TX: A decade of voting rights fights has led to fewer redistricting safeguards for Texas voters of color
Texas lawmakers kicked off the 2021 round of political mapmaking — the first in nearly half a century without federal oversight in a state with a long history of discrimination. Because of voting rights advocates’ repeated court losses over the past decade, state lawmakers will have much more freedom to set those lines.
US: We’re barely listening to the U.S.’s most dangerous volcanoes
Red tape and regulations have made it difficult for volcanologists to build monitoring stations along Mount Hood and other active volcanoes. Scientists remain concerned despite a new federal law passed in March that they could be blind to future eruptions, with deadly consequences.
CA: California passes landmark bill to remake gig economy
California legislators approved a landmark bill that requires companies like Uber and Lyft to treat contract workers as employees, a move that could reshape the gig economy and that adds fuel to a yearslong debate over whether the nature of work has become too insecure.
SD: South Dakota governor says she’ll veto hemp legalization again in 2020
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, says she’ll veto a bill legalizing industrial hemp if it’s introduced in the 2020 session. Noem wrote in a Wall Street Journal column that she would be “happy” to introduce a new cash crop in South Dakota, but hemp isn’t it.
NY: A .7M loan, k in income. New York prosecutors are now investigating.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have opened an investigation into possible lending fraud in the New York City taxi industry, the most significant action taken so far in response to widespread practices that trapped thousands of cabdrivers under crushing debt, according to people with knowledge of the inquiry.
AR: 2 panels take look at vaping; Arkansas lawmakers told of rising use
Some Arkansas state lawmakers’ resistance toward taxing and further regulating electronic cigarettes is changing after the recent public health outcry over the products. Legislators began considering how to address e-cigarette use, commonly called vaping, as two panels heard about the rising use.
OR: Oregon public records advocate quits, citing interference
Oregon’s first public records advocate announced her resignation, saying Democratic Gov. Kate Brown’s office abused its authority and wanted her to secretly work for the governor while giving the impression she was working in the public interest.
CO: Colorado could see new law on recall elections
With attempted recalls of elected officials continuing to sweep across Colorado, interest in reforming the state’s system for ousting people from elected office is growing and early ideas are being debated for possible legislation to be introduced in 2020. The push for change — which may have to be approved by voters — is coming from both sides of the aisle.
US: Democratic governors urge Trump to support new gun laws
Twelve Democratic governors wrote a letter to President Donald Trump demanding action on gun control because “a patchwork of state laws will never be a substitute for coherent national policy.”
WA: Washington state cannabis trade group proposes capital equity fund
A cannabis industry trade group in Washington state proposed legislation to fund a social equity program that would help remove barriers to capital for minority business owners and would eliminate a residency requirement for potential investors in the market.
NM: New Mexico sues Sacklers, owners of Purdue Pharma, over opioids
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, a Democrat, alleges that deceptive practices helped flood the state with opioids. At least 17 states have sued one or more members of the Sackler family. Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin is named in lawsuits filed by state, local and tribal governments.
ND: Judge blocks North Dakota abortion law
A federal judge blocked the state of North Dakota from enforcing a new law requiring physicians to inform patients that it may be possible to reverse a drug-induced abortion, ruling that it violates doctors’ First Amendment protections against “compelled speech.”
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.