What We're Reading: Top State Stories 2/28

  • February 28, 2017

TX: Trump administration to drop key claim against Texas voter ID law

texastribune.org

The U.S. Department of Justice said it will ditch its long-standing position that Texas lawmakers purposefully discriminated against minority voters by passing the nation’s strictest voter ID law in 2011. However, the department will not seek to dismiss the claim that the ID law would have a “discriminatory effect” on certain voters. 

NJ: New Jersey pension debt soared to $49 billion last year

nj.com

New Jersey’s government worker pension funds lost a lot of ground last year, as the state’s pension debt rose from $43.8 billion to $49.1 billion, newly released actuarial reports show.

IA: Voter ID legislation advances in Iowa House

desmoinesregister.com

A bill requiring Iowans to show valid government-issued identification such as a driver's license or military ID at the polls was approved by a panel of legislators.

KS: Credit rating service takes dim view of the veto of a Kansas tax hike

kansas.com 

Moody’s Investor Service has labeled Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto of a proposed tax hike as credit negative, saying the tax increase would have gone a long way toward resolving Kansas’ fiscal troubles.

MD: Maryland criminal justice reform efforts turn to college applications

washingtonpost.com

A bill being debated by the General Assembly would make Maryland the first state to prohibit public and private colleges and universities from including questions about criminal history on their applications. Admissions offices could still ask applicants who have been accepted whether they have been convicted of a crime, but could not withdraw an offer of admission based on the answer.

OH: 82 noncitizens illegally cast ballots in Ohio elections, secretary of state says

cleveland.com 

Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted has referred 82 cases of non-U.S. citizens voting illegally in recent Ohio elections to law enforcement for investigation and possible prosecution. Husted said voter fraud is rare, but people should be held accountable when it happens.

AR: Arkansas governor sets execution dates for 8 inmates

arkansasonline.com

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has set execution dates for eight death row inmates, even though Arkansas lacks one of three drugs needed to put the men to death. The state hasn't executed an inmate since 2005.

US: Congress could pump the brakes on new state retirement plans

washingtonpost.com

Business groups and Republicans in Congress are trying to block new state-run retirement plans being created in several states. Under the programs, workers who don’t have access to retirement plans through their jobs would be automatically enrolled in portable individual retirement accounts and contributions would be deducted directly from their paychecks.

CA: Taxes are on the table as push for California road funding intensifies

sacbee.com

In what would be the biggest shake-up of California transportation funding since the early 1990s, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders are trying to craft a package that would raise billions of dollars for road upkeep, goods movement and public transit, mostly through a mix of higher taxes and fees.

IN: Indiana House passes abortion 'reversal,' school prayer legislation

indystar.com

The Indiana House passed a controversial bill requiring abortion providers to tell patients about a possible abortion reversal procedure, and another that prohibits discrimination against children or their parents for their religious beliefs. 

MN: Minnesota's Sunday liquor ban set to end soon

startribune.com

The state Senate voted to let Minnesota liquor stores open on Sundays, giving opponents of a Sunday sales ban the victory they need to finally undo a 159-year-old, increasingly unpopular state law. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton has promised to let the repeal become law.

IL: Illinois governor unveils plan to revamp Medicaid

chicagotribune.com

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner plans to expand Medicare managed care programs to 80 percent of Illinois residents on Medicaid, and to children under the care of the Department of Children and Family Services. He also wants to make sure the program focuses more on coordinating care for patients and paying doctors and hospitals based on results rather than just for services.

CT: Lower tax collections from wealthy increase Connecticut’s budget deficit

courant.com

With revenue collections from Connecticut’s 100 richest taxpayers, and the state’s rank-and-file workers, lower than expected, the Legislature's nonpartisan fiscal office now says the projected state deficit for the current fiscal year is $65 million. 

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