Top State Stories 12/22
AZ: Arizona governor agrees to remove shipping container ‘wall’ at border
Outgoing Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has agreed to remove all the shipping containers he has installed along the border. The Biden administration had filed a lawsuit against Arizona threatening to remove the barrier and then bill the state.
GA: Georgia Supreme Court slams AG’s office over broken execution agreement
In a searing opinion, a unanimous Georgia Supreme Court strongly condemned Republican Attorney General Chris Carr’s office for backtracking on an agreement halting most executions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
CO: Denver stretched to ‘breaking point’ by migrant crisis and brutal cold snap, mayor warns
Denver, Colorado, Democratic Mayor Michael Hancock and administration officials described a city on the verge of running out of resources to meet the challenges of an influx of migrants from the southern border coupled with a dangerous arctic cold front.
KS: Pipeline permits scrutinized as Kansas oil cleanup continues
As Kansas continues to clean up from the Keystone Pipeline XL oil spill earlier this month, federal regulators are asking why pipelines, including Keystone, are allowed to operate at pressures above the standard for crude oil transport.
NJ: New Jersey launches M marijuana business equity program
New Jersey will launch a $10 million grant program to help financially strapped would-be cannabis operators. The New Jersey Economic Development Authority announced the creation of the Cannabis Equity Grant Program after a unanimous vote at the board’s monthly meeting.
TX: Texas drops fight to prevent 18- to 20-year-olds from carrying handguns in public
A federal judge ruled earlier this year that a Texas law banning young adults from publicly carrying handguns is unconstitutional. The state no longer plans to appeal that ruling.
MN: Minnesota legislators approve M overhaul of state office building
Minnesota will spend roughly $500 million to renovate and significantly expand the building where House members and other state employees work and hold public meetings, a price one legislator called “egregious.”
WI: Wisconsin ends the year with a record .6B in its general fund
Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers announced the state’s general fund balance increased nearly 300% from a positive balance of $1.2 billion at the end of fiscal 2020-21 to $4.6 billion at the end of the 2021-22 fiscal year.
CA: California county sees highest number of monarch butterflies in more than 20 years
The numbers are giving some researchers in California hope that the western monarch butterfly population could be rebounding from devastatingly low numbers a few years ago that left some worrying the insect was on the verge of extinction.
IA: Iowa settles with Utah-based bank in ‘rent-a-bank’ scheme against puppy buyers
A Utah-based bank that’s behind high-interest, predatory loans for pet buyers must refund money to more than 1,600 Iowans who were charged illegal interest rates that climbed to 118%. It’s a process that animal welfare and consumer advocates call “rent-a-bank.” The refunds are part of a settlement between the state of Iowa and Transportation Alliance Bank of Ogden, Utah.
OH: Ohio schools required to begin screening for dyslexia risk next year
All Ohio students in kindergarten through third grade will be screened for the risk of dyslexia in the 2023-2024 school year, thanks to two bills passed by the General Assembly in recent years and a guidebook developed by a committee.
HI: Hawaii governor’s offer of 2 extra days off confuses teachers
While Democratic Gov. Josh Green has gifted state employees with two extra days of paid time off for the holidays, Hawaii’s 12,600 public school teachers are still unsure how they’ll benefit since contractually they are already on vacation during the schools’ winter break.
AK: Alaska legislature files ‘friendly’ lawsuit over billion-dollar accounting dispute
The Alaska legislature’s budget and audit committee sued Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy and the state departments of Revenue and Natural Resources, alleging that the executive branch has incorrectly handled the proceeds of a tax dispute since 2018. Success by the legislature could reduce the amount of revenue available for ordinary spending and add to the multibillion-dollar figure required to be deposited into the state’s Constitutional Budget Reserve.
WA: Washington AG sues 3 corporations over opioids
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, a Democrat, announced his office is suing Kroger, Albertsons and Rite Aid, arguing their pharmacy chains failed to act as the “final barrier” against the over prescription of opioids.
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