What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 1/29

VA: Virginia will again recognize concealed-carry permits from other states

Under a deal between Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Republican leaders, Virginia will recognize concealed-handgun permits from nearly all states. In exchange, Republicans softened their stances on issues that have long been nonstarters in the GOP-controlled General Assembly. 

US: U.S. courts face backlog from 2014 surge in child migrants

As federal officials prepare for a new wave of child migrants from Central America, new statistics show that U.S. courts still are trying to process cases from the last major surge in 2014, when an estimated 68,000 children were apprehended as they tried to cross the U.S. border illegally and without a parent.

FL: Sentencing change advances in Florida

Florida's Senate has removed aggravated assault from the list of gun-related crimes that require an automatic 20-year prison sentence. 

US: White House moves to expand rules aimed at closing gender pay gap

The Obama administration is moving to require companies with 100 employees or more to report to the federal government what they pay workers by race, gender and ethnicity, part of a push to crack down on firms that pay women less for doing the same work as men.

NY: New York will shed clock for some statewide tests

Statewide exams given to third- through eighth-grade students in New York will no longer be timed, ending the call of “pencils down.”

KY: Kentucky governor proposes repeal of prevailing wage, ban on funding of abortion services

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin is proposing in his budget bill to repeal Kentucky's prevailing wage paid workers on public construction projects and ban public funding for a group that provides abortion services.

 UT: Phased retirement may be offered to Utah state workers

A measure approved by the Utah Senate would give state workers who reach retirement age the option of working half-time while receiving half their retirement benefits. Supporters say the move could allow some needed employees to work a little longer, and perhaps train their replacements.

MS: Mississippi could debate firing squad as execution method

As states struggle to obtain execution drugs from Europe, Mississippi’s attorney general said he will ask lawmakers to approve the firing squad, electrocution or nitrogen gas as alternate execution methods.

ND: North Dakota officials worry about becoming nuclear waste disposal site

The U.S. Department of Energy plans to drill a 3-mile-deep hole near Rugby, North Dakota, to test whether certain rock formations are suitable for storing radioactive waste met with skepticism from local officials who fear the state is being groomed to become a nuclear waste disposal site.

NE: Bid to lower age for public office in Nebraska survives attack

A proposed constitutional amendment that would allow Nebraskans as young as 18 to serve as governor, state senator, or in any other public office survived its first challenge in the Legislature.

AK: Alaskans have one choice on individual insurance market

By kicking out an insurance company from the state's individual marketplace, the Alaska Division of Insurance has left state residents with one option: Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield.

KS: Kansas legislators look to limit how long they can meet each year

Nursing bad memories of last year’s record-breaking 114-day legislative session, Kansas legislators are considering limiting the number of days they spend at the Capitol each year, possibly to 60. Seventeen state legislatures meet for fewer days than Kansas.

TX: Feds say Texas has not done enough to avert another deadly explosion

The Texas Legislature’s efforts to beef up oversight and avert deadly disasters like the 2013 West fertilizer plant explosion have been “not entirely adequate,” the federal Chemical Safety Board said in its final report on the disaster. The explosion killed 15 people — mostly first responders — and injured more than 260.

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