What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/11

Top State Stories 7/11

VA: Wind project off Virginia Beach will move forward

The project, which will be out of sight for beachgoers, would be just the second offshore wind development in the country. The turbines will be anchored in about 80 feet of water and connect to a transmission line that will run to Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach.

FL: Florida agrees to make prisons more accessible for inmates with disabilities

The changes include making qualified interpreters available for disciplinary hearings and doctor’s appointments, providing functioning canes to inmates with visual disabilities, and removing architectural barriers in prisons for wheelchair users and others with mobility issues.

PA: Unfunded Pennsylvania budget becomes law

Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has said he will let the Legislature’s budget become law, even though there is no accompanying plan to pay for it. He expects lawmakers will issue a revenue package soon.

CO: Colorado’s driver’s license program for immigrants about to get worse

Colorado’s driver’s license program for people living in the U.S. illegally has been hobbled since its start three years ago, and efforts to fix and better fund the initiative have been caught in partisan gridlock. Now the program will send about 11,000 people who need to renew their licenses back into the jam-packed line.

MN: Minnesota mental health crisis hot line closing

A widely used hot line for Minnesotans suffering from mental health crises will shut down this Friday because of financial difficulties, ending a service that operated for nearly 50 years and helped about 20,000 people annually. The closing of Crisis Connection will leave Minnesota without a single mental health crisis line that covers the entire state.

MT: Montana to start testing rape kits this month

Montana will start testing previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits this month now that the Department of Justice has finished inventorying 1,140 kits from around the state.

OR: Oregon gets break on Real ID

The federal government is giving the Oregon DMV another temporary reprieve after state lawmakers approved a plan to offer TSA-compliant driver's licenses. Residents of states not in compliance can't use their driver's licenses to board commercial flights starting next year.

NC: North Carolina projections show future state revenue shortfalls

State expenses are expected to grow faster than revenue starting in 2019, according to a five-year budget forecast. The projections assume the state offers all services it does now, and factors in projected growth in public schools, community colleges, universities and Medicaid spending. 

WA: Seattle passes Washington state's first income tax

Seattle's City Council has approved an income tax on high earners, the first income tax in Washington state. Legal challenges are expected to the measure, which would apply a 2.25 percent tax on income above $250,000 a year, raising an estimated $140 million annually.

RI: Urban school districts lose under Rhode Island budget impasse

Urban districts like Providence are the biggest losers under the freeze in state school aid, with the capital city facing a loss of $12.5 million over 12 months. School districts are scrambling to trim their budgets following an announcement that $45 million in education aid to cities and towns is on hold because of a budget standoff between the leaders of the Rhode Island House and Senate.

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