What We're Reading: Top State Stories 8/13
MA, CA: Massachusetts, California vow suit over endangered species rollback
California and Massachusetts say they’ll go to court to fight the Trump administration’s overhaul of the Endangered Species Act. The Democratic state prosecutors in the two states pointed to a United Nations report earlier this year warning that more than 1 million species globally are in danger of extinction.
NC: North Carolina governor issues gun checks executive order
Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive directive meant to strengthen background checks for gun buyers. Cooper expressed disappointment that Republican legislators have not advanced gun control and "red flag" legislation.
NY: New York governor signs new workplace harassment protections
An overhaul of New York’s workplace harassment and discrimination laws was approved by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The measures were the focus of joint legislative hearings this year that were prompted by the efforts of a group of former legislative staffers who were victims of harassment and other forms of misconduct.
MS: Mississippi says some children still not reunited with parents after ICE raid
Immigration officials raided seven food processing plants in Mississippi last week, arresting hundreds of immigrants — including the parents of young children. Five days later, a spokeswoman for the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services said the agency is receiving hotline reports that some children have not been reunited with either one of their parents.
DE: Delaware officials crack down on dogs at restaurants, upsetting state residents
A Delaware rule forbidding pets from restaurants – and restaurant patios – has sparked fierce debate in the state, with people up in arms and ready to fight for the pleasure of enjoying dinner and a drink with man's best friend. The regulation isn't a new one. Instead, Delaware's Division of Public Health admitted that it has failed to strictly enforce it until now.
TN: Abortion heartbeat bill gets second look at Tennessee 'summer study' session
Tennessee state senators will re-examine the so-called heartbeat abortion measure that failed to gain support in the state legislature earlier this year. While no measure can be voted on until after the legislature reconvenes in January, the two-day meeting is expected to draw busloads of advocates on both sides of the abortion divide.
WY: Wyoming's thin legislative staff causing concerns behind scenes
Over the past three years, the Wyoming Legislative Service Office’s 39-person staff has had to handle an average of 132 numbered bills each interim, up from an average of about 100 over the previous decade. Often, those bills were submitted by lawmakers with assistance from an outside source — usually a lobbyist or another industry group — with an intimate knowledge of the field, which the office then must attempt to match.
FL: Florida teacher unions suffer setback as judge sides with state on membership law
A Florida judge has rejected arguments by teacher unions that a controversial 2018 education law violates collective-bargaining rights and improperly singles out teachers among public employees. The law requires unions to be recertified if dues-paying members drop below 50% of eligible employees.
CA: Clean energy powers California climate emissions drop
California is continuing to lower its greenhouse gas emissions, but the transportation sector remains a stubborn obstacle in the state’s aggressive fight against climate change, new data show. Notably, the annual inventory released by the state does not include wildfires, which can undo a lot of the state’s climate gains.
ND: North Dakota lawmakers hope to remedy decline of rural grocery stores
How involved the state should be in helping sustain small-town North Dakota grocery stores is an early question in a legislative study of rural food distribution. "Food deserts" arise when stores close because of low sales volume and supply difficulties.
TX: Texas almost mandated an HPV vaccine. Now it has a high rate of cervical cancer.
Only about 40% of Texans between 13 and 17 years old were up to date on their HPV vaccinations in 2017, compared with the national average of 49%. In 2016, the age-adjusted rate of new cervical cancer cases in the state was 9.2 per 100,000 women, higher than in all but four other states.
MT: Montana schools would have to be airtight against wildfire smoke under proposed rules
A proposed Montana Department of Health and Human Services rule would require schools to make plans to “seal their buildings to outside air.” Amid cataclysm, it’s an admirable goal. But in practice, administrators are puzzled about how to potentially comply with the proposal.
NV: Nevada licensing board director says prostitution at massage parlors is pervasive
The director of the Nevada State Board of Massage Therapy believes that among the nearly 1,000 licensed establishments in the state, about 25 in the Reno area and 150-200 in the Las Vegas area may be fostering illegal prostitution or sex trafficking activity. While prostitution is legal in Nevada, it is not allowed in massage establishments and is only permitted in licensed brothels.