What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/15
OK: Federal court sides with Oklahoma on prisoner phone call costs
A federal court has ruled Oklahoma can set its own rates for in-state phone calls from behind bars. The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., struck down parts of a Federal Communications Commission order that capped how much money prisoners pay to make calls.
CA: Budget deal guarantees a slot for all students who meet Cal State admissions requirements
More than 30,000 students who meet California State University admissions requirements are turned away each year because there is no space for them in the system’s most popular programs. Under a budget deal reached this week, CSU will have to offer those applicants a slot somewhere at one of its 23 campuses.
US: 11 states sue to protect Obama’s final energy rules
Eleven states, led by California and New York, have sued the Trump administration for failing to finalize energy-efficiency regulations for portable air conditioners, walk-in coolers and other products. The lawsuit represents the latest front in an escalating legal battle over former President Barack Obama’s climate change legacy.
NY: In New York City, new law aims to prevent pay inequality between men and women
Under a new law in New York City, most private employers will no longer be able to ask prospective employees about their salary history and other compensation. Employers also won’t be able to search public records to discover a candidate’s payment history.
TX: Texas taps private vendor to manage first state-run gold depository in U.S.
The Texas comptroller announced that an Austin-based company will build and operate the first state-administered gold depository in the country and that it could open as early as January. The depository will store gold and other precious metals, allowing customers to open accounts and potentially pay for transactions with them.
PA: Pennsylvania Legislature moves to protect plastic bags from local governments
The Pennsylvania Senate sent Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf legislation that would prohibit cities, towns and counties from banning or taxing recyclable plastic bags. Wolf opposes the measure but has not decided whether to veto it.
LA: Louisiana House agrees to budget compromise over GOP leaders’ objections
Meeting in a special session, the Louisiana House gave preliminary approval to a $28 billion budget plan that is very similar to the one the Senate endorsed last week — but that the Republican House leadership had refused to bring up for a vote during the regular session that concluded earlier this month.
MA: Proposed Massachusetts 'millionaire tax' question heading to 2018 ballot
A proposed "millionaire tax" constitutional amendment is heading to the 2018 ballot after Massachusetts lawmakers voted to place the measure before voters. Under the plan, individuals with annual incomes above $1 million would be subject to a 4 percent surtax. The surtax would only apply to portions of income over $1 million.
NC: North Carolina House panel backs proposal to give cities and towns their own sales taxes
Cities and towns would be able to have their own sales taxes to raise money for infrastructure and economic development projects under a bill moving forward in the North Carolina House. Under the proposal, municipal leaders could pursue a quarter-cent sales tax — if voters agree to the tax in a ballot referendum.
AK: Alaska House votes to double Permanent Fund dividends
The Alaska House voted to pay out full Permanent Fund dividends of more than $2,000 this year — a move that dispenses with deficit-reduction measures that would have cut that amount in half. It appears to be a major setback in budget negotiations between the House and Senate.
NV: Nevada governor vetoes proposed ban on private prisons
Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval said the proposed ban on private prisons in Nevada went too far by limiting the discretion of the Department of Corrections director to use private prisons when overcrowding or other issues make them necessary. He also cited the high costs of building more facilities.
IL: Illinois Republicans offer compromise plan to end budget stalemate
Illinois House and Senate Republicans unveiled what they're billing as a compromise on the state budget impasse — seven measures they say would satisfy Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and provide a way out of the state’s nearly two-year stalemate.
FL: Florida governor signs pay increases for state employees
The bill signed by Republican Gov. Rick Scott includes $183 million that will be used to offer varying levels of pay increases for state workers in Florida. The bill also includes changes to retirement and health insurance benefits.