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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 2/21

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 2/21

FL: Florida minors will need parental consent for abortions

tampabay.com 

The Florida House passed a bill that would make the state one of five that requires minors to get parental consent before getting an abortion. Florida law currently requires that parents or guardians be notified, though minors can obtain a judicial waiver to bypass that requirement.

WA: Washington lawmakers want healthier soil and less gassy cows

crosscut.com

A bipartisan Senate bill in Washington would launch a grant program supporting agricultural practices aimed at carbon sequestering and reducing greenhouse gases, while a House measure would create a healthy soils research program. Both environmentalists and farmers, including fruit growers, dairy and wheat farmers and cattle ranchers, have endorsed the efforts.

CT: Connecticut legislators pitch tax break for college graduates who stay and buy a house

courant.com

Looking to keep young people from leaving the state after college, the Connecticut legislature’s higher education committee has proposed a bill that would offer a tax break to graduates of colleges in the state who stay and purchase a home. The program would allow them to defer $2,500 a year in state income tax payments for up to 10 years.

NY: New York attorney general accuses New York City of fraud over taxi crisis

nytimes.com

New York state’s attorney general accused New York City of committing fraud by significantly inflating the value of yellow taxi medallions and demanded $810 million from the city to compensate the thousands of cabdrivers with debt. The city reaped a profit from the sale of thousands of them at auction at artificially high prices from 2004 to 2017, the attorney general said.

MN: Strike slavery clause from Minnesota’s constitution, officials urge

mprnews.org

A group of lawmakers called on voters to purge an antiquated clause in the Minnesota Constitution that still allows for slavery as punishment for a crime. The constitution, adopted in 1857, makes slavery legal in certain circumstances, reading: “There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the state otherwise than as punishment for a crime of which the party has been convicted.”

KY: House passes medical marijuana bill in first approval of its kind in Kentucky

courier-journal.com

After a decade of failed attempts, the Kentucky House passed a bill to legalize medical marijuana. The proposal, which faces an uphill climb in the Senate, would allow doctors to prescribe cannabis and set up a regulatory framework for patients to obtain it at approved dispensaries. 

MD: Maryland governor vows to oppose sales tax changes

baltimoresun.com

Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan vowed to oppose a proposed change in the sales tax that would reduce the rate but expand who pays it by charging it on an array of services from landscaping to lawyers. Democratic lawmakers say the change would raise billions of dollars needed to improve public schools while having a minimal impact on most Maryland families.

WI: Wisconsin $250 million income tax cut appears headed for veto

jsonlline.com

All Republicans and two Democrats in the Wisconsin legislature approved a $250 million income tax cut, lining up a likely veto by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. The plan would cut income taxes, scale back the personal property tax imposed on businesses and buy down state debt. It would cost the state about $400 million through June 2021.

HI: Hawaii bill would mandate testing kids for lead poisoning

civilbeat.org

Only about a quarter of Hawaii toddlers are checked for dangerous levels of lead in their blood, and the state’s lead prevention program is only in the beginning of its rebuilding after being dormant for nearly 14 years. A Senate bill would require kids to be screened once between 9 and 12 months old and again at 2 years.

AK: Alaska needs broad review of aviation safety, feds say

apnews.com

Alaska's fatal and non-fatal accident rates are far higher than the national average, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. Alaska’s aviation accident rate was 2.35 times higher than the rest of the nation from 2008 to 2017. The fatal accident rate was 1.34 times higher than the national average, according to agency statistics.

WY: Wyoming Senate kills voter ID amendment

wyomingnews.com

The Wyoming Senate voted down an amendment that would have required voters to show a voter ID card or driver’s license on the day of an election. Some lawmakers argued the measure would have limited the voting ability of Wyoming’s elderly population. 

PA: Fight rages over medical malpractice lawsuits in Pennsylvania as report fails to settle the dispute

spotlightpa.org

A long-awaited report by the bipartisan Legislative Budget and Finance Committee concluded that the number of doctors practicing in Pennsylvania does not appear to be closely tied to the cost of malpractice insurance. But the report has only added fuel to the ongoing information war between the state’s health care industry and trial lawyers.

TX: As inmate population shrinks, Texas to close more prisons

texastribune.org

Facing a declining inmate population and dangerous understaffing in prisons, Texas is closing two of its more than 100 lockups. Diversion, treatment and education programs, as well as a low rate of people getting sent back to prison, led to the decision.

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