What We're Reading: Top State Stories 12/17

CA: California stops just short of fully embracing driverless cars

California has proposed regulations for putting regular people behind the wheel of autonomous vehicles. The draft proposal would mandate that the vehicles be operated by a licensed driver who could take over if necessary. That driver would also be on the hook for traffic violations.

FL: Florida uses death penalty more than many states

Executions and new death sentences were down in Florida this year, but the state still is among a few others — Texas, Missouri and Georgia — in being responsible for the most use of the death penalty.

ND: North Dakota considers budget cuts of up to 5 percent

North Dakota lawmakers are considering across-the-board cuts that could reach as much as 5 percent in response to lower-than-expected revenue, which is down 8.9 percent.

NY: New York agrees to overhaul solitary confinement in prisons

New York has agreed to a major overhaul in the way solitary confinement is administered in its state prisons, with the goal of significantly reducing the number of inmates held in isolation, cutting the maximum length of stay and improving their living conditions.

HI: Do Hawaii’s conservation officers need semi-automatic weapons?

Enforcement officers for Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources already carry semi-automatic handguns. But the department wants to add semi-automatic rifles to its arsenal. It says the additional firepower is needed to protect officers and the public from terrorism and shooters.

CT: University of Connecticut trustees approve plan to hike tuition

The plan is to boost tuition by 31 percent over the next four years, with annual hikes that average about 7 percent. The increases will start next fall when in-state students will pay $700 more than they do this year, a 6.7 percent jump. In the fall of 2019, tuition will hit $13,700, compared to the current $10,524.

AR: Legislative task force backs governor’s effort to change Arkansas’ Medicaid plan

Arkansas lawmakers have endorsed Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson's plan to add new restrictions to the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion plan, including imposing limits on assets and charging premiums for some beneficiaries.

MI: Michigan Legislature approves end to straight-ticket voting

The House and Senate voted to eliminate straight-party voting, sending the measure to Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.

MD: Maryland urged to speed up cuts in greenhouse gas emissions

A Maryland climate-change commission called for the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent compared to 2006 levels within 15 years.

SC: South Carolina secessionist party demands to rally at the Statehouse

A South Carolina group that believes the state should once again secede from the union is vowing to sue the state unless its canceled permission to hold a rally at the Statehouse on Sunday is reinstated.

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