MT: Montana court strikes school tax credits
Montana’s Supreme Court struck down a state-run program that gives tax credits to people who donate to private-school scholarships, saying it violates a constitutional ban against giving state aid to religious organizations.
AZ: EPA proposal could affect Arizona drinking water
If finalized, a federal rules rollback would scrap protections against pollution and development for up to some 120,000 miles of streams in Arizona. As many as 3.2 million Arizonans rely on those streams for drinking water.
MI: ‘Ballot selfies’ clear hurdle in Michigan House
Taking “ballot selfies” would be legal in future Michigan elections under bipartisan legislation approved by the House Elections Committee. The proposal would end Michigan’s long-standing ballot exposure ban by allowing voters to photograph themselves or their ballot in polling places or polling booths.
OR: Criminally insane in Oregon attack more than previously reported
People freed by Oregon officials after being found criminally insane are charged with new felonies more often than convicted criminals released from state prison, with family members and first responders often the targets of violence, a new analysis by the Malheur Enterprise and ProPublica shows.
NY: New York state legislators likely to gain power to officiate weddings
State legislators might soon be able to officiate at weddings in New York. Legislation expanding this power to state senators and members of the Assembly was sent to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo for executive action.
DC: Judge halts effort to put tipping measure back on D.C. ballot
A District of Columbia Superior Court judge halted efforts to force a new referendum on a law approved by voters — but repealed by the D.C. Council — that would overhaul how servers, bartenders and other tipped workers are paid.
MS: Mississippi spends M a year to jail the unconvicted
Mississippi counties pay about $100 million a year to jail those who haven’t been convicted of crimes, according to a newly released database by the MacArthur Justice Center. That’s more than the $98 million the state spends each year on child protective services.
VA: Virginia governor proposes millions to fight bay pollution
Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam wants to use surplus revenue expected next year to prevent polluted water runoff around farms and urban areas. He proposed dedicating $90 million each year starting in fiscal 2020 to a cost-sharing program to help farmers make their properties more environmentally friendly.
LA: Public defender funding in Louisiana ‘dire’
Multiple public defender districts in Louisiana, including East Baton Rouge and Orleans, are at risk of becoming insolvent in a year or two if the state doesn’t provide more funding, the head of the state board told legislators.
CA: California unveils .7B plan for rivers, fish
California water officials unveiled a plan to prop up struggling fish populations by reallocating more than 700,000 acre-feet of water from farms and cities throughout much of the Central Valley, leaving more water in the rivers and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
CO: Colorado Supreme Court hears arguments in drug-sniffing dog case
It’s impossible for police dog handlers to tell if their dog is alerting them to an illegal substance or legal amounts of weed, and police need probable cause that a crime has been committed before searching further. A Colorado Supreme Court case could set standards for the use of police dogs’ drug-detection skills.
PA: Pennsylvania lawmakers want to scrap sentencing algorithm
Pennsylvania legislators passed a law almost a decade ago to develop an algorithm to make sentencing fairer, eliminate guesswork and judicial bias, and reduce incarceration. Now reform advocates, lawyers and lawmakers are calling it biased and inaccurate and urging for it to be changed or scrapped.
UT: Utah bars, police gear up for toughest-in-the-nation DUI law
Restaurants, bars and tourism officials say Utahns should not shy away from partying because of the state’s new toughest-in-the-nation drunken driving law when it takes effect Dec. 30. Law enforcement officers say the new law won’t change how they enforce DUI laws.
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