What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 5/9

US: Prosecutors turn to murder charges in heroin cases

With deaths from heroin and opioids at their highest level in U.S. history, prosecutors across the country have begun charging those who supplied the final dose with murder, even when that person is the deceased’s friend, lover, sibling or spouse.

AL: Judicial panel accuses Alabama chief justice of ethics violations

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was suspended after he was charged with ethics violations by the state's Judicial Inquiry Commission over his attempt earlier this year to stop probate judges from issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

OH: Ohio prison population could hit record this summer

The number of inmates in Ohio prisons increased 15.1 percent from 2005 to 2016: 50,899 this month, despite a lower crime rate and state efforts to divert inmates from lockup.

US: Black Americans see gains in life expectancy

Black Americans die at higher rates than whites from most causes. But infant mortality among blacks is down, black men were the only racial group to experience a drop in the suicide rate from 1999 to 2014, and the gap between blacks and whites in life expectancy shrank to 3.4 years, the smallest in history.

GA: Georgia tax revenue rises as economy improves

State revenue collections were up 7.4 percent in April over the same month last year, with much of the gain again coming from new hotel and gas taxes Georgia lawmakers approved last year. Income tax collections were up 8.8 percent for the first 10 months of the fiscal year.

CA: California gives immigrants in the U.S. illegally a chance to get professional licenses

More than 300 people have applied for state professional licenses under a special process outlined through a new California law. The most sought-after licenses so far are for barbering and cosmetology. 

MN: Hundreds sue for sex abuse in Minnesota

In the nearly three years since Minnesota opened a path for lawsuits by victims of long-ago childhood sexual abuse, more than 800 people have brought claims against churches, the Boy Scouts and others. The Catholic Church and other institutions are now fighting to block similar exemptions to the statutes of limitations in Pennsylvania and New York.

SC: South Carolina governor vows to veto farm bill

Republican Gov. Nikki Haley said she would veto a bill that would set aside $40 million for South Carolina farmers affected by October’s historic floods. “I will not support any bailout of any industry over any other industry that has suffered from this thousand-year flood,” Haley said.

AZ: Arizona House passes bill to allow developers to assess taxes

The Arizona House of Representatives killed, then resuscitated, a bill that gives developers the authority to levy property taxes on homeowners. It now heads to Republican Gov. Doug Ducey's desk.

KS: Kansas launches quest for more foster care parents

A record number of foster care children in Kansas has led to a renewed call by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's administration to expand the state’s network of foster parents, especially for care of youth with physical or behavioral challenges.

MT: Montana governor releases three years of personal emails regarding state business

Most of the messages from Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock’s personal account were typical of what elected and appointed officials and state employees in Montana send. But they were sent from private accounts and therefore not likely to show up in standard requests for public documents.

FL: Voter fraud cases rare in Florida

During the past two statewide elections, Floridians cast more than 20.7 million ballots, and the state brought 13 voter fraud cases. Some officials want Florida to join a national compact that cross-checks voters registered in multiple states. 

MS: Mississippi spending millions for office space

The state spends almost $3 million annually to lease space in privately owned buildings in Hinds, Madison and Rankin counties. Meanwhile, a state-owned building in downtown Jackson sits empty because the Mississippi Legislature never appropriated money to complete its renovation.

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