Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/19

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/19

CA: Governor signs bill rewriting California employment law, limiting use of independent contractors

latimes.com

California businesses will be limited in their use of independent contractors under a closely watched proposal signed into law by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, a decision that is unlikely to quell a growing debate over the rules and nature of work in the 21st century economy.

MD: Audit: Maryland agency failed to verify incentives created jobs

baltimoresun.com

In many cases, the audit found, the Maryland Department of Commerce relied on information provided by the companies or on infrequent reviews by its internal audits office — steps that were “insufficient to ensure compliance" with program regulations, state auditors found.

NC: North Carolina's GOP Medicaid expansion back in play

newsobserver.com

The topic at the heart of the summerlong state budget standoff — Medicaid expansion — is getting renewed attention in North Carolina after state House Republicans surprised Democrats with a budget vote while most of them were absent. The key differences between Democratic and Republican proposals are a work requirement and monthly premium.

FL: After new law, Florida police issue few tickets for texting while driving

tampabay.com

Police in Florida have ticketed just 542 drivers for texting while driving, about seven tickets a day, since a new law took effect July 1, a highway patrol official told lawmakers. But that low number is intentional. Florida Highway Patrol troopers, along with most police in the state, are opting to warn drivers rather than ticket them so they can alert them about the new law.

PA: Pennsylvania implores residents to kill an invasive bug on sight

nytimes.com

Hordes of spotted lanternflies are flapping through Pennsylvania, threatening agriculture. In response to the insect infiltration, the state Department of Agriculture has quarantined 14 counties — regulating what can be taken in and out — and has set up a portal and a hotline (1-888-4BADFLY) to report sightings of the species, which is native to parts of Asia.

NY: New York lawmakers propose end to single-use plastic hotel toiletries

timesunion.com

The days of taking home free shampoo and body wash from New York hotels could be coming to an end. A group of Democratic state lawmakers are pushing legislation that would ban hotels across the state from using toiletries packaged in single-use plastic containers.

TX: Beto O'Rourke's call for mandatory buyback of assault weapons roils Texas politics

texastribune.org

For Texas Republicans, the Democratic presidential candidate from El Paso has proven a unifying foil as they fracture over whether to expand background checks. For Democrats, his proposal represents something of a new litmus test that is already reverberating down-ballot.

LA: Louisiana governor election won’t uproot Medicaid expansion

apnews.com

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Republican challengers in this year’s governor’s race are slamming his administration’s rollout of Medicaid expansion but not the program’s creation, even though Louisiana is a conservative state that solidly supports President Donald Trump. Edwards moved quickly to expand Medicaid in Louisiana when he took office in 2016, making his state the only one to do so in the Deep South.

CO: Colorado’s reinsurance program could fall short next year

coloradosun.com

Colorado’s much-lauded reinsurance program — credited with dramatically reducing health insurance prices next year for people who purchase coverage on their own — could cost as much as $50 million more than the state estimated next year if early projections from insurers prove correct.

UT: Utah lawmakers scrutinize law enforcement’s facial recognition scans of state driver’s licenses

sltrib.com

Utah lawmakers said that it may be time to hit the pause button on state use of facial recognition technology that allows immigration and law enforcement officials to pore through all Utah driver’s license photos to identify criminals, witnesses or others of interest.

MI: Michigan shops have 14 days to remove flavored vape products from shelves

freep.com

Michigan was the first state to issue a ban on flavored vapes amid growing health concerns surrounding vaping. At least six deaths have been attributed to a lung disease, and six people in Michigan have been hospitalized, according to the state’s health department.

CT: Connecticut Republicans move for special session on food tax

courant.com

Connecticut Republican legislators launched a petition to force a special session to fix a new tax on prepared foods sold at grocery stores. Republicans and Democrats have been clashing for nearly a week since the state tax department said multiple items at grocery stores would be taxed for the first time under the department’s interpretation of the state budget that was passed in June.

WI: GOP lawmaker vows to kill Wisconsin rules to reduce farm manure smell

apnews.com

A key Republican lawmaker vowed to block new state restrictions designed to protect farmers’ neighbors from the stench of manure following a flurry of complaints from Wisconsin’s agricultural community. The state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has spent the past three years drafting revisions to farm siting regulations. 

OR: Union for Oregon public university workers authorizes strike

registerguard.com

Oregon’s public university workers voted to authorize a strike if the union and universities’ representatives can’t reach an agreement on a new contract in negotiations by next Monday. Classified workers for the state’s seven public universities would officially start the strike Sept. 30, according to an announcement from their union, which represents 4,500 public university workers.

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