What We're Reading: Top State Stories 12/21

GA, TX: Georgia leads nation in number of executions

Georgia led the nation this year in the number of inmates put to death, an anomaly that's partly a result of executions in Texas dipping into single digits for the first time in 20 years. With nine lethal injections, Georgia accounted for nearly half of the 20 executions nationwide.

DC: Washington, D.C., mayor signs ‘Death With Dignity’ bill

Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser approved making Washington, D.C., the seventh jurisdiction to allow terminally ill patients to legally end their lives. It’s unclear if Congress will intervene on an issue that has been debated in statehouses across the country.

AR: Arkansas governor makes tax cuts, more education money priorities

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson's priorities for the coming legislative session include income tax cuts, more money for college and prekindergarten education and separating Martin Luther King Day from Robert E. Lee Day.

CO: Forecasts paint rosier budget picture for Colorado, but shortfall persists

Colorado is now projected to have a $119 million shortfall this year, almost half of the $227 million gap it expected in the last forecast in September. Growing consumer confidence and a bump in oil prices are behind the rosier picture, forecasters said.

SC: South Carolina lawmakers propose pornography block on new computers

Under the proposal, devices sold in South Carolina that can access the internet would be required to have filters installed to prevent people from viewing pornography, although buyers could pay a $20 fee to remove the blocking software.

US: Are we ready for the next health emergency? Not so much

The nation’s response to health emergencies like bio-terror attacks and natural disasters is slow, short-term and underfunded, a new report finds. Funding for state and local preparedness has been cut by nearly a third since 2002, and hospital preparedness has lost half its funding since 2004.

LA: Amazon will start charging Louisiana sales tax in 2017

The online retail giant will start charging sales tax on all purchases shipped to destinations in Louisiana starting Jan. 1. Amazon currently charges sales taxes in 29 states and Washington, D.C.

NY: Indigent legal services bill hits New York governor’s desk

The bill before Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo would shift the cost of legal services for New York’s poor from counties to the state in coming years. It’s estimated that with full funding, statewide costs would be close to $500 million.

CA: California birth rate drops to Great Depression levels

California’s birth rate of 12.42 live births per 1,000 people is down from a rate of 13.69 per 1,000 people at the time of the 2010 census. The state’s next-lowest birth rate was in 1933, one of the worst years of the Great Depression.

WI: Wisconsin proposes to reduce the amount wealthy parents pay in child support

Wisconsin's Department of Children and Families wants to reduce the amount of child support that parents who earn between $300,000 and $500,000 are required to pay under state law. The department urges a judge determine the amount.

FL: Bill would mandate civil citations, not arrests, for Florida's juvenile offenders

The bill would require Florida’s law enforcement officers to issue civil citations instead of arresting juveniles for 11 misdemeanor offenses ranging from alcohol and marijuana possession to riots, public fighting and disorders. 

IA: Iowa troopers' ranks spread too thin, union chief says

The Iowa State Patrol has 358 sworn personnel, down from about 450 troopers in 1999 and 2000. The reduced numbers have sparked complaints about long waits for troopers to arrive at crash scenes and worries that large areas of rural Iowa have no coverage at night.

WY: Bill would make Wyoming police video hard to get

Wyoming legislators are considering a bill that would require a judge’s order for access to recordings from police vehicles and body cameras. Critics say the footage is public information and the rule would prevent transparency.

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