What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 1/15

OR: Oregon governor announces tiered minimum wage plan

Democratic Gov. Kate Brown unveiled a compromise plan that could leave Portland and Oregon with some of the highest minimum wage rates in the nation — and could potentially keep the issue from reaching what could be a crowded fall ballot.

US: Obama administration set to announce moratorium on some federal coal leases

The Obama administration is preparing to announce sweeping changes in the way federally owned coal is mined and sold, including a moratorium on some new coal leases and a review of how taxpayers are compensated for coal taken from government lands.

FL: Florida Legislature could reject gaming deal

The $3 billion deal between Republican Gov. Rick Scott and the Seminole Tribe is increasingly in jeopardy of being rejected by the Florida Legislature. Some lawmakers say the compact, which would make craps and roulette legal, didn't involve enough input from other betting operators. 

NJ: Lawmakers in New Jersey OK secure choice retirement bill

New Jersey legislators have passed a bill that would require most employers in the state to provide workers with a retirement savings program. It is not clear whether Republican Gov. Chris Christie will sign the legislation.

ME: Maine House backs civility order rather than impeachment

Faced with an opportunity to investigate and potentially impeach Gov. Paul LePage on charges that included intimidation, a majority of Democrats in the Maine House instead supported an order that implicitly chastises the Republican governor but doesn’t mention his name.

KS: Kansas legislative committees work quickly to keep courts open

Committees in both houses moved quickly to see that the state’s courts remain open amid a legal dispute over efforts to curb the Kansas Supreme Court’s administrative power.

VA: Virginia city effectively ends veteran homelessness

Arlington, Virginia, effectively ended homelessness for military veterans in its county. Last year, the state was the first to meet slightly different federal criteria for ending homelessness among veterans.

TX: Texas attorney general unveils unit to fight human trafficking

The new Texas unit will initially include three attorneys — just one was dedicated to human trafficking cases before — as well as five investigators, a forensic accountant and victims’ advocate.

MN: Minnesota launches student-loan refinancing program

Minnesota has launched a state-backed program for state residents interested in refinancing their student-loan debt. The state ranks fifth nationally in the amount of college-loan debt carried by residents, who have on average nearly $32,000 in outstanding loans.

MO: Voter photo ID bill advances to Missouri House floor

A Missouri House committee advanced proposals that would require voters to show photo identification at the ballot box — something Democratic members of the committee denounced as a return to racist Jim Crow laws.

SD: South Dakota’s general fund could run deficit in 2019

Long-range projections show South Dakota could have a roughly $23.5 million deficit for budget year 2019. General fund revenues are expected to increase from about $1.5 billion this year to roughly $1.59 billion in 2019, but spending is expected to grow to more than $1.61 billion in the same period.

KY: Kentucky Senate approves repealing prevailing wage for school construction

The Kentucky Senate signed off on a bill to exempt school and university construction from Kentucky’s prevailing wage law that generally sets higher wage rates for public works projects. The bill is unlikely to pass the House.

WV: West Virginia bill to bar money to transport women for abortions stalls

A bill that would prevent government funds from being used to provide transportation for women having abortions in West Virginia got sidetracked in committee after questions were raised about federal patient privacy laws.

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