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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/25

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/25

US: Wildfires burn more than 150K acres in 3 states

nytimes.com

Wildfires in Arizona, Nebraska and New Mexico have left at least one person dead and destroyed hundreds of structures. The fires are part of an early and active season across the country, as wildfires also have plagued California, Colorado and Texas.

CA: Despite new duplex law in California, little has changed in the housing crisis        

calmatters.org

A 2021 law was supposed to herald the end of the single-family zoning that many point to as a culprit of California’s housing crisis. But four months into the new era, little has changed, and the scant enforcement of the law has come about largely because of pro-housing activists.

FL: Florida governor signs bill to limit discussion of race 

apnews.com  

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law new guidelines involving race-based discussions in businesses and schools as part of his campaign against critical race theory, which he called “pernicious” ideology. 

AK: Alaska aims to take over enforcement of Clean Water Act from the feds
adn.com

adn.com
The Alaska legislature is considering a state takeover of a major federal environmental permitting process. The goal, administration officials have said, is to speed the construction of roads, bridges, mines and drilling projects.

TX: ‘Tampon tax’ critics hope lawsuit can build pressure for the Texas legislature to repeal

dallasnews.com

Six years of demanding a repeal of the “tampon tax” in Texas haven’t worked. Activists appear poised to try a new tack—mounting a lawsuit to build pressure on lawmakers.

TN: Tennessee lawmakers approve funding for new stadium for NFL Titans

tennessean.com

After drawn-out negotiations, the Tennessee Senate and House passed a state budget that will include $500 million in bonds for a new Nashville stadium for the NFL Titans.

IL: Illinois school districts await $87M owed after state overpaid Chicago Public Schools 

chicagotribune.com

Hundreds of Illinois school districts are awaiting their share of $87 million in funding mistakenly allocated to Chicago Public Schools, which has been asked to reimburse the state for the overpayment.

AR: Arkansas governor looking at possible special session

apnews.com

Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he was considering calling a special session of the legislature later this year after finance officials said they expected the state’s surplus to hit $1 billion by the end of the year. Hutchinson said he was weighing proposals to use the surplus money to expand broadband access in the state, fund school buildings and cut taxes.

MA: Massachusetts governor calls for tax cuts ahead of budget debate

bostonglobe.com

With tax revenues over projections and inflation squeezing spenders at the checkout line, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, worked to build support for a tax package that he said would give nearly $700 million back to taxpayers in the form of new tax breaks and other changes.

OR: US invests millions to reduce fire risk in central Oregon
opb.org

opb.org
A huge influx of federal funding will be put to work on Central Oregon forests to lower the risk of catastrophic fire next door to growing cities. The U.S. Forest Service this month announced a $41.3 million investment in fire treatment on 50,000 acres of public lands in the region, most of it in the Deschutes National Forest.

MS: Mississippi governor vetoes bill easing Jim Crow-era voting restrictions

mississippitoday.org

Mississippi Republican Gov. Tate Reeves vetoed a bill intended to make it easier for some people who lost their voting rights as a result of a Jim Crow-era provision of the state’s 1890 Constitution to regain their right to vote.

MI: Human error causes ‘voting fiasco’ at Michigan Republican endorsement convention
mlive.com

mlive.com
Voting was halted briefly during the Michigan Republican endorsement convention, upsetting many members. Races and candidates on the ballot were displayed on large screens, but the order of the races on the screen didn’t match the order on the ballot, spurring confusion.

HI: US military drops appeal of Hawaii order to drain fuel tanks

apnews.com

The U.S. government dropped its appeals of a Hawaii order requiring it to remove fuel from a massive military fuel storage facility that leaked petroleum into the Navy’s water system at Pearl Harbor last year.

IA: Iowa auditor alleges state Department of Natural Resources is violating water, air laws

iowacapitaldispatch.com

The state auditor says Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources is violating laws intended to protect the state’s air and water. The auditor says the department has not cataloged county wetlands or worked to acquire wetlands through the closures of agriculture drainage wells. It also has not developed a compliance panel mandated by the federal Clean Air Act, the auditor says.

CT: Connecticut Senate passes sweeping children’s mental health legislation 

ctmirror.org

The first of three sweeping bills meant to improve services for children’s mental health in Connecticut cleared the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support. It now heads to the House. 

WA: Enrollment plummets at Washington's colleges, especially among men
seattletimes.com

seattletimes.com

Community and technical colleges in Washington experienced a combined 24% enrollment drop between fall 2019 and fall 2021. Public four-year institutions saw a collective drop in undergraduates of nearly 7% during that time period. Education leaders are still untangling the reasons the pandemic kept students away.

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