Top State Stories 10/19
WA: Carbon auctions will bring Washington more money than predicted
Washington state is likely to collect more than twice as much money from a new carbon credit system over the next three years as originally estimated. Environmental and transportation advocates hope some of the extra money can be spent on reducing emissions from heavy-duty vehicles, as well as toward converting homes to more energy-efficient heating and cooling systems.
OK: Oklahoma voters to decide recreational marijuana question in March special election
Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt set March 7, 2023, as the date for a statewide special election asking voters whether to legalize recreational marijuana for those age 21 and older. If passed, the state question also would allow some drug offenders to petition to have their cannabis convictions reversed and criminal records expunged.
CA: California wildfires erased years of climate change progress, study says
California’s record-setting wildfires of 2020 destroyed 4.2 million acres of forest — and erased years of progress the state made on battling climate change. A study by researchers at UCLA and the University of Chicago says the 2020 wildfires released nearly 140 million tons of carbon dioxide into the air. That was nearly as much greenhouse gas emissions as all the passenger vehicles in California generate in a typical year.
WI: Thousands of eligible Wisconsin voters face ballot barriers in jail
At any given time, some 10,000 to 12,000 people are locked up in Wisconsin’s county jails, with roughly half in on misdemeanor-related charges and/or awaiting trial, which means thousands likely still have the right to vote. Yet the number of those who cast a ballot is miniscule: about 50 in 2020, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin.
MO: After deadly derailment, Missouri transportation officials take aim at railroad crossings
Four months after a deadly collision involving an Amtrak train and a dump truck in rural western Missouri, state transportation officials are asking for a major boost in funding to improve rail crossings. They want lawmakers and Republican Gov. Mike Parson to approve $50 million to ramp up safety measures along the state’s freight and passenger rail corridors.
IL: Poll: More than half of Illinois voters want abortion to stay legal — a little over a third do not
As states around the country adopt stricter restrictions on abortion with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, more than half of Illinois voters say abortion should remain legal there, according to a new WBEZ/Chicago Sun-Times poll. About 52% of likely voters polled said abortion should be legal in most or all cases, with 36% saying it should be illegal, and 12% unsure.
CO: Colorado evictions top 3K a month, a return to pre-pandemic normal as rental aid comes to an end
Since June, Colorado’s eviction filings are higher than they’ve been in nearly three years: More than 3,000 evictions were filed in each of the past three months, a benchmark not reached since February 2020. Since the pandemic began, Colorado has spent more than $290 million in federal money to keep residents housed, but that money will run out at some point early next year.
ID: Idaho Supreme Court won’t weigh legality of child marriage
A legal loophole in Idaho that allows parents of teens to nullify child custody agreements by arranging child marriages will remain in effect, under a ruling from the state Supreme Court. In a split decision, the high court declined to decide whether Idaho’s child marriage law — which allows 16- and 17-year-olds to marry if one parent agrees to the union — is unconstitutional.
NM: New Mexico State Land Office will require architectural surveys
The New Mexico State Land Office has finalized a rule that will require state trust land lessees to submit archaeological or cultural surveys before starting big projects like building pipelines or roads or drilling for oil and natural gas. New Mexico’s state land commissioner said the new regulation will help protect cultural sites that are an important part of the state’s history.
WY: Wyoming lawmakers advance bill to strip political parties’ role in filling vacancies
In a year filled with strife over the selection of two interim officials, Wyoming lawmakers passed a bill that would strip political parties of their role in filling vacancies for political seats. Under current law, when there is a vacancy, the political party of the person formerly in the seat gets to choose three candidates to fill that spot.
TX: Texas commission recommends tying community colleges’ state funding to their performance
A commission charged by the Texas legislature to suggest new ways of financing the state’s community colleges unanimously approved its recommendation that lawmakers tie state funding to how successful schools are at getting students to graduate or transfer to four-year universities.
DC: 1 in 4 public housing units sit vacant during DC affordability crisis
More than 1 in 4 of the District of Columbia’s roughly 8,000 public housing units sit vacant, at an average length of about two years, agency records reveal.Nationwide, public housing occupancy rates average 95%.
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