Top State Stories 12/31
CA: California ‘Real ID’ under federal scrutiny
The California Department of Motor Vehicles is under renewed scrutiny after a federal government warning that its Real ID protocols do not comply with security standards, the latest in a series of missteps by a state agency struggling to maintain public trust.
US: Twenty-nine states, D.C., have minimum wages above federal level
The federal minimum wage of .25 an hour has remained the same since 2009. Since then, 29 states and the District of Columbia have set minimum wages above the federal level. Twenty states have minimum wage increases taking effect around the start of the new year.
FL: Medical marijuana use in Florida continues to grow
Despite a bumpy rollout that has drawn lawsuits and criticism from legislators, a new report shows the number of Floridians using medical marijuana continues to grow.
SC: South Carolina bill would send convicted ‘porch pirates’ to prison up to 5 years
It’s time for South Carolina to crack down on thieves who take packages off people’s doorstep, says Democratic state Rep. Cezar McKnight. His proposed “Defense Against Porch Pirates Act” would make such thievery a felony, punishable by up to ,000 and five years in prison.
OR: Oregon bill would lower limit for drunken driving
Utah became the first state to lower the limit for driving under the influence of alcohol from .08 to .05 percent. Sen. Peter Courtney, a Democrat and president of the Oregon Senate, hopes Oregon becomes the second. Courtney is gearing up to introduce a bill during the upcoming legislative session.
MA: Massachusetts governor boosts pay to cabinet, top aides
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, is giving an array of top deputies, from members of his cabinet to dozens of department heads, a 5.5 percent pay raise in the new year, a first for many since Baker took office four years ago.
WA: Grandparents raising grandkids say they need more help from Washington state
More than 43,000 relatives, usually grandmothers, find themselves standing in for parents in Washington state. If they get help from the state, it’s far less than foster parents get, and to many of these senior citizens, that doesn’t seem right.
NM: New Mexico’s film-making incentive program gets its close up
For a poor state struggling to diversify its economy, a rush of Hollywood productions drawn to New Mexico’s rugged landscape and frontier vistas has been a boon. But state economists and lawmakers worry the tax-credit program attracting dozens of productions is unsustainable.
MT: Montana joins feds in appealing grizzly ruling
Montana will join Wyoming, Idaho and the federal government in appealing a federal court ruling that put the Greater Yellowstone grizzly bear population back on the Endangered Species List. The Yellowstone lawsuit came after the Crow Tribe sued, challenging grizzly bear hunts in Wyoming and Idaho.
ID: Idaho lawsuit seeks to expand abortion access
A legal challenge to an Idaho law limiting who can perform abortions could make abortion services more accessible if it is successful. The lawsuit, filed by Planned Parenthood, argues that Idaho’s law requiring abortions to be performed by a licensed physician is unconstitutional.
OK: Oklahoma legislator accepts settlement in opposition research case
An Oklahoma legislator has accepted a financial settlement in his second lawsuit over the placement of a tracking device on his pickup. Rep. Mark McBride, a Republican, declined to comment on the resolution of his case against a political consultant with the colorful nickname “Dr. Dirt,” who allegedly was trying to catch the lawmaker “partying around.”
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