What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/1

CA, NY: California, New York set to raise minimum wage to $15

California and New York are poised to become the highest-paid minimum-wage states in the nation after governors for both reached deals with lawmakers to raise the lowest amount a worker can be paid to a record-shattering $15 an hour.

MS: Federal judge halts Mississippi’s ban on same-sex adoption

A U.S. district judge granted a preliminary injunction to bar Mississippi from carrying out its law that prevents same-sex couples from adopting, saying the law targets married gay couples and limits their rights.

US: Attorneys general to investigate energy companies about climate change

A coalition of attorneys general from several states vowed to “collectively, collaboratively and aggressively” investigate whether fossil fuel companies such as ExxonMobil have misled shareholders and the public about what they knew — and when — on the risks of climate change.

NY: Overhaul of solitary confinement approved for New York’s state prisons

A federal judge approved a class-action settlement intended to reduce the frequency, duration and severity of use of solitary confinement of inmates in New York’s prisons.

AK: Alaska Senate votes to ban smoking in bars, restaurants

The bill would ban smoking — including of e-cigarettes and marijuana — in bars, restaurants and most workplaces. A notable exception: aboard fishing boats at sea.

NJ: New Jersey pension debt grows to nearly $44 billion

New Jersey’s unfunded pension liability got even bigger last year. The state’s pension shortfall increased to $43.8 billion last July, growing by more than $3 billion from the year before.

KY: Kentucky governor orders college, university budget cuts

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin ordered immediate 4.5 percent cuts for all Kentucky public colleges and universities. The order arrives as the Legislature is in stalemate over a new, two-year state budget.

FL: Utility-backed solar initiative approved for Florida ballot

The Florida Supreme Court approved placing a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would maintain existing state and local control over solar power and utility control over the energy source.

UT: Utah governor signs legislation that could impede local historic districts

Republican Gov. Gary Herbert signed legislation that would make the formation of local historic districts more difficult in Utah.

TX: Multiple lawsuits could spell budget doomsday for Texas

Texas is defending itself against lawsuits running the gamut from how it manages its foster care system to the constitutionality of the system of financing public schools to the exemptions offered under the state sales tax. Losses could cost the state billions of dollars and outstrip its $4.2 billion surplus.

Fentanyl Deaths Updating State Theft Laws Can Bring Less Incarceration—and Less Crime