What We're Reading: Top State Stories 8/30

AZ, IL: Hackers hit Arizona, Illinois voter databases

Hackers targeted voter registration systems in Illinois and Arizona, and the FBI alerted Arizona officials that Russians were behind the assault on the election system in that state. The Illinois intrusion marks the first successful compromise of a state voter registration database.

IA: Iowa Utilities Board approves huge wind energy project

The Iowa Utilities Board approved a $3.6 billion wind turbine operation that an industry group says will be the nation’s largest wind energy project, generating enough energy to power the equivalent of 800,000 average households.

SC: South Carolina governor directs agencies to plan possible budget cuts

Republican Gov. Nikki Haley has ordered South Carolina state agencies to plan for a 3 percent budget cut — about $206 million — in their spending proposals for next year.

KY: Kentucky retirement system doubling down on hedge fund that lost money

One of the biggest investments held by the $14.9 billion Kentucky Retirement Systems is a hedge fund that’s also one of its worst performers. But the financially troubled agency is increasing its stake in the fund to 5 percent of its assets from 3.3 percent.

NY: New York’s medical marijuana program will offer home delivery

The state Health Department is making changes to expand access to the drug, including allowing home delivery. The New York program, which saw its first dispensaries open in January, has struggled to gain broad traction in the medical community and with potential patients. 

US: Highway fatalities increased the most in 50 years last year

Fatalities hit 35,092, the highest one-year increase since 1966. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration attributed the 7.2 percent increase to more driving resulting from job growth, lower gas prices and more driving by young people. Drunken driving, speeding and distraction from phones and other devices also contributed.

CA: California lawmakers pass bill inspired by Stanford rape case

California lawmakers, responding to outrage over the six-month jail term given to a former Stanford University swimmer after his sexual assault conviction, sent Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown legislation that imposes heavier penalties for assaulting an unconscious victim.

US: Federal government considers dumping privately run immigration detention centers

Immigrants facing deportation would no longer be held in privately run detention centers under a proposal the Obama administration is considering. On any given day, about 25,000 men, women and children are detained in private immigration facilities.

TX: Wal-Mart takes Texas to court to crack state’s liquor market

In trying to crack state restrictions on package liquor licenses, Wal-Mart contends that some of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s rules amount to unconstitutional discrimination. The Arkansas-based retailer sells beer and wine in Texas and liquor in 31 other states.

OK: The scourge of meth returns to Oklahoma

Methamphetamine was a factor in 265 deaths last year, or nearly a third of all fatal overdoses, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs said. That’s a 157 percent increase since 2010, when 103 deaths were attributed solely or partly to meth.

ID: New Idaho law protects life-insurance beneficiaries

The law aims to make sure that Idaho life insurance beneficiaries receive payments after policyholders die by requiring insurers to check their list of policyholders against reported deaths at least twice a year and make a good faith effort to confirm any matches.

PA: Governor: Pennsylvania should decriminalize small amounts of marijuana

Though some police departments in Pennsylvania have stopped arresting people for possession of small amounts of marijuana, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said the state should decriminalize the drug.

WA: Washington’s largest city weighs rules for businesses with hourly workers

Seattle leaders have proposed new rules for retail and food-service businesses with hourly employees, including requiring them to schedule shifts two weeks in advance and compensate workers for some last-minute changes — the latest push by the Washington city that has led the nation in mandating worker benefits.

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