What We're Reading: Top State Stories 12/14

US: 4 million Americans could be drinking toxic water and not know it

About 4 million Americans who get their water from tiny utilities could be exposed to water contaminated by lead because the nation’s drinking-water enforcement system doesn’t make small utilities play by the same safety rules as big ones.

OH: Ohio governor vetoes ‘heartbeat’ abortion bill, signs 20-week ban

Republican Gov. John Kasich vetoed a so-called heartbeat bill forbidding abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, but signed into law a second bill that bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The heartbeat bill would have been the most restrictive abortion law in the nation.

IA: Iowa faces $100 million in budget cuts

Republican Gov. Terry Branstad’s top budget officer said tax collections are coming in less than projected, which will force $100 million in spending cuts in Iowa’s current budget.

KS: Kansas will need an extra $177 million next year for public pension system

Kansas lawmakers will need to find an additional $177 million the next year to keep the state’s pension system on track. Of that amount, $115 million represents a payment that lawmakers put off making earlier this year.

UT: Utah governor seeks $50,000 from taxpayers for anti-pornography push

Tucked into Republican Gov. Gary Herbert's $16 billion budget proposal is a request for $50,000 to fund Utah-wide anti-pornography efforts — the first time in more than a decade that taxpayer money would be directed toward such a purpose.

OK: Oklahoma Supreme Court tosses abortion law on hospital privileges

Oklahoma’s high court threw out a law requiring abortion clinics to have doctors with admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, saying efforts to portray the measure as protecting women's health are a "guise."

WI: In Wisconsin, 3,000 sent to prison without new convictions last year

Nearly 3,000 people in Wisconsin were sent back to prison last year even though they were not found guilty of new crimes. These ex-offenders were reincarcerated for “technical violations,” which can include things such as accepting a job without permission, using a cellphone or computer without authorization, or leaving their home counties.

CA: California’s giant pension fund kicked the tobacco habit. Now it’s reconsidering

The staff of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, after an eight-month study, is recommending that the giant pension fund drop its ban on investing in tobacco stocks. The reason behind the recommendation is simple: The system needs the money.

AL: Alabama Health Department urges syphilis testing for pregnant women

The department is urging pregnant women in Alabama to get tested for syphilis after a spike in the number of babies born with the disease.

MD: Maryland governor calls for doubling the funds for a private school scholarship program

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan proposed doubling the amount of money the state spends on scholarships for low-income students to attend private schools to $10 million over the next three years.

VT: Vermont sees record number of adoptions — fallout from opioid epidemic

Vermont processed more adoptions this year than ever before, as the state has an exceptionally high number of children in custody. Many of the children were removed from unsafe situations because a parent is unable to recover from opiate or other drug abuse.

LA: Louisiana may use private money to fix wetlands, coast under new federal law

Companies that destroy wetlands for construction projects would pay into “environmental impact banks” to offset the damage. The banks would then use the money to advance Louisiana’s master wetlands restoration plan, which includes coastal restoration and habitat renewal for endangered species.

PA: Wholesale gasoline prices set to increase in Pennsylvania

State taxes on Pennsylvania wholesale gasoline prices will go up by 8 cents in the New Year, making for the highest state per-gallon gasoline tax in the nation. Combined with all other taxes, motorists will pay about 76 cents per gallon in taxes.

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