What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 6/16

US: Minorities are missing in many state legislatures

Minorities remain significantly underrepresented in nearly every state legislature although they comprise a growing share of the U.S. population. The disparity in elected representation is especially large for Hispanics, even though they are now the nation's largest ethnic minority.

PA: Philadelphia prepared to approve a tax on soda

Philadelphia is set to become the first major city with a soda tax despite a multimillion-dollar campaign by the beverage industry to block it. The City Council is expected to give final approval to a 1.5 cent-per-ounce tax on sugary and diet beverages.

MS: Mississippi governor may be forced to call special session on budget

If more than $4.8 million from Mississippi’s rainy day fund is needed to rebalance the state's budget by the end of the month, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant will be forced to call legislators into session to get authority to pull additional money from the fund.

KS: House political campaign committee urges Kansans to lobby state Supreme Court

The House Republican campaign operation wants Kansans to call the state Supreme Court ahead of a special legislative session on school finance — an unusual attempt to exhort the public to lobby justices who have threatened to close public schools unless the Legislature properly funds them.

LA: Louisiana increases texting-while-driving fines

First-time violators in Louisiana will be fined up to $500 instead of the previous $175. For subsequent violations, fines will be $1,000, up from $500.

KY: Kentucky appeals court grants governor’s request to close abortion clinic

The Kentucky Court of Appeals granted a request from Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration to temporarily close a Lexington abortion clinic. At issue is whether the clinic can continue to operate as an unlicensed doctor’s office or whether it requires state licensing.

AL: New task force takes on payday loans in Alabama

Republican Gov. Robert Bentley is creating a task force to identify potential legislation that could help protect Alabama consumers from predatory lending.

TX: Texas governor asks feds for Zika funding, guidance

As Texas braces for a possible Zika virus outbreak, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott asked federal health officials to review the state’s plan to combat the mosquito-borne disease, which is linked to serious birth defects.

CA: California governor urged to declare emergency over homelessness

Los Angeles County supervisors called for Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency over the rising number of homeless people in California. The city tried to take a similar action last fall.

IL: Illinois governor calls aides 'heroic' in keeping government running during record impasse

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner said his administration has been "heroic" in keeping state government afloat as he presides over a historic, yearlong budget impasse that has deprived Illinois residents of key social services, halted construction projects and driven the state's credit rating close to junk status.

TN: Tennessee police, health officials say they can’t keep up with opioid crisis

Law enforcement, public health and insurance officials described opioid abuse as Tennessee’s No. 1 public health crisis and said it remains out of control. More people in the state died from opioid overdoses than in car accidents or by gunshots in 2014.

Cuban Migrants The Right to Gripe: States Seek to Protect Negative Online Reviews