Top State Stories 5/25
LA: Louisiana sees one of the country’s biggest drops in prison population
A Marshall Project report shows Louisiana’s prison population dropped more than 5 percent from 2016 to 2017. That’s one of the largest decreases in the country, in a state that had become known as the “Prison Capital of the World.” State Corrections Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc credits the drop to criminal justice changes.
ID: Idaho Medicaid expansion measure hits signature threshold
A Medicaid expansion proposal has passed the signature threshold in Idaho, but further review is needed before it gets on the November ballot. Ada County Chief Deputy Clerk Phil McGrane says county clerks across the state have verified roughly 58,000 signatures that organizers submitted earlier this month.
CA: California court says defendants must have access to some social media
Facebook and other social media companies could be compelled to give criminal defendants preparing for trial user content that is already public, California’s highest court ruled. The state Supreme Court’s ruling gives an opening to defense lawyers whose requests for information have been ignored by social media companies that argue that a federal privacy law prevents its release.
DC: Uber, Lyft resist D.C. Council demand for data
Uber and Lyft are expressing concern over a provision inserted into a Washington, D.C., budget bill at the last minute that would require them to turn over large amounts of ride data to the city. The companies say that detailed information about a person’s travel habits could fall victim to hackers taking aim at government computers.
MD: Maryland governor vetoes bills pushed by teachers union
Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, vetoed three education bills, calling them “a crude attempt” to dilute accountability in Maryland public schools. The bills would have changed the Maryland Board of Education to include two teachers and a parent, made it possible for more supervisors to join the union and made it harder for governors to fire about 900 political appointees at the Department of Education.
UT: Utah governor says medical marijuana ballot initiative should move forward
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, said that ballot initiatives are a bad way to write laws, and that he opposes a proposal to legalize medical marijuana. But the initiative should be allowed to move forward, he said, with a public debate and vote in November.
IL: Amazon official ‘impressed’ with Chicago bid in Illinois, mayor’s private emails show
A top Amazon official emailed Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in January to tell him the company was “impressed” with Chicago’s high-stakes bid to land the online retail giant’s second headquarters and as many as 50,000 jobs, records show. The email — part of a Freedom of Information request from the Chicago Tribune — came from Jay Carney, who worked with Emanuel in Barack Obama’s administration.
MO: 5,000 rape kits untested in Missouri, audit shows
There are nearly 5,000 untested sexual assault kits in Missouri, according to a new audit report by Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley. Hawley, a Republican, launched an audit of the kits following an investigation by the Columbia Missourian that found there was no clear picture on the total number of untested kits.
MI: Michigan House gives OK to 27 bills dealing with sexual assault
The package, aimed at preventing sexual assault of minors and punishing predators, passed the Michigan House with overwhelming, bipartisan majorities. It arose from a scandal involving a former Michigan State University sports doctor who sexually abused women and girls under the guise of medical treatment.
CT: Connecticut is on the front line of fights against Scott Pruitt’s EPA
An effort to clean up a Pennsylvania power plant is just one of several issues that Connecticut has with the Environmental Protection Agency, now headed by Scott Pruitt, a Trump administration official environmentalists love to hate because they say he is rolling back key clean air and clean water protections. While Connecticut lost on the power plant case, it may win other battles.
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