Top State Stories 6/29

By: - June 29, 2018 12:00 am

GA: New Georgia law frees teen drivers to use their phones

For years, most Georgia teenagers have been prohibited from using phones and other wireless devices while driving. That’s about to change, and some safety advocates aren’t happy about it.

LA: Louisiana prison population down under new criminal justice policies

Louisiana officials reported significant decreases in prison populations and prison admissions following the first year of the state’s historic criminal justice reforms. The state has seen a 20 percent decrease in the number of people imprisoned for nonviolent crimes and a 47 percent decrease in those sent to prison for drug possession.

AK: Short on housing, Alaska cities push cottages, additions

In Alaska, particularly in communities hemmed in by mountains and water, officials are increasingly turning to “accessory dwelling units” to contend with limited land and high energy and housing costs. In recent years, cities such as Juneau and Kodiak have begun to allow stand-alone backyard cottages.

PA: New Pennsylvania law seals some criminal records

A new Pennsylvania law automatically seals lower-level, nonviolent crimes from public review after 10 years, a change designed to lessen the stigma for people seeking jobs or housing. The so-called “clean slate” legislation also seals records of arrests that didn’t result in convictions.

MA: Massachusetts Legislature passes ‘red flag’ gun bill

Massachusetts lawmakers sent a bill to Republican Gov. Charlie Baker that would give judges the power to confiscate weapons from individuals deemed a risk to themselves or others. The House and Senate moved quickly to pass a compromise version of the so-called “red flag” legislation.

NY: New York could expand paid family leave policy

New Yorkers could have expanded access to bereavement leave starting in 2020. The state Legislature voted to expand the paid family leave requirements in New York to include time off following the death of a family member.

CA: California to ban local soda taxes

The legislation would prohibit local governments in California from imposing new taxes on soda for more than a decade. A deal was struck between business and labor interests and legislators who agreed to remove an initiative from the Nov. 6 statewide ballot restricting new taxes without a supermajority vote of local citizens.

OR: How Oregon wineries are adapting to climate change

Oregon growers and winemakers say they are seeing the effects of climate change as temperatures rise, with swings in weather patterns becoming more severe. So they are taking action — moving to cooler zones, planting varieties that do better in the heat, and shading their grapes with more leaf canopy.

NV: Nevada attorney general releases school safety report

Hardening school campuses, expanding use of the state anonymous tip line and having the Legislature look at so-called “red flag” laws to confiscate guns from people deemed to be a threat are among ways to make Nevada schools safer, the state attorney general said.

UT: Utah governor: Gas tax increase may not be needed

Republican Utah Gov. Gary Herbert says that thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court decision that allows states to collect online sales tax from out-of-state merchants who sell to Utahns, a proposed 10-cent-a-gallon gas tax increase might not be needed. The tax increase was part of a deal struck this year to increase school funding.

WI: Wisconsin lawmakers’ travels cost taxpayers tens of thousands

Since 2015, out-of-state travel by Wisconsin state senators has cost taxpayers more than ,000, according to records released under the state’s open records law. Many of the costs were for travel to national conferences. Travel by state lawmakers has drawn attention since April, when a top Ohio lawmaker resigned amid an FBI investigation into his travel expenses.

AR: New Arkansas attorney general team to investigate graft

Republican Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said she will hire a pair of investigators to help root out the kind of corruption that led to the convictions of five former lawmakers in recent months.

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Stateline staff
Stateline staff

Stateline’s team of veteran journalists combines original reporting with a roundup of the latest news from sources around the country.