What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/8

Top State Stories 11/8

US: Democrats win big across the country in legislative, mayoral, governor races

Democrats won a number of closely watched races Tuesday, in what some called a referendum on President Donald Trump. Republicans lost races for governorship in Virginia and New Jersey, as well as control of the Washington state Senate. The results were "a backlash to Trump and Trumpism, pure and simple," said University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato.

MI: Michigan Senate looks to allow concealed guns in schools

The Republican-controlled Michigan Senate has begun passing fast-tracked legislation to let people with extra training carry guns inside churches, schools and other places now off limits. The bills were passed Tuesday by a committee on 3-2 party-line votes.

VT: Women in Vermont Statehouse say 'me too'

Women who have spent time in the Vermont Statehouse as lawmakers, lobbyists and staff shared stories of being subjected to touching or comments they considered inappropriate and unwanted.

AZ: Arizona will no longer ask job applicants about past convictions

Arizona is joining more than two dozen other states in giving convicted felons a foot in the door for employment. In an executive order Monday, Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, directed state personnel officials to “ban the box,” eliminating any questions on initial job applications about whether a person has a criminal record.

NV: Nevada moves toward first execution in over a decade

Nevada this week moved closer to executing an inmate for the first time in 11 years, when officials told a judge that state's top psychiatrist is the interim replacement for the chief state medical officer — an anesthesiologist who quit last week after signing off on the lethal injection plan.

TX: New Texas law allowed armed security officers at churches

A Texas law put into effect in September made it legal for churches to have armed volunteer guards — but the law's author says many churches in Texas don't know it's an option.

WY: Wyoming looks to move money around to close deficit

Wyoming lawmakers are considering tapping about $130 million in mineral tax revenue, currently held in state investment funds, to pay for government operations or education and narrow the state budget gap.

HI:  Hawaii insurer decries paying premiums via nonprofits

Hawaii’s largest health insurer says it has an estimated $20 million a year in “excessive and unnecessary” costs due to nonprofits paying health insurance premiums for patients, some of whom are on dialysis and could be covered by government health plans. The Hawaii Medical Service Association is changing its policy as of Feb. 1 to ban certain third parties from paying medical premiums.

AK: Less drinking, greater suicide risk in Alaska youth survey

Fewer Alaska high school students say they are drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes compared to a decade ago, but the percentage of students who said they felt sad or hopeless increased, as well as the percentage of those who said they made a suicide plan in the past year, according to the 2017 Alaska Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

WI: Wisconsin Assembly OKs discount on produce, healthy groceries for food stamp users

Some people in Wisconsin who use food stamps would get a break when they buy healthy foods for 10 months, in hopes that it would encourage them to eat better, under a bill that passed the state Assembly.

OK: 'Accounting tricks' cited in Oklahoma health agency budget deficit

The Oklahoma State Department of Health employed a series of “accounting tricks” to provide the illusion of a balanced budget, but has spent more than its annual revenue since 2011, the agency disclosed. The department will not be able to pay its employees by Nov. 29 unless it receives $30 million in supplemental funding from the Legislature.

NC: North Carolina prison staff shortages, dangers have climbed. ‘We need help,’ officer says

Staff shortages in North Carolina’s prisons have climbed to dangerous levels over the past two years, despite state efforts to attract more officers, a Charlotte Observer analysis found.

NM: New Mexico city passes anti-panhandling ordinance

Albuquerque, New Mexico, approved a measure that will severely restrict panhandlers in the city, prohibiting them from soliciting motorists at busy medians and even on sidewalks, and also making it illegal for motorists to physically interact with them. The law also applies to fundraising by Girl Scouts and firefighters.

Marijuana Taxes Pot Lounges