VA: Virginia’s second-in-command denies sexual assault
A political crisis engulfing top officials in Virginia deepened as state lawmakers renewed their demand that Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam resign and as Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax denied allegations that he sexually assaulted a woman in 2004.
NJ: minimum wage coming to New Jersey
Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, signed landmark legislation raising the minimum wage in New Jersey to $15 an hour by 2024, capping Democrats’ years-long effort to improve wages for the state’s lowest-paid workers.
RI: Nonfiction writers would like a word about Rhode Island sales tax
Rhode Island’s nonfiction writers are waging a two-front war to get the state tax division to give them the same respect — and the same sales-tax break — given fiction and poetry writers.
MI: Michigan governor shakes up state government to focus on drinking water
Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a reorganization of state government she said is largely aimed at ensuring safe drinking water for Michigan residents and fighting climate change.
NH: New Hampshire lawmakers to consider new rules on prayer in public schools
What started as an attempt by lawmakers to remove outdated language on the Lord’s Prayer from New Hampshire statutes is morphing into a wider effort to define options for prayer in public schools.
DC: Hate crimes nearly double in Washington, D.C.; LGBTQ biggest target
The number of hate crimes in the District of Columbia rose sharply in 2018, nearly doubling from two years earlier, according to city statistics. Crimes based on sexual orientation topped the list, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, a research center at California State University at San Bernardino.
MA: Stricter background checks could ensnare thousands of Massachusetts child care workers
New state and federal rules are sparking intense anxiety among Massachusetts day care administrators, who are already scrounging for good employees in an industry with chronically low pay and high turnover. As many as 30 percent of day care workers in Massachusetts leave each year, and many are making little more than minimum wage.
WI: Unions file suit against Wisconsin’s lame-duck laws
Five unions and a lawmaker sued Wisconsin state officials over lame-duck laws that curbed the authority of the Democratic governor and bolstered the powers of the Republican-controlled legislature. It is the third legal action over the laws Republicans passed in December.
KS: Battles between Kansas governor, lawmakers intensify
Democratic Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly and Republicans are in a battle over hundreds of millions of dollars this year — and billions in future decades — that has only intensified since Kelly took office less than a month ago.
NE: Business groups oppose Nebraska bill to help ex-inmates get jobs
The Nebraska measure would prohibit most employers from asking people about their criminal history when they first apply for a job. The “ban the box” bill would expand on a 2014 law that applies to public employers. Business groups argued strongly against the measure, saying it would impose new steps in the hiring process.
IA: Iowa Republicans introduce bill that gives lawmakers, governor more power over courts
Iowa Republicans are introducing a bill to give lawmakers and the governor more power to determine the selection of judges to the state’s court system, including the state Supreme Court. An expansive bill would give Iowa Republicans almost total control immediately over how Iowa judges are picked.
MS: ‘Parker’s Law’ would jail Mississippi drug dealers for ODs
Under the new bill, sponsored by Republican Mississippi state Rep. Mark Baker, people charged with sale or intent to sell drugs could face an additional 20 years to life without parole in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each person who dies or suffers serious bodily injury from the drugs involved.
TX: Texas optometrists ‘just roll our eyes’ over treatment restrictions in the state
Amid what some call an eye care crisis, Texas optometrists are hoping the legislature will give them more power to help patients without needing other doctors. But ophthalmologists say allowing optometrists more power would put patients’ vision at risk.
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