What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 5/20

OK: Oklahoma lawmakers OK bill that criminalizes performing abortion

Oklahoma lawmakers have moved to effectively ban abortion in their state by making it a felony for doctors to perform the procedure. The bill, the first of its kind in the nation, also would restrict any physician who performs an abortion from obtaining or renewing a license to practice medicine in Oklahoma.

CA: California panel updates history teaching guide

A California commission approved a new history and social studies teaching framework aimed at reflecting the state's diverse student population. The lengthy debate about the plan has been peppered with testimony from ethnic groups who want to change how their people are presented in textbooks and discussed in classrooms.

US: U.S. Supreme Court makes it easier to deport immigrants

The Supreme Court is making it easier for the government to deport people who are not U.S. citizens if they are convicted of some state crimes. The justices ruled that a man who spent 23 years living in New York as a lawful permanent resident can be barred from re-entering the country because of a 1999 conviction for attempted arson.

WV: West Virginia Senate approves 45-cent increase in cigarette tax

The tax increase is part of a bill that is projected to raise $78 million. West Virginia has a $270 million revenue shortfall, and lawmakers have struggled to come up with a budget for the next fiscal year that starts July 1.

NY: New York governor wants to give Sunday brunch more punch

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed a set of bills to reform New York’s antiquated liquor laws, including a measure that would allow bars and restaurants to sell booze as early as 8 a.m. on Sunday mornings.

VA: Virginia voter ID law holds up in court

A federal judge has ruled that Virginia’s voter ID law is constitutional. The ruling declared that the state Democratic Party didn’t show that the law unfairly targets minority voters.

LA: Louisiana House rejects equal pay bill backed by governor

Despite a hard push from Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Louisiana House committee voted to kill a bill requiring private businesses to pay the same wages to men and women who perform the same work. Equal pay protections are already in place for public employees in Louisiana.

US: State funding for colleges still lags pre-recession levels

Some states have begun to restore funding cuts to higher education, but the amount of money for colleges and universities remains far below previous levels. The average state is spending $1,525, or 17 percent, less per student than before the recession.

RI: Rhode Island faces $1 million in fines in disabilities case

A federal judge has threatened to impose up to $1 million in fines annually on the state of Rhode Island if it does not take steps to comply with a court-ordered agreement meant to provide better job opportunities to thousands of people with developmental disabilities.

TX: In Texas, push to provide lawyers for immigrant children loses steam

When thousands of Central American children began flooding across the Texas border in 2014, the state’s legal community said it was ready to pitch in and help minors seeking asylum. Two years later, that promised help is slipping away as the issue fades from the headlines.

MD: Maryland officials say ballots were improperly counted

Maryland elections officials have uncovered nearly 800 improperly counted ballots from Baltimore residents who may not have been eligible to vote, calling into question how poll workers were trained for a new voting system in the April 26 primary.

SD: Better pay for South Dakota prison guards leads to less turnover

Since 2013, when South Dakota started increasing pay for corrections officers, the turnover rate has fallen from its peak of about 35 percent to about 30 percent. New officers will earn $15.50 an hour starting July 1, up from $13.56 in 2013.

Top State Stories 5/23 Government Goats