What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 5/13

  • May 13, 2016

CA: California approves new school rating system


The California State Board of Education has voted to start rating schools on their suspension rates, graduation rates, attendance records and the rate at which English-language learners are achieving proficiency, in addition to test scores.

KS: Kansas to toughen rules on transgender birth certificates


Kansas is pursuing regulations that would give it one of the nation's toughest policies against allowing transgender people to update their birth certificates, prompting anger from advocates and threats of a lawsuit.

PA: Pennsylvania governor unveils plan for in-state Zika testing


As part of Pennsylvania’s Zika Virus Response Plan, officials are working to develop a method to test residents for the virus without using a federal lab in Georgia.

IA: New Iowa law allows early release of hundreds of drug felons


Nearly 1,000 nonviolent drug offenders will be eligible for early release from Iowa prisons over the next five years as part of a sentencing reform bill signed by Republican Gov. Terry Branstad.

NE: Omaha man suing Nebraska for releasing balloons after touchdowns


For at least 50 years, thousands of University of Nebraska fans have released red balloons after the Cornhuskers score their first touchdown during home games. Citing damage to the environment, an Omaha man wants that tradition to end.

WV: West Virginia governor puts tax hikes, furloughs on table for lawmakers


Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is asking legislators to consider three tax increase options to close a $270 million gap in the West Virginia budget, and is seeking authority to furlough government employees in the event of certain financial emergencies.

LA: Louisiana House, Senate back bills giving juvenile lifers chance at parole


Louisiana lawmakers voted to give people convicted of murder as teenagers a chance for parole in 35 years. The proposal comes in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling which struck down automatic life sentences without possibility of parole for crimes committed by someone under the age of 18.

MA: Massachusetts Senate passes transgender equity bill


The Massachusetts legislation would update state anti-discrimination law to prohibit discrimination against transgender people in sports arenas, gas stations, movie theaters, bars, malls and other public accommodations.

OK: Oklahoma lawmakers to consider new revenue measures


Oklahoma lawmakers took some of their biggest steps yet toward plugging an estimated $1.3 billion shortfall, advancing roughly $274 million in proposed revenue increases.

 KY: Kentucky lawmakers to examine possible abuse of farmland tax break


Legislative investigators will examine how Kentucky officials annually forfeit taxes on $36.6 billion in property values under the state's farmland preservation tax break.

WY: Governor asks for more cuts from Wyoming flagship


Republican Gov. Matt Mead said the University of Wyoming needs to cut $35 million from its just-approved two-year budget because of falling state energy revenues. Lawmakers cut nearly $6 million from the state’s only public, four-year university during the legislative session that ended in early March.

AL: Alabama governor signs anti-abortion bills; lawsuits likely


Republican Gov. Robert Bentley signed a bill that prevents abortion clinics from locating near elementary schools and another that bans an abortion procedure in Alabama.

CO: Colorado lawmakers strike deal on booze bill as session ends


Colorado lawmakers forged a compromise to modernize the state's Prohibition-era liquor laws and blunt a potential ballot question in November. The deal would allow a limited expansion of liquor, wine and full-strength beer sales at more grocery and convenience stores.