Top State Stories 7/22
US: Equifax to pay M to states, feds over data breach
The credit bureau Equifax will pay at least $650 million and potentially significantly more to end an array of state, federal and consumer claims over a data breach two years ago that exposed the sensitive information of more than 148 million people. The settlement, which still needs court approval, would be the largest ever paid by a company over a data breach.
PR: Puerto Ricans take to the streets as governor refuses to resign
A major highway and several surrounding malls will be shut down in San Juan in preparation for tens of thousands of people expected to attend a national strike calling for the resignation of Puerto Rico’s governor. Gov. Ricardo Rosselló reiterated he was not resigning as governor, but he would step down as president of the New Progressive Party and withdraw his candidacy for a second term in 2020.
MN: Some Minnesota bills copied from other states, written by special interests
From abortion to paid sick leave to school choice, Minnesota legislators use prewritten bills, lifting full paragraphs written by political and religious groups. The number of model bills, or copycat legislation, introduced in Minnesota has increased in recent years, and they have a better chance of being passed and signed into law than homegrown ones, according to a Star Tribune analysis.
NC: Landowner lawsuits could cost North Carolina more than B
Hundreds of lawsuits resulted when a state court ruled that North Carolina’s practice of reserving land for roads, without buying it in advance, was unconstitutional. Settlements have cost the state $290 million so far, and eventually costs could exceed $1 billion.
TX: How can Texas fix its marijuana problem after legalizing hemp?
Forensic and crime lab experts are optimistic state and local officials will support a new proposal that would allow for a faster, cheaper way to test suspected marijuana under Texas’ new definition of the drug. Many district attorneys in Texas say hemp legalization has made it necessary for them to test THC levels to prosecute low-level marijuana cases.
CO: Planned Parenthood considers expanding in Colorado
Executives of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains are considering opening new clinics and expanding services in Colorado to keep up with the growing demand from women who live out of state. Colorado is one of seven states that don’t restrict access to abortion at any stage of pregnancy.
LA: Louisiana sees further drop in prison population
Louisiana continued to see better-than-predicted results from the second year of its criminal justice overhaul, recording $17.8 million in savings from a further drop in its prison population. The number of inmates in Louisiana fell by 1,400 to 31,756 — the lowest total since the 1990s.
NY: New York mental health centers not ensuring families notified of abuse, neglect
An audit of New York’s psychiatric facilities found poor compliance with a 2007 law designed to protect the health and safety of residents in state-run and -licensed facilities. Jonathan’s Law requires facilities to notify family members and caregivers of abuse, neglect or other potentially harmful incidents.
VA: Virginia marijuana arrests reach 20-year high
Marijuana arrests in Virginia hit their highest levels in at least 20 years, bucking trends in several other states that have moved toward decriminalizing the drug. Nearly 29,000 arrests were made for marijuana offenses in Virginia last year, a number that has tripled since 1999.
KY: Kentucky governor’s pension bill clears first hurdle
Despite protests from Democratic members, a Kentucky House committee approved Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s plan to offer financial relief to regional universities and quasi-governmental agencies facing huge pension costs on an 11-8 vote and sent it to the full House for its consideration.
MD: Maryland Transit Administration forecasts B shortfall over next decade
The Maryland Transit Administration faces a funding shortfall of more than $2 billion over the next decade — money that is needed to keep the agency’s transit systems running safely, in compliance with regulatory requirements, and enhanced with new technology and mobility options, according to the agency’s first Capital Needs Inventory.
NE: Medical marijuana petition drive running strong in Nebraska
Volunteers have already gathered more than 15,000 signatures in their quest to place the issue before Nebraska voters in the 2020 general election, and campaign organizers haven’t even started using paid signature collectors, who are generally needed to ensure a successful petition drive.
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