What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/28
TX: Amid Uvalde fallout, Texas agency seeks $1.2B for academy and active-shooter training facility
The Texas Department of Public Safety wants $1.2 billion to turn its training center north of Austin into a full-time statewide law enforcement academy — starting with a state-of-the-art active-shooter facility that would need a nearly half-billion-dollar investment from Texas taxpayers next year.
FL: Florida’s foster care system provides dangerous sex traffickers with easy access to vulnerable children
A yearlong investigation by the South Florida Sun Sentinel exposed the complicity of Florida’s child welfare system in underage sex trafficking, through evidence found in government records, state and federal lawsuits, research studies and interviews with victims and family members.
IN: Indiana lawmakers seek to rein in local prosecutors
The Indiana General Assembly appears far from achieving consensus on whether, or how, to sanction county prosecutors who categorically decline to file charges under state laws on issues such as abortion and marijuana.
AK: In new bipartisan Alaska Senate majority, members vow compromise and consensus
Seventeen of Alaska’s 20 state senators and senator-elects have banded together to form a bipartisan majority coalition that members promise will be moderate and consensus-focused. The new majority formalizes what had been a de facto coalition in recent years comprising Senate Democrats and the more moderate Republicans.
NY: Is New York on the way to legalizing ‘magic mushrooms?’
A small but growing movement to legalize "magic mushrooms" has been taking shape Thursday evenings at an upstate New York mushroom shop which currently sells only non-psychedelic edible fungi. The movement is aimed at the legislature where there are two decriminalization state Assembly bills floating around, though a Senate sponsor is still needed.
CA: California OKs $1B for EV charging project, mostly for trucks
The California Public Utilities Commission has approved a $1 billion vehicle electrification charging project, with most of the money earmarked to accelerate the number of midsize- and heavy-duty trucks on the state’s roads.
CO: Many Colorado foster kids don’t get behavioral health screenings as fast as they should
Many Colorado foster children are not being screened for mental health problems as quickly as they should be, according to data recently reviewed by state lawmakers, who said they are concerned about that lag in care and other issues raised in a Colorado Sun investigation about broken adoptions.
NJ: All of New Jersey’s adult legal weed stores are run by big corporations. That has to change, many say
With the last big company-owned dispensary selling adult recreational marijuana in New Jersey this year up and running in Fort Lee, smaller operators like Salvatore Piazza contend the state must now focus on helping folks like himself, the so-called little guys trying to enter the nascent cannabis industry.
DC: District of Columbia pleads for attention from Senate, Biden on big judicial vacancies
The perpetual crisis of large numbers of judicial vacancies on the D.C. Superior Court and Court of Appeals has underscored how Congress, even though it oversees the District of Columbia, does not always tend to the city’s needs, even when they are pressing.
VT: Governor launches new equity initiative focused on Vermont municipalities
Republican Gov. Phil Scott announced that a new statewide program, called IDEAL — Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Action and Leadership — will encourage Vermont’s municipalities to focus more proactively on equity. The executive director of the state’s Office of Racial Equity said her office will coordinate the program, providing a bridge between local and state officials on issues of equity.
LA: Once dominated by behemoths, Louisiana insurance increasingly provided by unproven carriers
A sizable share of Louisiana homeowners now buy their insurance from small, undercapitalized and often unproven companies that lack the huge reserves to protect them when catastrophe strikes.
MN: Minnesota counties take millions in federal benefits meant for children in foster care
Under a longstanding practice, Minnesota counties are withholding monthly Social Security payments from foster children whose parents have died or have become disabled, and instead are using the money to offset the cost of county foster care. Based on new data, child advocacy groups estimate that each year between $6 million and $11 million in federal payments are being taken from some 1,400 foster youths statewide.
NE: Bird flu prompts slaughter of 1.8M chickens in Nebraska
Nebraska agriculture officials say another 1.8 million chickens must be killed after bird flu was found on a farm. More than 52.3 million birds in 46 states — mostly chickens and turkeys on commercial farms — have been slaughtered as part of this year’s outbreak.
NM: Some New Mexico residents may no longer qualify for Medicaid
Up to 100,000 New Mexicans may no longer qualify for Medicaid next year. That’s because the state’s Medicaid program is bracing for the end of the federal COVID-19 health emergency – expected to come next year – that will close off additional funding for the state, and restructure eligibility on an annual basis as done in previous years.
OK: Oklahoma’s next big election will ask voters to legalize recreational marijuana
As the decades-long push to legalize marijuana state-by-state nears the halfway point, Oklahoma could provide an interesting case study when voters decide whether to legalize adult cannabis use in March. Opposition has begun to emerge, including from Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt.