What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/15

CO: Worried about fraud, Colorado converts some electronic tax refunds to paper checks

A “substantial” number of state tax filers in Colorado who requested direct deposit for their refunds this year are instead receiving a paper check in the mail to address concerns about taxpayer identity fraud.

NC: Supreme Court rejects bid to revive North Carolina voting law

The U.S. Supreme Court put the final nail in the coffin of North Carolina's strict voter-identification law, rejecting a Republican bid to revive the measure struck down by a lower court for intentionally aiming to suppress black voter turnout.

IA: Medical marijuana expanding in Iowa

Republican Gov. Terry Branstad signed a measure that expands access to cannabis oil to include patients with Parkinson's disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, seizures, AIDS or HIV, Crohn's disease and others. The law makes medical marijuana available to potentially thousands more Iowans than under an existing law limited to those with epilepsy.

TN: From Tennessee, lessons about free tuition

In Tennessee, where the first cohort of students with free tuition at community colleges is graduating this spring, enrollment numbers are up by a third, while the amount that students are having to borrow from the federal government is down.

MO: Prescription drug monitoring falls short yet again in Missouri

After months of debate, Missouri remains the only state in the country without a prescription drug monitoring program.

WI: Wisconsin lottery data show higher per capita sales in lower-income areas

Per capita lottery sales in Wisconsin trend higher in neighborhoods with lower median incomes, according to a Wisconsin State Journal review of 2015 lottery sales data provided by the state Department of Revenue.

US: Hispanics “going further into the shadows” amid chilling immigration debate, police say

Police departments from California to New Jersey have reported a decrease in crime reporting in predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods, which some local law enforcement officials believe could be related to the nation’s impassioned immigration debate.

PA: School-choice advocates have sought to play a powerful role in Pennsylvania politics

More than $10 million from school-choice advocates has made its way into Pennsylvania political campaigns in the past decade.

SC: South Carolina consulting firm has vast political power

In South Carolina one political consulting firm represents more than 25 lawmakers, a couple of large state agencies and a quartet of the state's biggest corporations. The firm has amassed the kind of power that can steer legislation, push wish lists in the state budget, mold regulations or kill proposals even before they have a hearing. 

ND: Smaller budget means more cuts to ND judicial system

The North Dakota Legislature approved a $102.74 million judicial branch budget for the 2017-2019 biennium, a $10.94 million decrease from the previous budget. With the reduction come staff cuts on all levels of the judiciary and the elimination of 56 positions.

IDs for the Homeless Legal Judgments Can Add to Local Government Distress