SC: HHS to allow South Carolina foster agency to exclude same-sex couples
The waiver issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will allow Miracle Hill Ministries to continue as a state-supported foster care agency in South Carolina. The agency must refer any rejected family to other agencies.
IA: Judge strikes Iowa rule on absentee ballots
An Iowa judge struck down part of a 2017 voter ID law which limited how county auditors could find voter information when it was missing from absentee ballots. The rule had prevented county auditors from using an existing statewide voter database to look up missing voter information when processing absentee ballots.
WA: New bill threatens to eliminate jobs for hair stylists in Washington state
A new bill in the Washington state Senate that specifically targets salons has hairdressers and stylists panicking. It would seemingly make it illegal for salons to lease out booth spaces to independent stylists. But after widespread criticism, a new bill might be in the works.
CA: Marijuana’s new crop of California consumers, by the numbers
Nobody said it’d be easy, exactly. But nobody anticipated it’d be quite this hard to get Californians to buy legal weed. That’s been the dominant takeaway from the Golden State’s first year of legalized recreational marijuana sales.
MO: Missouri lawmakers frustrated by tax withholding error
Thousands of Missourians expecting a state tax refund this spring could instead receive surprise tax bills because of a tax withholding error — a blunder that drew sharp criticism from members of the House Budget Committee. Making matters worse, the state is depending on those checks to match what the state is seeking to spend this year.
MA: Massachusetts governor readying proposal to help federal workers
Republican Gov. Charlie Baker said his administration is looking for ways the Massachusetts unemployment insurance system could help federal workers who are furloughed or working without pay because of the partial federal government shutdown. There are about 47,000 federal employees living in Massachusetts.
CO: Colorado hospitals fall short on affordable care, report finds
Colorado hospitals could have passed on savings to consumers of as much as .5 billion over a nine-year period if they had better contained costs and lowered their margins, according to a new state report. The report finds hospitals charged higher and higher percentages to people with private insurance even as their revenue grew.
UT: Company gives k to keep Utah national parks open during shutdown
Alsco Inc., a Utah-based linen and uniform rental company, is providing ,000 to cover basic visitor and custodial services at Utah’s Zion, Arches and Bryce Canyon national parks through at least President’s Day. The company’s CEO, Bob Steiner, is a former Democratic state senator.
AZ: Arizona close to banning cellphone use while driving
Currently, texting and driving is only banned for new, teen drivers. At this point, Arizona is one of just three states without a texting ban for all drivers. But there’s new leadership in both legislative chambers this year and they are supportive of the proposal. There’s also support from law enforcement in the state.
WI: Wisconsin poll shows public support for Medicaid expansion, education funding
Several proposals championed by Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers enjoy considerable public support, according to a Marquette Law School poll. The poll suggests Wisconsinites favor taking federal dollars to expand Medicaid, increasing property taxes to fund public education, upping the minimum wage and legalizing marijuana.
MN: New push for gun control bills in Minnesota
A renewed push in the Minnesota state Senate to expand criminal background checks on gun sales and adopt “red flag” legislation coincided with a daylong lobbying effort by gun rights advocates unwilling to budge on any new gun restrictions. Senate backers want to broaden background check requirements to cover private sales.
OH: Ohio Supreme Court creates bail reform task force
Ohio Supreme Court Justice Maureen O’Connor has brought together a task force to review the way bail is determined in Ohio. The task force will “make recommendations that will ensure public safety and the accused’s appearance at future court hearings, while protecting the presumption of innocence,” according to the task force guidelines.
NY: New Yorkers divided on proposed plastic bag ban
New Yorkers don’t appear to be clamoring for Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed ban in his state budget on single-use plastic bags. The potential ban has already generated backlash in Albany from an association representing supermarkets, which would prefer imposing a small fee on plastic bags that would potentially deter use.
AK: Alaska notifies 87k people after computer security breach
About 87,000 letters were sent to Alaska residents possibly affected by a computer security breach at the state Division of Public Assistance last year. The database contains personal information, including names, Social Security numbers, health information and addresses.
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