What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/28

AR: Arkansas inmate convulses during deadline-beating execution

Arkansas wrapped up an accelerated executions schedule with a lethal injection that left the condemned inmate lurching and convulsing before he died, prompting calls for investigations and renewed scrutiny of the state's efforts to put multiple inmates to death on a compressed timeline.

WV: West Virginia governor calls special budget session

Democratic Gov. Jim Justice called on legislators to return next week to iron out a new state budget after he vetoed their first effort. He also will ask them to increase West Virginia’s gasoline tax, road tolls and motor vehicle fees to fund a $2.4 billion infrastructure construction plan.

NM: New Mexico governor calls for overhaul of state’s tax code

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez said legislators need to overhaul New Mexico’s complex tax system in an upcoming special session because it is key to solving the state’s budget crisis.

CA: Single-payer health bill clears California Senate committee

The bill would establish a publicly run health care plan that would cover everyone living in California, including those without legal immigration status.

ND: North Dakota legislators approve bill allowing governor to not take salary

North Dakota legislators gave final approval to a bill that would let Republican Gov. Doug Burgum fulfill his campaign pledge of not accepting a salary.

DC: District of Columbia students on vouchers lag peers on tests

Students in the nation’s only federally funded school voucher initiative performed worse on standardized tests within a year after entering District of Columba private schools than peers who did not participate, a new federal analysis finds. Other recent studies of state-funded vouchers in Louisiana, Indiana and Ohio also suggested negative effects on student achievement.

MO: Missouri lawmakers send ban on project labor agreements to governor

Missouri’s cities and counties could lose state funding if they force non-union contractors to pay workers union wages for public projects, under a measure headed to Republican Gov. Eric Greitens’ desk.

NE: Nebraska governor vetoes bill to speed restoration of felons' voting rights

Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts vetoed a bill that would restore voting rights to felons as soon as they complete their sentences instead of requiring them to wait two years. He said the Legislature has the authority to restore privileges to felons, but it cannot pass a law to restore civil rights revoked in the state constitution.

NC: Drivers who hit protesters blocking roads could be protected under North Carolina bill

The North Carolina House passed a bill that says drivers who hit a protester who’s blocking the road couldn’t be sued for injuries if they “exercise due care.”

KS: Kansas governor seeks $24 million to ban guns at state hospitals

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is proposing an additional $24 million in spending over two years on extra security measures, including armed guards, to keep concealed guns out of state hospitals. A 2013 law will require hospitals to let people bring in concealed guns starting July 1 unless the buildings have extra security.

WI: Wisconsin bill would discipline hecklers at college campuses

University of Wisconsin students who disrupt speeches and demonstrations could be expelled and campuses would have to remain neutral on public issues under a bill Republican legislators are pushing this week.

OK: Oklahoma struggles to pay for schools after slashing taxes

During economic boom times four years ago, Oklahoma lawmakers were debating what to do with $200 million in surplus revenue. They cut taxes, the boom ended, and now there’s a growing panic over how to pay for basic services such as schools, health care and public safety.

ME: Maine bill touts no more ‘spring forward, fall back’

The House passed a bill that would move Maine into Atlantic Standard Time if Massachusetts and New Hampshire also did so. If the bill becomes law, Maine would be on the equivalent of daylight saving time all year.

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