Top State Stories 12/6
CA: How California wildfires could exacerbate the housing crisis
Northern California’s recent wildfires have burned homes at a greater pace than developers are building them, deepening a housing shortage that already has left millions struggling to find affordable places to live. Five large wildfires over the past 14 months have destroyed nearly 21,000 homes across six counties.
AZ: Arizona campaign finance law struck down by court
Major parts of a massive 2016 rewrite of Arizona’s campaign finance laws violate the state constitution, a state judge ruled. Parts of the law illegally stripped power to investigate campaign finance violations from a citizens’ commission and handed it to the secretary of state, the ruling said. The law also created large exemptions in what counts as a contribution.
NJ: New Jersey to change how it tracks police force
State law enforcement officials said they would be “working together to design a new system for obtaining use-of-force data in New Jersey.” The announcement comes less than a week after a NJ Advance Media investigation found major disparities in how police officers use force and who they use it against, as well as paltry oversight and no standard reporting practices.
MA: Massachusetts pot sales underway; state banking on new tax money
State revenue officials are forecasting that Massachusetts will take in between million and million in marijuana taxes this fiscal year and could bring in as much as million in fiscal 2020. Cannabis sales in the state are subject to a 10.75 percent excise tax and the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax, as well as a local tax of up to 3 percent.
PA: Pennsylvania throws out all 8 marijuana research applications. What’s next?
Pennsylvania’s ambitious plan to become the national center for medical marijuana research just can’t get off the ground. In the latest setback, the state Department of Health rejected the applications of all eight marijuana growers who had planned to partner with the state’s medical schools, over mistakes and missing information. A second round of applications is planned for early 2019.
GA: Incoming Georgia secretary of state will continue predecessor’s controversial legacy
As Georgia’s next top elections official, Republican Brad Raffensperger promises to defend broad voter-registration cancellations and strict voting requirements that have fueled accusations of widespread disenfranchisement. While voter fraud is rare in Georgia, Raffensperger emphasizes election integrity over easy access to voting.
TX: Texas lawmakers to consider 19 bills targeting guns
Texas Democrats have proposed a “red flag” law to temporarily remove guns from people deemed dangerous and a measure to close the gun-show loophole on background checks, while a Republican has put forward a bill that would allow people to openly carry firearms without a permit. The red-flag law already appears to be a nonstarter, more than a month before the legislature starts.
MO: Missouri governor calls for prescription drug monitoring program
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, said he’d like to sign a statewide prescription drug monitoring program into law next year, a move he says is “long overdue. We’re the only state in the United States that doesn’t have that.” Bills proposing such a program have been debated in the state legislature for years.
ND: Governor lays out North Dakota budget with more spending, raises for state employees
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, a Republican, outlined his budget plan for the next two-year cycle, noting increased funding to such areas as state employees’ salaries and education, as well as ideas for Legacy Fund earnings. Burgum’s proposal comes after heavy budget cutting since 2015.
RI: New Rhode Island legislator to give up seat after lying to fellow Democrats
Laufton Ascencao, 25, stepped down from the Rhode Island House of Representatives after the Warren Town Democratic Committee complained to state elections officials about a mysterious mailer he claimed to have made to help allied candidates. He faked a check and printing invoice and asked candidates to falsely report the imaginary mailer as an in-kind contribution on their financial filings.
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