What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/28

  • April 28, 2016

CA: California begins free health care coverage for undocumented children

latimes.com

Next month, undocumented immigrants younger than 19 will become eligible for free health care coverage through Medi-Cal, the state's low-income health program. State officials estimate that 170,000 residents will be eligible.

OK: Oklahoma governor signs bills designed to slow the growth of prison population

okcfox.com

The bills signed by Republican Gov. Mary Fallin allow district attorneys to file misdemeanor charges instead of felonies for certain crimes, reduce mandatory sentences for drug offenses, raise the felony threshold to $1,000 for property crimes, and expand the number of offenders eligible for drug courts.

CO: Colorado weighs replacing ACA with universal health coverage

nytimes.com

The estimated $38-billion-a-year proposal, which goes before Colorado voters in November, would go beyond the Affordable Care Act and guarantee taxpayer-financed health care coverage for everyone in the state.

MO: Tuition freeze for Missouri’s public universities

news-leader.com

Missouri’s colleges and universities will freeze tuition next year under a deal with Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, who signed a higher education budget that will increase funding for the schools by $71.3 million.

LA: Louisiana residents could carry one-of-a-kind driver's license on phones

theadvocate.com

Lawmakers are deciding whether to make Louisiana the first state to offer an electronic copy of a driver’s license, which motorists could access through an app on their iPhones or other devices. The app would show the front and back of the license and would serve as the same valid ID as the traditional license.

PA: Expanding gambling in Pennsylvania would be a failure, study says

mcall.com

Although legislators are looking to expand gambling online and to airports and other locations in Pennsylvania, a study predicts tax revenue from gaming will eventually decline and leave the state with budget gaps.

TN: Tennessee governor signs controversial ‘therapists protection’ bill

tennessean.com

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam signed the bill, which says no licensed counselor or therapist must serve a client whose "goals, outcomes or behaviors" conflict with the counselor's "sincerely held principles" — a measure the American Counseling Association called a "hate bill" against gay and transgender people.

IA: Iowa simplifies voting rights restoration form for felons

seattletimes.com

The application form that convicted felons in Iowa must complete to seek restoration of their voting rights has been made simpler, with the number of questions reduced from 29 to 13. Iowa is one of only three states — along with Kentucky and Florida — that disenfranchise convicted felons for life unless their rights are restored.

AL: Alabama House committee OKs weaker payday loan bill

montgomeryadvertiser.com

An Alabama House committee approved a bill that would lower what payday lenders can charge by capping annual percentage interest rates at about 180 percent and setting repayment at between 28 and 45 days. Current APR on the short-term loans can run as high as 456 percent.

WI: Wisconsin produces fewer future teachers as more veterans leave profession

wpr.org

The state lost 1,478 teachers or 2.4 percent of its teachers from 2010 to 2014, while the number of public school students held steady. At the same time, the state’s teacher training programs produced 7 percent fewer graduates.

KY: Kentucky governor delays scholarship program for associate’s degrees

kentucky.com

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin vetoed parts of the state budget and delayed for a year a new program to pay tuition for college students seeking two-year associate’s degrees after existing state scholarship programs have been used. He also struck down a bill that would change the state’s driver’s licenses so residents can meet federal requirements for boarding domestic flights.

MD: Maryland’s new voting machines debut with few reported glitches

washingtonpost.com

Tuesday’s primary election marked Maryland’s long-awaited switch to paper ballots tallied by scanner, nearly a decade after lawmakers decided to ditch electronic machines that leave no paper trail. Officials reported few glitches with it.

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