Top State Stories 12/31
TX: Inside a Texas church, guns, bibles and a spirited firearms debate
A shooting at a church outside Fort Worth has revived the debate in Texas over whether more guns create a more dangerous environment or a safer one. A pair of state laws adopted since 2017 authorize armed security details at houses of worship and allow parishioners to bring their own weapons to church.
CA: Judge temporarily blocks California’s forced arbitration law
A federal judge temporarily blocked a new California law outlawing mandatory arbitration agreements that critics say can make it more difficult for workers to sue their bosses for sexual harassment. About two-thirds of California non-union, private-sector workplaces have mandatory arbitration policies.
MD: Governor considering if Maryland will continue accepting refugees
If Maryland wants to continue accepting refugees, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has less than a month to tell the Trump administration. An executive order in September from President Donald Trump dictates that states and local governments must, for the first time, issue written consent allowing refugees to resettle within their jurisdictions.
LA: Secret complaints, outcomes: How Louisiana’s Judiciary Commission protects judges it’s meant to police
Over the past decade, the actions of only one Louisiana judge so offended the Supreme Court that it cast her from the bench, and extraordinary circumstances led to that outcome. She was the lone castoff among Louisiana jurists at the receiving end of thousands of complaints.
IL: Illinois loses population for a 6th straight year — and lost more residents than any state this decade
Illinois’ population went down by an estimated 51,000 people in 2019, or 0.4%, marking the sixth consecutive year the state has lost residents, according to new census data. Since the turn of the decade, Illinois has lost more residents than any other state, with a drop of about 159,700 people, or 1.2% of its population.
NH: New Hampshire becomes latest state to offer sports betting
New Hampshire became the second New England state to offer sports betting, with Republican Gov. Chris Sununu placing the first bet on the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl. The wagering is expected to produce an estimated $7.5 million for education in fiscal 2021 and $13.5 million two years later.
ME: Don’t expect Maine Democrats to push for gun control in 2020
Democrats in the Maine legislature may look to make big strides in health care and compromise on ending the annual transportation funding shortfall next year, but they won’t be using their majority to press on a perennially thorny issue: guns.
DC: D.C. hate-crime prosecutions rise as support grows for changing city’s law
Hate-crime prosecutions rose in the District of Columbia in 2019 after plummeting to their lowest point in at least a decade. The increase in hate-crime prosecutions could be overshadowed by another rise in suspected hate crimes in the capital in 2019. The district already had the highest per capita rate of any major U.S. city.
MS: Tax from internet sales growing, but Mississippi getting less
Since a June 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing states to collect taxes on internet sales, Mississippi’s use tax collections have steadily increased. Still, Mississippi’s financial experts are projecting use tax revenue going to the general fund for core state functions will slow.
NY: Dairy, vegetable farms challenge New York labor law
New York’s dairy and vegetable farms are asking a Buffalo judge to temporarily halt a new state law allowing farmworkers to unionize and collect overtime. They also want the state to modify its definition of “farm laborer” to exclude supervisors, farm owners and family members of farm owners.
WV: Nazi salutes displayed early and often in West Virginia jail training class
Cadets of the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation Basic Training Class No. 18 performed Nazi salutes as part of their training dating back to the early weeks of boot camp, state investigators have found. Republican Gov. Jim Justice announced that all 34 guards and three academy staff members would be fired.
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