What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 5/10

NC: Legal fight over North Carolina transgender law escalates

A fight between the Obama administration and North Carolina over a state law limiting public bathroom access for transgender people escalated as both sides sued each other, trading accusations of civil rights violations and government overreach.

US: Governors urge Congress to act on Zika funding

The National Governors Association said the country is “on the threshold of a public health emergency as it faces the likely spread of the Zika virus” and urged the Obama administration and Congress to work together to reach an agreement on funding to prepare for and combat the disease.

CA: California revises water restrictions

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and top water regulators laid out a revised plan for dealing with California’s persistent drought, making some conservation rules permanent while also moving to give communities more of a say in deciding how much water they must save.

US: National parks to start selling some naming rights

The national park system has long been a bulwark against commercialization. But now Director Jonathan Jarvis wants to broaden who can raise money, what that money will be raised for and what the government will give corporate America in return.

FL: Miami judge says Florida death penalty law is unconstitutional 

A Florida circuit judge said the state’s revamped death penalty is unconstitutional because jurors are not required to agree unanimously on execution, a decision certain to spur more legal wrangling over Florida’s capital punishment system.

KS: Kansas suspending work on limiting power plants’ carbon emissions

Kansas is at least the third state to suspend work on limiting carbon emissions from power plants after the U.S. Supreme Court in February stayed federal Environmental Protection Agency rules that required states to reduce them. Oklahoma, Virginia and Wyoming also have halted drafting any plans for cutting emissions.

LA: Louisiana House OKs benefits bump for state retirees

Retired state workers are a step away from receiving cost-of-living increases after the Louisiana House approved a benefits bump bill and two other measures. The changes would increase the monthly benefits checks of nearly 125,000 pensioners over the age of 60 who have been retired for at least a year. 

AZ: Legislature keeps its thumb on Arizona cities

Arizona lawmakers introduced more than a dozen bills to strip cities and counties of the authority to regulate by declaring everything from dog breeders to plastic grocery bags "a matter of statewide concern." And they passed a law that strips cities of state-shared revenue if they pass ordinances that conflict with state authority.

WA: Federal permit denied to Washington coal-export terminal

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied a permit to a $700 million project to build the nation’s largest coal-export terminal in northwest Washington state. The agency said the terminal would interfere with the rights of Lummi tribal members to fish in their traditional grounds.

AR: Plan surfaces to raise taxes for Arkansas highways

In advance of a special legislative session on highway funding to begin May 19, four Arkansas senators are working on legislation that would raise the state’s gas and diesel taxes to pay for improving roads.

OH: Sexism is part of the job, some female Ohio lawmakers say

Several female lawmakers say they frequently encounter offensive jokes and remarks from their male counterparts. Others say they haven’t faced that. Ohio politics is far more welcoming to women today than in the past, but women still face challenges running for office and on the job.

NJ: Sick leave bill pulled before vote in New Jersey Senate

Concerns over the impact on small businesses led the New Jersey Senate to pull legislation that would require private employers to provide paid sick days to their employees.

US: Unlike alcohol, it’s tough to set DUI limits for marijuana

There is a legal limit for drunken driving, but when it comes to marijuana, new research shows it may be impossible to say just how high is too high to drive.

Community College Debt Top State Stories 5/9