Top State Stories 6/14
NY: New York Assembly bans religious exemptions for vaccinations
Lawmakers in New York, the epicenter of the nation’s measles outbreak, moved to end religious and other nonmedical exemptions for immunizations, overcoming vocal opposition from vaccine skeptics and advocates for religious freedom.
TX: Texas governor signs disaster relief and preparedness bills
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed four bills into law aimed at bolstering Texas’ emergency preparedness and disaster relief programs, including more than .6 billion for flood control projects and repairs across the state. The legislation comes nearly two years after Hurricane Harvey ravaged Houston and hit Texas with record rainfalls.
KY: ‘Marsy’s Law’ invalid, Kentucky Supreme Court says
Marsy’s Law, which provides new rights for crime victims, is invalid because the entire text of the proposed constitutional amendment wasn’t on the ballot, the Kentucky Supreme Court unanimously ruled. The amendment received 63% of the vote, but the court said the one-sentence description to voters was inadequate.
MO: Missouri governor to hand power to No. 2 while overseas
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, is taking steps to temporarily hand over power to the state’s No. 2 officeholder later this month when he travels to Europe for a trade mission and a vacation.
ME, RI: At a single address in Maine, a slew of Rhode Island car registrations
On a shady lot in Jefferson, Maine, residents of Providence, Rhode Island, have registered 200 vehicles. Statewide, nearly 5,000 Rhode Islanders register cars in Maine as a way to avoid paying higher sales and excise taxes and car insurance. It’s legal, but Rhode Island officials are looking for a way to stop the wink-and-nod practice.
VA: Amazon site causes spike in Northern Virginia home prices
Amazon is far from arriving in Northern Virginia, but the prospect already is causing housing prices to jump. Supply is so sparse that some ZIP codes show no homes for sale at all.
OK: Coalition launches campaign for Oklahoma Medicaid expansion vote
A statewide coalition launched the Oklahomans Decide Healthcare campaign to give voters the choice to approve Medicaid expansion to thousands of uninsured state residents.
OR: Once stalled, a cigarette tax hike is moving in Oregon
With just weeks left in Oregon’s legislative session, Democratic leaders have put another contentious issue on their to-do list: a tobacco tax hike.
ME: Maine Senate rejects local option sales tax bill
The Maine Senate rejected a measure that would have allowed cities and towns to tack on a 1% sales tax on meals and lodging if first approved by local voters. The 14-21 vote that defeated the bill comes just two days after the Maine House approved it by a narrow margin.
AK: Alaska governor calls special session
Alaska lawmakers ended their special session already anticipating another, leaving unsettled a state infrastructure budget and the size of dividend checks to pay residents this year from Alaska’s oil-wealth fund.
WI: Wisconsin governor reinstates pardon process for felony convictions
Most anyone with a felony conviction could be pardoned under a new board created by Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers this week. Pardons were not considered under former GOP Gov. Scott Walker, who suspended the state’s pardon board in 2011 and didn’t hear more than 1,000 people who sought clemency in the eight years he was governor.
FL: Shortfall leaves attorneys, court reporters in lurch as Florida governor ponders budget
A million shortfall at an agency that pays for legal counsel for indigent criminal defendants means Florida vendors supplying court reporters, private investigators and expert witnesses are going without pay for at least two months.
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