What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/18

US: Salaries of public college presidents continue to increase

The salaries of public college presidents continued to climb in 2015, and five of the chiefs topped the $1 million mark in pay.

OH: Ohio governor says he lacks power to suspend ‘open carry’ law

Republican Gov. John Kasich lacks the power to suspend an Ohio law that allows citizens to openly carry guns, his office said after a police union official called for a suspension ahead of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

CA: Should California felons be allowed to vote from behind jail bars?

A bill moving swiftly through the California Legislature would allow thousands of felons serving time in county jails to vote in the state's elections from behind bars.

US: Insurers, pushing for higher rates, challenge key components of health law

A review process under the Affordable Care Act that is intended to hold down premiums for health insurance is being tested in Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming where companies have requested big increases.

ME: Maine’s EBT card help number gets sex line instead

Some holders of electronic benefits transfer cards in Maine are finding that dialing the phone number on the back of the cards gets them a sex line — not their balances. The state says it plans to replace the cards and strengthen its proofreading.

NJ, PA: Proposal would break New Jersey-Pennsylvania income tax agreement

A tax agreement that allows Pennsylvania and New Jersey residents to live in one state, work in another and only pay income taxes in the jurisdiction where they reside could come to an end.

MO: New Missouri law makes it easier to get some criminal records expunged

A law signed by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon reduces the time people must wait to petition the courts to expunge a felony record from 20 years to seven, and from 10 years to three for a misdemeanor. People who have committed dangerous felonies, sex offenses, domestic assault and other violent crimes aren’t eligible.

AK: Alaska gets $1.4 million to connect rural communities to health, education resources

The U.S. Department of Agriculture award $23.4 million in grants for telemedicine and distance learning projects, including $1.4 million going to four groups in Alaska.

WI: Report details low pay for child care workers in Wisconsin

Low pay for child care workers in the state has led to increased turnover and poorer quality of care, the newly released study found.

UT: Utah gives in to First Amendment lawsuit

Utah has agreed not to enforce a state campaign finance law that critics say violates the First Amendment by requiring nonprofits to report their supporters' private information.

RI: Rhode Island education commissioner rolls back testing for 10th-graders

State Education Commissioner Ken Wagner said Rhode Island 10th-graders won’t have to take the state’s standardized English test. He said the rollback reflects widespread concern among parents and teachers that the state was over-testing high school students.

TX: Texas universities to launch online mental health counseling

Faced with soaring demand for mental health services from students struggling with depression and anxiety, three Texas universities plan to launch an online, video counseling program this fall that is designed to reach more students by replacing face-to-face therapy.

NE: Federal judge dismisses lawsuit that sought to ban balloons at Nebraska football games

An Omaha man had argued the traditional release of balloons to mark the first score by the Huskers constituted dumping solid waste under a 1976 federal law. But a U.S. district judge said the University of Nebraska was a state agency and therefore immune from being sued in federal court under the 11th Amendment.

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