What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 1/20
US: Supreme Court to review president’s power on deportation policy
The U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether President Obama exceeded his powers in trying to shield millions of immigrants in the country illegally from deportation, stepping into one of the most contentious topics in the nation’s political debate.
TX: Texas says daily fantasy games are illegal
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said daily fantasy sports are essentially gambling and therefore illegal in his state. His opinion makes a distinction between daily fantasy and traditional season-long fantasy games, and says that, as a general rule, season-long fantasy is legal.
US: Violent crime rose in first six months of 2015
Violent crime rose across the U.S. in the first six months of 2015 compared to the same period the year before, according to preliminary data from the FBI. The statistics provide some support for recent assertions by law enforcement officials of a crime spike, but they are widely understood to be incomplete.
NJ: Governor leaves New Jersey smoking age at 19
Inaction by Republican Gov. Chris Christie leaves New Jersey’s smoking age at 19. The Republican governor ignored a measure passed by the Legislature to make it illegal to sell cigarettes or tobacco products to anyone under 21.
LA: Louisiana governor proposes sales tax hike
Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards is proposing to increase the sales tax by 25 percent on April 1 — adding an extra penny to the existing four-penny levy — to get Louisiana’s budget crisis under control. He also wants to tap the state’s “rainy day” fund and use money from the BP oil spill settlement to help close a $750 million budget deficit.
OK: Parole not likely for violent offenders in Oklahoma
Oklahoma’s Pardon and Parole Board considered more than 4,000 eligible inmates in 2015, recommending only 28 violent offenders for parole, while paroling 363 nonviolent offenders. Of the violent offenders recommended, Republican Gov. Mary Fallin approved only six.
AR: Arkansas governor proposes tapping general revenue, surplus funds for highways
Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson said his plan would generate $750 million in highway funding over 10 years without placing an additional tax burden on Arkansans.
IL: Illinois lawmakers push police measures in wake of Laquan McDonald case
The fallout over the killing of Laquan McDonald and other police-involved shootings has led to a wave of proposed legislation to overhaul how police interact with the public, including measures to require Chicago police officers to wear body cameras and police departments throughout Illinois to rely on nonlethal force when dealing with a suspect.
CA: LA County turns to urgent care centers
Los Angeles County officials and police are turning to urgent care centers as an alternative to jails and emergency rooms for people in a mental health crisis.
VA: Virginia governor directs nearly $7M toward homelessness, affordable housing
Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe has allocated $6.9 million to build roughly 550 affordable apartments in Virginia over the next two years.
AK: Alaska governor wants to study climate change impacts
Independent Gov. Bill Walker wants to study the impacts Alaska can anticipate from climate change, including changes to its coastline.
NM: New Mexico charter schools cost more for similar results
Rapidly expanding charter schools in New Mexico are spending more per student with academic results similar to those of traditional public schools, state program analysts told lawmakers this week.
WY: Wyoming lawmakers would prohibit investigating poachers
State employees could not legally investigate poachers and people who mistakenly shoot grizzly bears and wolves if some Wyoming lawmakers have their way.