Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed a package of bills designed to make it less likely that ex-offenders will return to lives of crime. The new Louisiana laws expand probation and parole opportunities, shrink sentences, mainly for non-violent offenders, and ease financial burdens inmates face upon release.
Republican Gov. Scott Walker's proposed switch to a self-insurance plan for state workers has been rejected in a rare bipartisan vote by the Wisconsin Legislature's budget-writing committee. Under Walker’s proposal, state workers and their families would have been insured by the state rather than purchasing coverage through private HMOs.
Lawmakers in the Oregon House sent the Senate a $550 million health care tax plan they said was necessary to prevent cuts to the state's Medicaid program. The legislation, which Democratic Gov. Kate Brown supports, includes a tax increase on hospitals and new taxes on health insurance plans.
Starting in January 2018, any current or future in-state student at the University of Michigan whose family earns $65,000 or less will be eligible for free tuition for four years. That's worth about $60,000 for those four years total. About half the families in the state will qualify for this incentive, university officials said.
Lottery players will not be able to purchase Powerball or Mega Millions tickets in Illinois after the end of this month unless the state budget impasse is resolved, lottery officials said. Without a budget in place, the state is not authorized to make payments to the Multi-State Lottery Association, which runs Powerball, or to Mega Millions.
Facing pressure from the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, state officials agreed to take another crack at speeding up care for people determined to be too mentally ill to stand trial by adding 110 new beds to treatment facilities across the state.
Republican Gov. Rick Scott has signed into law new minimum mandatory prison sentences for people caught with more than 4 grams of deadly fentanyl or carfentanil. The minimum sentences are meant to criminalize traffickers of fentanyl, which in recent years has grown to be one of the most prominent opioid killers in Florida.
California's unique authority to set tougher air quality standards than the federal government isn't being targeted right now, according to Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt. During Pruitt's confirmation hearing, he raised the possibility of reviewing California's waivers under the Clean Air Act, which have helped the state become a leader in fighting smog and climate change.
Though Texas has required state agencies and their contractors to verify the employment eligibility of their workers since 2014, efforts to put teeth behind that mandate failed again during the recent legislative session. A state agency has yet to be assigned to oversee compliance, and it remains unclear what, if any, penalties agencies and contractors face for failing to use the system.
There are still cities and towns in Alabama where you can't buy beer or wine in a store or a drink in a restaurant on Sunday. But the number of places that are holding on to those rules is shrinking.
Members of the Kansas Board of Regents approved tuition increases for most undergraduate students at the state’s six public universities, ranging from a low of 2.5 percent at the University of Kansas to a high of 2.9 percent at Kansas State University and Fort Hays State University. Resident and nonresident tuition increases for the 2017-2018 academic year were among the lowest in a decade.
A bill making its way through the New Jersey Legislature would ban the release of balloons, which are a significant source of litter when they fall to the ground, can be a danger around power lines, and threaten sea turtles and other wildlife that mistake balloons for food. But a ban won't come without a fight.