What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/14

Top State Stories 3/14

FL: Under radar, Florida spent more than $237 million on private lawyers

Gov. Rick Scott and other top Florida Republicans have spent more than $237 million on private lawyers to advance and defend their agendas over the last six years. Taxpayers have also been forced to reimburse nearly $16 million for their opponents' attorney fees.

TX: Senate committee approves Texas voter ID overhaul

Texas lawmakers are trying to comply with court rulings that the state’s voter ID law discriminates against black and Latino voters. The new measure would allow voters older than 70 to cast ballots using expired but otherwise acceptable photo IDs, and would require the Texas secretary of state to create a mobile program for issuing election identification certificates.

AR: Arkansas acquires new batch of drug needed for executions

Arkansas’ supply of potassium chloride, the third and final drug in the state’s execution protocol, expired in January. With a new supply of the drug on hand, Arkansas is set to carry out eight executions next month, the first since 2005.

WV: West Virginia Senate committee votes to repeal and replace state’s graduated income, sales taxes

The Senate Select Committee on Tax Reform approved a bill that would repeal West Virginia’s graduated income tax and replace it with a lower, 2.5 percent across-the-board rate. The bill also would repeal the state’s current 6 percent sales tax and replace it with an 8 percent general consumption tax.

WI: Dozens of 17-year-olds voted illegally in Wisconsin’s 2016 primary, new report says

Dozens of 17-year-olds voted illegally across Wisconsin during last spring’s intense presidential primary, apparently wrongly believing they could cast ballots if they turned 18 ahead of the November general election, according to a new state report.

TN: Tennessee uses new legal argument in suit over refugees

Tennessee became the first state to sue the federal government over refugee resettlement on the grounds of the 10th Amendment, which says the federal government possesses only the powers delegated to it by the U.S. Constitution and that all other powers are reserved for the states.

CA: California Democrats unveil sweeping plan to help students avoid debt

Top California lawmakers proposed what would be the most generous college aid plan in the nation, covering not just tuition but also living expenses, in a push to eradicate the need for student loans for nearly 400,000 students in the Cal State and University of California systems. It also would boost grants to community college students and give those attending them full time a tuition-free first year.

NJ: New Jersey Senate approves ban on minors getting married

New Jersey teenagers would not be able to get married until they turn 18 under a bill passed by the state Senate. If Republican Gov. Chris Christie signs the measure, New Jersey would be the first state to remove all exceptions that require minors to wait until they are 18 years old to get married. 

IA: Constitutional amendment on spending limits on fast track in Iowa Senate

A proposed amendment to the Iowa Constitution would limit state spending to the lesser of 99 percent of the adjusted revenue estimate for the state's general fund for the following fiscal year or 104 percent of the net revenue estimate for the current fiscal year.

UT: Utah lawmakers OK sweeping juvenile justice changes

The legislation approved by Utah lawmakers would limit the amount of time youths can spend in detention centers and put a cap on fees and service hours that a juvenile judge can order.

IN: Indiana bill gives domestic violence victims ability to switch phone plans

When the victim of domestic violence tries to leave a violent situation, the perpetrators often still have access and control over their phone. Indiana lawmakers are trying to remove that barrier, with a bill that allows victims to separate their cellphone plan from that of the abuser, if they have a protective court order.

MI: Former Michigan health official gets probation in Flint water crisis

The retired head of Michigan’s Health and Human Services Epidemiology Department, who had pleaded no contest to a charge of willful neglect of duty, was sentenced to one year’s probation. Seven other state employees face charges ranging from misconduct in office to tampering with evidence.

Worker Complaints Wrongful Conviction