What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 8/25

LA: Louisiana governor unveils new plans for flood recovery housing

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ plan includes grants of up to $15,000 for people who can make their houses habitable quickly so they can live there while doing more extensive repairs and bringing in manufactured housing for homeowners with more severe damage.

VA: Virginia could be facing biggest budget shortfall in its history

Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe is expected to announce a shortfall, possibly in the range of $1.5 billion, in its current two-year $105 billion budget. If the shortfall is that great, it would be the biggest in Virginia’s history.

FL: Florida governor complains federal government not doing enough to fight Zika

Republican Gov. Rick Scott said the federal government has so far not delivered all the Zika antibody tests and laboratory support he had requested as Florida battles the spread of the virus. The state has 43 recorded cases of people infected with the virus.

CA: California may soon expand definition of rape

California lawmakers sent Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown a bill that would expand the legal definition of rape to include all forms of nonconsensual sexual assault. The state currently defines it as “an act of sexual intercourse” or penile penetration. Other types of sexual assault — including penetration by a foreign object and sodomy — are categorized as separate offenses.

US: In some states, resistance remains to abolishing corporal punishment in schools

Although corporal punishment in schools has declined in recent decades, paddling is still on the books in 19 states. That’s despite calls from the U.S. Education Department to curb punitive discipline, which has been shown to affect minority and disabled students disproportionately.

KY: Kentucky judges free to identify with political parties, federal appeals court rules

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said judicial candidates and nonpartisan judges in Kentucky are free to identify with a political party and participate in political activities, but not contribute to a political organization or candidate.

HI: Hawaii ends fiscal year with record $1 billion surplus

Hawaii held a $1 billion general treasury cash surplus when it closed the books on the last fiscal year, June 30, an extraordinary sum that likely will alter the course of contract negotiations as the state and counties begin a new round of bargaining with public worker unions.

TN: Tennessee’s choice: Repeal new underage drunken driving law or lose $60 million

Under federal rules, the maximum allowable blood alcohol content for drivers under 21 is 0.02 percent. Tennessee’s new law raises that limit to 0.08 for 18- to 20-year-olds, but brings tougher penalties. The state could lose $60 million in federal road funds if Republican Gov. Bill Haslam and the Legislature stick by the law.

 OH: Ohioans to have a new path when trying to get public records

Next month, the Ohio Court of Claims will begin accepting complaints from citizens who have been refused government records at all levels — from townships to the state. If a mediator cannot resolve the dispute, a special master will rule within seven days on a request to release the records.

SC: South Carolina governor signs Georgia gun reciprocity bill — twice

Republican Gov. Nikki Haley re-signed a bill that allows South Carolina to recognize Georgia permits to carry concealed guns. It’s the second time this summer she has had two ceremonies for the same bill.

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