What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 9/27

US: Murder, violent crime increase in 2015, FBI data show

The number of murders rose by more than 10 percent in 2015 from the previous year, while violent crime overall was up nearly 4 percent, a new FBI report says. Experts say the increase is driven by a spike in violent crime in at least several large cities, but they caution that the country is in the midst of such low crime rates that even the tiniest increase appears larger than it is.

US: U.S. to pay 17 Indian tribes $492 million to settle long-standing disputes

The Obama administration has settled lawsuits with 17 Native American tribes that accused the federal government of long mismanaging their funds and natural resources. With these settlements, the administration will have resolved the majority of outstanding claims, some dating back a century, with more than a hundred tribes and totaling more than $3.3 billion.

TX: Texas appeals voter ID ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court

Because there won’t be a ruling before the November election, registered Texas voters who are unable to provide approved forms of ID will be allowed to vote anyway, as long as they can provide any document that lists a name and address, such as a pay stub or a utility bill. The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in July struck down the heart of Texas' 2011 voter ID law.

US: Time running out for states to issue ID cards to meet federal security law 

Twenty-four states have asked for more time to comply with a federal law that requires them to issue ID cards and driver’s licenses with new security features, but the extensions expire Oct. 10. Minnesota, Missouri and Washington are noncompliant states without extensions.

NC: Investment managers call on North Carolina to repeal House Bill 2

More than 50 investment managers with more than $2.1 trillion under management are calling for a full repeal of North Carolina’s House Bill 2, which limits protections for LGBT individuals.

KY: Kentucky social workers told to limit remarks to reporters

State officials have warned Kentucky’s social service workers they could face disciplinary action and even be fired for talking to reporters without permission. The warning follows several news stories in which workers who investigate child abuse and neglect have voiced frustration about staff shortages that could endanger them or the families they serve.

AL: Suit accuses Alabama of bias in law that bars some felons from voting

A lawsuit filed in federal court claims that an Alabama law that strips the vote from any person “convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude” is racially discriminatory, indefensibly vague and flagrantly unconstitutional. The law has left more than 250,000 adults in the state ineligible to vote.

CA: College students in California can still light up

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a proposed ban on cigarettes and other tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes, at all California State University and community college campuses, saying the governing boards of the state’s public colleges and universities already have the authority to set smoking policies on their campuses.

WI: Wisconsin agency to boost livestock regulation

Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources is planning to cut overall spending in the next budget, but it has proposed moving four employees into a program that regulates large livestock operations. Environmental groups say the agency should be devoting more resources to environmental protection.

KS: Should a Kansas law requiring a year-end balance be put in the state’s constitution?

The Kansas Legislature regularly ignores a law that requires a budget-ending balance of 7.5 percent of expenditures. Now, a member of the House Appropriations Committee suggests it be a constitutional requirement so it cannot be ignored.

SC: South Carolina governor creates veterans policy committee

Republican Gov. Nikki Haley issued an executive order creating a committee to assess the needs of South Carolina’s more than 400,000 veterans, including the employment and mental health challenges some face as they transition to civilian life.

 FL: Florida governor wants faster notice of pollution incidents

Republican Gov. Rick Scott said he wants new rules to require the owner or operator of any Florida facility — including a city or county government — to notify state and local officials and the general public of incidents of pollution within 24 hours. Scott said he was taking the step after delays in reporting several recent incidents.

Income vs. GDP Top State Stories 9/26