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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/16

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/16

NY: New York governor slams social media companies for live-streaming mass shooting

wivb.com

New York Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul called out social media companies after the mass shooting in Buffalo, saying the platform providers must be more vigilant in monitoring hateful content. “Mark my words: We’ll be aggressive in our pursuit of anyone who subscribes to the ideals professed by other White supremacists, and how there’s a feeding frenzy on social media platforms,” she said.

TX: Texas power grid falters in first heat wave

houstonchronicle.com

With temperatures soaring, Texas’ electricity monitor warned that six power plants had failed, forcing the state to call on residents to reduce air conditioning use and watch their energy consumption through the weekend. After deadly outages during last year’s winter storms, GOP officials had declared they repaired the electric grid.

US: New map shows wildfire risk to American homes

nytimes.com

The nation’s wildfire risk is widespread and accelerating quickly, according to new data that, for the first time, calculates the risk facing every property in the contiguous United States. The data, released by the First Street Foundation, a nonprofit research group in New York, comes as rising housing prices push Americans deeper into fire-prone areas.

MO: Missouri lawmakers pass limits on hospital COVID visitor restrictions

missouriindependent.com 

Missouri lawmakers approved legislation that aims to ensure residents can access their family members in the face of visitor restrictions at hospitals. Health care facilities would have to allow at least two visitors to see a patient in person during visiting hours.

OK: Oklahoma legislature approves bill to stop spam calls

oklahoman.com

In an attempt to limit spam phone calls, the Oklahoma legislature gave final passage to a bill that would prohibit calls before 8 a.m. and after 8 p.m. and those that use automatic dialing systems or pre-recorded or altered voices.

MA: School takeovers by Massachusetts haven’t worked, analysis finds

bostonglobe.com

As Massachusetts considers taking control of Boston Public Schools, evidence suggests the state has failed to make meaningful progress in turning around much smaller districts it currently oversees. A Boston Globe analysis of more than a dozen metrics in Lawrence, Holyoke and Southbridge districts shows the state has failed to meet almost all its stated goals.

IL: Illinois governor signs measure to confront organized retail theft 

chicagotribune.com 

Illinois Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law a measure aimed at groups that engage in large-scale retail theft and then sell the stolen goods online. Organized retail crime has garnered headlines through both smash-and-grab thefts at high-end stores and large-scale operations targeting railroad and trucking cargo. 

CO: Tax refund checks now likely at least $100 more than expected, Colorado officials say

denverpost.com

Colorado already was poised to refund more than $2 billion of tax revenue, a historically high amount. The Department of Revenue is “almost certain” the number will come in above the March projection and that taxpayers can expect more refunded money, potentially above $500 per person.

OR: Oregon's 'underemployment' rate hits a record low

oregonlive.com

Oregon's “underemployment” rate, which includes those who have recently stopped looking for work and those stuck in part-time jobs, was 7.4% in March, the lowest point on record. Oregon has more than 100,000 job vacancies, with open jobs outnumbering the unemployed.

CA: In California’s high-risk fire country, Airbnb offers guests no warning or escape plan

latimes.com

Across California, thousands of short-term Airbnb rentals operate in the state’s most hazardous fire zones, but the company does not provide warnings or evacuation information to guests when they make a reservation. Some customers insist the company’s refund policy adds to the potential dangers.

AZ: Arizona ballot measure would let voters expand access

azcentral.com

Lawmakers aren't the only ones with lots of ideas on how to change Arizona elections. A citizen initiative circulating in the state has proposals of its own—nearly three dozen of them—and most are diametrically opposed to where Republicans are headed.

MT: Montana reverses course to seek COVID federal food aid

montanafreepress.org

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services announced that it is seeking another round of pandemic-era food assistance funding from the federal government, reversing a decision the agency made earlier this spring to halt participation in the program. 

TN: Records raise new questions about suspended execution in Tennessee

tennessean.com

Public records raise new questions about the now-suspended execution of Oscar Franklin Smith and whether the Tennessee Department of Correction properly followed the state's rules for lethal injection drugs. The records, obtained by The Tennessean, include text messages between two individuals about whether the drugs were properly tested in advance.

WA: With summer around the corner, Washington's ferry service is still struggling

kuow.org

These days, increasingly erratic ferry services in Washington make driving on a ferry for a quick trip a big gamble. An aging fleet and staffing issues have played a role in creating the inconsistent ferry schedule for riders, and summer will bring more visitors.

 

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