Top State Stories 12/10
NE: Nebraska Democrats to return to primary system
Caucuses are officially no more in Nebraska after the state Democratic Party voted to go back to the primary system. The state’s Democrats had been choosing their presidential nominee by caucus since 2008 in a system similar to Iowa’s.
WA: Huge rise in OD deaths in Washington state
Deaths from overdoses attributed to the powerful synthetic narcotic fentanyl are up nearly 70 percent in Washington state during the first half of this year, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Eighty-one people died during that period, up from 48 during the same period in 2017.
FL: Florida ex-Senate leader joins campaign donor
Florida’s outgoing state Senate president is taking a job with the massive private prison operator Geo Group. The lawmaker has supported private prison interests for years and was instrumental in getting the company millions in taxpayer dollars.
GA: Georgia House race do-over down to two votes
A Republican incumbent appears to have lost a rare repeat election for a Georgia House seat by just two votes, but he has yet to concede the race and is considering his legal options.
DC: Backers scramble to revive wage hike in D.C.
Activists are scrambling to collect thousands of signatures needed to revive a law approved by voters but overturned by the District of Columbia Council that would increase hourly pay for servers, bartenders and other tipped employees.
CA: In California, it just got harder to qualify ballot measures
Groups seeking a change in the law or California’s Constitution will find it significantly harder to qualify ballot measures beginning next year. The law links the number of voter signatures required on an initiative or referendum to the total number of votes cast in the most recent governor’s election. Last month’s election saw more than 12.4 million votes cast.
MD: Medical marijuana sales in Maryland top M
Maryland’s medical marijuana industry ended its first year of operation with .3 million in sales driven by nearly 52,000 patients who have purchased about 730,000 individual products such as vape pens.
NJ: Immigration agents arrest 105 in New Jersey sweep
Federal officials say the 105 people taken into custody included several who were wanted by Interpol for alleged crimes in their home countries. It also targeted people who authorities say re-entered the United States after being deported and several alleged gang members.
MN: Marijuana legalization seems headed to showdown in Minnesota
Fully legalizing marijuana in Minnesota is looming as a political showdown at the capitol. The Democratic governor-elect favors it and a new Democratic House majority will debate proposals to legalize next year. But any measure must get past the state Senate, which Republicans control by a razor-thin margin.
NY: Questions swirl around New York lawmakers’ pay-raise panel
After a panel voted to give New York lawmakers a significant raise for the first time in two decades, many questions remained, including whether the process implementing the raises is legal. If new restrictions on outside income are enacted, lawmakers with substantial outside incomes might be prompted to leave their public positions.
VT: Vermont has lost child care capacity, report says
Child care capacity in Vermont’s regulated market fell by 7 percent between 2015 and 2018, mostly because of a precipitous decline in home-based providers, a new report from the Joint Fiscal Office found.
WI: Wisconsin would change how it confirms job creation under lame-duck bill
Wisconsin’s jobs agency would rely on a business owner’s word and outside audits of a portion of businesses receiving taxpayer funds to confirm jobs are being created under the state’s tax credit programs, under one of the lame-duck measures approved by the legislature and headed to the governor.
PA: Pennsylvania could OK medical marijuana for more illnesses
Pennsylvania already recognizes 21 serious medical conditions for which cannabis is believed to provide some relief. Soon, that number may grow. The state’s Medical Marijuana Advisory Board approved a process that will allow it to add new ailments.
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