What We're Reading: Top State Stories 12/4

NY: New York pension fund launches low-carbon index for investment

New York’s pension fund, the third-largest in the U.S., rolled out a $2 billion low-carbon index, to exclude or reduce investment in high-emitting industries such as coal mining.

VA: Virginia governor calls for cut in state corporate tax rate

Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe called for a reduction in Virginia’s corporate tax rate that he said would save businesses roughly $64 million over two years and put the state in a better position to attract new companies.

AR: Arkansas judge strikes down drug secrecy in execution law

An Arkansas circuit judge struck down a portion of the state's execution law that keeps secret the source of drugs it uses, saying drug suppliers do not have a constitutional right to be free from criticism.

MN: With surplus, Minnesota leaders are split on what to do with the money

A strong state economy helped double Minnesota’s projected budget surplus to $1.9 billion, setting off a new political battle over how to carve up the windfall in an election year. Options include tax cuts and an increase in spending on transportation.

WI: Travel perk boosts pay in Wisconsin Assembly

Legislators in the Wisconsin Assembly are pocketing more in travel stipends after a change they said would hold the line on those costs.

NE: Nebraska immigrants among youngest in nation

The median age of people living in Nebraska but born in another country is 36.5 years, well below the national average of 42.6 years, according to new census data. But the state appears to have a hard time keeping foreign-born retirees, who may be moving to warmer climates or to live closer to family.

NJ: New Jersey Assembly fails to override gun-control veto

Assembly members failed to override Republican Gov. Chris Christie's veto of a gun-control bill that would require notifications to local police if a person who had once been involuntarily committed for psychiatric care wants a judge to erase those records so he or she can buy a gun.

OH: Cuts in jobless benefits won’t make Ohio’s system solvent

Even after slashing benefits for jobless workers, Ohio’s unemployment trust fund still would fall more than $1 billion short of the minimum amount deemed necessary when a recession hits.

MD: Maryland falling behind in gender parity in elected office

Two women serve in Maryland’s 10-person U.S. congressional delegation. No woman holds one of Maryland’s four statewide executive positions. Of the state’s 10 largest cities, only two, Baltimore and Rockville, have female mayors. And none of the state’s five largest counties has a female executive.

SC: Flood, refugees, Charleston shooting focus of proposed South Carolina legislation

Immigration and the Syrian refugee crisis, violence in churches and schools, and the historic flood that hit South Carolina in October are topics driving the legislative agendas of some state lawmakers.

NM: New Mexico bill would add police to list of hate crime victims

Under New Mexico’s hate crimes law, prosecutors can seek sentencing enhancements for attacks on minorities, the elderly, the disabled and others that are motivated by prejudice against them because of their race, sexual orientation, disability, gender, age or ancestry.

KS: Kansas faith leaders urge governor to lift ban on Syrian refugees

Several church leaders in Kansas delivered petitions to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, urging him to reverse his Nov. 16 executive order barring the use of public funds to help resettle Syrian refugees in Kansas.

WV: Bill would cut West Virginia’s school calendar by five days

The bill would reduce instructional days from 180 to 175, prohibit classes from starting before Labor Day and require the West Virginia school year to end June 5 to eliminate interference with summer jobs, vacations and festivals.

Presumption Laws Drug Take-Backs