What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/18

PA: Pennsylvania judges want to slap Uber with record fine

Two administrative law judges in Pennsylvania are recommending the state issue the ride-hailing company Uber a record $50 million fine for operating without state approval.

RI: Rhode Island spending over budget for health, social services

Three months into the current budget year, half a dozen Rhode Island agencies are in the red, with a new report projecting overspending at a potential $54 million. Most of it is attributed to agencies within health and human services.

OH: Ohio House votes to expand concealed-carry law 

With supporters saying they are eliminating “victim zones,” the Ohio House passed a bill that would allow the carrying of concealed handguns into day care centers, along with public areas of law enforcement stations and airports. The bill also would allow someone to carry a handgun in a school safety zone if the person has a license and leaves the weapon inside a locked motor vehicle.

FL, GA: Florida, Georgia to mediate water war

Georgia has requested a mediator to resolve the 25-year water war with Florida. Florida is on board, according to recently released court documents.

AR: Arkansas commission receives request for Hindu statue on state Capitol grounds

The Nevada-based Universal Society of Hinduism has formally requested permission to construct a privately funded Lord Hanuman statue on the Arkansas Capitol grounds. In April, Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a law allowing a privately funded Ten Commandments monument to be placed there.

OK: Oklahoma Supreme Court hands down landmark ruling on same-sex parenting

The decision from the Oklahoma Supreme Court acknowledges the rights of a nonbiological parent in a same-sex relationship who has acted as a parent.

KS: Kansas to lower threshold for evidence in child abuse cases 

Kansas’ Department of Children and Families will decrease the standard of evidence it uses in evaluating claims of child abuse or neglect. The change does not constrain judges, who decide whether to remove a child from a home. But it will make it easier to get individuals accused of abuse or neglect on to a state registry.

SD: Lawmakers may speed up South Dakota budget process

Leaders of the South Dakota Legislature are discussing several potential changes, including setting revenue estimates a month earlier and making changes to the current year’s budget when the session is at its halfway point.

MN: 150 sexually exploited children sought help under new Minnesota law

A study suggests more than 150 children have sought help for sexual exploitation in the first year of Minnesota's new Safe Harbor Law, which decriminalizes underage prostitution and instead requires the state to help the children.

MO: Missouri could pay blind residents $19 million

Blind Missourians have received monthly cash benefits from the state since the 1920s, but advocates for the blind said the state had been miscalculating the amount since the early 1990s. A new court ruling means the state soon could be paying out more than $19 million in damages.

TX: Texas landowners take battle with feds to court

Seven families are suing the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in U.S. district court, accusing the agency of perpetrating an “arbitrary seizure” of land along a 116-mile strip of the Red River, whose meandering has spurred a century’s worth of property disputes along the Texas-Oklahoma border.

UT: Nonprofits challenge Utah political disclosure law

A new lawsuit claims a Utah law is so vague that it could force groups from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Planned Parenthood and the Utah Taxpayers Association to disclose all their donors if they speak out on political issues.

MA: Massachusetts governor ends splitting of family cases into high, low risk

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker eliminated a brash policy dividing Massachusetts child welfare cases into high- and lower-risk categories. The two-track system faced new scrutiny this fall when a news story found that 10 children assigned to the lower-risk track had died between 2009 and 2013.

Juvenile Sex Offenders Moving Away