What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/6

US: In recovery, many poor schools left behind

In the years following the 2008 financial crisis, school districts serving poor communities generally have been hit harder than more affluent districts, worsening America’s rich schools, poor schools divide — and the country’s racial divide.

GA: Immigrants without legal status sue for access to Georgia universities

Three Georgians who have received a special reprieve from deportation are suing the University System of Georgia over its policy of barring them from attending five of the state’s top universities.

OK: Oklahoma quake triggers closing of waste-disposal wells

A 5.6 magnitude earthquake led Oklahoma regulators to order the suspension of about 37 wastewater-disposal wells. Critics blame the state’s recent earthquakes on the large quantities of wastewater from fracked wells that are injected into ultra-deep disposal wells.

OH: Ohioan still waiting to learn this year’s voting rules

Ohio voters have faced an ever-shifting set of rules for voting this year, as lawmakers have enacted changes followed by inevitable legal challenges that have resulted in months of uncertainty. Some may not be resolved until shortly before the election.

RI: Rhode Island program would help new farmers buy land at a discount

Under a program to be rolled out next year, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management would buy agricultural land threatened with development, protect it through a deed restriction and then resell it at a steep discount to young or beginning farmers who wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise.

KS: Four former Kansas governors jump into campaign to retain state Supreme Court justices

Republicans Michael Hayden and Bill Graves and Democrats John Carlin and Kathleen Sebelius will campaign across Kansas to retain state Supreme Court justices, and to call for keeping the court fair and impartial. Several of the five justices up for retention in the November election are being targeted following decisions on school finance and the death penalty.

US: In rural and suburban America, prison admissions on the rise

Just a decade ago, people in rural, suburban and urban areas were all about equally likely to go to prison. But now people in small counties are about 50 percent more likely to go to prison than people in populous counties.

MO: Judge says Tesla can’t sell directly to Missouri customers

Electric carmaker Tesla Motors cannot bypass dealerships and sell vehicles directly to Missouri customers, a Missouri judge ruled, marking another setback to the company’s efforts to cut the middleman out of its deals.

LA: Louisiana flood damage totals at least $8.7 billion, governor says

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards said damage has been documented to more than 55,000 houses in Louisiana, but that number could double as aid applications and inspections continue. More than 80 percent of damaged homes lacked flood insurance because most were outside the flood plain. More than 6,000 businesses flooded.

TX: Texas campus-carry spending falls short of projections

Several of the state’s public university systems estimated they would collectively need to spend $15 million this year for bulked-up police forces, gun safes and other security boosts. But budget information from about 40 universities across Texas pegs the law’s hard costs so far at collectively around $960,000.

PA: Pennsylvania prisons focus on mental health care

After a scathing investigation into prison practices, inmates and staff in Pennsylvania prisons are learning how to help each other with mental health struggles.

MI: Despite road deal, Michigan to spend less on freeways

Despite higher gas taxes and vehicle registration fees that kick in Jan. 1 as part of a long-sought state road funding deal, the Michigan Department of Transportation will have slightly less to spend on state highways in fiscal 2017 than it did in 2016. But local governments will have considerably more to spend on roads as a result of the deal. 

NV: Nevadans to vote on tax break for wheelchairs, oxygen tanks

Oxygen tanks, hospital beds, feeding pumps, crutches and other durable medical equipment could be exempt from the Nevada sales tax if voters approve a measure on the ballot in November.

AZ: Arizona attorney general: Guns are allowed at private schools

Arizona’s private elementary, middle and high schools can allow guns on campus, according to the Arizona attorney general.

ME: Maine Lottery hits jackpot

The Maine Lottery set record highs for ticket sales, prize money paid to winners and commissions earned by retailers, with $57 million in proceeds going into the General Fund, up from $54 million the previous year. 

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