What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/8

TX: Texas misleading voters on rules for voting, feds complain

The U.S. Department of Justice said Texas officials are teaching citizens and poll officials that Texans without photo ID can still cast a ballot, but only if they truly “cannot” obtain certain forms of ID. In reality, Texans only need to sign a form claiming they have a “reasonable impediment” to obtaining those forms of ID in order to be allowed to vote.

CA: California governor to sign climate change legislation

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown will sign sweeping legislation that sets a tougher target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increases legislative oversight of climate programs and prods California regulators to take stronger steps against local pollution problems.

OK: As some states curb high fines, Oklahoma's go even higher

While some states have been moving to reduce fines for traffic tickets and other violations and limit the share of city budgets supported by fees, Oklahoma lawmakers have increased dozens of fees covering all criminal and traffic offenses.

CT: Court orders sweeping changes for Connecticut public schools

A superior court judge said "Connecticut is defaulting on its constitutional duty" to fairly educate its poorest children and ordered a new funding formula for public schools. The decision also directed the state to devise clear standards for elementary and high school education and ordered an overhaul of the system for evaluating teachers, principals and superintendents.

AL: Alabama Legislature passes compromise plan on $1 billion BP settlement

A plan to spend most of a $1 billion oil spill settlement with BP on state debt repayments, Medicaid and roads in two Alabama counties is on its way to Republican Gov. Robert Bentley, who said he plans to sign the bill.

NJ: New Jersey launches 911 texting

People in New Jersey can now text 911 from their cellphones. Officials say texting emergency call centers can be helpful when it is not safe to talk on a phone.

NY: New York can’t block late-term abortion in certain cases, AG says

Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman took a large step toward making New York one of several states to allow late-term abortions in cases where the mother’s health is in jeopardy or the fetus suffers a fatal complication. He said a 1970 state law, which criminalizes abortion past 24 weeks of pregnancy unless the mother’s life is endangered, did not square with the later Supreme Court decisions in Roe v. Wade and other cases.

IL: Federal judge rules Illinois campaign finance law constitutional

Current Illinois law that limits how much political action committees can contribute to candidates, but permits political parties and their legislative leadership to contribute as much as they want, is constitutional and can remain on the books, a federal judge ruled.

LA: Despite Katrina lessons, flood plan in Louisiana shows gaps

Lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina formed the backbone of state and federal reaction as historic flooding ravaged 20 Louisiana parishes last month. The response was widely praised in the immediate aftermath, but the slog of the longer-term recovery is starting to show that cracks remain in the disaster safety net.

MI: Pot legalization group loses Michigan Supreme Court fight

The Michigan Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from attorneys for the MI Legalize group, making it all but certain that November ballots in Michigan won’t include a marijuana question.

PA: Pennsylvania agencies pledge to reduce backlog of untested rape kits

Pennsylvania’s state police and health department have promised to work together to chip away at the state’s backlog of untested rape kits and determine just how many kits have gone untested.

OH: Abortion in Ohio would be prosecuted as murder under ballot proposal 

Abortion would be made illegal in Ohio and any that occurred would be classified as aggravated murder, under a proposed ballot measure submitted to Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine to determine if the wording meets constitutional requirements to go to voters. 

Native American Students LED Streetlights