What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/3

Top State Stories 3/3

KS: Kansas Supreme Court rules public school funding too low

The court unanimously declared that funding for Kansas public schools is unconstitutionally low. It gave the Legislature until June 30 to come up with a response, setting up another possibility that the court could order the closing of public schools if lawmakers fail to come up with a satisfactory solution.

ME: Maine lawmakers pass midyear budget that funds opioid treatment, freezes tuition

The $64 million supplemental budget includes $4.8 million to fund comprehensive opioid treatment for 400 uninsured Mainers, freezes college tuition and puts more money in the state’s rainy day fund. Republican Gov. Paul LePage is expected to sign it.

AR: Arkansas governor signs college grant program into law

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed into law a new program providing two years of tuition and fees at an Arkansas community or technical college for students enrolling in high-demand fields of study.

FL: Florida could flip the burden of proving ‘stand your ground’

Florida's "stand your ground" law could soon give even more protection to people who invoke it. Some lawmakers want to make prosecutors prove a defendant wasn't acting in self-defense before proceeding to trial. Twenty-two states have similar laws, but none shifts the burden of proof to prosecutors.

US: Eleven states to drop suit over transgender bathroom order

Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin agreed to drop a lawsuit against an Obama administration order for transgender students to use bathrooms of their choice after the measure was revoked by President Donald Trump.

WY: Wyoming puts teeth in collecting online sales taxes

Wyoming says it hopes more online businesses will begin to pay state sales taxes voluntarily, but Republican Gov. Matt Mead signed a bill to help the state enforce collections from those that don’t.

CA: California Supreme Court says public officials can't shield government business with personal email

Texts and emails sent by public employees on their personal devices or accounts are a matter of public record if they deal with official business, the court ruled. California cities and counties now have to figure out where to draw the line. 

SC: From firing squads to gas, South Carolina legislators explore ways to execute death row inmates

Without lethal drugs to inject, South Carolina has no way of executing its more than 30 death row inmates, and state legislators are exploring how to fix that.

WI: Wisconsin lawmakers want to rein in utility profits

Lawmakers rolled out legislation that would attempt to rein in profits that the state’s largest utility makes from two power plants by undoing guaranteed returns negotiated after electricity shortages in the state in the late 1990s. Wisconsin has the highest residential electric rates in the Midwest.

IN: Indiana Senate passes civil forfeiture reform bill

The bill would require a criminal conviction before assets could be seized — contrary to current Indiana civil forfeiture law. The bill also would shift the burden of proof onto the government to provide “clear and convincing evidence” that property should be seized.

VA: Virginia Legislature approves bill to encourage charter schools

Virginia lawmakers sent Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe a bill that would ease creation of charter schools in cities and counties with chronically underperforming schools. Charter schools have struggled to gain a foothold in the state.

NE: Nebraska lawmakers advance proposal to let felons vote once their sentences are served

The unicameral Legislature now will vote on a bill that would restore voting rights to felons as soon as they complete their sentences, eliminating the two-year waiting period required by current Nebraska law.

OH: Ohio lawmakers keep sponsoring bills to send more people to jail, ACLU reports

Ohio lawmakers have introduced 17 bills this year on top of 91 in 2015 and 2016 that would send more people to the state's overcrowded jails and prisons by creating new crimes or increasing sentences, the state’s American Civil Liberties Union chapter says.

New York City Council Debates Ideas for Improving Contingent Jobs Teen Driving