What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/9

IL: Illinois poised to require lead testing in public schools, day care centers

Illinois public schools and licensed daycare facilities will be required to test drinking water for lead contamination under a compromise reached among environmental groups, lawmakers, the Illinois attorney general’s office and the governor’s office.

NC: North Carolina governor formally begins Medicaid expansion pursuit

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper formally started his effort to expand Medicaid to more of North Carolina’s working poor, even as Republicans in Washington bear down on repealing the federal health care law that offers this increased coverage.

CA: California pays for inmate's gender reassignment surgery

A transgender California prison inmate who was born male but identifies as female underwent gender-reassignment surgery paid for by the state in what is believed to be the first such case in the U.S.

OH: Ohio localities have about $1.2 billion less in aid, report says

Cuts in local government funds and tax changes made at the state level will cost Ohio counties and communities nearly $1.2 billion in 2017, as compared to 2010, a new report says. 

IN: New Indiana governor outlines agenda for roads, pre-K

Incoming Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb threw his support behind new taxes and fees as options to fund Indiana's roads and called for the state's elected schools chief to be an appointed position.

OK: Hundreds of state workers received pay raises despite Oklahoma budget woes

About 550 state employees got pay increases of $5,000 or more in 2016, totaling just over $5 million. The raises came as appropriations to most Oklahoma state agencies were cut amid a $1.3 billion budget hole created by an oil industry downturn, tax cuts and generous tax credits to industry.

NJ: New Jersey nixes cash bail for people accused of low-level crimes

New Jersey is eliminating cash bail for people accused of certain low-level crimes. A study from 2013 found that 40 percent of people in the state’s jails were there only because they could not afford to pay their bail.

MI: Michigan governor signs contaminated water public notice bill

Democratic Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation that will require Michigan communities to be notified much more quickly than Flint was about elevated lead levels in their drinking water. The bill signing marks the first policy change signed into state law as a result of the Flint water crisis.

MO: In Missouri, students who bully could be charged with a felony

Educators worry that the new definition of harassment as a crime — part of a broader overhaul of Missouri’s criminal code — could draw police and the courts into situations that are commonly considered school disciplinary matters and lead to more students facing serious legal repercussions, and even jail time, for school misconduct.

PA: Pennsylvania will shutter two prisons in 2017

Due to budget shortfalls, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections is planning to close two state prisons this year. The department expects the closures will impact 800 staff members and several thousand inmates, but it has not yet decided which facilities will be shuttered.

AK: Alaska governor plans to freeze nonunion state employees’ pay for two years

Independent Gov. Bill Walker plans to introduce a bill that would freeze the pay of nonunion employees at the University of Alaska, the state court system, the Alaska Legislature and the executive branch.

SD: Bill would lessen state oversight of South Dakota carnival rides

A South Dakota legislative committee has filed a measure that would diminish the state's regulatory role over carnival rides. It comes after a notoriously dangerous summer for the U.S. amusement-ride industry.

MS: Parole law costs Mississippi taxpayers millions

Hundreds of Mississippians granted parole each year are forced to spend extra time in prison because they lack an “approved address” as required under the law.

Hacktivist Attacks Tobacco Taxes