What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/10

WV: Drug distributors to pay $36 million to settle West Virginia lawsuits 

Two of the nation’s largest drug wholesalers — Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen — have agreed to pay a combined $36 million to settle lawsuits brought by the state that allege the companies benefited from West Virginia’s prescription drug abuse problems. The settlement money will go to drug treatment programs.

DC: Washington, D.C., to create legal defense fund for illegal immigrants

Officials in the District of Columbia plan to use tax dollars to help defend the city’s estimated 25,000 illegal immigrants from any attempts by the incoming Trump administration to deport them.

NM: Study: New Mexico parents rarely told when their children can’t read

A new study from New Mexico’s Public Education Department shows that parents are rarely informed that their children can’t read, even though state law requires schools to do so.

AL: Alabama corrections officers’ ranks drop 20 percent

According to Alabama Department of Corrections records, the number of correctional officers assigned to state prisons fell from 2,042 in September 2015 to 1,627 this past September, a 20 percent drop in the workforce. 

TX: Texas lawmakers will have less to spend in next budget

Lawmakers face a bleak budget outlook thanks to low oil and gas prices and past budget decisions, which could tie their hands if they attempt to bolster a distressed foster care system or increase funding for public education. The latest $104.9 billion revenue estimate for Texas’ 2018-19 budget is 2.6 percent below the current two-year budget’s revenue estimate.

WA: Washington unveils plans for assault weapons ban

Assault style-weapons and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition would be banned in Washington state, under a proposal released by Democratic Attorney General Bob Ferguson. A second backup proposal would leave them legal but raise the age limit and require licensing.

OR: Budget deficit called Oregon's No. 1 problem

In her inaugural address, Democratic Gov. Kate Brown said the biggest obstacle to creating a better future for Oregon is a $1.7 billion budget deficit. Her proposal to deal with the shortfall raises some taxes and cuts some spending, while aiming to maintain funding for education, health care and other critical needs.

VT: Vermont traffic stop study shows racial disparities

A University of Vermont study that examined traffic stop data from 29 of the largest police departments across the state shows that black and Hispanic drivers are stopped and searched at higher rates than white drivers. However, white and Asian drivers are more often found with contraband.

NJ: Sports betting proposals a payday for New Jersey law firms

Private law firms have received more than $6 million from the state of New Jersey since 2012 to make the case for legalizing sports betting — a bet that so far has gone bust for taxpayers and Republican Gov. Chris Christie, a proponent of the expanded wagering.

ND: Proposal would eliminate North Dakota treasurer’s office

A bipartisan group of North Dakota lawmakers has proposed legislation that, if approved by voters, would phase out the elected, constitutional Office of the State Treasurer and turn the offices duties over to state agencies.

CO: New Colorado legislative session brings $500M deficit, uncertainty

With one eye on a $500 million state budget gap and the other on Washington, Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and a split Colorado Legislature enter the 2017 lawmaking session with little expectation of fiscal reform and plenty of uncertainty over transportation, the state's Medicaid bills, affordable housing and illegal pot sales.

LA: More financial problems surface in Louisiana

Over the last few months, Louisiana’s nonpartisan state auditor has documented poor financial management and oversight missteps in state agencies when they were led by officials in former Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration.

WI: Wisconsin judges seeking 16% pay hike

Some of Wisconsin’s most powerful lobbying groups have joined the state Supreme Court’s chief justice in asking Republican Gov. Scott Walker to boost pay for trial judges by more than $20,000. The chief justice says judicial pay in Wisconsin ranks near the bottom nationally.

Supreme Court Weighs Dispute Over Credit Card Fees Hacktivist Attacks