Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 10/18

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 10/18

NJ: New Jersey promised to treat its dead better. Instead, more bodies are piling up and staff is fleeing.

nj.com

New Jersey’s busiest office has been working under a crippling caseload in recent months, with as many as 40 bodies stashed away as they awaited review, NJ Advance Media found. Funeral directors and families have been forced to delay burial services because of the backlog. And the medical examiner’s office has fewer workers today than it did a year ago.

MO: Children in Missouri city have been killed at 10 times the national rate

stltoday.com

The child homicide rate in St. Louis, Missouri, towers over similar cities: Quadruple that of Indianapolis and Kansas City, triple Milwaukee and double that of Baltimore, which, like St. Louis, draws its boundaries tight around its city center.

TX: Texans die when they can't pay cooling bills

gatehousenews.com

Dozens of Texans died of heat-related causes inside their homes over the past decade. Many were rationing their electricity to avoid massive summertime bills.

IN: Nonprofit files federal lawsuit over Indiana voting machines

indystar.com

An Indiana nonprofit and five residents have filed a federal complaint against the Indiana Election Commission and the secretary of state over the state's lack of voting machines that produce a paper trail. The lawsuit alleges that the state has exhibited a lack of urgency in eliminating the use of direct recording electronic, or DRE, voting machines.

CA: California families at risk for hunger while one-third of crops rot in the fields

sacbee.com

A study from Santa Clara University revealed that a whopping one-third of the hand-picked crops grown in California are left to rot in the field. At the same time, many of the families whose members pick those crops are hungry.

OK: Oklahoma chronic pain patients complain obtaining opioid medications has become difficult

oklahoman.com

About 40 chronic pain patients and their advocates rallied outside the Oklahoma attorney general's office, complaining that the government crackdown on opioid overprescribing has made it difficult to obtain the pain relief they need.

WI: Wisconsin faces $127 million shortfall in plan to close troubled youth prison

jsonline.com

Wisconsin lawmakers could be $127 million short in what state prison officials say is needed to carry out a plan to close a long-troubled youth prison and open smaller facilities for teen offenders.

MI: Michigan vaping ban on hold

mlive.com

Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer defended the state's ban on vaping, saying that marketing to children created a health emergency. A state judge put the ban on hold during a lawsuit by a vaping retailer.

OR: Court halts Oregon's flavored vape ban

oregonlive.com

Oregon vape shops won a temporary stay on the governor’s flavored vaping ban, putting a halt to the action just two days after the ban took effect. The Oregon Court of Appeals ruling appears to apply only to tobacco-based vaping products, sold under the oversight of the Oregon Health Authority. 

VA: Virginia Board of Education approves rule changes requiring nearly $1B more for public schools

richmond.com

The governing body for Virginia’s public education system wants state lawmakers to give schools an influx of nearly $1 billion. The Virginia Board of Education unanimously approved changes to the state’s Standards of Quality, the base requirements public schools are expected to meet. The revised standards call for roughly $950 million in recurring funding.

WY: Wyoming's new 'stand your ground' law could have broad implications

trib.com

Wyoming's law, passed in 2018, promised increased legal protections for people acting in self-defense. Ambiguous language means the Wyoming Supreme Court might have to review every criminal case that involves certain self-defense provisions, a state supreme court justice said.

AK: Feds announce $42 million for rural Alaska public safety

adn.com

The U.S. Department of Justice will give $42 million to Alaska Native tribes and to support tribal victim services and village law enforcement. Village leaders in some communities with no law enforcement say the lack of available officer housing, holding cells and other infrastructure has prevented hires.

MD: Maryland courts chipping away at backlog of asbestos cases

marylandmatters.org

Maryland’s court system is slowly chipping away at the prodigious backlog of asbestos-related litigation, according to a report prepared this week for the General Assembly by the Maryland Administrative Office of the Courts. The backlog of liability cases, some dating back to the 1980s, prompted a flurry of activity in the legislative session earlier this year.

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