What We're Reading: Top State Stories 2/26

VA: Virginia bill would let parents block what their children read in school

Lawmakers are moving forward with legislation that could make Virginia the first state to allow parents to block their children from reading books in school that contain sexually explicit material.

OK: Most Oklahoma juvenile facilities don’t comply with U.S. rape prevention act

More than half of Oklahoma’s incarcerated juvenile offenders are held in facilities that don’t comply with federal policies for preventing sexual assault, an Oklahoma Watch investigation finds. Federal requirements include staff training on prevention and proper behavior, staff-to-offender ratio minimums, and cameras to eliminate “blind spots” where rapes might occur.

CA: California’s methane leak ‘largest in U.S. history’

The 112-day methane leak in Southern California had an equivalent heat-trapping effect to the annual exhaust emissions from nearly 600,000 cars.

CT: Connecticut’s budget deficit projected to explode

Connecticut’s budget deficit is now projected to hit $900 million next year, based on predictions of lower state income tax receipts because of the nation’s stock market volatility.

WV: ‘English-only’ bill goes to West Virginia governor

The bill requires that all official business of West Virginia state, county and local governments be conducted in English, though it includes some exceptions to legally use foreign languages.

AL: Alabama law bans cities from setting minimum wage

Republican Gov. Robert Bentley signed a bill blocking Alabama cities from establishing their own minimum wage, days after the Birmingham City Council voted to raise the minimum wage to $10.10.

MO: In shift toward transparency, Missouri municipal court records to go online

A new website will allow traffic ticket holders in Missouri to search for their records in more than 30 St. Louis area municipal courts. The site, which will include information about upcoming hearing dates, money owed and warrants on tickets, marks a huge leap toward transparency for a court system that has for decades operated in secret.

IL: Moody’s downgrades several Illinois universities

The service downgraded the credit ratings on three public universities to near speculative or junk bond status because of Illinois’ ongoing state budget crisis.

UT: Bill passes to require Utah computer techs to report child porn

The Utah Senate gave final approval to a bill that would require professional computer technicians who trip across child pornography to report it or face misdemeanor charges.

WI: Poverty across Wisconsin reaches highest level in 30 years

The number of Wisconsin residents living in poverty averaged 13 percent in post-recession years, the highest since 1984, according to a study out of the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

KS: Kansas Senate votes to allow prize-linked savings accounts

The accounts, which are legal in 16 other states, would allow banks and credit unions in Kansas to set up savings accounts that offer raffle-like winnings to a certain number of depositors. Random winners could receive a few hundred, or even a few thousand dollars, while not risking any of their principal deposit.

FL: Florida bill targeting Israel boycotters goes to governor

Florida lawmakers gave final approval to a bill that would forbid the state pension fund from investing in companies that boycott Israel and prevent state and local governments from entering into large contracts with the companies.

Taxing Services Top State Stories 2/25