What We're Reading: Top State Stories 12/14

US: Many states expanded gun rights after Sandy Hook school massacre

In the three years since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in which a mentally troubled young man killed 26 children and educators, many states have expanded gun rights, embracing the National Rifle Association's axiom that more "good guys with guns" are needed to deter mass shootings.

AK: Alaska governor seeks to borrow to reduce retirement costs

Independent Gov. Bill wants to issue $2.5 billion in pension obligation bonds to reduce Alaska’s annual retirement costs, plus general obligation bonds to meet state requirements to match federal funding.

WA: Seattle considers measure to let Uber, Lyft drivers unionize

The Seattle City Council plans to vote on a proposed law that would give freelance, on-demand drivers for ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft the right to collectively negotiate on pay and working conditions.

PA: Pennsylvania lawmakers want to finish budget this week — finally

Five months into a budget standoff that has crippled Pennsylvania’s social services sector and forced school districts to borrow millions, lawmakers are saying they hope to finalize a state spending plan by the end of the week.

FL: Rise in cremations means more money for Florida counties

Local “cremation review fees” are a windfall for county governments in Florida. Some funeral homes and crematories say the fees are unnecessary, and just a way to pad government budgets.

NH: Medicaid looms large in New Hampshire’s upcoming session

Reauthorizing New Hampshire’s Health Protection Program, or Medicaid expansion, is one of the top issues for the upcoming legislative session.

KS: Kansas governor wants no tax debate, expects no budget drama

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback says Kansas legislators shouldn't tinker further with tax laws next year and argues that despite a projected shortfall, the state budget is in "good shape" because his economic policies are working.

OK: State task force recommends solutions to Oklahoma's teacher shortage

Teachers seeking certification in Oklahoma would not have to pay for costly exams, and the tests would be waived for out-of-state teachers regardless of experience under recommendations made by a group studying the teacher shortage.

CO: Psych evaluations may be required for all police hires in Colorado

The board in charge of certifying law enforcement officers in Colorado will decide whether to start requiring all agencies in the state to conduct psychological and physical evaluations before hiring applicants.

IN: Computer glitch could have scored thousands of Indiana assessment tests wrong

Scores on thousands of student exams could be incorrect because of a computer malfunction that inadvertently changed grades on Indiana’s high-stakes teacher and student performance test.

MD: Maryland officials insist new voting machines are on track

Voters in Maryland will be casting their votes with black pens and paper ballots in the upcoming presidential primary and their ballots will be run through scanners so that there’s a paper record of their votes.

AR: Arkansas governor seeks $500,000 to boost mansion security

A spokesman for Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the request doesn't have anything to do with recent terrorist attacks in Paris and California, though the incidents “underscore the importance of having potential targets adequately protected.”

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