What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/28

CA: California lawmakers near deal to adopt $15 minimum wage

California legislators have reached a tentative deal to raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022. The agreement comes after a union-backed initiative on the issue qualified for the ballot last week.

US: More states turn to drones to assess roads, traffic, bridges

States increasingly are studying the use of drones for everything from inspecting bridges to clearing car accidents. Thirty-three states have studied or used drones, helped develop drone policies, or aided in drone research, according to a new survey by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

FL: New Florida law cuts off funding for abortion clinics

Republican Gov. Rick Scott has signed a law that cuts off state funding for preventative health services to Florida clinics that provide abortions and requires such clinics to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

WV: Budget impasse puts West Virginia’s colleges in limbo

West Virginia’s public universities and colleges are finding that putting together budgets for approval by the end of June is being complicated by the inability of Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and the Legislature to agree on how to close a gaping $238.8 million funding shortfall.

MD: Maryland lawmakers want gender pay gap closed; They should look at their own payroll

Maryland lawmakers are weighing legislation to address gender pay inequities in a state that has one of the nation’s smallest pay gaps between male and female full-time workers. But disparities exist in what’s paid to legislative and other state staffers.

NY: New York ends paper prescriptions for medicine

To fight the abuse of painkillers, New York is putting an end to most paper prescriptions for medicine with the nation’s toughest electronic-prescribing law.

PA: Credit rating agencies critical of Pennsylvania budget

After a nine month budget standoff, three financial firms are criticizing Pennsylvania’s new state budget. They say the spending plan pushes tough financial decisions down the road.

DE: More than 1,000 rape kits sit untested in Delaware

A preliminary report from the state Criminal Justice Council found that 22 Delaware police departments had 1,018 untested sexual assault evidence kits. The kits will remain untested for at least another year.

AZ:  Arizona governor signs bill to aid foster-kid health

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed into a law a bill that requires quick access to behavioral-health services for kids in Arizona foster care. 

WI: Walker considers cuts to state energy efficiency program

Republican Gov. Scott Walker is reviewing a bill passed by the Legislature that would cut $7 million, or roughly 7 percent, from Wisconsin’s program that provides incentives for efficient and renewable energy projects.

HI: Hawaii lawmakers consider banning the sale of ivory

Increased awareness of the poaching elephants in Africa is leading Hawaii lawmakers to reconsider legislation that would ban the sale of ivory — legislation that’s failed in the past because of pushback from local merchants.

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