What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 2/4

FL: Florida governor declares emergency over Zika virus

Republican Gov. Rick Scott declared a health emergency in four counties after at least nine cases of the mosquito-borne Zika illness were detected in Florida. Health officials believe none of the cases originated in the state, but from visits to affected countries.

MD: Maryland governor urges tax relief, criminal justice reform

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan encouraged lawmakers to find more tax relief, reform Maryland’s criminal justice system and find innovative ways to improve education in his second State of the State address.

KS: Kansas House shows weak support for altering selection of Supreme Court justices

The Kansas House gave tentative approval to a proposed constitutional amendment that would let the governor appoint state Supreme Court justices subject to Senate approval — changing the state’s current merit-selection process. But the vote was far short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass the measure.

OH: Ohio airport joins others in boosting awareness of human trafficking

The Columbus, Ohio, airport is joining 13 others across the country, including New York’s LaGuardia, Chicago’s O’Hare and Los Angeles International, in training employees to recognize signs of human trafficking in an effort to curb exploitation.

IA: Lawsuit in lottery-fixing scandal seeks millions for Iowa man

In the first in what could be several suits filed by players who claim they were ripped off in games allegedly rigged by the former security director of the Multi-State Lottery Association, an Iowa man says his $9 million jackpot would have been nearly three times as big had the previous ones not been fixed.

ID: Idaho House clears income tax cuts

House members approved a proposal to provide an estimated $22.6 million in tax relief to individuals, small businesses and corporations. The legislation would reduce the state's top two individual income tax rates and the corporate income tax rate.

WA: Affordable housing tax proposed for Washington’s largest city

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray proposed a new property-tax levy for affordable housing that would raise $290 million over seven years. That would double the size of the Washington city’s current levy to fund affordable housing that expires at the end of this year.

TX: Oil and gas woes hit Texas’ sales tax revenue

State sales tax collections have slowed in the past 10 months. December’s revenue was down 1.1 percent, November saw a 3.3 percent decline and October had a 5.4 percent year-over-year decline, according to the Texas comptroller’s office.

PA: Pennsylvania suspends high school graduation test

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has signed off on legislation that suspends the Keystone Exams for at least two years to see whether there are better ways to measure achievement. High school students in Pennsylvania have been required to pass the tests to graduate.

UT: Human traffickers could face execution under Utah bill

Human traffickers could be sentenced to death if victims are killed in commission of the crime under a bill advanced a Utah House committee.

AR: Arkansas expects to collect additional $106.8 million in taxes in 2017

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s administration is projecting that the state will have $5.22 billion in net general revenue in fiscal 2016 — enough to fully fund the state's general-revenue budget of $5.19 billion and leave a $35.9 million surplus.

OK: Efforts underway to allow alcohol sales in Oklahoma grocery, convenience stores

Multiple efforts are being undertaken to give Oklahomans a chance to vote in November on changing the state’s alcohol laws, including a proposal that would allow strong beer and wine to be sold in grocery and convenience stores. 

WV: West Virginia House committee bans video, photos by the public

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee told members of the public they couldn’t take videos or photos of the committee meeting, that only credentialed news media could.

Teen Dating Violence Demand-Price Parking