What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/11

Top State Stories 1/11

NC: Supreme Court temporarily blocks North Carolina special elections

The U.S. Supreme Court temporarily blocked special elections this year in North Carolina legislative districts that a lower court ruled were drawn to minimize the political statewide clout of African American voters. The justices delayed new elections in at least 28 House and Senate districts while they decide whether to consider a Republican effort to keep the districts intact, at least through 2018.

CA: California governor predicts budget deficit

Less than four years after declaring California’s budget was balanced for the foreseeable future, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown said the state is now projected to run a $1.6-billion deficit by next summer. His $179.5-billion plan seeks to resolve the shortfall by slowing growth in public school funding and rolling back a series of one-time expenses.

NY: New York proposes increased flexibility for teacher certification process

The New York State Education Department released proposed regulations that would give teachers more flexibility in earning a permanent classroom certificate or a supplementary certificate. The move comes almost a year after state experts warned of a looming teacher shortage, which some attributed partially to New York's complex certification process.

AZ: Arizona governor proposes reversing welfare cut

Six months after Arizona became the most stringent state in the nation for welfare benefits, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey proposed ending that policy, saying the state should return to a two-year lifetime cap on aid to low-income families raising children.

ME: Maine Legislature to consider hedgehogs, hunting wear and a host of unusual bills

Measures to allow the unlicensed ownership of hedgehogs as pets, regulate rabbit production for local consumption, and permit hunters to wear red instead of orange are among the more unusual pieces of legislation filed in the Maine Legislature this year.

MI: Michigan gets good, bad news on revenue picture

The good news for Michigan officials is that net general fund and School Aid Fund revenues are expected to be up $329 million for 2016 from what officials estimated in May, while combined revenues for 2017 are expected to be up $231.2 million. The bad news is that analysts see slower economic growth and lower state revenues on the horizon.

DC: Federal court ends supervision of Washington, D.C.’s care for mentally disabled people 

A federal judge ended 40 years of court supervision of the District of Columbia’s care for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, concluding what city leaders called the longest-standing U.S. class-action lawsuit of its kind.

SC: Lawmakers propose capping South Carolina workers’ retirement contributions

To begin to address roughly $20 billion in unfunded obligations in the state workers’ pension fund, South Carolina lawmakers are proposing to set employee contributions to the system at 9 percent for the foreseeable future.

IA: Iowa governor outlines budget with $110 million in cuts

Republican Gov. Terry Branstad outlined $110 million in current-year budget cuts and adjustments, including $34 million from higher education in Iowa and $20.3 million from the Department of Human Services.

LA: In Louisiana, miles and money separate inmates and families

Prison visits can be long and expensive journeys made nearly impossible for those without a vehicle, given the almost nonexistent public transportation options to and from Louisiana prisons.

MO: New Missouri governor temporarily freezes new regulations

On his first full day in office, Republican Gov. Eric Greitens signed an executive order that bans state agencies in Missouri from creating new regulations through the end of February.

VA: Virginia delegates seek new student loan authority

Virginia Democrats want to get the state back into the business of making student loans by reviving the Virginia Education Loan Authority, which was shut down in the mid-1990s after providing student loans for two decades.

MT: Montana bill aims to protect patients from huge air ambulance charges

A Montana Senate committee is considering legislation that would lessen the burden for people who take air ambulance flights and are left with bills of tens of thousands of dollars, even though they have medical insurance.

Gainful Employment Rule Supreme Court Weighs Dispute Over Credit Card Fees