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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/21

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/21

FL: Over $1.4M in Florida taxpayer dollars still unaccounted for in migrant flight program 

miamiherald.com

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration has so far paid more than $1.56 million to a politically connected contractor for a program to fly migrants from Texas to northeastern states — but the private jets chartered by the contractor cost only a fraction of that sum. 

TN: Tennessee Supreme Court strikes down juvenile life sentence law

tennessean.com

Juveniles convicted of first-degree murder in Tennessee no longer face a mandatory 51-year sentence after the state Supreme Court found the law violates the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.

TX: Texas energy officials’ proposal to overhaul the power grid draws skepticism

texastribune.org

In the wake of the deadly 2021 winter storm, the Texas legislature ordered an overhaul of the state’s power market to prevent future widespread blackouts. But some senators aren’t fans of the main option on the table.

CA: California governor upbeat after meeting with local leaders on homelessness, but funding remains unclear

sacbee.com

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom said a meeting with local California leaders on efforts to reduce homelessness exceeded his expectations. Yet the status of the $1 billion in state funding he halted two weeks ago remained unclear.

OK: Oklahoma Turnpike Authority secretly buys website names opposing $5B expansion plan

oklahoman.com

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, which pledged to be transparent in its implementation of a proposed $5 billion expansion plan, quietly bought 23 internet domains two weeks before presenting the plan to the public.

GA: Georgia election audit finds close match in hand and machine counts

ajc.com

An election audit showed similar results between a hand count and machine tally of ballots in the secretary of state’s race, a result that Georgia election officials said confirmed the outcome.

WI: Wisconsin Republicans gain the power to impeach state officials, speed up bills

jsonline.com

Wisconsin Republicans fell short this month of creating a veto-proof majority in the state legislature, but GOP lawmakers have unlocked new powers by adding enough members in the state Senate to be able to expedite legislation and remove state officials for crimes or corruption.

OH: Nursing homes spent big on Ohio politics. They could be in for a big Medicaid boost

cleveland.com

Ohio lawmakers are considering legislation that could send hundreds of millions in extra funds to Ohio’s nursing home industry – a political powerhouse that says its facilities are underwater.

IL: Courts, bargaining table are likely next fronts in battle over Illinois workers’ rights amendment 

chicagotribune.com

There’s little common ground between opposing sides of the recently approved amendment enshrining collective bargaining rights in the Illinois Constitution, but they do agree on one thing: The real-world effects of the change will be determined at bargaining tables and in courtrooms in the years ahead.

LA: Louisiana wants an investigation into $147M grant for homeowners

theadvocate.com

The Louisiana legislative auditor has been asked to investigate whether employees of a Mississippi company hired by the state to handle a $147 million homeowners relief fund set up during the pandemic improperly received money from the grant program they were administering.

WA: New Washington agency seeks to end practice of police investigating themselves

seattletimes.com

A small cadre of officials from Washington’s newest agency traveled last month from Olympia to Spokane, where they explained how they intend to erase the “thin blue line” from state police use-of-force investigations.

OR: Oregon lost students but added teachers

oregonlive.com

The total number of teachers employed in Oregon’s public schools in the 2021-2022 school year hit an all-time high, even as the number of enrolled students dropped precipitously, to its lowest level in nearly two decades.

MT: Blackfeet Nation challenges Montana vaccine ban as violation of tribal sovereignty

dailymontanan.com

The Blackfeet Nation tribe says it should be allowed to defend itself against “an unlawful attempt” to enforce Montana state law within the reservation’s boundaries and to protect its rights to self-governance that were agreed upon in an 1855 treaty with the U.S., according to court documents.

MA: Some ousted cops find new jobs in Massachusetts

wbur.org

WBUR found more than a dozen current Massachusetts police officers were previously fired or resigned from another department after the launch of a misconduct investigation.

MN: Eyeing state surplus, Minnesota DNR to try again for huge outdoors investment

startribune.com

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' to-do list is substantial, and with Democrats now in control of Minnesota's House, Senate and governor's office, the agency has a greater chance of getting the "once-in-a-generation" spending to manage natural resources and improve outdoors access it failed to secure last session.

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