What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/27

Top State Stories 6/27

MO, US: In case from Missouri, justices rule states must aid some church programs

The Supreme Court ruled that states must sometimes provide aid to religious groups even when their state constitutions call for a strict separation of church and state. The decision concerned a Missouri program to make playgrounds safer that excluded those affiliated with churches, and it had implications for all kinds of government aid to religious institutions.

CT: Connecticut governor reaches tentative deal with state unions

The tentative contract announced by Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy would save more than $1.5 billion in the next two fiscal years by requiring Connecticut’s state workers to pay higher health insurance premiums and copays in addition to creating a pension and 401(k)-style hybrid for new employees.

CA: California's giant water tunnels win first crucial approval

U.S. wildlife officials gave crucial first approval to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown's decades-old ambitions to build two massive tunnels that would re-engineer California’s water system. The federal agencies said the $16 billion project likely will not endanger more than a dozen federally protected species in the largest fresh-water estuary on the West Coast.

ME: Maine governor signs bill to change minimum wage law passed by voters

The law signed by Republican Gov. Paul LePage allows employers to pay tipped employees half the state’s minimum wage. It partially repeals a ballot measure passed by voters in November that boosted Maine’s minimum wage in steps to $12 an hour by 2020 and removed the tip credit, requiring employers to pay all workers the minimum wage.

VA: New Virginia law will allow people convicted of marijuana possession to keep driver’s license

A new law in Virginia will allow judges to order community service instead of automatically suspending the driver’s licenses of people convicted of marijuana possession. The law applies to adults who were not operating a vehicle at the time of the offense.

TX: Texas hospitals fear losing $6.2B Medicaid deal

Texas rejected billions in federal aid to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, calling the program “broken.” But now it’s asking the Trump administration to renew a deal that’s brought the state an additional $6.2 billion a year under Medicaid to help care for the poor.

OK: Auto dealers' lawsuit challenges Oklahoma's new vehicle sales tax

The Oklahoma Automobile Dealers Association contends that the state’s new 1.25 percent sales tax on motor vehicle purchases amounts to a tax increase. They say the Oklahoma Constitution requires the Legislature to obtain a three-fourths majority vote to pass a tax increase and that this bill did not pass by that large a margin.

NC: State retiree health coverage to end for future North Carolina employees

Under a budget provision that caught critics by surprise, people who go to work for the state of North Carolina beginning January 2021 will no longer qualify for state health insurance when they retire. North Carolina’s state employee health plan has a $42.2 billion unfunded liability.

PA: Pennsylvania marijuana growers are licensed, but still can’t get bank accounts

Twelve Pennsylvania companies now have licenses to grow medical marijuana, but the federal prohibition on marijuana sales is making it difficult to secure bank accounts.

GA: Georgia Supreme Court rules for tax credit scholarships

Georgia’s highest court has determined that a state law allowing taxpayers to steer some of what they owe the state to private schools instead does not violate the state constitution. 

NY: Governor to call special session to extend mayoral control of New York City schools

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo intends to call a special session of the New York Legislature focused on granting New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio another year of control over the city’s schools and their 1.1 million students.

IN: Indiana gas tax hike will add to typically higher prices over Fourth of July

Gas prices typically rise over the Fourth of July. But Hoosiers will notice an extra spike when a 10-cent per gallon increase in Indiana's gas tax takes effect July 1.

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