What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/7

  • September 07, 2016

ND: Judge grants partial stop on North Dakota pipeline work

ap.org

An American Indian tribe succeeded in getting a federal judge to temporarily stop construction on some, but not all, of a $3.8 billion four-state oil pipeline, but its broader request still hangs in the balance. The U.S. district judge said he will rule this week on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's challenge of federal regulators' decision to grant permits to the Dakota Access Pipeline, which will cross North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.

IL: New Illinois law to teach drivers what to do if stopped by police

chicagotribune.com

The measure comes amid heightened tension in Chicago and across the nation over how traffic stops can go terribly wrong — and in the worst cases turn deadly. Targeting the newest and youngest drivers, the law mandates that all driver's education classes include a section on what to do during a traffic stop.

LA: Louisiana could save money with prison alternatives, auditor says

nola.com

Louisiana could save hundreds of millions of dollars by finding alternatives to imprisoning nonviolent offenders, according to a new auditor’s report. Reducing the use of mandatory minimum sentences and providing more rehabilitation services to inmates are among suggestions in the report, which also recommends pre-trial diversion programs and more drug courts to steer nonviolent criminals away from jail.

NY: New York will require schools to test drinking water for lead

ap.org

Schools in New York state will be required to test their drinking water for lead contamination under a new measure signed into law by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. School districts will report the results to parents as well as local and state officials. Buildings found to have high levels of lead will have to develop and implement plans to fix the problem.

OR: Oregon agency charged with accrediting pot labs “on verge of collapse

oregonlive.com

The administrator of a state program charged with making sure marijuana labs, which will test for potency and contaminants, are accredited said the Oregon Health Authority has ignored his pleas for more resources. The staffing shortage at the Oregon Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program may result in fewer products on store shelves when the state rolls out its recreational marijuana market next month.

TX: Texas agency recommends pre-K class size limits

texastribune.org

A study by the Texas Education Agency and the Department of Family and Protective Services recommends a limit of 22 children and a student-teacher ratio of 11-to-1 for pre-K classes. The report was mandated by a 2015 law, championed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, which created a $118 million pre-K grant program.

OK: Oklahoma gross receipts continue to decline

tulsaworld.com

Oklahoma’s state treasurer said gross receipts for August were $832.2 million, down 4 percent from August of last year and the 18th consecutive month of decline. The state’s jobless numbers exceeded the national rate for the first time in almost 26 years.

IA: Getting an accurate count of Iowa’s homeless veterans is an elusive task

iowawatch.org

Many homeless veterans are transient and not in the state on the one day the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development tries to count them. Others simply don’t want to be found. And only four of Iowa’s 99 counties are surveyed for the total statewide count.

PA: Pennsylvania Turnpike commission in dire financial situation

phillyvoice.com

An audit shows that the commission responsible for maintaining the Pennsylvania Turnpike is relying on unrealistic revenue projections that could lead to a “transportation disaster.”

VA: More kids receiving free, reduced-price breakfast in Virginia

richmond.com

Virginia schools served nearly 5 million more breakfasts last school year as a result of a statewide effort to cut down on the number of children going hungry. The increase was due largely to an additional $537,000 in funding. 

NH: New Hampshire court rules cap on state funds to schools unconstitutional

unionleader.com

A superior court judge has ruled that New Hampshire’s cap on grants to public schools aimed at leveling their funding is unconstitutional. The lawsuit, brought by the city of Dover and its school district, means an extra $1.4 million for Dover and a potential boost for nearly 40 other communities with caps on the amount of "adequacy funding" they receive.

MA: Massachusetts revenue growth slower than expected

bostonglobe.com

Overall, in July and August, the first two months of the state’s fiscal year, Massachusetts took in just 1.3 percent more than in the same period a year before. Policymakers crafted a state budget based on the expectation that revenue would grow just under 4 percent this fiscal year, which runs through June 2017.

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