SC: Two die in police van, sparking South Carolina bill
State lawmakers are drafting legislation to change the way mental health patients are transported in South Carolina after two women drowned when a sheriff’s van was swept off a roadway by Hurricane Florence’s floodwaters.
RI: New Rhode Island lawmaker quits over mailer
Rhode Island state Representative-elect Laufton Ascencao, a Democrat, has resigned the open House seat he won in November, as he promised to do last week, amid mounting criticism from fellow progressives for fabricating a story and documents about his help for local candidates.
FL: North Carolina voting scandal exposes Florida law
Although Florida, like many states, has imposed strong voter ID laws for casting a ballot at a polling place, it’s done virtually nothing to stop fraud in the vote-by-mail process, which is at the heart of election fraud accusations in a North Carolina congressional district.
VA: Virginia foster care report ‘devastating’
Virginia does such a poor job of supervising local foster care programs that the state doesn’t have a list of foster parents currently in the system, according to a study by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission. It found the 120 foster care programs don’t do a good job of recruiting foster parents, especially relatives, or working to reunite children with birth parents.
TX: In Texas football suites, booze, catering and politicians
In this time of divisive rhetoric and bitter partisanship, there is still a place where Texas officials of all political stripes can come together. It’s kickoff time at a college football game. Location: The exclusive stadium suites where chancellors and university presidents play host.
CA: California utilities to cover power lines, expand weather monitoring
California utilities plan to insulate power lines, increase inspections and build new weather stations in areas at high risk for wildfires in an effort to combat increasingly destructive blazes.
ME: Maine governor’s team settles lawsuit over Facebook blocking
The operator of a Facebook page that promotes the political views of Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage has settled a federal lawsuit brought by the ACLU of Maine by agreeing to stop blocking users who post critical comments.
US: Southwestern states may fail to ink Colorado River plan by year’s end
Seven Southwestern U.S. states that depend on the overtaxed Colorado River for crop irrigation and drinking water had been expected to ink a crucial share-the-pain contingency plan by the end of 2018. They’re not going to make it — at least not in time for upcoming meetings in Las Vegas, officials say.
IA: Iowa children’s health insurance costs set to quintuple
Iowa’s share of the cost for kids in the Medicaid program is set to more than quintuple in the next two years, from million to million. Iowa legislators, who already face tight budgets, will have to find that money to keep the popular program going.
UT: Utah governor proposes more than quadrupling funding for public defenders
Republican Gov. Gary Herbert has earmarked million in ongoing funding for Utah’s Indigent Defense Commission, which currently has a .3 million budget and doles out state funds to help counties and cities cover the cost of public defenders. Critics have said the state’s public defender system is inadequate, underfunded and unfair.
NE: Nebraska governor open to ‘stand your ground’ gun law
Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican, said he would be open to the possibility of enacting a so-called “stand your ground” law that would broaden the legal right to self-defense in Nebraska.
HI: Failed policies allow Hawaii beaches to disappear, study finds
A growing number of Hawaii beaches are going to shrink and vanish as climate change-driven sea level rise accelerates, a new study warns. Sea level rise hastens beach loss when property owners protect their eroding shores with sea walls and other structures that interrupt natural coastal processes.
WI: Wisconsin’s governor-elect forms panel to study prison system
The panel, which includes former state Supreme Court justices and former corrections secretaries, will advise Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers on changing Wisconsin’s corrections system. During his campaign, Evers joined other Democrats in calling for the state’s prison population to be cut in half.
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