What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/17

MD: Judges in Maryland redistricting case decry politically motivated electoral map

A panel of federal judges sided with Republicans challenging Maryland’s electoral map, saying there is convincing evidence that the state’s Democratic leaders intentionally drew voting boundaries to make it easier for their party to pick up another congressional seat.

SD: New South Dakota fund aims to speed up mental health screening for criminal defendants

South Dakota officials are creating a fund to speed up mental health screening for criminal defendants, part of the state’s effort to find solutions to a growing mental health epidemic and improve how mentally ill criminal defendants interact with the criminal justice system.

MN: Solar plus storage can beat natural gas in Minnesota: report

A new report from the University of Minnesota shows that adding energy storage is becoming a cost-effective way to meet electricity demand in the state.

AK: Alaska Legislature passes last-minute oil tax deal

The Alaska Legislature passed a late-night deal to end cash payments to oil companies, but lawmakers have yet to agree on legislation to reduce the state's $2.5 billion deficit, or on Alaska's annual spending plan.

KY: Kentucky governor signs order closing $152M shortfall

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin signed an order to close a $152 million hole in Kentucky’s budget through a mix of spending cuts and raiding various restricted funds devoted to public education, environmental protection and health care.

CA: California school district goes to Philippines to hire teachers

The Sacramento City Unified School District says it has no choice but to look abroad to fill vacancies, as schools around California and the nation face a shortage of employable teachers. 

WV: New West Virginia law changes rules for abandoned, dilapidated properties

Municipalities can now obtain a search warrant to determine the status of a structure and demolish buildings that are serious public safety hazards. Under previous West Virginia law, municipalities had to get written consent from the building’s owner or an order in circuit court.

MT: Budget cuts would alter Montana’s unique Medicaid expansion

Montana may have to run its one-of-a-kind Medicaid expansion program for a third of what an insurance company now charges to administer it, if state revenue falls short enough to trigger budget cuts next month.

ME: More Maine kids not vaccinated

The number of Maine children entering kindergarten without required vaccines increased in 2016-17, alarming public health officials who see a higher chance of infectious disease outbreaks, such as measles, pertussis or chicken pox.

ND: Criminal justice reforms have North Dakota sheriffs worried

A slate of new criminal justice reforms has caused a stir among county sheriffs who worry North Dakota’s reforms will shift costs from the state to counties and put added pressure on local jails.

WI: Bill would repeal minimum pay for Wisconsin road workers

Wisconsin road projects could be designed and built by the same firm and their workers could be paid less, under a Republican proposal aimed at lowering the costs of highway construction. 

NJ: Lawmakers say public was cut out of New Jersey governor’s $300M renovation

Republican Gov. Chris Christie's administration sought to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars to renovate New Jersey's deteriorating statehouse four months before the project was authorized, cutting out the public in a process a bipartisan group of lawmakers describe as "rigged."

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