What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/21

AR: Arkansas carries out first execution since 2005, plans three more

Arkansas executed murderer Ledell Lee Thursday, despite a flurry of legal challenges that had spared three other convicted killers. But courts still could scuttle the remainder of the nation's most ambitious death penalty schedule since capital punishment was restored in 1976.

TX: Federal judges: Texas House map intentionally diluted minority votes

Texas lawmakers intentionally diluted the political clout of minority voters in drawing the state's House districts in 2011, a panel of three U.S. district judges found. The judges did not offer a remedy for the violations, leaving open the question of how the ruling will affect House races in 2018.

NM: New Mexico governor tells cabinet to create furlough plans

With no deal in place to bolster New Mexico’s cash reserves and pay for state government operations, Republican Gov. Susana Martinez directed her cabinet  secretaries to come up with employee furlough plans that could be rolled out as soon as next week.

CT: Connecticut governor takes first steps toward layoffs

Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy has warned there could be as many as 4,200 layoffs across much of Connecticut state government if his administration cannot reach an agreement with unions to save $700 million next year and balance the state budget.

CA: California bullet train fueled by new bond sale

California has sold $1.25 billion in taxable bonds to finance a $64 billion, high-speed rail system, the first debt issue for construction since voters approved it nearly a decade ago. 

WI: Wisconsin justices reject recusal standards

Conservatives on the Wisconsin Supreme Court rejected a plan that would have required them and other state judges to recuse themselves in cases that involve large donors to their individual campaigns.

ID: Idaho raises college tuition to pay for raises

The Idaho State Board of Education approved tuition and fee increases of between 3 and 3.5 percent for the state's four-year colleges and universities. Much of the increase goes to cover a 3 percent pay raise approved by the Legislature.

FL: Voting rights ballot initiative approved by Florida Supreme Court

The Florida Supreme Court said that a proposed constitutional amendment to restore the voting rights of convicted felons can appear on the 2018 ballot. 

AZ: Arizona counties in crisis after a decade of state funding sweeps

County officials across Arizona are waiting anxiously for the Legislature to deliver its 2018 budget to Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, warning they could be on the brink of financial disaster if the state doesn't throw them a bone.

WV: West Virginia governor signs medical marijuana into law

West Virginia became the 29th state to legalize marijuana when Democratic Gov. Jim Justice signed a comprehensive measure that will allow the state to begin issuing marijuana patient ID cards on July 1, 2019.

PA: Pennsylvania the largest of nine states to not comply with federal Real ID law

Pennsylvania’s failure to comply with the 2005 law could cost residents nearly $1 billion to acquire passports to fly, 11 airlines warned. Not complying also will hurt deliveries because drivers won’t be able to enter federal buildings and military facilities after June 6 if their only identification is a Pennsylvania driver’s license.

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