What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 2/16

TX: Texas to license family immigrant detention centers

The state’s child protection agency will now license immigrant family detention centers, all but guaranteeing that the two Texas facilities housing thousands of mothers and children will remain open. Texas’ decision comes seven months after a federal judge ruled that immigrant children could only be detained in facilities licensed by state child welfare agencies.

US: Data on disciplined teachers to be audited state by state

Education agencies in every state will be required to audit their submissions to a national database that tracks teacher misconduct. An examination of the records found more than 1,400 cases where a teacher permanently lost his or her license but was not listed in the database — potentially allowing teachers to flee instances of misconduct by moving to new states.

UT: Medicaid expansion — for poorest of the poor — may have traction in Utah Legislature

Republican leaders of the Utah Legislature appear poised to take the first cautious steps toward expanding Medicaid to help the poorest of the poor get health care, with the potential to broaden the program in the years ahead.

OH: Ohio to be out about $65 million a year in Internet taxes

Federal legislation expected to be signed by President Barack Obama will ban states from taxing businesses for their Internet access, which will cost the Ohio treasury about $65 million a year.

MD: Governor's budget calls for drone detection at Maryland prisons

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan wants to spend $1 million to install drone detection technology over two high-security Maryland prisons, the latest attempt to combat plots to airdrop contraband, which has become a nationwide problem.

WV: West Virginia Legislature overrides right-to-work, prevailing wage vetoes

West Virginia is set to become the 28th state with a right-to-work law July 1, now that the House and Senate have overridden Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's veto. Lawmakers also overrode his veto of a bill that repeals the state's prevailing wage law.

LA: Louisiana lawmakers agree to $38 million in spending cuts

Lawmakers agreed to $38 million in spending cuts across state agencies, one of the first steps to rebalance Louisiana's budget. But that's only a fraction of the action needed to close an estimated $850 million to $950 million budget gap before the financial year ends June 30.

VA: Virginia lawmakers consider upping marriage age to 18

In an effort to prevent coercion and abuse, lawmakers in Virginia are considering raising the marriage age to 18. Right now, children 15 and under can get married with parental consent if they are pregnant. Maryland is considering a similar law.

IL: Illinois to close troubled downstate youth detention center

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner said he will close a troubled youth detention center, citing a drop in juvenile offenders in state custody after a series of new laws in Illinois aimed at keeping young offenders out of the corrections system.

NJ: Millennial brain drain hurts New Jersey economy

A rapid outmigration of people between 18 and 34 years old is making it hard for New Jersey to attract companies that rely on younger, skilled employees.

MO: Shared parenting drive makes its way to Missouri Legislature

A growing national movement seeking to force judges to award equal custody to both divorcing parents is making progress in Missouri. Proponents argue that in cases in which both parents are equally deserving of custody, courts disproportionately award physical custody to the mother.

AK: Local governments paying more for lobbyists at Alaska Capitol

Cities, borough and school districts are set to spend at least $2.1 million on lobbying fees this year. The slight increase from last year comes even as Alaska faces an unprecedented budget crisis that’s dried up the flow of money for infrastructure projects that many lobbyists have been asked to capture by their governmental clients.

NE: Nebraska lawmakers target state troopers’ pension ‘spiking’

Nebraska lawmakers are trying to stop what they describe as state troopers “spiking” their pension benefits by cashing in excessive amounts of comp time in their final year of service. From 2004 to 2015, retirees boosted their salaries by an average of 16.7 percent in their last year, for an average increase of $178 per month in pension benefits.

Tax Fraud Many Americans Are Rising Out of the 'Middle Class'
Philadelphia Museum of Art