What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/17
CA: California governor takes executive action on vaping and e-cigarettes
California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a crackdown on illicit e-cigarettes and plans to launch a state-sponsored public awareness campaign about the dangers of the devices amid a nationwide outbreak of serious lung illness connected to vaping.
DC: Congress considers D.C. statehood with historic hearing on Capitol Hill
The U.S. House of Representatives will hold the first hearing on Washington, D.C., statehood in 26 years. It's the first in a series of steps needed to accomplish one goal: Pass H.R. 51, or the Washington, D.C. Admission Act. The bill would create the 51st state, giving more than 700,000 residents the same rights citizens living in the other 50 states already have.
FL: Florida bill would pay reparations to descendants of 1920 massacre victims
A bill introduced by Democratic state Sen. Randolph Bracy would split $10 million among descendants of victims of the Ocoee, Florida, massacre. The bloody Election Day fray in 1920 led to a lynching and the exodus of virtually every black resident in the west Orange community for more than half a century.
CO: Colorado to abandon ballot QR codes, citing election security concerns
Colorado will halt its use of QR codes on ballots, citing concerns over the potential for hostile actors to manipulate voting data. The removal of the codes is a first-in-the-nation security measure, according to Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold's office.
NY: Potential chocolate milk ban in New York City schools draws opposition from farmers
The state's largest farm organization is warning New York City officials against a proposal to ban chocolate milk from school meals. The New York Farm Bureau wrote in a letter to New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza that banning chocolate milk won't produce healthier lunches and will have a substantial negative effect on the state's dairy farmers.
MA: The number of Massachusetts inmates placed in solitary stays high
Last year, about 1 in 5 inmates were placed in isolation at least once, according to biannual reports provided by the Massachusetts Department of Correction. Most inmates remained there for 30 days or fewer, though about one-third were placed in isolation multiple times.
WY: Wyoming lawmakers defeat crossover voting and voter ID bills
Two Wyoming bills – one to eliminate the practice of crossover voting in primary elections, another to eliminate voter fraud by requiring photo identification at the polls – have received considerable attention since first appearing last fall, inspired by national concerns over voter fraud.
MO, KS: Kansas, Missouri’s border war truce cracks with new incentives
Even after the end of the Kansas and Missouri economic border war, Missouri officials plan to award more than $62 million in incentives to aid a Kansas company hopping the state line.
NM: New Mexico governor to award city, county for migrant help
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, will recognize the city of Deming and Luna County for efforts to help asylum seekers over the past several months. Thousands of asylum seekers were released in New Mexico after shelters in Texas filled up.
AZ: Phoenix artists don’t have to make LGBT wedding invitations, Arizona Supreme Court rules
A Phoenix ordinance that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination cannot be used to force artists to create custom wedding invitations for same-sex couples, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled.
VT: In Vermont, ‘toothless ethics agency serves no purpose,’ says new report
Vermont is one of only three states with an independent ethics agency that has “limited or no power” to investigate state officials or impose sanctions, a report has found.
AR: Arkansas Senate leader proposes new vaping tax, regulations
Arkansas Senate President Jim Hendren, a Republican, proposed a new tax and regulations on vaping products, and said he hopes Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson will call lawmakers back to the Capitol to take up the issue. The legislation would subject e-cigarette products to the same taxes as tobacco products.