elections law during last year's elections, despite concerns raised by the Wyoming Democratic Party. The investigation — prompted by incidents on the Wind River Indian Reservation — yielded no evidence that local election officials misapplied state law.
CA: California moves to divest from Turkey over Armenian Genocide
California’s two major public pension funds could be prohibited from investing in Turkey over the systematic killing of about 1.5 million Armenians starting in 1915, known as the Armenian Genocide, under a proposal the state Assembly passed despite opposition from the funds.
AZ: Arizona Supreme Court: Medical marijuana extracts are legal
The state Supreme Court ruled that extracts fall under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act. The court said the law anticipates dispensaries will produce marijuana in its edible form and patients will be able to consume it in other ways besides smoking.
UT: Utah sees growth in prison population despite changes
Utah averaged 6,781 prison inmates a day last month, about 300 more than it had a year earlier. Legislators have made no concerted effort to reduce the number of violent inmates, and that appears to be one reason for the spike. Another reason: how probationers and parolees are sent to prison for violating the terms of their supervision.
MA: Amid growing pressure, Massachusetts lawmakers push to update school funding formula
The House and Senate chairs of the Massachusetts legislature’s education panel say they hope to unveil as soon as next month a consensus bill to update the state’s troubled education funding formula, which a legislative commission concluded nearly four years ago is shortchanging K-12 education in the state by $1 billion or more.
TX: Texas lawmakers pass bills to better fund parks, historic sites
State lawmakers approved legislation that would ensure that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission always get the maximum amount of money allowed through a state sporting goods sales tax. The proposed amendment to the Texas Constitution requires voter approval and will appear on ballots this November.
NY: At packed hearing, New York lawmakers weigh single-payer health care
It's languished for more than two decades in the state legislature, but a bill to create a single-payer health care system in New York may finally stand a chance now that Democrats have control of both houses. At least that's what proponents of the New York Health Act are hoping.
NJ: New Jersey governor calls for more gun control after two shootings
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, had already scheduled a public meeting with mayors and lawmakers from some of New Jersey’s largest cities to discuss more ways the Garden State can combat gun violence. Then, a pair of shootings in Trenton left one dead and more than a dozen injured. “This can’t go on,” the governor said.
CT: Connecticut boosts minimum wage to $15 an hour
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, a Democrat, signed a bill to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, directly affecting the lives of more than 300,000 workers across the state. The first increase will be to $11 in October, up from the current minimum of $10.10 an hour, and the minimum wage will eventually reach $15 an hour in 2023.
WI: GOP lawmakers reject Wisconsin governor's spending bump for UW System
Wisconsin Republican legislators rejected Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' proposed $130 million state funding increase for the University of Wisconsin System, a move that system leadership likened to a kick in the shins. Lawmakers did agree with the governor on a proposal to continue a tuition freeze for the system that has been in place since 2013.