What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 5/16

TX: Texas Supreme Court upholds school funding system

The court ruled that Texas' complex “Robin Hood” school funding system, where wealthy districts share revenue from local property tax with poorer districts, is imperfect but constitutional. More than 600 districts sued the state after the Legislature cut $5.4 billion from the public education budget in 2011.

US: Pfizer blocks use of its drugs in executions

The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has imposed sweeping controls on the distribution of its products to ensure that none are used in lethal injections, a step that closes off the last remaining open-market source of drugs used in executions.

LA: Louisiana House approves budget with money for hospitals

The Louisiana House approved a nearly $26 billion state budget that would cut funding for a popular scholarship program to provide more money for safety net hospitals for the poor. Louisiana faces a $600 million budget shortfall in the coming year.

KY: Federal judge strikes down Kentucky judicial rules restricting political conduct

A U.S. district judge struck down some of Kentucky’s judicial conduct rules meant to keep nonpartisan judges and judicial candidates out of organized politics, and ruled that judges can declare membership in a political party, give political donations and engage in political activity.

HI: Hawaii sues Honda and Takata 

Hawaii has become the first state to sue Honda and Takata over millions of faulty airbags, alleging the companies made, supplied and used airbags that they knew posed serious dangers to drivers and passengers.

OK: In surprising turnabout, Oklahoma eyes Medicaid expansion

Faced with a $1.3 billion hole in the budget that threatens to do widespread damage to Oklahoma’s health care system, the state is moving toward a plan to expand its Medicaid program to bring in billions of federal dollars.

US: States move toward treating 17-year-old offenders as juveniles, not adults

In nine states, 17-year-old offenders are automatically handled as adults, rather than as juveniles. Now several of them appear to be on the verge of raising the cutoff to the more standard age of 18 — part of a national “raise the age” movement that has won bipartisan support.

KS: New Kansas law prohibits abortions by midwives

Kansas will prohibit nurse-midwives from performing abortions or administering abortion-inducing drugs starting next year. As part of a bill signed by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, nurse-midwives also will be allowed to practice independently in delivering some care without requiring agreement with a doctor.

MO: Missouri lawmakers approve expanded gun rights

Missouri lawmakers passed a sweeping expansion of gun rights, allowing people to carry concealed guns without needing permits while also expanding their right to stand and fight against perceived threats.

MN: Minnesota looks to update largely discarded drug sentencing guides

Minnesota legislators are scrambling to overhaul the state’s drug laws, lowering sentences for many offenders. But Minnesota judges decided long ago those penalties were too harsh, and consistently reject sentencing recommendations on high-level drug crimes.

AR: Arkansas pays at least $100,000 to 2,722 state employees

The number of Arkansas state employees whose salaries are at least $100,000 a year increased by 137 to 2,722 this fiscal year. Most of the growth occurred at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, a teaching hospital where the number of state employees making at least $100,000 increased by 74 to 1,254.

CA: California governor seeks funding for earthquake warning system 

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown is asking the Legislature to allocate $10 million for an earthquake early warning system for California. Previously, Brown and the Legislature opposed using state funds for the project, arguing instead that the money should come from private and federal sources.

SC: Beer coupons by phone proposal breezing through the South Carolina Legislature

Beer and wine drinkers could soon buy brewskies and bottles at cheaper rates if a bill making its way through the South Carolina Legislature expanding the use of coupons becomes law.

Top State Stories 5/17 Death Rates