What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 5/2

US: Home values in predominantly black neighborhoods lag in recovery

Across the 300 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, homes in 4 out of 10 Zip codes where blacks are the largest population group are worth less than they were in 2004. That’s twice the rate for mostly white Zip codes across the country. 

KS: Kansas Legislature approves out-of-balance budget

Kansas lawmakers passed a $6.3 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year that cuts funding to the state’s major universities, further delays a payment to the state employees retirement system and is roughly $22 million out of balance. Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is supposed to make up the gap with further cuts now that lawmakers have gone home.

TX: U.S. Supreme Court won't block Texas photo ID law — yet

The Supreme Court refused to block Texas' photo ID law, the strictest in the nation, for now. But the high court left open the possibility of doing so this summer if a lower court challenge remains unresolved.

AK: Alaska’s residential detox centers for opiate addiction say they will close

The two Alaska centers have stopped accepting new patients for residential, medication-assisted opioid detox because under new federal regulations only a doctor certified with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration can administer the medications the centers used. 

US: Federal agencies to curb queries on criminal histories of government job seekers

The White House moved to bar federal agencies from asking applicants for tens of thousands of government jobs about their criminal histories until the very end of the hiring process. The ban is part of a broader effort to ease the path back to society for some 600,000 people released from prison each year.

CA: Online gambling legislation moves forward in California

After eight years of failed attempts to pass online gambling, lawmakers are advancing a proposal that would legalize online poker in California.

ME: Maine widens access to overdose reversal drug

Maine lawmakers overrode a veto from Republican Gov. Paul LePage to make an opioid and heroin overdose-reversal drug more available. The Maine law, which mirrors policies in more than half the states, allows pharmacists to dispense the drug naloxone to eligible individuals, including the friends and family of drug users.

IL: Illinois governor seeks to turn some government services over to private sector

Stymied at the statehouse, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is trying to shift government functions to the private sector. He's formed a private nonprofit to handle the state's business recruitment efforts,  announced a plan to allow private companies to build and manage new expressway toll lanes, and called for private donors to help struggling state museums and fairgrounds.

LA: Louisiana House approves measure to make attacks on law enforcement a hate crime

Under current law, attacks can be classified as a “hate crime” in Louisiana if they are motivated by the victim's race, gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, nationality or disability. Adding occupations to the list would be new territory for the hate crimes law because it is a characteristic of a person that is temporary and can be changed, critics said.

OH: Proposal would let Ohio liquor distillers sell food, drink to attract tourists

The proposed legislation would raise the number of gallons of liquor Ohio's small distillers can sell a year and allow them to have food and drink establishments, similar to those already allowed at wineries and breweries.

HI: Hawaii poised to ban sex trafficking

Hawaii — the only state that doesn't ban sex trafficking — would do so under a proposal moving through the Legislature. 

KY: Layoffs, furloughs and hiring freezes at Kentucky's universities

Across Kentucky, public universities have started what’s become a biennial rite of belt-tightening in the face of state budget cuts and increased fixed costs for pensions and health insurance. This year, they will have budget cuts of 2 percent. Next year, it's 4.4 percent.

WA: Washington budget stands in the way of school water tests

A Board of Health requirement to monitor the drinking water of every public school in Washington state for lead has been in limbo since 2009. A sentence inserted into the budget that year — and repeated in every budget since — says state health agencies “shall not implement any new or amended rules pertaining to primary and secondary school facilities” without the Legislature's specific funding.

Top State Stories 5/3 Migrant Farmworkers