What We're Reading: Top State Stories 8/19

LA: Louisiana considers short-term loan to pay for flood recovery

The state already has spent about $12 million in less than a week on the disaster — the Louisiana National Guard alone costs about $800,000 a day. Even before the flooding, the state was short of money and was considering taking out a loan for a few months.

NM: New Mexico governor: Reinstate the death penalty

In response to the killing of police officers in recent years, Republican Gov. Susana Martinez will pursue reinstating the death penalty as part of her legislative agenda in January. New Mexico abolished the death penalty in 2009.

TX: Texas prisons will lose 1,200 guards if forced to hit target on spending cuts

Texas prison officials said they would need to cut 1,200 guards from the nation’s largest state correctional system if they are to meet budget cuts suggested by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. Losing more than $200 million also would reduce health care for about 147,000 inmates, cut money for their meals and eliminate hundreds of beds starting in 2018.

US: Food stamp rolls drop, as some states end federally funded benefits early

Food-stamp enrollment in the U.S. is declining from record levels, in part because some states are ending benefits earlier than they have to. In May, 43.5 million people were getting food stamps, down 9 percent from a 2012 peak and the fewest since 2010 — though still twice the number enrolled before the recession.

IL: Illinois prosecutors investigate allegations judge let clerk sit on the bench

Prosecutors are investigating if a crime was committed when a Cook County, Illinois, judge allegedly allowed a law clerk to don a robe and preside over two court cases.

US: Federal government will stop using privately run prisons

The U.S. Justice Department will end its use of private prisons, declaring that the facilities are less safe and “compare poorly” with government-run institutions. The federal government's reliance on private lock-ups housed nearly 30,000 of the 220,000 inmates in custody at the peak in 2013.

NJ: New Jersey governor orders funding for emergency road, rail projects

With New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund nearly exhausted, Republican Gov. Chris Christie ordered officials to free money in the state budget to pay for any emergency road or rail work. Lawmakers have been unable to devise a way of paying for transportation projects.

MN: Minnesota scrambles to act on new rules about pay for disabled workers

State regulators are preparing to enforce tough new limits on paying more than 15,000 Minnesotans with disabilities less than the minimum wage. Across the state, some large workshops pay people with disabilities as little as 50 cents an hour for basic tasks.

FL: Federal judge permanently blocks Florida law to end funding of Planned Parenthood

A U.S. district judge permanently blocked parts of a Florida law that aimed to cut off state funding for preventive health services, such as birth control and screening for cancer and sexually transmitted diseases, at Planned Parenthood clinics that also provide abortions.

ND: Construction on big North Dakota oil pipeline shut down

Work on a 1,172-mile pipeline that is to carry oil from North Dakota to Illinois has been shut down near the Missouri River amid protests by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The tribe is challenging the pipeline in court, saying it threatens the safety of its drinking water supply.

CA: More Californians are insured in 2016, but many still worry about medical costs

Nearly three-quarters of Californians who didn’t have health coverage before the Affordable Care Act are now insured, yet many are still concerned about their medical expenses, a new report finds.

MI: Michigan’s largest city readies 600 lawsuits over unpaid property taxes

Detroit, which is under post-bankruptcy oversight by the state of Michigan, is planning to sue mostly banks and for-profit companies for some $12.2 million in unpaid taxes from investment properties they purchased.

OH: Joining Ohio online “checkbook” made easier for small governments to be transparent

About 400 townships, libraries and other local governments have opted since last year to join in, run by the state treasurer’s office. It allows residents to see with just a few clicks online how much their local officials are spending.

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