What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/21

Top State Stories 6/21

NM: New Mexico revenue may exceed forecasts for this fiscal year

New Mexico revenue is on track to exceed projections by roughly $130 million in the fiscal year ending this month, providing hope that lawmakers will have a touch more breathing room when they begin crafting another budget.

MO: Missouri House OKs new abortion regulations

The Missouri House passed legislation that requires the state health department to conduct annual, unannounced, on-site inspections and investigations of abortion facilities, setting up a showdown with the state Senate over just how expansive the legislation should be.

PA: Pennsylvania’s top court rules in favor of access to police videos

Pennsylvania's highest court said the public should have access to dash camera video footage unless the police agency can prove it amounts to criminal investigative material and may be redacted.

NY: New York governor, legislative leaders reach ‘Buy American’ deal

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders reached agreement on a “Buy American” bill that would require that certain New York state agencies require the use of American-made structural iron and steel for all surface road and bridge projects. The program would apply to contracts worth $1 million or more.

CO: Hold the phone. Did Colorado just make it legal to text and drive?

Texting while driving is now legal in Colorado as long as it isn’t done in “a careless or imprudent manner.” The little-noticed provision softening the state’s standard is part of a new law that increased the penalties for a texting while driving carelessly citation from $50 to $300 and from one to four points on a driver’s license.

MA: Massachusetts governor scales back plan for health care fee on employers

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration has scaled back a plan to assess a controversial new fee on Massachusetts employers to cover more of the state’s health care costs. Baker initially had proposed raising $300 million with the fee, but, after a backlash, reduced the request to $200 million.

FL: Florida county commissioners endorse Paris climate accord

Miami-Dade commissioners endorsed the Paris climate accord, adding the Florida county to a string of local governments and municipal officials seeking to counter President Donald Trump’s rejection of the nonbinding agreement between 195 countries.

ME: Maine Legislature moves to rein in drug company perks for doctors

The Maine Legislature sent Republican Gov. Paul LePage a bill that would curtail gifts, expensive food, and speaking and consulting fees from pharmaceutical companies to doctors. The goal of the bill, sponsors say, is to ensure doctors do not have conflicting interests when prescribing drugs — especially opioids.

WA: Seattle landlords must give new tenants voter registration information

Landlords will be required to provide new tenants with voter-registration information under a new ordinance approved by the Seattle City Council. The Washington city is the fastest-growing big city in the nation, and studies have shown that people on the move vote at lower rates.

US: Debate heats up over teaching climate change in schools

The struggle over what American students learn about global warming is heating up as conservative lawmakers, climate change doubters and others attempt to push rejected or debunked theories into the classroom.

TX: Already pinched, Texas parks not getting promised state money

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department won’t see $36 million in promised state money over the next two years even as the agency grapples with millions of dollars in backlogged park maintenance.

CA: California lawmakers, governor get another raise

California politicians will receive a 3 percent pay hike starting in December, their fifth raise in as many years as the state’s budget picture continues to improve. 

IA: Iowa Supreme Court issues statewide courthouse weapons ban

Gun owners are officially banned from bringing weapons into Iowa courthouses and other spaces controlled by the judicial branch under a first-of-its kind statewide policy enacted by the chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court.

New York and Texas Enact Laws to Curb Child Marriage Top State Stories 6/20