What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/11

MI: Michigan Legislature gives final approval to autonomous vehicle bills

In an attempt to position Michigan as the center of research for autonomous vehicles, the Legislature gave final approval to a package of four bills that allows for the testing of driverless cars in the state.

IL: Cook County, Illinois, approves sugar tax

Chicagoans and other residents of Cook County, Illinois, will see soft-drink prices rise after county officials approved a new tax on sugary beverages aimed at addressing health issues linked to sugar consumption and trimming a budget shortfall.

US: After deadly police encounters, voters OK civilian oversight

Voters in New Orleans, Honolulu, Miami and San Francisco passed plans to bolster existing civilian oversight programs. In Oakland, California, voters created a civilian-run commission to investigate problems within the police department. Denver voters added provisions to the city charter to protect the existing independent monitor system.

KS: Kansas foresees huge budget holes ahead

New forecasts show Kansas facing a revenue shortfall of nearly $350 million this budget year and $583 million more in the next. And that does not include any additional spending the Kansas Supreme Court may order to resolve an ongoing school finance lawsuit. 

OR: Oregonians submit ballot proposal to secede from the U.S.

Two Portland residents have submitted a petition for a 2018 ballot initiative to have Oregon secede from the U.S., and they might like to have other states join them.

AK: Alaska’s oil cash now comes with automatic voter registration

Alaskans who sign up to receive their annual payouts from the state’s oil wealth trust will also automatically be added to the state's voter rolls, under a referendum approved by voters. Alaska is the sixth state to approve some form of automatic voter registration.

OK: Oklahoma economy showing modest gains

Oklahoma reported tax collections from oil and natural gas production in October at $35.1 million, an 8.9 percent increase from the same month last year. The improvement marks a first for the shale-rich state in almost two years.

VA: Virginia offers free drug disposal kits

Virginia residents can now get free drug disposal kits to destroy unwanted, expired or unused medications.

OH: Ohio lawmakers face renewable energy standards, unemployment compensation in coming session

Ohio lawmakers open a lame-duck session next week to deal with reinstating renewable energy standards, shoring up the state's unemployment compensation fund, and raising pay for themselves and state workers.

TN: Tennessee’s gamble on startups is failing, audit finds

Tennessee has recovered just $5.3 million, or 2.6 percent, of a $200 million program that allows select private venture funds to invest state dollars into Tennessee startup companies.

LA: Louisiana job numbers down, hitting state coffers

Louisiana's $315 million budget deficit from last year was mainly driven by continuing dips in employment that are hammering personal income and business tax collections, the Legislature's chief economist said.

WI: Wisconsin Republicans eye funding for schools, tax cuts, minimum wage changes

With the largest legislative majority they’ve had in decades, Wisconsin Republicans could put more money toward schools and colleges, introduce new tax cuts and look at getting rid of requiring minimum salaries for workers who build roads or government buildings.

Top State Stories 11/14 Methadone Prejudice