What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/12

TX: Texas Senate approves recusals for objections to same-sex marriage

The Senate gave initial approval to a measure that would let county clerks in Texas recuse themselves from signing marriage licenses for same-sex couples because of religious objections.

MD: Maryland governor signs bill granting tax breaks for creating manufacturing jobs

The bill signed by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is designed to encourage manufacturers to create new jobs in Maryland by giving relief from sales, property and income taxes in exchange for training workers.

FL: Florida governor issues state of emergency over wildfires

Republican Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency as thousands of acres across Florida are consumed by wildfire. Fire already has consumed 250 percent more land in the first three months of this year than in the first quarter of last year. 

MN: Child abuse reports jump dramatically in Minnesota

Nearly 40,000 Minnesota children were suspected of being abused or neglected last year, 25 percent more than in 2015. Likely causes: increased awareness about child protection issues, better reporting and a growing opioid-addiction crisis.

AK: Alaska House votes to increase oil industry taxes 

The Alaska House voted to increase the state's oil production taxes and reduce subsidies of new drilling in a bid to reduce the state’s $2.8 billion deficit. It's unclear whether the Senate will approve the bill.

NJ: New Jersey governor considers more changes in public pensions

Republican Gov. Chris Christie said he is seeking more "reforms" to New Jersey's perpetually troubled public-worker pension system, including diverting lottery receipts to the most underfunded system of any state.

OK: More borrowing needed to fill Oklahoma revenue gap

Oklahoma already has borrowed $240.7 million from its now-empty rainy day fund to meet its monthly spending bills. Now, it needs to borrow more as tax collections fall short of expectations.

NE: Online sales tax measure wins initial approval in Nebraska

The proposal would require online retailers to remit sales taxes if their gross revenue in Nebraska exceeds $100,000 or they conduct 200 or more transactions in the state. Those that refuse would have to notify buyers and the state that the tax is due.

TN: Tennessee governor's gas tax plan clears initial hurdle

A key House committee approved Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposal to raise Tennessee’s tax on gasoline and diesel fuel over a three-year period to pay for a $10 billion backlog in road projects.

CT: Connecticut looks at possibly joining ‘soda tax’ bandwagon

The Legislature’s finance committee will look at imposing a penny-per-ounce tax on certain carbonated and noncarbonated nonalcoholic beverages that contain added sweetener. Money raised would not go to offset Connecticut’s $1.7 billion deficit, but to education to combat childhood obesity.

CA: California bill would create 'safe' places to shoot heroin, take opioids

Amid a growing national opioid-addiction epidemic, a California lawmaker has proposed creating “safe injection sites” for addicts to take drugs under the supervision of medical professionals. The bill would create pilot programs in eight counties.

MT: Montana House kills bill to raise tobacco taxes

The bill would have increased Montana’s tax on a pack of cigarettes from $1.70 to $3.20. Nearly half of the extra money would have gone to give elderly and disabled caregivers a raise.

IA: Iowa Senate OKs bill that would ban bathroom cameras in government buildings

The measure prohibits the use of digital video and audio streaming or recording devices in toilets, bath or shower facilities, locker rooms, diaper changing areas, and certain other spaces in Iowa’s public libraries, public schools and other government offices open to the public.

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