1 Bump-Fire Stock Bans
The man who fatally shot 58 people and injured hundreds more in Las Vegas had equipped at least a dozen of his semi-automatic weapons with "bump-fire stock" modifications, which increase the weapons' rate of fire. The devices are legal throughout the United States under federal law, though several states restrict their use. California and New York ban them. Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey and Oregon prohibit devices that allow automatic fire or weapons that fire multiple rounds with a single, continuous trigger pull. In addition, seven states and the District of Columbia have assault weapons bans that could be interpreted to include bump stocks as well.
2 Get It on Paper
After federal officials found that Russia targeted voting systems in 21 states during the 2016 presidential election, some state and local election agencies are returning to paper ballots. Virginia election officials announced in September that they would stop using electronic voting machines, and Georgia launched a pilot program to use paper ballots. Security officials said that vote counting was not affected during the election but warned the attacks will continue. Iowa and Virginia passed bills this year to require post-election audits comparing paper ballots with electronic votes. Several states considered similar legislation. The aging of America's electronic voting equipment only adds to the security woes.
3 Of Protests and Punishment
In one of the year's more striking examples of state-level partisan division. Republican legislators in 20 statehouses introduced--and six legislatures approved--new restrictions on the right to assemble and protest, USA Today reports. Arkansas, for example, passed an "anti-loitering" bill. Oklahoma made certain types of trespassing punishable by up to 10 years in jail. In Minnesota, an attempt to stiffen penalties for actions already subject to fines, like blocking access to freeways or airports, was vetoed by the Democratic governor. Critics say the bills are intended to silence dissent; supporters say demonstrators who disrupt traffic, damage public property or risk public safety go too far.
4 Citizens' Shopping Carts
You can buy shoes, food, music and tires online, so why not government services, like paying taxes, buying a fishing license or renewing a vehicle registration? Some technology officers envision one-stop, Amazon-like portals for all state services, Pew's Stateline reports. Customers...