What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/30

TX: Texas House, Senate OK compromise to soften voter ID law

Among other changes, the legislation would add options for Texas voters who say they cannot “reasonably” obtain one of seven forms of required ID, and create criminal penalties for those who falsely claim they need to choose from the expanded list of options. The measure comes in response to court findings that the state's current voter ID law discriminated against black and Latino voters. 

FL: Florida Highway Patrol, short on workers, issues fewer speeding tickets

The number of speeding tickets written by Florida state troopers has fallen for three straight years as the state Highway Patrol grapples with a personnel shortage and high turnover. 

WA: Carbon cap rule in Washington state faces legal challenge

Even as the Trump administration seeks to roll back Obama-era rules to curb greenhouse gas emissions at coal-fired power plants, Washington state is forging ahead with its own rules to cap carbon pollution from big industrial facilities. But the state faces legal challenges from utilities and industry groups.

AL: Alabama governor signs bill intended to shorten death penalty appeals

The measure signed by Republican Gov. Kay Ivey sets new deadlines for when certain appeals can be filed and when courts must rule. Supporters say it will shorten the duration of state appeals in Alabama death penalty cases from 15 to 18 years generally to 9 to 12 years.

LA: Louisiana lawmakers weigh bill to block New Orleans affordable housing plan

A proposal that could scuttle New Orleans’ plan to set aside a portion of the homes in new developments for low-income residents is moving through the Louisiana Legislature.

NE: New Nebraska law aims to keep poor people out of jail

A new Nebraska law will require any person who fails to pay a fine in time to appear before a judge instead of automatically sitting out the fine in jail. Judges could choose to dismiss the fine or assign up to 20 hours of community service instead, and the rate for sitting out a fine would increase from $90 to $150 a day.

AK: In Alaska city, doctors turn to medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction

With funding from a state grant, doctors at a Juneau addiction recovery center have begun providing patients with medication-assisted treatment. The age-adjusted rate of opioid deaths in Alaska is currently four times what it was in 2005. 

CT: Connecticut Senate approves higher penalties for sex trafficking of minors

The Connecticut Senate gave final legislative approval to a bill that would create a new criminal category, "commercial sexual abuse of a minor," and increase the penalty if the victim is under 15 from a Class C to a Class A felony, which is punishable by up to 25 years in prison.

OK: Oklahoma Legislature showed thirst for liquor law reform

The Oklahoma Legislature served up several changes to the state's alcohol laws this session, including a bill allowing counties to vote on Sunday liquor sales and another that lets breweries have the same hours of operation as bars and restaurants.

IL: Illinois Legislature OKs automatic-voter registration

The measure would allow qualified Illinois residents to be registered to vote when they visit driver’s services offices and other state agencies, and give residents the option to opt out of the registration. A similar bill was approved last year, but Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed it, arguing that it didn’t have enough protections against voter fraud. 

MI: Legislation to change Michigan natural resources fund sparks outcry

A bid by Michigan lawmakers to exert more control over how the state buys and improves land for public recreation and conservation is hitting stiff resistance from Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's administration and sparking a constitutional conflict.

DE: Proposal would let Delaware school boards raise taxes without referendum

Some Delaware legislators want to give school boards the ability to bump up property taxes every two years without asking voters, saying it would help stabilize a school funding system that has caused mounting frustration. Opponents of the proposal argue it would let school districts off the hook from responsibly trimming their budget.

WI: Wisconsin proposal would help keep chronically ill out of emergency rooms

The Wisconsin Legislature's Joint Finance Committee has approved a proposal that would give hospitals a powerful financial incentive to reduce emergency room costs within the state's Medicaid health programs for the needy. Under the pilot program, hospitals would work with diabetics and patients with asthma and heart disease to control the health conditions that are landing them in the emergency room.

‘Raise the Age’ Laws Drugs in Prison