What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 5/11

GA: Expecting labor help, Georgia farmers get inspections instead

Federal inspectors from the U.S. Department of Labor are conducting spot inspections of farms across south Georgia, a week after many farmers complained the agency has failed to properly process visa applications for migrant workers.

MO: Missouri lawmakers pass bill to restrict viewing of police camera footage

The Missouri measure, approved nearly two years after the slaying of a black teen in a St. Louis suburb fueled demands across the country for more police accountability, would block the public from accessing the footage while investigations are ongoing.

WV: West Virginia governor calls special session to deal with budget

Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has called West Virginia lawmakers to meet next week to cover a $270 million revenue shortfall and put a budget in place before the new fiscal year begins, July 1.

TN: Counseling group cancels conference over Tennessee therapist law

The American Counseling Association has canceled its annual conference scheduled for Nashville next year. The group is protesting a new Tennessee law that allows therapists with “sincerely held” religious or philosophical objections to reject lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender clients.

MI: Living together is a crime in Michigan — for now

A Michigan law that makes it a crime for a man and a woman to live together without being married hasn’t been enforced in decades, but it still carries a misdemeanor penalty of up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. A bill passed unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee would wipe it off the books.

MT: Dip in state revenue prompts concern among Montana officials

Montana's general fund is nearly 4 percent behind projections, with oil and gas tax receipts down by more than half. The shortfall amounts to more than $67 million the government had counted on.

FL: State makes record purchase to preserve farmland in central Florida 

Florida’s executive branch barred development on more than 3,200 acres of ranchland in one of the state’s fastest growing counties. The $5.4 million conservation easement marks the largest single purchase of agriculture land for conservation under a program started 15 years ago.

AK: Alaska teen birth rate hits record low

Alaska’s teen birth rate fell by almost a third from 2005 to 2014 and is now at its lowest level since at least 1980, when state record-keeping began.  

PA: Pennsylvania governor calls teacher layoff proposal unfair

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf says he will veto a measure approved by the Pennsylvania Senate that would force public school districts to use a relatively new teacher performance rating system when making layoffs. Wolf said the system is unfair and relies on an untested method.

UT: Doctors unsure how to comply with Utah’s new fetal pain law

Utah's first-in-the-nation requirement that fetuses receive anesthesia or painkillers before some abortions has taken effect, but doctors say it's unnecessary and impossible to comply with. The law requires pain relief for a fetus before any abortion at 20 weeks of gestation or later, based on the disputed premise that a fetus can feel pain at that stage.

TX: Texas fights court order to disclose supplier of its execution drug

More than a year after a judge ordered Texas to divulge the source of its execution drugs, the information has not been released, legislators passed a state law protecting the prison agency from doing so, and the lengthy appeal that has allowed the provider to remain secret will finally be heard. 

OH: Ohio House votes to make medical marijuana legal

The bill would make marijuana use legal by people with qualifying medical conditions with a doctor's recommendation. If it becomes law, Ohio would become the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana.

DE: Bill to restrict 'robo trip' cough suppressants advances in Delaware

The Delaware General Assembly approved a bill that bans the sale of cough suppressants that contain dextromethorphan, or DXM, to minors without a prescription, an attempt to stop kids from using the drugs to get dangerous highs.

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