What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 4/21

US: U.S. Supreme Court gives states leeway in drawing political maps 

The justices said states can draw legislative districts with different populations in an effort to benefit minority groups, even if the results help one political party over the other. The decision, coming in a case from Arizona, signaled a recognition by the court that despite its disdain for both racial and partisan considerations, neither violates the Constitution's "one person, one vote" principle.

NE: Nebraska to allow state licenses for thousands of immigrants

Nebraska will allow thousands of immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children to work in at least 170 professions that require state licenses after lawmakers overrode Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts' veto of the measure.

MI: Michigan attorney general announces criminal charges in Flint water crisis

The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, has become a criminal case, with two state regulators and a city employee charged with official misconduct, evidence-tampering and other offenses over the lead contamination that alarmed the country and brought cries of racism.

VA: Virginia Legislature approves plan to buy execution drugs from secret pharmacies

Virginia’s House and Senate accepted Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s plan to hire pharmacies to secretly supply the state with execution drugs. McAuliffe, who opposes capital punishment but has vowed to support it as a matter of Virginia law, says the state will not be able to carry out the death penalty if it does not come up with a way to obtain the increasingly scarce drugs.

US: More banks willing to do business with marijuana merchants

The number of banks and credit unions across the country willing to handle money from the legal marijuana businesses has jumped from 51 in March 2014 to 301 last month.

KS: Worsening revenue picture forces Kansas to consider new cuts 

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration is proposing to cut $112.8 million in state spending out of what’s left in the current fiscal year, with more cuts possible next year. The proposal comes after Kansas budget officials lowered their estimate of how much revenue the state will take in this year and next year by $228.6 million.

NJ: Council finds New Jersey law requiring cameras on police cars unconstitutional

A panel that reviews New Jersey laws has found that a state mandate requiring that all new police cars be equipped with cameras creates an unconstitutional financial burden on local government.

LA: Legislation would allow Louisiana universities to raise tuition, fees more easily

The Louisiana Senate approved a constitutional amendment to allow the state's college and universities to set their own tuition and fees. Currently, the Legislature has to sign off on any tuition hikes. Even if it passed the Legislature, the measure would require a popular vote to be enacted.

OK: Proposed law allows Oklahoma judges to consider PTSD in sentencing veterans

An Oklahoma bill that allows judges to take into account a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder as a mitigating factor when sentencing veterans passed the Senate and now goes to the governor. Similar measures have been approved in Alaska and California.

OH: Ohio gets $94.3 million from Washington to deal with blight and foreclosures 

The money is to go to tear down homes that were abandoned after owners defaulted on their mortgages, and to help struggling homeowners pay their mortgages. That’s less than the $250 million that Ohio sought and which is the maximum states can get from the so-called Hardest Hit Fund, which was created during the recession as part of a broader economic bailout.

OR: Federal review finds failings in Oregon foster care

A new federal study finds Oregon's child welfare system is failing across the board when it comes to keeping thousands of children in state care safe and healthy. Caseworkers are still taking too long to check on allegations of abuse and neglect. Even in the most serious cases, where check-ins are required within 24 hours, the state met that goal less than two-thirds of the time.

CT: U.S. Justice Department investigating Connecticut’s ‘motor voter’ program

The U.S. Department of Justice has informed state officials that it is investigating Connecticut’s “motor voter” program, under which citizens can sign up to vote at the Department of Motor Vehicles, and has found “widespread noncompliance” with federal laws.

TX: Texas drawing millions moving from other states

In recent years, people moving to Texas from other states — rather than from other countries — have played a key role in the state's population growth, according to a new analysis. From 2005 to 2013, an estimated 5.9 million people moved to Texas, and 4.8 million of those came from one of the other 49 states. 

Driverless Cars Undocumented Parents