What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/29

FL: FDA takes steps to protect blood supply in Florida amid Zika probe

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has ordered blood banks in Florida’s two most densely populated counties to stop collecting blood as health officials determine whether Zika has begun transmission in the continental U.S. Florida is the first state to report cases that may not be related to travel to other countries with active outbreaks.

NJ: Atlantic City to receive state loan to stave off default

If the struggling New Jersey city can’t pay back the $74 million loan, the state will be able to step in and seize prized assets like a much-coveted water utility and a former Atlantic City airport property that could be home to a huge development.

TX: Latino voters sue Texas to bolster influence on electing judges

Seven Latino voters are suing Texas to challenge the state’s longtime method of electing judges. Though Latinos make up more than a quarter of the state’s voting-age population, there is just one Latino on the nine-member Texas Supreme Court and one on the nine-member Court of Criminal Appeals.

OK: Prescription drug deaths subside in Oklahoma

Prescription drug overdose deaths appear to be subsiding in Oklahoma as new laws and outreach efforts take effect. But black-market methamphetamine and heroin deaths are surging.

NY: New York state makes it legal to cry in your funeral pie

With a new law that permits funeral parlors to serve light refreshments and nonalcoholic drinks, New York joins 46 other states where the bereaved have the option of crying into their potatoes and pie.

LA: Louisiana budget problems deny school vouchers to 442 students

Children from low-income families who attend troubled Louisiana public schools use the state-funded vouchers to pay tuition at private schools. The state spent $42 million in the program during the 2015-16 school year, enough to award vouchers to 7,100 students.

ME: Compromise welfare reform law takes effect in Maine

The new Maine law sets penalties for people who spend cash welfare benefits on alcohol, tobacco, lottery tickets, bail, firearms, vacations, adult entertainment and tattoos. A working group will study how to block electronic benefits cards from being used to buy prohibited items and how much such a system would cost.

AL: Cursive writing stays alive in Alabama

Cursive writing may have become a lost art since the advent of keyboards and smart phones. But a new law that takes effect Aug. 1 will require cursive handwriting to be taught by the end of third grade in all Alabama public schools.

OH: Ohio Supreme Court throws out law barring police from sex acts with minors

The ruling from a divided Ohio Supreme Court noted that provisions in the sexual battery statute that apply to teachers, ministers and mental health providers require an occupational relationship with the minor. The ban for officers, though, required no such relationship and as such was an “arbitrarily disparate treatment of peace officers.”

GA: Georgia’s back-to-school sales tax holiday has a sexy side

It’s called the back-to-school sales tax holiday in Georgia, but there are some items on the list that no parent should be buying for their schoolkid. 

911 Upgrades Top State Stories 7/28