What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 4/14

KY: Kentucky lawmakers reach deal on $22 billion, two-year budget

Kentucky legislative leaders produced a two-year spending plan for the state that cuts funding for universities and colleges by 4.5 percent, provides more than $1 billion to cash-strapped public pension programs and funds a new scholarship program for students seeking two-year college degrees.

CA: California lawmakers reject bill requiring smartphone decryption

Siding with the technology industry, a California Assembly committee killed a bill that would have penalized companies that don’t break into phones for criminal investigations.

ID, NM, NV, SC, WA: Several states are possible sites for nuclear waste

The U.S. Department of Energy lists a Carlsbad, New Mexico, site as the preferred place for storing about 1,300 dump truck loads of low level radioactive waste. Alternatives are in Idaho, Nevada, South Carolina and Washington state.

KS: Kansas Supreme Court to take up groundbreaking abortion case

Justices agreed to consider a groundbreaking ruling that determined Kansas’ Constitution protects abortion rights independently from the U.S. Constitution. Critics fear that if the ruling is upheld, it could be used by abortion rights supporters to challenge state laws restricting abortion.

HI: Hawaii eyes traditional thatched homes as solution to homelessness

Facing a homelessness crisis, some lawmakers and residents want to revive the Hawaiian tradition of living in thatched homes made from local trees and plants to house people.

OK: Oklahoma governor proposes way to fill $1.3 billion budget hole

Republican Gov. Mary Fallin proposed averting a major education funding crisis in Oklahoma by cutting most state spending by 4.5 percent, while increasing spending for education, health care and mental health and substance abuse. The plan also relies on issuing more than $500 million in bonds for road work to free up money for other priorities.

CT: Connecticut governor proposes deep cuts in education funding

Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy proposed unprecedented cuts to Connecticut public education, including reducing the state's education cost-sharing grant to zero for 28 of the state's wealthiest school districts, while protecting the funds for the state's 30 lowest-performing districts.

PA: Pennsylvania to become 24th state to legalize medical marijuana

Lawmakers in Pennsylvania have signed off on legislation to legalize medical marijuana. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is expected to sign the bill.

TX: Over 30% of black, Hispanic students in Texas attend high-poverty schools

Hispanic students in Texas are seven times more likely than white students to be enrolled in high-poverty schools, which often have fewer tenured and effective teachers, a new report that examines the well-being of the state’s children finds. Black students are over five times more likely than whites to be enrolled in those same schools.

SC: South Carolina committee advances bill limiting Statehouse demonstrations

The grounds outside the South Carolina Statehouse — where laws are debated and hashed out — could become restricted or off-limits to some groups wanting to practice freedom of assembly. A Senate committee advanced a bill that would require a permit to demonstrate.

MI: Michigan House OKs criminalizing 'revenge porn'

The bill, which would criminalize posting sexually explicit images on the internet without the depicted person's consent, soon will be on its way to Republican Gov. Rick Snyder. The Michigan Senate approved similar legislation last year.

ND: North Dakota abortion law costs state $245,000 in legal fees

The state of North Dakota will pay $245,000 in attorney’s fees after losing a challenge to a “heartbeat” abortion law passed in 2013. A federal judge blocked its implementation, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the state’s appeal.

NH: New Hampshire bobcat hunt called off

The state’s Fish and Game Department has withdrawn a proposal to allow a bobcat hunting and trapping season in New Hampshire for the first time since 1989. The decision came after a joint legislative committee objected to proposed rules for the hunt.

Cash-Strapped State Parks Temporary Workers