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

VA: Prosecutors drop case against former Virginia governor

Federal prosecutors will not attempt to retry former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, on corruption charges, ending a yearslong saga that cut short the rise of a Republican Party star. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia had pushed to retry the McDonnells even after the Supreme Court ruling that would have made their case substantially more difficult.

CA: California's schools won't be judged only by their test scores

The state Board of Education voted to rate California schools using an evaluation that includes many more factors — among them academics, graduation rates, college preparedness and the rates at which non-native speakers are learning English.

PA: In Pennsylvania case, federal appeals court loosens rules on gun ownership by convicts

With a divided decision that reshapes long-standing rules, a federal appeals court said some people convicted of comparatively minor state crimes should get a chance to legally own guns. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with two Pennsylvania residents, deeming their crimes as minor even though they could have produced jail time of more than two years.

ND: North Dakota governor calls in National Guard ahead of pipeline ruling

Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple activated 100 North Dakota National Guard troops ahead of an expected ruling by a federal judge on a Native American tribe's request to halt construction of a crude oil pipeline that has drawn fierce opposition and protests.

MN: Minnesota schools failing to follow guidelines on testing for lead in water

Records from more than 600 Minnesota schools show that at least one in four schools are not following the state's recommendations that a school’s water be tested at least once every five years. Some schools haven’t tested for lead since the late 1990s.

NY: Workers paid by prepaid cards will gain protections in New York state 

The estimated 200,000 workers in New York State who receive their wages on prepaid cards will gain consumer protections next year that advocates say are among the strongest in the nation. The new rules are intended to guarantee that employees do not have to pay any fees to gain access to their paychecks.

LALouisiana secures higher federal match for flood costs

The White House said Louisiana would have to cover only 10 percent of the cost of public assistance efforts, rather than 25 percent. That means state and local governments will pay less of the tab for public relief efforts, such as debris removal or the cost of deploying the National Guard.

MI: Vote clears way for Michigan medical pot dispensaries 

A package of bills approved by the Michigan Senate will create new regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries that give communities more authority over the businesses. It will also create a system of licenses for growers, dispensaries, patients, caregivers and transporters, and impose a 3 percent tax on dispensaries.

VT: Vermont sues Volkswagen over emissions scandal

Rejecting a proposed settlement, Attorney General William Sorrell said Vermont is suing Volkswagen and its affiliates, charging that the automakers’ diesel-emissions-rigging scheme violated the state’s consumer and environmental laws. Only one other state — New Jersey — has filed alleged violations of both consumer protection and environmental protection laws, Sorrell said.

HI: Hawaii prepares plan to help coral recover from bleaching

Hawaii officials proposed a series of steps to fight coral bleaching that is threatening the state's reefs, including new marine protected areas, limits on fishing and controlling polluted runoff from land.

WV: West Virginia governor unveils program aimed at preventing suicide among veterans 

Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin unveiled what he called the nation’s first state-managed program designed to spotlight issues that lead to suicide among military veterans and reduce the number of suicides. Eight veterans committed suicide in West Virginia last year.

OR: Oregon investigators find suspicious energy tax credits

One in four large renewable energy projects that received state tax credits since 2006 raised red flags with Oregon investigators. Areas of concern included direct conflicts of interest, projects that were never operational, businesses that closed and missing or suspicious cost documents. 

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