What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 1/5

GA: Georgia governor rescinds order attempting to ban Syrian refugees

Republican Gov. Nathan Deal rescinded an order that sought to stop the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Georgia, clearing the way for new arrivals from the war-torn nation to receive food stamp benefits.

TX: Women still under-represented in Texas legislative races

With filings now closed for Texas’s 2016 legislative races, the greatest possible number of women lawmakers — assuming every incumbent, challenger and long-shot woman candidate won — would be 55 of the 150 House members and 10 senators.

VT: Lawmakers race to change Vermont school tax

Vermont lawmakers agreed last spring to place strict limits on school spending. But now some members of the General Assembly regret the tax penalty they created and Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin and legislators are racing to undo their own work.

PA: Court blocks Pennsylvania ban on nursing home work

A Pennsylvania court has blocked the state from enforcing a lifetime ban on working in nursing homes and other health care facilities for people convicted of violent crimes, drug felonies and offenses like theft and forgery.

FL: Florida officials find more than 13,000 untested rape kits

There are some 13,435 untested rape kits in evidence rooms throughout Florida. It could cost the state $32 million and take eight years just to clear 6,661 kits that state investigators say are within their jurisdiction and a surge of 2,000 kits that have come in since the start of 2015.

KS: Kansas prisons short of guards, highways short of troopers

Kansas needs more corrections officers and Highway Patrol officers. But lawmakers don’t have money in the current budget for new spending, and a budget shortfall is projected for next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

CA: Legislators propose spending $2 billion on housing for California’s homeless

A bipartisan group of lawmakers wants to spend $2 billion on building or rehabilitating new permanent housing for mentally ill homeless people. The funds, combined with federal and local money, could create enough units for 10,000 to 14,000 units for California’s 116,000 homeless people.

LA: Louisiana lawmakers looking for quick cash to fill budget hole

Democratic Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards' budget team announced last week that the state could be as much as $750 million short in the current budget cycle. That is approximately the size of Louisiana's entire state higher education budget for the current year. 

KY: Questions linger over Kentucky governor’s plans for revamping Medicaid

Kentucky lawmakers say they plan to keep a close eye on changes to the state's Medicaid system proposed by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, who said he wants to reshape it along the lines of one operated by Indiana, which requires premiums and copays and provides different tiers of coverage.

NY: New York governor’s order to remove homeless from streets faces challenges

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order requiring the homeless to be forcibly removed from the streets in freezing temperatures has faced resistance, including from New York City officials, and raised deep worries among advocates for the homeless.

OK: Oklahoma regulators order changes after earthquakes

The state commission that regulates Oklahoma's oil and natural gas industry ordered some injection well operators to reduce wastewater disposal volumes after at least a dozen earthquakes hit an area north of Oklahoma City in less than a week.

AL: Is a new gas tax in Alabama's future?

Alabama lawmakers might soon debate an increase in the state's gasoline tax to pay for road and bridge construction. If passed, it would be the first raise in the state gas tax since 1992.

IN: Indiana OKs longer-lasting license plates

The life cycle of Indiana’s license plates is being extended from five years to seven years. The state will save about $10 million for every year current license plates stay on vehicles.

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