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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/25

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/25

CA: California issued millions in COVID fines. Employers have paid almost none of them.

sacbee.com

Inspectors with California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health ordered roughly $4.6 million in fines for wrongdoing related to COVID-19 in some 200 workplaces. But more than a year since inspectors noted some of those violations, employers have paid only about 3% of the total charges, according to the financial data.

DE: Delaware lawmakers pass bill that would require body cameras on all police

delawareonline.com

The Democratic-controlled Delaware General Assembly passed a bill that would require body cameras on all police. The bill now heads to Democratic Gov. John Carney, who is expected to sign it into law. It had unanimous support thanks to police backing the bill.

OR: Oregon bill would count ballots mailed on Election Day

oregonlive.com

Oregonians could mail their ballots right up until Election Day and still have them counted, under a bill headed to Democratic Gov. Kate Brown. The bill would eliminate the need for the traditional warning given to voters about five days before each election: “It’s the last day to safely mail your ballot.”

AZ: Arizona Senate's budget includes plan for audit findings, stricter election policies

azcentral.com

A last-minute addition to the Arizona budget approved by senators along party lines would create a committee to receive the findings from the ongoing Maricopa County election review. The committee would make recommendations to the Senate president based on those findings, including calling for a special session to take up legislation.

TX: Texas governor vetoes bill that would ban testimony based on hypnosis

dallasnews.com

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has vetoed a bill that would have banned people who have been hypnotized from testifying in a criminal trial. The bill earned bipartisan support after The Dallas Morning News published an investigative series that exposed how law enforcement officers in Texas use hypnosis despite scientific evidence that the practice can distort memory and lead to wrongful convictions. 

NJ: New Jersey could soon ban new cosmetics that are developed or tested on animals

nj.com

New Jersey lawmakers took another step to beef up the state’s rules against selling cosmetics that have been tested on animals.

RI: Rhode Island Senate approves body-camera legislation

bostonglobe.com

Just a week after Rhode Island’s leaders announced plans to equip 1,700 police officers and state troopers with body-worn cameras in the next 12 to 18 months, the legislation is sailing through the General Assembly. The House approved its bill, and the Senate voted unanimously; the companion legislation will also need approval.

WI: Black vaccination rate trails that of other Wisconsin groups 

jsonline.com

The state Department of Health Services reported 26.1% of Black Wisconsinites have received one dose, while 22.5% are fully vaccinated. Statewide, just under 50% of all residents have received at least one shot.

WY: Unvaccinated Wyomingites make up vast majority of state’s COVID infections and hospitalizations

oilcity.news

The Wyoming Department of Health says data gathered from Wyoming residents who have tested positive with COVID-19 prove the effectiveness and safety of vaccines. A review of more than 2,400 lab-confirmed and probable cases in Wyoming residents age 16 and older between May 1 and June 15 shows that around 95% of them were not fully vaccinated against the virus. 

CT: Connecticut’s marijuana law also restricts where people can smoke tobacco

courant.com

Connecticut’s new law legalizing cannabis comes with a twist: new restrictions on where people can smoke tobacco. In addition to being banned in health care settings, restaurants, state buildings and more, smoking will now be prohibited in hotels, motels and other places of lodging, as well as in correctional facilities and halfway houses.

MO: As gambling machines spread through Missouri, lottery officials worry about revenue loss

stltoday.com

The Missouri legislature’s failure to address the spread of illegal gambling during the most recent legislative session could siphon off dollars that people might otherwise pay for lottery games, according to the state’s lottery director. 

CO: New Colorado law limits purchases of high-potency marijuana concentrates starting in 2022

denverpost.com

Marijuana dispensaries in Colorado will soon have to restrict daily purchases of concentrates and ensure their products explicitly state serving sizes. Additional regulations will make it harder for people ages 18-20 to get medical marijuana cards, and the Colorado School of Public Health is charged with analyzing research related to high-potency THC marijuana and concentrates and creating an educational campaign.

OH: Ohio lawmakers add anti-vaccination language to unrelated bill

cleveland.com

A top Republican in the Ohio House said that a controversial anti-vaccination bill lacked the votes to advance out of committee in its current form. The House GOP passed elements of the bill by tacking them onto unrelated legislation that allocates federal coronavirus relief funds.

WA: Washington governor extends eviction ban

seattletimes.com

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, announced an extension of the emergency ban on evictions through Sept. 30 in an effort to help Washington tenants navigate the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

NH: New Hampshire lawmakers pass $13.5B budget

apnews.com

The Republican-led New Hampshire legislature passed a two-year state budget that includes not only $13.5 billion in spending but tax cuts, abortion restrictions and controversial education programs and policies.

ME: Maine governor vetoes bill that would close youth prison

pressherald.com

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills vetoed a bill that would require the Maine Department of Corrections to close Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland. In her veto message to lawmakers, Mills called the bill “fundamentally flawed” because it would close Maine’s only youth detention facility before alternative sites are available.

VT: Vermont ranks No. 1 for narrowing gender-wage gap, study finds

burlingtonfreepress.com

Vermont ranks No. 1 for narrowing the gender-wage gap, according to a recent study. But there's still work to be done to reach equity and to improve the gap for other marginalized groups.

AK: Alaska governor beckons Biden to open border

alaskapublic.org

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, a Republican, has taken to Twitter to needle the federal government for not trying harder to open the Canadian border so Americans can drive to Alaska. “The Alaska highway is a vital part of our state’s economy and the Biden Administration MUST do more to open this route through Canada," he tweeted. 

IA: Iowa student leaders criticize lawmakers over university funding freeze

iowacapitaldispatch.com

Student leaders at Iowa’s public universities decried the state’s decision not to increase funding to the Board of Regents, prompting a proposed tuition increase for the upcoming year.

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