What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/31

OH: US Supreme Court to hear case on Ohio voter purges

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Ohio's challenge to a federal appeals court ruling that struck down the state's aggressive method for purging voters from its registration rolls.

CO: Colorado spending bill averts payment cuts to hospitals

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a spending bill that averts a $528 million cut in payments to Colorado hospitals and generates $1.9 billion for transportation projects by mortgaging state buildings. To find new money for schools, the legislation increased the special sales tax on retail marijuana sales to the maximum 15 percent, even as it removed the regular 2.9 percent sales tax — a net 2.1 percent hike.

LA: Proposed Louisiana gas tax hike slashed to 10 cents

In a last ditch bid to win approval in the Louisiana House, backers of a hike in the state gasoline tax are seeking a 10-cent-per-gallon increase, down from 17 cents earlier. The new plan, if it clears the Legislature, would raise about $300 million a year for roads and bridges compared to $510 million annually under the initial proposal.

AL: Governor ends lawsuit fighting to keep refugees out of Alabama

Alabama's new governor has dropped the appeal of the state's unsuccessful lawsuit against the federal government over refugee placement.

WI: US appeals court sides with transgender student in Wisconsin bathroom case

A U.S. appeals court affirmed a lower court's preliminary ruling that a transgender boy must be allowed to use the boys' bathrooms at his Wisconsin high school. Lawyers for the student said the decision by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was the first instance of a federal appellate court ruling that transgender students are protected under laws that ban discrimination in education.

IL: Illinois Legislature enters last scheduled day with no budget in sight

If work isn’t completed on a new spending plan and the accompanying taxes to pay for it by midnight Wednesday, the Illinois Legislature will again be faced with trying to round up extra votes to avoid the prospects of the state going a third straight year with no permanent budget in place.

NY: In New York Legislature, ‘lulus’ feed a culture of scandal

Lulus, once shorthand for payment in lieu of salary, now refer to prized bonuses attached to leadership duties or top committee posts. And they’ve become a byword for Albany’s political self-dealing, after news that eight New York senators had received tens of thousands in such payments for jobs they did not hold.

DE: Delaware takes new steps to fight addiction

A new package of laws addresses three major parts of the opioid epidemic: treatment, the prescription of opioids, and legal assistance if insurance companies turn down patient claims for care. But some of the laws have never been tried by other states, leaving Delaware to be the leader in how to carry out these efforts and determine the resources necessary for their success.

PA: Lack of gift ban for Pennsylvania’s legislators continues to miff critics

Pennsylvania lawmakers reported overseas trips, tickets to sporting events and free entry to black-tie galas on their annual disclosure forms this month, even as protesters converged on the state Capitol to demonstrate the Legislature’s steadfast refusal to ban elected officials from accepting such largesse.

FL: Florida court weighs in on law-enforcement access to smartphones

A Florida man must serve 180 days in jail for refusing to give up his iPhone password to police, a state circuit judge has ruled — the latest salvo in intensifying legal battles over law-enforcement access to smartphones.

VT: Child care shortage worsens under new Vermont rules

Vermont has lost a total of 88 home-based child care programs from July 2016 to March 2017 while gaining two licensed child care centers. Only a handful told the state they were closing due to regulations that took effect in 2016 that require teachers to have at least 12 months of experience combined with some education.

MA: Massachusetts adds ‘Dutch Reach’ to driver’s manual

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation wants motorists to use their right hand when opening their door, forcing them to turn their bodies and almost unintentionally glance into a sideview mirror to check for oncoming cyclists. The idea behind the “Dutch Reach” procedure is to keep cyclists safe from getting hit by doors that drivers open unexpectedly.

Overhauling Tax Codes for a New Economy ‘Raise the Age’ Laws