What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 6/20

  • June 20, 2016

US: Oil bust leaves states with massive well cleanup


The worst oil bust since the 1980s is putting oil producing states on the hook for thousands of abandoned drilling sites at a time when they have little money to plug wells and seal off environmental hazards. In Texas, the roughly $165 million price tag of plugging nearly 10,000 abandoned wells is double the entire budget of the agency that regulates the industry.

ND: North Dakota tax revenue comes up short, rainy day fund likely to run dry


State tax revenue came up $36.4 million short in May, increasing the chances of additional budget cuts and making it likely North Dakota will drain the remaining $75 million from its rainy day fund.

NY: New York legislators vote to make fantasy sports legal


To operate in New York, fantasy sports sites like FanDuel and DraftKings will pay the state the equivalent of 15.5 percent of their revenue to operate, an amount that supporters have estimated to be nearly $6 million a year. The money will be directed to education.

US: State licensing laws can be a barrier to employment


Over the years, states have added licensing requirements for a bewildering variety of jobs, requiring months or years of expensive education, along with assessing costly fees that can be a barrier to employment. Today, nearly 30 percent of the U.S. workforce needs a license to work.

CA: California voters will decide whether to repeal the death penalty


The question goes before voters in November. Californians voted against repealing the penalty in 2012, although the state hasn’t executed a death row inmate since 2006.

MO: Missouri governor signs law targeting municipal courts


The legislation signed by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon will cap how much Missouri municipalities can charge for infractions such as nuisance pet violations. The law, and a push last year to limit how much money cities can generate from traffic stops, came in response to the 2014 protests in Ferguson that showed municipalities were relying on such fines to finance city operations.

US: States turn to former patients to fill mental health gaps


In at least 30 states, including Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and North Dakota, former mental health patients are being trained to help fill workforce gaps and improve care under a new certification known as peer support specialists.

VA: Virginia revokes sex offenders’ voting rights


Officials in Virginia have removed 132 sex offenders, who are still under state supervision, from voter rolls. They were added to the list of eligible voters earlier this year when Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe restored voting rights for felons who had completed their sentences.

WY: Wind power lifts Wyoming’s fortunes


New climate change regulations are helping transform Wyoming, the nation’s biggest coal-producing state, into what could be the largest producer of wind energy.

IA: New data show at least 3,400 untested rape kits in Iowa


State law requires Iowa law enforcement agencies to store untested rape kits for at least 10 years, but a new state survey indicates law enforcement agencies don't have standardized rules for handling such evidence.

SC: South Carolina’s penny-pinching ways crippled dam safety program


For years, South Carolina’s dam safety program operated on paltry budgets. State inspectors were unable to examine many hazardous dams as often as necessary. They failed to regulate some potentially dangerous dams and they rarely issued fines against dam owners for violations of the law, records show.