What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/5

NC: North Carolina's bathroom law is discriminatory, Justice Department says

North Carolina's law requiring that people use the restroom corresponding to their birth gender discriminates against transgender people, the U.S. Justice Department said. In a letter, the department asked Republican Gov. Pat McCrory if he will announce that the state won't comply with the law. If he refuses, North Carolina could lose access to federal education money.

CA: California's smoking age raised to 21

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed a pack of bills that will raise the smoking age in California from 18 to 21, restrict the use of electronic cigarettes in public places and expand no-smoking areas at public schools. He vetoed a bill that would have allowed counties to seek voter approval of local tobacco taxes to pay for healthcare expenses for those with tobacco-related illnesses.

WI: Drug abuse driving up child neglect reports in Wisconsin

Child Protective Services units in rural counties in northern Wisconsin are seeing a rise in neglect and abuse reports due to meth or heroin use. Five years ago, Burnett County received 129 reports; last year, 462 referrals were made to the county.

CT: Connecticut Legislature to return in special session to finish budget work

The leaders of the Connecticut House and Senate gave up on adopting a new state budget before the Legislature's constitutional adjournment deadline, instead scheduling a special session for next week to finish their business for 2016.

AK: More Alaskans could carry scarlet driver’s licenses

The Alaska House approved a measure that would require Alaskans to carry a red-striped driver’s license if they are on parole and forbidden from consuming alcohol as a result of a criminal case. The state already requires those guilty of DUI to carry licenses with a red banner proclaiming "alcohol restricted."

LA: Louisiana governor wants to suspend state worker pay raises next year

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards wants to block annual "performance adjustments" for nearly 40,000 rank-and-file Louisiana state workers in the budget year that begins July 1. His administration also intends to freeze pay raises for the tens of thousands of political appointees in the Cabinet agencies under its control.

GA: Firefighters slam Georgia governor over veto of cancer legislation

Georgia firefighters sharply rebuked Republican Gov. Nathan Deal after he vetoed legislation to help them get workers’ compensation benefits if they could provide “a preponderance” of evidence that their work caused cancer.

ND: North Dakota budgets to be reduced by 10 percent

Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple called on state agency heads to craft budgets for the next biennium at 90 percent of current spending levels — the first time since 2002 a North Dakota governor has issued budget guidelines requiring cuts in agency budgets. Dalrymple made exceptions for the departments of corrections and human services.

HI: Hawaii Legislature passes Airbnb bill

Hawaii lawmakers have passed legislation to allow short-term rental companies to collect and pay taxes on behalf of hosts who list their properties. The legislation was requested by Airbnb and supported by the state Department of Taxation and the Department of Planning and Permitting.

WA: Washington state toll bills often mailed to wrong address

An audit of Washington state’s toll system found that nearly 6 percent of mailed toll bills were undeliverable, largely because toll contractors were using unconfirmed address or ownership information from the state licensing department.

AZ: Arizona legislature approves a budget

The bills that contain Arizona's $9.6 billion state budget are on their way to Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, who praised the plan for its attention to schools as well as child and public safety.

KS: Planned Parenthood sues over Kansas’ decision to cut off Medicaid funding 

Two Planned Parenthood affiliates filed a federal lawsuit over a decision by Kansas to cut off Medicaid reimbursements to the abortion provider that was largely based on allegations lodged against its affiliates in other states. Federal courts have blocked attempts to cut off Medicaid funding for the organization in other states, including Arkansas, Arizona, Indiana, Louisiana and Utah. 

MS: Budget cuts slow handling of Mississippi income tax returns

A second round of midyear budget cuts forced the state to send home 35 temporary workers it had hired to open mail, just as the Mississippi Department of Revenue was swamped with thousands of individual income tax filings.

Top State Stories 5/6 Juvenile Defense