FL: NRA, Florida Democrats clash over concealed weapons
After a breach in background checks for Florida’s concealed weapons permitting program was revealed earlier this year, it became apparent that change was imminent. But the direction that change would take has become a tug-of-war between Democrats in the Florida Senate and powerful NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer.
MS: Republican wins U.S. Senate runoff in Mississippi
Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Mississippi Republican, defeated Mike Espy, a Democrat and former congressman, in a special election runoff despite some erosion of support. Republicans will now have a 53-47 edge in the U.S. Senate.
CA: California’s privileged are hiring private fire crews to save their homes
With California experiencing two years of unprecedented wildfires that have left more than 20,000 homes destroyed and scores dead, the private firefighting business is booming. These brigades work independently from county firefighters; their job is to protect specific homes under contract with insurance companies.
GA: Federal lawsuit challenges fairness of Georgia’s elections
A federal lawsuit backed by former Democratic candidate for governor Stacey Abrams will attempt to overhaul the state’s elections, alleging “gross mismanagement” after Georgians suffered long lines, uncounted ballots and purged registrations during this month’s vote.
VT: Launch nears for incentive to telecommute from Vermont
Vermont has a little over a month to work out some details before it launches its remote worker program, which offers incentives for people to move to Vermont and work remotely in shared work spaces.
AK: Judges open door wider for out-of-state money in Alaska elections
A federal appeals court has ruled against a portion of Alaska’s campaign finance limits, saying a $3,000 cumulative cap on out-of-state contributions to candidates violates the First Amendment. The case stems from a lawsuit filed by Republicans against the state of Alaska’s voter-approved 2006 ballot measure restricting campaign contributions.
ME: Maine governor requests stay of judge’s order to implement Medicaid expansion
In the waning days of the administration of Republican Gov. Paul LePage, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services is requesting a stay of a judge’s order that would compel the administration to implement Medicaid expansion. Gov.-elect Janet Mills, a Democrat, is expected to reverse course and implement the expansion upon taking office.
IL: Illinois governor-elect names panel to tackle education funding
Illinois Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, tapped a new committee to tackle some of Illinois’ urgent issues in K-12 and higher education, leaning on Chicago and state officials to develop solutions to immense challenges worsened by long-standing budget problems.
IN: Indiana’s time zone debate resurfaces after crash
A school bus stop accident that killed three children in northern Indiana, blamed partly on early-morning darkness, is renewing the debate over whether most of the state should remain in the Eastern Time Zone. Right now, several western border counties are on Central Time, while the majority of the state is on Eastern Time.
NM: Democratic House majority reaches 39 with New Mexico win
In New Mexico, Democrat Xochitl Torres Small has defeated Republican Yvette Herrell in one of the nation’s last outstanding House races. The official result brings the number of Democratic gains in the House to 39 seats, with one race outstanding.
MI: Michigan Senate votes to scrap school union ‘release time’
Michigan’s Republican-led Senate narrowly voted to ban paid “release time” contract provisions that allow public school employees to conduct union business during their workday. GOP senators rejected amendments from Democrats, who criticized the proposal as an attack on organized labor.
RI: Sports gambling starts in Rhode Island
The state of Rhode Island, once the epicenter of mob-controlled bookmaking operations across New England, made its first foray into legal sports betting. The state projects $11.5 million in new revenue between now and June 30.
OR: Oregon predicts M budget shortfall
Oregon’s humming economy might not yield enough tax revenue to avert a gap in the next two-year budget, according to new state estimates. Much of the potential deficit is from rising costs for Medicaid.
HI: What happens in Hawaii will stay on film
Up to 50 police security cameras are being installed in Waikiki as part of a new initiative to reduce crime in the popular Hawaii resort district. The surveillance initiative is already drawing praise from the tourism industry and skepticism from civil liberties advocates.
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