What We're Reading: Top State Stories 12/7

DC: District of Columbia advances generous family and medical leave policy

The legislation would offer the most generous family and medical leave policy in the nation by imposing $250 million a year in new taxes on Washington, D.C., businesses to support two months of paid time off for new parents and by guaranteeing six weeks of leave for those who need to help other injured or sick relatives.

OH: Ohio lawmakers pass ‘heartbeat’ abortion legislation

The Legislature sent Republican Gov. John Kasich a bill that would impose one of the most stringent restrictions on abortion in the nation by banning it once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks after conception.

LA: Louisiana’s midyear budget cuts expected to top $600 million

The cuts will come over the next two months, despite more than $1.5 billion in tax increases approved in the spring. Louisiana has a $313 million deficit left over from last year and this year’s tax revenue is falling short of projections.

WV: West Virginia’s budget hole ‘north of $400 million’; Cuts exhausted

Revenue Secretary Bob Kiss told West Virginia lawmakers that the state’s budget gap is “north of $400 million” and that the state’s finances suffer a structural hole that across-the-board spending cuts can no longer fix.

NC: North Carolina lottery scammers have cheated state out of $7 million, estimate says

Lottery scammers have cheated North Carolina out of an estimated $7 million in back taxes and delinquent child support since 2009, a nonpartisan arm of the General Assembly said.

US: With Dakota pipeline in limbo, more Bakken crude oil will move by train

As oil prices recover and shale production picks up, energy companies that had planned to ship crude on the Dakota Access Pipeline will turn to rail, a transport method that poses its own risks to the environment and local communities.

MO: Increased pension costs add to Missouri’s budget issues

The cost of funding state employee pensions will increase almost $50 million in the next fiscal year, further pinching a Missouri budget that is suffering from anemic revenue growth and increasing demands from programs with mandatory costs.

US: Math a concern for U.S. teens; Science and reading performance flat

The 2015 Program for International Student Assessment, a snapshot of educational performance for 15-year-olds, shows declining math scores in the U.S. and stagnant performance in science and reading.

VA: Virginia creates regional economic areas to spur growth

Virginia is moving forward with a state-funded economic development initiative to create nine regional economic councils that will identify and cultivate clusters of like-minded businesses that can drive economic growth in the regions.

TX: Anti-gay, transgender laws could cost Texas $8.5 billion, report says

A Texas Association of Business report concluded that proposed laws, which include a ban on transgender-friendly bathrooms and the repeal of city ordinances that protect gay, lesbian and transgender residents from housing and job discrimination, could cost the state economy $8.5 billion a year and threaten 185,000 jobs, primarily in the travel and tourism industry.

AL: Psychiatrist says fearful Alabama inmates fake suicidal tendencies

The psychiatrist who directs mental health care in Alabama prisons said more inmates are entering the system with severe illness and those who obtain drugs and can't pay for them claim to be suicidal so they can be separated from prisoners who threaten them.

NE: Nebraska has new road-clearing tools to counter winter’s wallop

Nebraska is outfitting its 697 snowplow trucks with technology to track them and to monitor the amount of salt and brine they spread during winter storms. Officials say keeping tabs on the use of deicers will help ensure they are spread effectively across the state’s 10,000 miles of highways.

UT: Need cash? Utah has $375 million in unclaimed property seeking owners

Need some extra cash for the holidays? Utah Treasurer David Damschen says the state has $375 million in unclaimed property — and is urging citizens to check to see if any of it may belong to them.

Sponsor of New Jersey Solitary Confinement Bill Vows Override Fight Robot Invasion