What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/23

MS: Court clears Mississippi LGBT objections law

A federal appeals court said Mississippi can enforce a law that allows merchants and government employees who cite religious beliefs to deny services to same-sex couples. Opponents of the law immediately pledged to appeal.

CA: California attorney general bans state travel to four states

California's attorney general blocked state-funded travel to Texas, Alabama, South Dakota and Kentucky in response to what he considers anti-LGBT rights laws enacted this year. A 2016 state law bans non-essential travel to states with laws that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

NH: New Hampshire Legislature passes budget

The New Hampshire Legislature approved an $11.7 billion, two-year state budget, ending months of speculation over whether more conservative factions of the Republican-dominated House would derail the measure. Republican Gov. Chris Sununu is expected to sign the measure.

DE: Bill could legalize fantasy sports betting in Delaware

A bill making its way through the Delaware House would allow online fantasy sports betting that involves cash prizes.

FL: Florida Department of Citrus faces budget cut

The Florida Citrus Commission approved a 22 percent spending cut for the department, but travelers will still be able to receive free orange juice at state welcome centers. 

VT: Vermont governor to create group to study marijuana

The day after a legal marijuana bill stalled in the Vermont House, Republican Gov. Phil Scott said he will create a commission to study marijuana and public safety. Scott vetoed a marijuana legalization bill this year, but worked with lawmakers to broach the compromise that was considered this week.

WI: Wisconsin Assembly passes campus free speech bill

Students who disrupt campus events at University of Wisconsin System schools could be expelled under a bill approved by the state Assembly.  

ND: Income, number of taxpayers drop in North Dakota

Reported income by North Dakotans slipped by more than 3 percent in 2016, while the number of filers sank by about 25,000, a decline officials said is due largely to a slump in agriculture and energy prices.

AR: Judge: Arkansas law on juvenile sentencing unconstitutional

An Arkansas judge ruled that a new state law barring mandatory sentences of life without parole for juvenile offenders is unconstitutional. The law sought to bring Arkansas in line with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that mandatory sentences of life without parole for juvenile offenders are unconstitutional. But the judge said it deprives defendants of their right to individualized sentencing hearings where they could present evidence.

NJ: New Jersey governor to decide whether to raise smoking age to 21

New Jersey lawmakers sent Republican Gov. Chris Christie a bill that would raise the age for tobacco product purchases from 19 to 21. Supporters point to federal data that says 90 percent of tobacco users begin before they turn 21, but Christie vetoed a similar proposal last year.

LA: Costs growing higher for Louisiana State University students

Louisiana State University is boosting charges on students at its main campus by 5 percent in the next school year, to raise $14 million for pay raises and other expenses. The fee hike comes as higher education escaped state budget cuts for the first time in nearly a decade in the just-ended legislative session.

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