What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 2/2

ND: Facing $1 billion shortfall, North Dakota governor orders spending cuts

Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple ordered most North Dakota state agencies to slash their budgets by just over 4 percent to help cover an unprecedented $1 billion revenue shortfall blamed on slumping oil and farm commodity prices.

US: Many GOP-led states increasingly taking over local schools

Governors or lawmakers in Illinois, Michigan, Arkansas, Nevada, Wisconsin, Georgia and Ohio are taking over struggling urban schools displaying chronic academic or financial failure in their states.

OK: Oklahoma governor proposes spending cuts, higher cigarette taxes to fill $1 billion hole

Facing a nearly $1 billion budget hole, Republican Gov. Mary Fallin proposed a 6-percent cut for most Oklahoma state agencies and the elimination of some of the $8 billion in annual sales tax exemptions, as well as shortened prison sentences, higher taxes on cigarettes and a $3,000-a-year pay hike for all teachers.

CA: California weighs extending water conservation orders

After a series of drenching storms, California officials will decide whether to extend emergency conservation orders to use 25 percent less water. 

NE: 16-year-olds could legally serve alcohol in Nebraska under new proposal

A proposal in the Nebraska Legislature would drop the minimum age to serve alcohol to 16, so long as the server takes state-approved training.

MD: Legislative leaders in Maryland want to offer matching funds for college plans

The lawmakers say they want to create a small matching-funds program for middle-income and poor families who use Maryland’s 529 College Saving Plans.

KS: Kansas tax revenue falls below expectations again

Kansas revenue fell $6.8 million below expectations in January, continuing an almost uninterrupted streak during the past several months of worse-than-expected collections for a state struggling to keep its budget balanced. Not meeting expectations: Sales and severance tax receipts.

AL: Alabama voters can now register online

Voters can submit their registration form online, but registration will require a valid Alabama driver’s license or state-issued photo ID. Photo ID isn’t required to register in person or when mailing in a paper registration form, but is required when voting.

MI: Michigan governor to state employees: ‘Never again’

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has sent a letter to Michigan state employees, telling them that the health crisis caused by lead contamination of Flint’s drinking water must never happen again.

RI: Rhode Island governor wants to offer free SAT tests to students

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo announced she set aside $500,000 in her proposed budget to provide free SAT and PSAT tests to all students in Rhode Island. She said fewer than 60 percent of students take the college prep exams and that number isn’t good enough.

VA: Virginia won’t consider helping build an NFL stadium this year

Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe and other supporters of legislation to entice the Washington Redskins to Virginia with help building a new stadium have decided not to submit a bill to do so this year.

WI: Wisconsin lawmaker seeks to address Amish safety on roads

In the wake of recent fatal buggy crashes in Wisconsin, a lawmaker hopes Amish communities will be open to new rules that would require greater safety features on buggies, such as battery-powered lights.

Historic Preservation Top State Stories 2/1