Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Wyoming seeks data and solutions for missing and murdered indigenous women … Washington moves to revive affirmative action … Multiple lawsuits filed against e-cigarette company JUUL over teen vaping.
Two Massachusetts district attorneys have backed a lawsuit that would bar Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents from state courthouses, where they search for people facing civil immigration violations. If a federal judge sides with them, ICE would also lose access to associated courthouse property, including parking lots and clerk’s offices. The two district attorneys from Suffolk and Middlesex joined the initiative following the news last week that a Boston judge was indicted for allegedly letting an undocumented immigrant leave court through a different exit, thereby helping him evade immigration officers. Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan’s office explained support of the lawsuit as an effort to avoid disruption in court, as “many victims and witnesses do not appear in court out of fear of immigration arrest and deportation, making legal proceedings and prosecutions more difficult.” The other nine DAs in Massachusetts did not sign on to the lawsuit, which was also brought by immigration advocates, public defenders and other organizations. [Boston Globe; Associated Press; WBSM]
INDIGENOUS WOMEN | Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon announced that he will convene a task force to investigate the high rate of indigenous women who have gone missing or been murdered in the state. The announcement followed the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls March, organized by University of Wyoming students. On some reservations, indigenous women are murdered at a rate ten times the national average, but clear data in Wyoming is hard to find. Advocates for tribes in the state are asking for funding to keep data current and to evaluate potential strategies for supporting their communities. [Laramie Boomerang; Casper Star-Tribune; Wyoming Public Media]
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION | The Washington state legislature has passed a bill that will make affirmative action legal again. Since 1998, affirmative action has been barred in Washington, prohibiting consideration of a candidate’s race, gender, sexuality, or disability when they apply for state jobs, colleges, or contracting positions. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has indicated he will sign the bill into law. [King 5 News; Seattle Times]
TEEN SMOKING | Public health advocates at Northeastern University in Boston filed a class-action lawsuit on Monday against Juul. The suit asks the e-cigarette and vape company to fund a statewide treatment program for teenagers who began vaping before the age of 18 and now want to quit smoking. The lawsuit specifically cites the lack of programming for teens who want to quit smoking, as most options are geared towards adults. Since last year, lawsuits have also been filed against Juul in Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania, with advocates saying teens are getting addicted to nicotine without knowing it. Proponents of the lawsuits say Juul is largely responsible for the largest increase in teen nicotine usage on record, from 11% in 2017 to 21% in 2019. Juul has defended itself as tackling teen use, saying the company is taking steps like discontinuing sales of flavors that appeal to kids in stores. The company is also lobbying in all 50 states on bills affecting the industry, as many states are considering a variety of measures. [Boston Globe; San Francisco Chronicle; New York Times]
BLOCKCHAIN | The Ohio House is considering a bill that would legalize government use of blockchain for storing state data such as car titles or hunting licenses. The bill’s introduction comes after the state held its first blockchain convention at the end of 2018, and the legislation would also include legal support for businesses who want to use blockchain as well. [Cleveland.com; Government Technology]
Emma Coleman is the assistant editor for Route Fifty.