What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/14
MA: Massachusetts wins bidding war for GE
General Electric Co. will relocate its global headquarters to Boston. The decision marks the end of a high-stakes competition to woo GE from its longtime campus in suburban Connecticut, where the state raised corporate taxes. City and state officials in Massachusetts offered incentives valued at as much as $145 million.
GA: Bill lets businesses refuse services to gay couples in Georgia
Florists, bakers or any other private business owner could refuse service to gay couples getting married in Georgia, under proposed legislation that is likely to inflame the battle over religious freedom and gay rights.
MI: Michigan governor activates National Guard to help in Flint
Republican Gov. Rick Snyder activated the Michigan National Guard to assist with the ongoing crisis of lead contamination of Flint's drinking water. Members of the National Guard are expected to staff fire stations and distribute bottles of water and water filters.
KS: Kansas governor’s proposed budget fix calls for tapping highway, children’s funds
Republican Gov. Sam Brownback will pursue a combination of budget cuts and transfers from dedicated highway and early childhood funds to help fill Kansas’s projected $190 million budget hole.
NJ: New Jersey lawmakers eye takeover of Atlantic City
Legislators have agreed to ask voters to expand gambling to northern New Jersey and share that revenue with long-struggling Atlantic City. They’re also considering taking over the resort town’s finances for 15 years.
SD: Governor wants tax increase to boost South Dakota teacher pay
Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard said lawmakers should increase South Dakota’s 4 cents per dollar sales tax by half a cent, which would be the first increase to the tax in nearly half a century. Part of the increase would go to boosting teacher pay, which is the lowest in the nation.
TN: Bill would allow Tennessee pharmacists to prescribe birth control
Two state senators — one Democrat and one Republican — are working on separate versions of legislation that would allow Tennessee women 18 or older to obtain contraceptives from pharmacists in addition to physicians.
IL: Chicago considers Airbnb fee
Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced a proposed ordinance that would tack a 2 percent surcharge on the rental rate of any shared-housing unit, bed-and-breakfast or vacation rental. Chicago is also seeking to require home-sharing hosts to register their units with the city.
FL: Florida Senate advances fracking bill
As the prospect of oil drilling inches closer to the Everglades, a Florida Senate committee passed a measure to prohibit local governments from banning hydraulic fracturing, but only after strengthening protections against possible contamination and requiring lawmakers to sign off on any regulations.
AR: Arkansas attorney general rejects medical marijuana measure's wording
The attorney general must certify the proposed ballot measure — which would set up a commission to license 20 to 40 medical marijuana dispensaries in Arkansas — before supporters can gather the nearly 85,000 signatures required to qualify for the November ballot.
CA: California launches new mattress recycling program
A new state program, funded by an $11 fee on mattress and box spring purchases, allows Californians to drop off old mattresses and box springs at participating collection sites for free recycling.
TX: Texas bullet train opponents reach out to Japanese ambassador
Thirty-three East Texas officials, including 11 state legislators, signed a letter to Japanese Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae opposing a Dallas-Houston high-speed rail project with strong ties to a Japanese company. The officials say they oppose the train because it would burden their communities without stopping in them.
AZ: Governor’s school plan for Arizona foster kids gets cool reception
Republican Gov. Doug Ducey's proposal to give Arizona children in foster care a "fast pass" to high-demand schools is getting a fast put-down from many in the foster community, who say getting into popular schools is far from the most-pressing needs of foster families.