What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 1/6

MI: Michigan governor declares emergency over Flint water problems

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency over problems with lead in the Michigan city's drinking water, as federal officials confirmed they're investigating the matter.

NM: New Mexico governor emphasizes policing, teachers in new budget

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez unveiled a $6.5 billion budget proposal that includes more money for New Mexico public schools and Medicaid, but no across-the-board salary increases for state workers.

AK: Alaska’s credit rating downgraded by Standard and Poor’s

S&P has lowered Alaska’s general obligation debt to AA+ from AAA, reflecting the state’s ongoing budget crisis caused by low oil prices. Independent Gov. Bill Walker called the downgrade “concerning and premature,” but said he hopes it will serve as a wake-up call to lawmakers.

MO: Poor adults in Missouri could soon receive dental benefits

Low-income Missourians could receive dental care by April thanks to money collected from delinquent taxpayers this fall. The state will collect about $35 million through the one-time tax amnesty, enough for Medicaid dental care coverage.

HI: A tax loophole for Hawaii’s medical marijuana dispensaries?

Hawaii lawmakers may have inadvertently made medical marijuana dispensaries eligible for tax breaks if they set up in economically depressed areas. Democratic Rep. Della Au Bellati plans to introduce legislation that would close the loophole.

MD: Maryland governor targets urban decay in Baltimore

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and Democratic Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced a nearly $700 million plan to tear down thousands of vacant properties in the Maryland city and offer large subsidies for development in blighted neighborhoods.

CA: More California watering holes, fewer agents to enforce liquor laws

Although more California establishments serve alcohol than a decade ago, the number of sworn agents who enforce state liquor laws has dropped. Agents say that they now have time to deal with only the worst offenders.

ND: North Dakota registers few same-sex marriages

Just over 1 percent of marriage licenses issued last year in North Dakota went to same-sex couples, prompting lawmakers to question the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage and whether existing language in state laws should be changed.

IA: Water quality would get big boost in Iowa school tax diversion

A new plan from Republican Gov. Terry Branstad would shift $4.7 billion in projected state sales tax receipts from Iowa school building projects to water quality initiatives over a 32-year period.

NY: New York governor’s call to keep homeless off streets has little impact

As temperatures plunged, homelessness advocates said there was no evidence that the executive order from Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo calling for homeless people to be removed from New York streets was having a meaningful impact.

OK: Diploma in hand, many of Oklahoma’s college-bound students must backtrack

About 39 percent of incoming freshmen at Oklahoma’s state colleges and universities in 2013 were required to pass at least one remedial course. That was the highest rate in the country, and it meant students had to pay for additional non-credit classes.

DC: For a moment, DC legalizes private pot-smoking clubs

The District of Columbia Council voted to allow marijuana smoking at rooftop bars, patios and other places that could be deemed private pot clubs. The council quickly reversed the decision after appeals from Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser, but plans to reconsider the issue in coming weeks.

Mass Transit Executive Clemency