The South Carolina Legislature starts debate on removing the Confederate flag from Statehouse grounds, following the killings of nine African-American churchgoers in Charleston during a June 17 Bible study. A two-thirds vote in each chamber is needed.
Republican Gov. Doug Ducey called for a full-scale investigation into what caused days of unrest at a private prison, where rioting was subdued after 96 members of the Arizona Department of Corrections' special tactical-support unit were called in.
California water departments are raising rates and adding fees to make up for lost revenue as residents conserve water. Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s order to cut water use could cost agencies $1 billion. As the drought continues, some water departments are also turning to more expensive water sources, further squeezing their budgets.
The state took the first step toward issuing $1 billion in bonds to shore up the troubled Kansas Public Employees Retirement System. The state hopes to earn 8 percent, while holding the cost of the issue to less than 5 percent.
A 6 percent tax on soft drinks took effect July 1, along with a 9 percent tax on vending machine purchases. The new taxes — approved by the Vermont Legislature in May — were intended to help close a total $113 million gap between projected state spending and revenue.
A proposed ballot initiative filed in Colorado would redefine same-sex marriages as civil unions. A second initiative would allow wedding-related businesses opposed to gay marriage to hire a contractor to serve the couples. Keeping gay marriage out of Colorado could be difficult, if not impossible, since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have a right to marry nationwide.
A new law gives Florida teachers a $10,000 bonus if they scored in the 80th percentile on the SAT or ACT and earn a “highly effective” score on evaluations. The state is spending $44 million on the program even though testing companies say they haven’t studied whether people who earn high scores on college entrance exams are better teachers.
A provision approved by Wisconsin's budget-writing committee would purge some criminal records for those 25 or younger from the state's court access website. Advocates for changing the juvenile justice system say they're happy about the action, whereas open records advocates oppose the move, saying all court actions should remain public.
Since recreational marijuana use was legalized July 1, municipalities have told employees they can smoke on their own time, as long as they don't show up for work stoned. Employees who drive as part of their job or work in a safety-sensitive position are still prohibited from consuming or smoking marijuana at any time per federal law.
Arkansas’ 24 Senate Republicans promised to pass legislation so that religious institutions "may choose not to participate in or host marriages that violate their religious beliefs." But Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson raised doubts about the need for such legislation, noting that the U.S. Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling affects government action only and has no bearing on private individuals or institutions.
Georgia teachers, state employees and retirees are paying more for their health care than workers covered by similar government-subsidized programs in Georgia and nearby states, according to a new Department of Community Health study.
Texas lawmakers this year created a program to help pay mental health professionals’ student loans if they practice in a medically needy area. The program seeks to alleviate the state’s shortage of mental health professionals, which watchdogs are calling a "public health emergency."
Same-sex couples hoping to tie the knot at the popular wedding destination are now in luck, as long as they hold an Ohio license to marry.