What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/19

AL: Alabama task force backs expanded Medicaid

A task force created by Republican Gov. Robert Bentley voted to recommend Medicaid expansion, citing the potential public health and economic benefits and the need to keep Alabama hospitals open.

OH: Ohio can’t touch millions in federal dollars for charter schools 

A $71 million charter-school grant for Ohio remains off-limits as state officials work on a response to federal regulators concerned about the rigging of charter-school evaluations.

LA: Louisiana governor unveils plan to close midyear deficit

Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal’s plan to reduce Louisiana’s roughly $500 million budget deficit cuts health care spending while sparing colleges and universities.

CA: Audit finds California tax board mishandled money

The California Board of Equalization isn’t properly managing its funds, according to a review by the state controller. The review found that the sales and use taxes the board manages are being deposited into the wrong accounts and the board is failing to collect debts owed to the state.

WI: Wisconsin Assembly committee approves bill prohibiting hunter harassment

The Wisconsin Assembly’s natural resources committee approved a measure that would prohibit people from bothering hunters in the woods. Those who photograph hunters or confront them more than twice with the intention of interfering with their activity would be subject to a $500 fine for the first violation.

CT: Connecticut governor quietly gave GE huge tax break

Faced with a crisis over General Electric's possible exit from Connecticut, Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy quietly engineered a very large tax favor for the company.

VA: Advocates question Virginia’s end of veteran homelessness

Veterans’ advocates are questioning Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s announcement that Virginia has ended veteran homelessness. The governor has stressed that the “functional zero” rate does not mean no veterans will be homeless. 

TX: Texas school boards can't hire just anyone as superintendent

The State Board of Education rejected a rule change that would have allowed Texas school boards to hire candidates with no public education experience as superintendents. But the board still appears poised to drop a requirement that would-be school district chiefs have classroom teaching experience.

OK: Indian gaming contributed $1 billion to Oklahoma education, study finds

Indian gaming has contributed $1 billion to education in Oklahoma over the last 10 years, according to a new study. But for the first time, the fees paid in 2014 to the state by American Indian tribes for exclusive gaming rights declined from the previous year.

MT: University of Montana to cut 201 jobs

The University of Montana will cut 52 faculty posts and 149 other positions to meet its budget challenge in the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years, a move attributed to falling enrollment.

NE: Farm boom leaves property tax shadow in Nebraska

The value of Nebraska farmland is riding high, and so are the taxes farmers pay on that property. But the actual income farmers make from the land has tumbled, prompting some farmers to push for a discount on their tax bill.

GA: Georgia blames ‘clerical error’ in release of voter data

Two Georgia women have filed a class-action lawsuit alleging a massive data breach by Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp involving the Social Security numbers and other private information of more than 6 million voters statewide. In response, Kemp’s office blamed a “clerical error.”

ID: Idaho restraining order laws face scrutiny after shooting

Idaho's restraining order laws are coming under scrutiny following the case of a Boise hairdresser whom authorities say was shot and wounded by a man who was stalking her. Obtaining a restraining order in the state can be difficult for victims seeking protection against abusers who aren't a blood relative or a spouse.

Housing the Homeless Juvenile Sex Offenders