What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/17
NJ: New Jersey governor calls for more gun laws after Buffalo shooting
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, issued a sharp plea for federal and state lawmakers to pass more gun-control laws in the wake of mass shootings in Buffalo and other American cities this weekend, saying those opposed “can shove their ‘thoughts and prayers.’”
MI: Michigan Republicans eye poll inspector jobs
The Republican Party wants to turn disaffected voters into boots on the ground, asking thousands to work as election inspectors in Michigan's largest cities. Matt Seifried, the Michigan elections integrity director for the Republican National Committee, has crisscrossed the state to push the effort.
HI: Lower electric bills or more jobs? Hawaii grapples with a green economy
Hawaii lawmakers did an abrupt—and secretive—about-face as the session ended when they revamped a bill putting limits on some renewable energy sources. Solar energy advocates say the measure, headed to Democratic Gov. David Ige for his signature, would kill their industry.
WA: Flush with federal cash, Washington cities steer resources to police
Two years after the murder of George Floyd sparked a reckoning over the role of police, local officials throughout Washington state are putting millions in flexible, one-time federal recovery dollars back into police budgets. Cities are spending on everything from new cruisers to body cameras to bonuses.
NY: New draft congressional maps ‘pretty bad news’ for New York Democrats
A new draft congressional map proffered by a state Supreme Court-appointed political scientist would shake up the political boundaries of several upstate New York districts and is "pretty bad news" for Democrats across the state, according to a top national redistricting analyst.
AK: Alaska House approves major changes to alcohol laws
The Alaska House decisively ended 10 years of struggle by passing a sweeping overhaul of the state’s alcohol laws. The bill, supported by the industry, comprehensively changes the way Alaska regulates alcohol-serving businesses and punishes them if things go wrong.
CO: Colorado governor signs bills to cap property taxes, stall gas fee
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, began his post-General Assembly bill-signing tour by signing into law an effort to blunt the bite of rising property taxes and another that delayed a gasoline fee initially set to go into effect this year.
NM: New Mexico wildfire is now the largest in state history
The teams battling the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire said that the blaze has grown to more than 298,000 acres, making it the largest wildfire in New Mexico history. It took just 40 days for the wildfire to achieve that dubious distinction, chasing thousands of people from their homes and destroying more than 580 structures and at least 170 homes.
OK: New Oklahoma laws boost funding for medical marijuana enforcement
New laws recently signed by Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt will increase funding for local enforcement of the medical marijuana industry, as well as target illicit sales of cannabis in Oklahoma. County sheriffs are now able to receive grant funding to dedicate a full-time deputy to assist with compliance visits conducted by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority.
FL: Florida may take over Disney improvement district, governor says
The state will likely assume control of Disney World’s improvement district, rather than local governments absorbing it, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said. He has been feuding with Disney over its opposition to a measure officially titled Parental Rights in Education but known as the “don’t say gay” law by critics.
NV: A COVID testing company had contracts across Nevada. Its tests didn’t work.
An investigation into a testing company’s operations in Nevada, including a review of more than 3,000 pages of internal emails obtained through public records requests, shows the Chicago-based laboratory’s COVID-19 testing was unreliable from the start.
CA: With inflation, California worries about progress on poverty
As the state’s Democratic leaders weigh how to spend a record $97.5 billion budget surplus, they also are grappling with how best to keep many vulnerable Californians out of poverty with federal stimulus dollars waning and high inflation devouring household budgets.
TX: Data breach at Texas agency exposed personal info of 1.8M residents, audit says
The Texas Department of Insurance said the personal information of 1.8 million workers who have filed compensation claims—including Social Security numbers, addresses, dates of birth, phone numbers and information about workers’ injuries—was publicly accessible online from March 2019 to January 2022.
ID: Hispanics are a growing force in Idaho’s economy
Nearly all of Idaho’s racial and ethnic groups saw their buying power expand faster than the U.S. average over 10 years, according to a new Idaho Department of Labor report. But with a growing number of Hispanic Idahoans in the workforce and starting small businesses, the Hispanic population’s buying power is rocketing ahead.
WV: Environmental groups threaten to sue West Virginia governor’s family coal company
West Virginia Republican Gov. Jim Justice’s coal companies have been issued a long string of environmental violations and faced scrutiny for not cleaning up their mines. Now, Appalachian Voices is one of three conservationist groups threatening to sue one of the Justice family’s coal companies for alleged violations of state reclamation standards.