What We're Reading: Top State Stories 8/29
OH: Ohio governor pushes to strengthen background checks after Dayton shooting
Ohio officials are pushing to strengthen the state and federal background check systems to stop people from getting guns when they have outstanding violent warrants. Republican Gov. Mike DeWine said he would propose a new requirement that arrest warrants and protective orders must be included in the background check system.
OK: Rape counts keep rising in Oklahoma even as police clear fewer cases
The number of reported rapes and attempted rapes in Oklahoma climbed for the seventh consecutive year in 2018, reaching its highest level in at least 20 years, new data shows.
IA: Vaping-related illnesses in Iowa prompt more questions about e-cigarette use among youth
Three of the four young Iowans who experienced respiratory illnesses after using e-cigarettes said they used vaping products containing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, a chemical in marijuana, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.
US: Five East Coast governors push feds on offshore wind power
The governors of five East Coast states are urging federal regulators not to put roadblocks in the way of the country’s nascent offshore wind industry. The governors of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire and Virginia said in a letter to top Trump administration officials that offshore wind power will help strengthen America’s energy independence while creating thousands of jobs.
NE: Nebraska may not be for everyone, but it got tourism dollars with new slogan
Nebraska reaped a record harvest of taxes on motel and hotel stays in the past fiscal year, and tourism officials credit a new, edgy tourism slogan, “Nebraska: Honestly, It’s Not for Everyone,” for part of the increase. The state collected $5.9 million in state lodging taxes from July 2018 through June 30, 2019, which was 4% more than in the previous fiscal year.
WA: Washington state expands access to opioid reversal medication
Pharmacies across Washington state can now dispense opioid overdose reversal medication without a prescription. Washington joins more than two dozen other states that have a similar policy.
MA: Dozens of proposals target already strict gun laws in Massachusetts
Various bills in Massachusetts range from setting up a process to analyze the data the state is collecting on firearms to clamping down on so-called “ghost guns,” such as those assembled by ordering various firearm parts, by requiring they be given a unique serial number.
TX: Brass knuckles and other self-defense items soon will be legal in Texas
Starting Sunday, brass knuckles will be legal in Texas for the first time since 1918. In 2017, The Dallas Morning News found, 93 people— many of them young people of color — were convicted for possessing brass knuckles.
AR: Arkansas governor forms panel to promote census count
Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued an executive order establishing the Arkansas Complete Count Committee, a panel of 30 volunteer members appointed by the governor from state and local government and the private sector.
NJ: New Jersey governor signs mail-in ballot law fix in time for November elections
Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill allocating $2 million in taxpayer money to fix a glitch with New Jersey’s mail-in ballot law — which could determine whether thousands of residents automatically receive a ballot to vote by mail in the upcoming November elections.
NM: Record oil production lifts New Mexico state income
State economists revised forecasts upward for state government income amid surging oil and natural gas production in New Mexico, giving lawmakers greater leeway as they begin crafting a spending plan for the coming fiscal year.
WI: More than 12 Wisconsin lawsuits on hold as lame-duck fallout prevents resolutions
More than a dozen lawsuits involving state taxpayers are languishing because Wisconsin politicians can't agree on how to resolve them under a new Republican law aimed at curbing the power of the Democratic attorney general. The impasse comes as billions of dollars are on the table for states, including Wisconsin, suing over the opioid crisis.
OR: Oregon taxpayers to see nearly $1.6 billion refund next year
Oregonians will see the largest-ever “kicker” tax refund next year. With all tax receipts for the just-ended biennium counted, state economists say about $1.6 billion will flow back to personal income taxpayers in 2020, when they file their 2019 taxes.