NY: New York’s poor hospital safety ratings deserve deeper look, report says
New York hospitals rank among the lowest nationwide for safety and quality of care, according to a new report. Using the federal government’s most recent five-star hospital ratings from 2019, the report found that New York had the most one-star hospitals (34%) and the fewest five-star hospitals (1%) out of 17 major urbanized states.
TX: 2019 was another record year for Texas gun violence
It was only the second year in decades that 37 people died from shootings in Texas, a nearly threefold increase since 2017. People across the world watched images of the El Paso and Odessa mass shootings unfold, and more victims still were killed across this state in violence that drew fewer headlines.
UT: Medical tourism is saving Utah money
In the first year since Utah’s “Rx Tourism” program for public employees launched, 10 people have traveled over the Mexican border to pick up specialty medications at about half the price charged in the United States. The state covers airfares for the patient and a companion and offers a cash incentive for each trip. So far, the state has saved ,000.
AK: Alaska tribal groups condemn federal mining plan
More than two dozen Alaska tribes are protesting a Trump administration land-use proposal that, if approved, could open millions of acres of wilderness to future mining in a large chunk of rural Alaska. For the first time in decades, the Bureau of Land Management is taking steps to update resource management plans for 13.5 million acres it manages in the state’s western and Interior regions.
TN: Tennessee GOP lawmaker files bill to chemically castrate convicted sex offenders
A Republican lawmaker who has sponsored several controversial measures is proposing a new law in Tennessee that would require anyone convicted of sexual offenses against minors under the age of 13 to undergo “chemical castration.”
AR: Arkansas Panel recommends .8M worth of fixes for state’s damaged levees
State officials recommend sending .8 million to 14 entities for repairing levees damaged by Arkansas River flooding last spring. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimated it would cost a total of million to repair levees along the river and to get them up to Corps standards.
VA: Virginia, other southern states, seek to preserve historically African American schools
Across Virginia, and throughout the South, many historically African American schools are confronting possible extinction. Aware of the threat, alumni are pushing to preserve and honor their alma maters. In recent years, Virginia has seen a steady drumbeat of applications led by former students for commemorative markers to adorn historically black schools.
CO: Colorado lawmakers consider bill to purge past marijuana convictions
State Rep. Jonathan Singer, a Democrat, is vowing that “there will be a bill” introduced in 2020 to allow for statewide expungement of criminal records for all people convicted of low-level marijuana offenses in Colorado prior to legalization. The question is whether the bill will require that the state automatically clear those convictions or require that people apply for expungement.
DE: Delaware’s first black Supreme Court justice takes oath of office
At 38, Tamika Montgomery-Reeves is not only the youngest person to sit on Delaware’s Supreme Court bench, she is also the first African American Supreme Court justice in the state’s history.
OK: Oklahoma governor hires law firm in tribal gambling battle
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, announced the hiring of an out-of-state law firm to represent him in his ongoing dispute with Native American tribes over casino gambling. Stitt hired Seattle-based Perkins Coie to advise his office in his attempt to renegotiate the state’s gaming compacts with the tribes.
DC: District of Columbia officials passed a law to help tipped workers, but never funded it
More than a year after District of Columbia lawmakers overturned a voter-approved initiative to raise the wages of tipped workers, city officials have yet to implement measures to improve working conditions for servers and bartenders.
VT: Sex work decriminalization bill introduced in Vermont
A group of Democratic and Progressive Party lawmakers has introduced a bill for the 2020 session that would decriminalize sex work in the state of Vermont. If passed, Vermont would become the first state in the nation to decriminalize sex work.
OH: Ohio getting hemp rules in place for spring planting of new cash crop
Ohio is among the first to receive federal approval for a statewide program to cultivate hemp.
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