What Were Reading: Top State Stories 4/25

US: U.S. to states: Make it easier for ex-prisoners to obtain IDs

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch is urging the nation's governors to make it easier for convicted felons to obtain state-issued identification after they get out of prison, part of a broader plan to help smooth the path for state and federal inmates who are preparing to re-enter society.

IL: Deal struck to keep Illinois universities afloat through summer

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders forged a rare agreement to spend $600 million to keep Illinois college campuses open through summer, although they continue to struggle to reach an overall budget deal.

KS: Kansas Supreme Court rules sex offender registry not cruel

Forcing sex offenders who've been released to spend the rest of their life on Kansas’ sex offender registry does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment, the justices ruled. The court took up the issue of whether the registry in today's internet age has become a form of public shaming. 

VA: Virginia governor enables 200,000 felons to vote in November

Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s executive order will restore the voting rights of felons who have served their sentences and finished any supervised release, parole or probation. He said the order would help undo Virginia's long history of trying to prevent African-Americans from fully participating in democracy.

ND: North Dakota tax revenue continues steep slide

North Dakota tax receipts were down for the third month in a row in March, which leaves the state more than $20 million short of its revised forecast and increases the likelihood of additional budget cuts or further drawing down reserves.

NE: Nebraska law aims to provide attorneys for children in juvenile court

Nebraska is taking steps to ensure some — but not all — juveniles who get into legal trouble have representation. In 2015, only 62 percent of Nebraska juvenile cases had legal representation.

FL: Florida Supreme Court halts controversial abortion law

Justices put on hold a controversial Florida law that would require women to visit their doctor a day before an abortion.

MN: Rural Minnesota factories spend big on perks to find workers

Spiraling retirements and shrinking unemployment in rural Minnesota are driving worried factory owners to offer housing, health care clinics, tuition and plane tickets to encourage current workers to stay and future workers to come.

TX: Mentally ill languish in Texas jails due to lack of beds at hospitals

Hundreds of Texans who should be housed in state mental health facilities because they’ve been declared incompetent for trial are instead being held in county jails, a problem that continues to vex state officials. More than 380 men and women are in county lockups, sometimes for months at a time, because there aren’t enough beds available at state mental hospitals.

IA: Iowa partnership offers aid to attract dentists to rural areas

Under the public-private program, dentists who set up shop in rural areas in Iowa with an identified shortage of dental health professionals receive money from the state and private companies over five years that is directly applied to the principal balance of their student loan debt.

ME: Maine governor: Indian workers hardest to understand

Republican Gov. Paul LePage says it’s hard to understand workers “from Bulgaria” and workers from India are “the worst ones.” He said the foreign workers are being used in restaurants and criticized a proposal to raise Maine’s minimum wage to $12.

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