What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/16

LA: Louisiana lawmakers mull long-term budget changes

Prompted by Louisiana's repeated budget crises, state lawmakers have filed dozens of bills that would change the way state government spends its money. The ideas range from freeing up funds that are usually protected from cuts, to changing how much money the Legislature can spend to giving lawmakers more information on how state dollars are being spent.

MO: Missouri General Assembly throws Kansas City’s minimum wage ballot issue into question

The Missouri General Assembly passed legislation aimed at prohibiting local governments from raising their cities’ minimum wages above the state level. The bill throws into doubt the future of a Kansas City minimum wage ordinance — scheduled to go before voters in August — as well as an already-passed St. Louis ordinance.

CA: Governor's budget plan includes $15 million to help California residents facing deportation

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown has earmarked an extra $15 million in the state’s budget to expand legal defense services for people battling deportation, boosting California’s financial help to those in the country illegally to $33 million.

VA: Racial disparities in marijuana arrests seen across Virginia

Black residents are about three times as likely as white residents to be arrested on marijuana charges, according to an analysis of data from the Virginia State Police.

NJ: Analysts project $687 million revenue shortfall in New Jersey governor’s budget estimates

New Jersey's budget analysts are projecting that tax collections will come in about $274 million short of Republican Gov. Chris Christie's estimates for the fiscal year that ends June 30, and $413 million below administration estimates for the coming fiscal year.

HI: Hawaii medical marijuana dispensaries yet to open

It's been almost two years since Hawaii legalized medical marijuana dispensaries, and it's still unclear when the first one will open.

NE: Nebraska governor makes budget vetoes

Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts has vetoed $56.5 million worth of spending approved by the Nebraska Legislature, including $11 million for replacing the Capitol’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. The biggest cut — nearly $34 million — came in rates paid to providers of services in behavioral health, child welfare, developmental disabilities, and Medicaid, such as nursing homes. 

WI: Wisconsin schools push students to consider careers earlier 

Beginning next school year, all Wisconsin school districts will be required to provide both academic and career planning services to students in grades 6 through 12. The students will learn about what jobs might be out there, how much they pay and the education and training needed to land one.

AK: Alaska board revises abortion restrictions

The Alaska State Medical Board voted to loosen regulations that are nearly a half-century old and require blood and an operating room equipped for major surgery to be "immediately available" when second-trimester abortions are performed.

NM: Medical marijuana a booming industry in New Mexico

Since Jan. 1, some 8,000 New Mexicans obtained a state-issued license that allows them to legally buy pot, pushing patient enrollment to 40,432 in April. First quarter sales this year topped $19 million, up 91 percent over the same period in 2016, according to New Mexico Department of Health data. 

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