What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/25

SC: South Carolina House approves $4 billion for roads

The House sent the Senate a transportation bill that would allocate $2 billion to widen and improve South Carolina’s interstate highways, $1.4 billion for resurfacing and $950 million to eliminate deficient bridges over the next 10 years. The projects will be financed by borrowing, paid off by fines and taxes.

AK: Alaska lawmakers return for special session to try to pass a budget

Independent Gov. Bill Walker called lawmakers back to deal with Alaska’s multibillion-dollar budget deficit, which he proposes closing by assessing new and increased taxes, as well as by restructuring the Permanent Fund to help pay for state services. 

OH: Federal judge: Ohioans’ voting rights violated

A U.S. district judge said the Legislature violated voting rights by limiting Ohioans’ access to the ballot. If the ruling stands, Ohioans will now be able to vote 35 days before the November general election — including during a so-called Golden Week in which an eligible resident can register to vote and cast an absentee ballot at the same time.

FL: Florida governor signs college affordability bill

The new law requires Florida colleges and universities to inform students of the cost of textbooks before classes begin and to notify students before trustees plan to raise tuition and fees. It also requires a study of how college could be more affordable.

HI: Bill would make Hawaii the first state to join gun registry

The newly introduced bill would require the names of gun owners in Hawaii to be entered into an FBI database that will automatically notify police if an island resident is arrested elsewhere in the country.

WV: West Virginia House kills cigarette tax hike, stymieing budget talks

Delegates voted down a 45-cent tax hike on cigarettes and stymied negotiations on how to close a $270 million budget gap. The hike was part of a bill that would have raised about $76 million a year.

PA: Thousands of calls to child abuse hotline go unanswered in Pennsylvania

Twenty-two percent of calls to a child abuse hotline in Pennsylvania went unanswered last year. Nearly 42,000 callers never reached a caseworker and others waited almost an hour before speaking with a caseworker.

KY: Kentucky attorney general asks state’s high court to stop college budget cuts

Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear asked the Kentucky Supreme Court to consider as soon as possible his case seeking to halt Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s midyear, 2 percent budget cuts to public universities and colleges.

US: Few prisons, jails have nurseries for mothers behind bars

Out of more than 100 women's prisons in the U.S., only eight have nursery programs that allow mothers to help raise their babies behind bars. There are none in the federal prison system, and there is only one in a jail, at Rikers Island in New York City.

LA: Louisiana Senate sends red light notification bill to governor

The bill would alert motorists to the locations of red light cameras throughout Louisiana and bar local officials that fail to post warning signs from collecting money from drivers caught on camera for running red lights.

US: Smaller cities opening high-tech crime centers

Smaller cities such as Hartford, Connecticut; Wilmington, Delaware; and Springfield, Massachusetts, are opening high-tech “real-time crime centers” that police officials say help officers on the streets by drawing data from license plate readers, gunshot detection systems, surveillance cameras and other information technology.

CA: California Senate rejects school credit for religious instruction

Senators voted down a bill that would have allowed California students unlimited time off from school and up to two elective credits toward graduation for private religious and moral instruction.

NY: New York governor proposes capping political contributions from LLCs

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed ethics bills aimed at a loophole in New York campaign finance law that allows donors to funnel almost unlimited amounts of money to state political candidates through multiple limited liability companies.

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