What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 5/31

CA: California to allow transplants between people infected with HIV

The new California law removes a provision that had made it illegal for HIV-positive donors to provide tissue, even for another HIV-positive recipient. Federal officials approved regulations for organ transplants between individuals with HIV in November.

US: Tech companies take their legislative concerns to the states

From drone aircraft to genetic information and statutes that govern how companies sell consumer information to data miners, tech companies are in a capital to capital fight to keep new laws from being passed or to soften those already on the books.

NJ: New Jersey governor signs Atlantic City rescue package

Republican Gov. Chris Christie signed a rescue package that gives Atlantic City 150 days to draft a five-year fiscal plan that includes a balanced budget in 2017. The law ends more than a year of wrangling over how to save the New Jersey city. 

IA: Iowa High Court bans life-without-parole sentences for all juveniles

In a 4-3 decision, the Iowa Supreme Court said anyone 17 or under who commits even the most serious crimes should be given the opportunity to prove to the state’s parole board that they have reformed.

KS: Kansas lawmakers amass full-time pensions for part-time jobs

The one-of-a-kind Kansas pension plan treats state lawmakers’ four months in Topeka and their salary of $15,000 as if it were a year-round job, which qualifies them for retirement benefits as if their pay was more than $90,000.

WV: West Virginia House passes $4 billion budget that depends heavily on rainy day fund

The West Virginia House sent the Senate a budget that would use $143 million from the state's rainy day fund to help close a $270 million shortfall. Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin warned lawmakers he will veto any budget that relies on more than a few million dollars from the fund.

SC: Proposal that limits ticket quotas by South Carolina law enforcement agencies heads to Senate floor

A bill that would block law enforcement agencies from establishing ticket quotas for their officers or creating requirements for issuing citations continues to breeze through the South Carolina Legislature.

MN: Minnesota provision would remove tax on veterans’ retirement pay

Proponents say the provision, tucked away in a 600-page budget bill, would make Minnesota more attractive to retired veterans and more livable for those already in the state. If Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton signs it into law, Minnesota will go from being one of the only states that taxes an entire military pension to one of at least 12 that tax none of it.

AK: Alaska House approves bailout of health insurance market

To prevent the state’s individual insurance market from collapsing, the Alaska House voted to subsidize some health insurance plans with $55 million. The money would come from taxes levied on most insurance policies, including those that aren’t related to health care.

RI: Dozens of Rhode Island lawmakers correct disclosure filings

In recent weeks, one out of four state lawmakers has filed corrected versions of the required annual disclosure statements with the Rhode Island Ethics Commission.

AL: Alabama Supreme Court annuls its ruling on lesbian adoption

The Alabama Supreme Court voided its earlier decision not to recognize a lesbian couple's adoption that was carried out in another state. The opinion follows a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in March that said the Alabama court had erred in declaring the adoption held in Georgia invalid.

OH: Ohio charter schools that failed or never opened got $30 million in federal grants

More than a third of Ohio charter schools that received federal grants to help them expand over the last 10 years have failed, which raises questions about whether the state can properly handle $71 million in new grants earmarked for schools.

IL: Illinois extends, expands medical marijuana program

Political leaders agreed to extend Illinois’ medical marijuana pilot program to July 2020. They also agreed to add post-traumatic stress disorder and terminal illness as qualifying conditions.

Top State Stories 6/1 Top State Stories 5/27