What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/19

GA: Georgia agrees to additional federal oversight of mental health system

After promising sweeping changes to Georgia’s psychiatric-care system six years ago, state officials acknowledged their efforts have fallen short and agreed to at least two more years of federal oversight.

AZ: Governor signs legislation to expand Arizona Supreme Court

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey said the expansion of the Arizona Supreme Court from five justices to seven will allow the court to take on more cases and ensure "swift justice.”

CA: California board allows water districts to set their own conservation targets

Under new rules approved by California regulators, places that received a lot of rain — and communities that purchase or are entitled to water from sources there — are likely to see fewer restrictions, while dry areas are likely to suffer through another summer of conservation.

NJ: New Jersey faces nearly $1 billion budget gap

New Jersey officials blamed the lowered revenue estimates on lagging gross income tax collections from workers' withholdings and from such non-earned income as capital gains, which together account for 40 percent of the state's total revenue.

OH: Ohio Legislature votes to lift the alcohol cap on beer 

The bill, on its way to Republican Gov. John Kasich, removes the 12-percent alcohol limit on beer brewed or sold in Ohio. Craft brewers had sought the change so they could brew and sell so-called high-gravity beers that often have 13 percent or more alcohol by volume.

SC: With veto override, farm aid bill becomes law in South Carolina

The South Carolina Senate finalized $40 million in assistance for flood-affected farmers, following a move by the House and rejecting Republican Gov. Nikki Haley’s veto of the bill.

KS: Kansas governor signs ‘revenge porn,’ ‘sexting’ measures 

The “revenge porn” measure, signed by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, makes it illegal to disseminate photos or videos of nude adults with the intention to harass, threaten or intimidate someone. The Kansas “sexting” provision lowers the penalty for teens who send explicit photos over a smartphone from a felony to a misdemeanor for a first offense.

MA: Massachusetts legislators back referendum on ‘millionaires’ tax’ 

The Legislature overwhelmingly endorsed a constitutional proposal to raise taxes on the very rich, setting the so-called millionaires’ tax on track to go before Massachusetts voters in 2018.

MD: Maryland governor to sign bills on drunken driving, police and criminal justice reform

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan plans to sign measures that will change the way drunken drivers are punished in Maryland and how police are disciplined, as well as another that makes a dramatic shift in how the state’s criminal justice system deals with nonviolent drug offenders.

LA: Louisiana Senate sends 'Blue Lives Matter' bill to governor's desk

A proposal to protect police and firefighters under Louisiana hate crime laws is headed to the governor's desk. People convicted of felony hate crimes targeting police and firefighters could face an additional five years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine. Penalties could increase by $500 or up to six months in prison in misdemeanor cases.

IL: Illinois governor gets marijuana decriminalization bill

Lawmakers sent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner legislation to decriminalize marijuana across Illinois, meaning people caught with small amounts would be fined instead of receiving jail time. Under current law, possession of up to 10 grams is a class B misdemeanor that could result in up to six months in jail and fines of up to $1,500.

MI: Getting proposals on Michigan ballot could become more difficult

The Michigan House gave final approval to a bill that would make it harder to get ballot proposals to a statewide vote.

Student Loan Debt Rape Statutes