Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/21

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/21

MA: Massachusetts lawmakers pass nation’s toughest restrictions on sale of flavored tobacco and vaping products

bostonglobe.com

State lawmakers passed the nation’s toughest restrictions on the sale of flavored tobacco and vaping products, including menthol — a forceful response to an epidemic in which 1 in 5 Massachusetts high-schoolers use e-cigarettes. The legislation targets both traditional and electronic cigarettes, including banning sales of mint and menthol flavors in what is believed to be the first such prohibition on a statewide level.

TN: Tennessee becomes first state to ask for Medicaid 'block grant'

timesfreepress.com

Republican Gov. Bill Lee's administration formally filed with the Trump administration an ambitious block-grant funding proposal aimed at transforming Tennessee’s Medicaid program and freeing it from many federal rules.

PA: Pennsylvania starts testing new election auditing procedures

papost.org

Pennsylvania’s elections changes aren’t limited to deploying new voting machines and making sweeping changes to absentee voting and registration deadlines. Officials also are working on new post-election auditing procedures that employ statistical modeling.

WI: Group files federal lawsuit against Wisconsin student voter ID laws

wpr.org

A national advocacy organization that promotes student voting has filed a federal lawsuit challenging parts of Wisconsin’s voter ID law. The lawsuit, brought by the Andrew Goodman Foundation, argues the state's requirements for student IDs that can be used as voter IDs go too far and make it too difficult for young people to vote.

AK: Free to a good home: One newspaper in Alaska

apnews.com

The Skagway News publisher is willing to give the newspaper to the right person or couple who are willing to move to Skagway, Alaska, a cruise ship town that once boasted four newspapers during the height of the Klondike Gold Rush. The paper has a circulation of about 500, pretty good for a town with a population of less than 1,000 people, but the population swells with young people in the summer working tourism jobs.

MN: Minnesota pledges $15M of Volkswagen settlement to electric vehicles, charging stations

inforum.com

State regulators have earmarked approximately $15 million of settlement funds from a federal lawsuit with Volkswagen to replace Minnesota school buses and heavy-duty vehicles with ones powered by electric motors.

TX: As government prepares to seize more land for a border wall, some Texas landowners prepare to fight

texastribune.org

The Trump administration has moved ahead with construction of new barriers in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley and is preparing court filings to seize more land in the area before the end of the month — without first telling landowners how much they'll be offered for their land.

MD: Maryland comptroller touts biggest tobacco bust in state history

baltimoresun.com

Maryland’s comptroller says his agents have completed the largest bust of untaxed tobacco products in state history. State agents announced that they seized more than $450,000 worth of cigars, hookah tobacco, cigarettes and other tobacco products during a series of raids earlier this month at storage units, stores, a home and a car.

NV: Teachers union launches campaign to boost Nevada education spending

reviewjournal.com

The Clark County teachers union is increasing member dues to pay for a multimillion-dollar campaign that would ask Nevada voters to approve a tax increase to provide at least $1 billion more annually for public education. The campaign aims to create two companion initiative petitions to raise taxes.

WA: Washington's carbon emissions remain high

kuow.org

Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions rose 1.7% in 2016 and remained virtually unchanged in 2017. The numbers are bad news for the climate and for a governor who has staked his national reputation on tackling climate change, though emissions have grown more slowly than Washington's population or economy.

OR: Rural counties win $1B suit against Oregon for failing to maximize timber harvests

oregonlive.com

Oregon breached its contract with 13 rural counties and 151 local taxing districts by failing to maximize timber harvests and resulting payments to those counties, a jury found, declaring the state owed those counties $1 billion in damages.

MO: Over 6K untested rape kits found in Missouri

columbiamissourian.com

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced the counting of untested sexual assault forensic evidence (SAFE) kits in Missouri is now complete. Schmitt said that only 830 of the nearly 7,000 kits had been previously tested. The backlog of SAFE kits dates back 39 years, with the oldest kit from 1980.

CA: California’s budget could soon be flush with $26B in unspent cash

latimes.com

In a sign that California’s economy might remain at cruising altitude into the new year and beyond, analysts said the state budget could see a record $26 billion in cash reserves by the summer of 2021, with more than a quarter of that amount an unrestricted surplus that lawmakers could use at their discretion.

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