What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 6/1

AK: Alaska lawmakers strike budget compromise; Plan would tap savings account

The Legislature’s $4.26 billion budget would plug a yawning $3.2 billion budget hole with money from the state’s $8 billion savings account. It also would sharply reduce spending, reverse proposed cuts to Alaska’s schools and university system, and avert the mailing of layoff warnings to state employees. 

KS: Despite threat, Kansas lawmakers won’t try to fix school finance law

Kansas legislators say they won’t rewrite education funding laws during their last day in session, despite the state Supreme Court’s threat to keep public schools from opening in the fall. As a result, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback may have to call them back before the end of June to devise a funding plan the court deems valid.

US: No warrant needed to obtain cellphone location, federal appeals court rules

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that police do not need a warrant to obtain a person's cellphone location data held by wireless carriers, saying the government can get the information under a decades-old legal theory that it had already been disclosed to a third party, in this case a telephone company.

LA: Already hurting for doctors, Louisiana could lose even more

Louisiana's deep, persistent budget troubles are endangering the future of medical training programs. Proposed cuts to hospitals could damage the stream of new doctors for a generation in a state that has chronic shortages of health care workers and some of the worst health care outcomes in the nation.

CO: Intellectually disabled Colorado students get pathway to college

Colorado is one of four states without a pathway for students with intellectual disabilities to go to college, but that could change this fall if Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper signs a bill that would roll out a pilot program at three state colleges.

CA: Fracking approved off the California coast

Two federal agencies have determined that fracking off the coast of California will have no significant environmental impact, opening the door for drilling. The Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group that sued to stop fracking in the area, may file another suit in light of the decision.

FL: Abuse of the elderly may be on the rise in Florida

The number of verified cases of abuse and neglect of the elderly has climbed 74 percent since 2011, according to the Florida Department of Children and Families. Last year, the statewide total was 2,525. Abuse often occurs at home and may involve family caregivers.

WI: Risk to Wisconsin’s unemployment fund seen as still high

Wisconsin employers vastly overpaid for unemployment-related costs during the Great Recession because the state wasn’t adequately prepared. And when the next big downturn comes, the state could possibly face the problem again.

MT: Montana lawmakers seek special session on campaign finance

Ten lawmakers say the emergency measure is necessary to fix what they call "defects" in Montana law governing campaign contributions, including closing a "loophole" that allows for cash from political action committees to flow to candidates without limit.

MO: Failure of ride-hailing legislation could curtail expansion in Missouri

Ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft, which stopped doing business in Missouri in 2014, want uniform statewide rules governing them. Now that legislation that would have exempted them from local regulations has failed, the companies say they are unlikely to begin service outside the state's largest cities any time soon.

KY: Companies, groups spend record amount lobbying Kentucky lawmakers

A record 698 companies and special interest groups spent an all-time high of $9.53 million lobbying Kentucky’s 2016 General Assembly. That’s a 9 percent increase over lobbyist spending in 2014, the most recent 60-day lawmaking session. 

Contracts for Deed Top State Stories 5/31