KY: Kentucky governor says he will sign order restoring voting rights of 100,000+ felons
In his inaugural address, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, said he will file an executive order this week restoring the voting rights of many convicted felons who are currently disenfranchised under state law.
NY: New York loses climate change fraud case against Exxon Mobil
A New York state judge handed Exxon Mobil a victory in the civil case brought by the state’s attorney general that argued the company had engaged in fraud through its statements about how it accounted for the costs of climate change regulation.
GA: Judge orders governor to undergo questioning in Georgia election suit
A federal judge has ordered Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, to answer questions about his statements on minority voter registration and his oversight of election investigations. As secretary of state, Kemp was Georgia’s chief elections official until he resigned after Election Day.
CA: California anti-vaccine activists abandon effort to roll back new law
Anti-vaccine advocates in California abandoned plans for an initiative that would undo a new law restricting medical exemptions for vaccines and complained that state officials made their effort more difficult by using “grossly misleading” language to describe their referendum to voters.
MO: Missouri looks to expand use of artificial intelligence
Missourians seeking information about their taxes or their welfare benefits soon could be contacting a robot rather than a real person, under a plan floated by GOP Gov. Mike Parson’s administration. The Missouri Office of Administration is asking for an estimated $16 million over three years to begin adding more so-called chatbots to the state’s call centers.
ID: Idaho mandates secrecy around sourcing of lethal injection drugs
Idaho prison officials have changed their administrative rules to ensure secrecy surrounding the source of the state’s lethal injection drugs. The new rule specifically forbids the release of information that could potentially identify both past and future suppliers of lethal injection drugs.
CO: Push to reintroduce wolves in Colorado gains momentum
Backers of a ballot initiative that would reintroduce wolves in Colorado presented state officials with 211,093 signatures. The initiative would ask Coloradans whether to require state wildlife commissioners to reintroduce gray wolves by the end of 2023 on public land west of the Continental Divide and set up a fund to compensate livestock owners for any losses.
MD: Auditors fault Maryland college savings plan agency on record-keeping, staffing
Maryland’s college savings plan agency ― where dozens of boxes of old documents were discovered four and a half years ago ― should undergo a comprehensive forensic audit, the state’s legislative auditors have recommended. Auditors cited frequent turnover of high-level staff, the cache of documents and accounting practices at Maryland 529 as causes for concern.
MI: Sports, online betting on the way to legalization in Michigan
A bill passed by both the state House and Senate could be setting up Michigan to legalize sports betting and online gambling — it just needs the governor’s signature to become law. Detroit’s casinos have been preparing for legalization.
ME: A watchdog agency will ramp up an investigation of Maine’s indigent legal services system
The Maine legislature’s government watchdog agency will conduct a more thorough investigation into how the state provides legal services for the poor, with a specific focus on the oversight of the program and its procedures.
NH: New Hampshire releases hate crimes reporting guidelines
New Hampshire released a set of guidelines to help law enforcement agencies better handle hate crimes in the wake of recent debate about racism in the mostly white state. The protocols come almost two years after the attorney general’s office created a civil rights unit.
LA: Louisiana House GOP urged to pick leader without Democrats
Two top Louisiana Republicans are urging GOP state House members to pick their next speaker without input from Democrats. U.S. Sen. John Kennedy and Attorney General Jeff Landry sent Republican House members a letter suggesting that Democrats shouldn’t have a say in the majority-GOP House.
WV: West Virginia racing commission leader says agency on track to go broke
The West Virginia Racing Commission is funded through taxes on pari-mutuel wagering at the state’s two thoroughbred tracks and two greyhound racetracks. But attendance and wagering at racetracks has decreased, and the tax no longer covers the costs of salaries, benefits and operating expenses for the commission.
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