What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/30

US: Public employee unions dodge a bullet at the U.S. Supreme Court

Justices on a 4-4 vote preserved compulsory union dues from public employees in a case that challenged the fees that the California Teachers Association collects from nonmembers.

NC: North Carolina attorney general refuses to defend state LGBT law

Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper said his office will not go to court to argue to uphold the North Carolina law adopted last week that strikes down locally enacted protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

US: States look to provide lawyers to the poor in civil cases

A flood of poor defendants representing themselves — often ineffectively — in dire cases involving eviction, foreclosure, child custody and involuntary commitment has led to a push in legislatures to expand rights to free lawyers in certain civil proceedings.

ME: Maine governor seeks to cut size of Legislature, increase pay

Republican Gov. Paul LePage is proposing to raise legislators’ pay by 25 percent if they agree to cut the membership of the Senate to 25 from 35 and the House to 100 from 151. Reducing the size of the Legislature would require amending the Maine Constitution and approval by voters.

TN: Bill to make the Bible Tennessee’s official book advances

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill. A similar bill approved last year in the Tennessee House, but which didn’t pass the Senate, was opposed by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.

MI: Michigan governor signs bill to keep doors open for Detroit public schools

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill that will send $48.7 million to financially struggling Detroit schools to ensure that Michigan’s largest school district doesn't run out of cash and isn’t forced to shut its doors next month.

HI: Hawaii lawmakers contemplate ‘drugged driving’ law

Now that Hawaii is establishing medical marijuana dispensaries, lawmakers want to study how much marijuana a person can consume and still drive safely.

VA: Virginia governor vetoes bill that blocks funds for clinics

Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed the bill that would have blocked future state funding for Planned Parenthood clinics, an issue that has divided the Virginia Legislature.

OR: New Oregon law requires testing of rape kits

Democratic Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill that orders the state crime lab to process the backlog of untested rape kits sitting in police departments across Oregon.

AZ: Arizona Senate advances three gun bills

The bills would allow firearms near schools in Arizona, legalize some deadly weapons and overturn city ordinances that restrict firearms.

CA: University of California is too quick to enroll out-of-state students, auditor says

The University of California should have further reduced its costs before turning to enrolling more out-of-state and international students who pay higher tuition to raise revenue, according to a report from the state auditor. 

MN: Minnesota bill would help abused immigrants

Some lawmakers seek to make it easier for women who came to Minnesota from Southeast Asia to leave abusive relationships by allocating $2 million in state funds to provide rental assistance for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse in the Asian and Pacific Islander community.

TX: Texas lawmakers mull tweaks to eminent domain law to favor landowners

Lawmakers are being urged to renew an age-old clash between two intrinsically Texan values — property rights and energy interests — by deciding whether to tighten eminent domain laws to benefit landowners battling pipeline companies, electric utilities, public agencies or other entities seeking to condemn their land for public use.

Water Infrastructure Top State Stories 3/29
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