Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 8/21

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 8/21

IL: Report finds sexual harassment, bullying in Illinois House Speaker's office

chicagotribune.com

An outside investigation into sexual harassment and bullying within the office of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and his Democratic caucus found that people across the Capitol repeatedly have been subjected to sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior.

TX: Texas raises smoking age, exempting military

texastribune.org

A new Texas law, effective Sept. 1, is designed to keep cigarettes, e-cigarettes and tobacco products out of public schools by creating more “social distance” between younger students and students old enough to purchase them. Nearly 12% of Texas high school students smoke cigarettes and 19% use e-cigarettes. 

MA: Records open a rare window into Massachusetts’ ‘secret courts’

bostonglobe.com

From one courthouse to the next, Massachusetts clerk magistrates and assistant clerks continue to differ widely in how they handle requests for criminal charges reviewed during confidential hearings, according to new court data provided to the Boston Globe.

OH: Ohio doctors ask judge to strike ‘heartbeat bill’

cleveland.com

Pro-choice advocates including abortion providers asked a federal judge to strike down and permanently block an Ohio measure known as the “heartbeat bill,” which effectively bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed the law in April.

NY: Hate those floating digital billboards? New York just banned them.

nytimes.com

Depending on your point of view, they are either miracles of modern marketing or a heinous eyesore on New York City’s waterways. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, signed legislation to outlaw the ads that “blight our shores.” But you may not have seen the last of them.

CO: Lobbying in Colorado sets new record

coloradosun.com

Business interests, associations, nonprofits and other groups spent more than $36.4 million on lobbyists in fiscal 2019 to influence Colorado lawmakers and government agencies. The total is up 9% from the $33.4 million spent the year before, and 22% higher than spending in 2015.

CA: California to build largest wildlife crossing in world

apnews.com

Hoping to fend off the extinction of mountain lions and other species that require room to roam, transportation officials and conservationists will build a mostly privately funded wildlife crossing over a major Southern California highway. It will give big cats, coyotes, deer and other creatures a safe route to open space.

OR: Oregon officials request criminal investigation into newspaper reporters

malheurenterprise.com

Malheur County officials have asked Sheriff Brian Wolfe to assess whether the Oregon newspaper Malheur Enterprise has engaged in criminal conduct in its reporting. The calls come after investigative reports about county economic development projects.

AR: $1.5M set aside for veterans’ legal clinic in Arkansas

apnews.com

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the state’s attorney general, both Republicans, are setting aside $1.5 million to create a first-of-its-kind legal services clinic for military veterans throughout the state.

MI: Embattled Michigan civil rights department director takes a leave of absence

freep.com

The head of Michigan’s Department of Civil Rights, who has been under fire for insensitive comments about women, is taking a leave of absence. His comments have led Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to call on him to resign or for officials to fire him.

NC: North Carolina legislature passes anti-sanctuary bill

newsobserver.com

North Carolina legislators voted to approve a bill requiring sheriffs to hold prisoners beyond normal release times for deportation investigations. However, the legislature does not have enough votes to override a likely veto by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.

MO: Missouri governor vows ‘aggressive legal response’ to defend law benefiting mega-farms

stltoday.com

Republican Gov. Mike Parson vowed an “aggressive legal response” to defend a law designed to encourage giant farming operations to invest in Missouri. A judge temporarily blocked the law, which will ban counties from enacting regulations stricter than state rules.

LA, US: Louisiana says ‘oui’ to French, amid explosion in dual-language schools

nytimes.com

This fall, more American students than ever will start their first day of school learning in a language other than English. An official from the American Councils for International Education said there has been an explosion of dual-language immersion programs, including in Spanish, Russian and Mandarin Chinese.

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