What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 6/24

TX: Supreme Court upholds University of Texas affirmative-action admissions

Upholding a University of Texas plan that has been the subject of years of legal battles, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed that the value of creating a diverse student body allows university officials to consider race in making admission decisions.

CA: Supreme Court decision deals blow to health coverage efforts in California 

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that blocks the Obama administration’s executive actions on immigration means the end of a California plan that would have allowed more than half a million unauthorized immigrants to buy health insurance on the state exchange.

MS: Justice Department reaches deal with Mississippi county on prison reform

The agreement with Hinds County, Mississippi, for the first time requires a local government to provide an array of options intended to reduce mass incarceration. It includes programs offering alternatives to jail, re-entry services for inmates leaving incarceration, and the prohibition of some jail sentences for failure to pay court-ordered fines and fees.

NY: New York requiring mortgage lenders to maintain abandoned homes

A law signed by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatens banks with civil penalties up to $500 a day for failing to maintain residential properties once they're aware of vacancies. The old law required they take responsibility following foreclosure judgments, which Cuomo said has left hundreds of "zombie properties" across New York.

OK: With sense of outrage, Oklahoma educators leap onto campaign trail

Hoping to capitalize on voter anger over education issues, at least 63 current or former educators, administrators, school staff members or school board members are running for seats in the Oklahoma Legislature.

OR: Oregon bottle deposits could double in 2017

With return rates below 80 percent, bottle deposits in Oregon are likely to double from 5 cents to 10 cents next April. Michigan, the only state that now requires a 10 cent deposit, has a 94 percent return rate.

NC: North Carolina insurers could be prevented from steering patients to cheaper drugs

Insurance companies would be banned from requiring patients to try cheaper alternative drugs under a bill moving forward in the North Carolina House.

SD: Many South Dakota legislative candidates have already won

This year, about a third of South Dakota’s state senators and nearly a quarter of its representatives have already won because they don’t face opponents. South Dakota isn’t alone in that regard. In the 27 states that have passed their filing deadlines, 45 percent of state legislative races are set to go uncontested this year.

MO: Missouri law to require civics test, CPR training for high schoolers

Missouri high school students will need to pass a civics exam and public schools must set time aside daily for the Pledge of Allegiance, under a package of education measures signed into law by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon. The legislation also requires public high school students to receive 30 minutes of training on CPR and first aid for choking.

MT: Montana takes aim at surging jail, prison populations

Faced with overcrowded jails and prisons, Montana officials are studying the complex issues behind the rising number of arrests, recidivism and policies that may be responsible for a surge in incarcerations. 

'Golden Girls' Top State Stories 6/23