What We're Reading: Top State Stories 12/15

US: Obama bars states from denying federal money to Planned Parenthood

President Barack Obama’s administration issued a final rule to bar states from withholding federal family-planning funds from Planned Parenthood affiliates and other health clinics that provide abortions.

LA: Louisiana governor’s LGBT protections declared unlawful

A state judge has thrown out Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards' executive order protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Louisiana state government, saying the governor overstepped his authority.

AR: Arkansas governor pitches low-income tax cuts

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson unveiled a $50.5 million-a-year proposal to reduce state income taxes for Arkansans earning less than $21,000 a year.

OK: Oklahoma governor predicts hole of $500 million or more in upcoming budget

Republican Gov. Mary Fallin said early estimates indicate the state will have a budget hole of $500 million to $600 million for the next fiscal year, though the figure could improve as energy prices rise.

CA: Two years after California prison reform, many ex-inmates left abandoned on the streets

Two years ago, California voters passed Proposition 47, a far-reaching law that erased felonies and released at least 13,500 prisoners who had been incarcerated for low-level drug and theft crimes. But many of those former inmates have been abandoned to a cycle of homelessness, addiction and petty crime.

NM: New Mexico Legislature urged to act fast on state budget or face canceled school days

The chairman of New Mexico’s Legislative Finance Committee warns that a failure to act quickly on the state’s persistent budget woes could lead to the cancellation of public school days and unpaid furloughs for teachers. Lawmakers face a $69 million gap in this year’s budget.

WA: Washington governor wants $300 million to fix mental health system

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee is proposing adding hundreds of millions of dollars to the state's troubled mental-health system and eventually downsizing Washington’s two psychiatric hospitals by moving patients into community-based facilities.

TX: In Texas, lawmakers don’t mess with employers of undocumented workers

Though they condemn illegal immigration, Texas lawmakers have shown little interest in cracking down on state businesses, particularly in agriculture, construction, janitorial services and the leisure and hospitality industry, that often employ undocumented workers.

KS: Kansas governor says his budget will include money for rural teachers, doctors, dentists

Despite a projected budget shortfall, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback said he would ask Kansas lawmakers for money for programs to attract teachers, doctors and dentists to rural areas that lack them.

US: Diversity on police forces lags in many larger cities

In at least 50 cities with more than 100,000 people, the percentage of black police is less than half of what blacks represent in the population. Hispanic representation among police is less than half of their share of the population in at least 100 cities.

GA: Georgia governor expands access to drug used to fight opioid overdoses

Republican Gov. Nathan Deal asked that naloxone, an emergency drug used to reverse the effects of opioids like heroin and oxycodone, be removed from the state’s list of prohibited drugs so Georgians will have more access to it to reverse overdoses.

OH: Ohio cities want more state money for infrastructure, fighting drugs

The Ohio Municipal League is looking for renewed urgency from state lawmakers in helping cities deal with infrastructure, a horrific drug problem and economic development.

SD: Should it be tougher to put questions on South Dakota ballots?

Some South Dakota legislators who are alarmed at the amount of out-of-state money flowing into ballot measure campaigns want to make it harder to pose proposed laws to voters.

Consumers Now Have the Right to Gripe Online Top State Stories 12/14