What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/19

CT: Connecticut public employee unions approve concessions

State employee unions have overwhelmingly approved a $1.5 billion package of concessions over two years, providing major savings to help close Connecticut’s budget gap and setting the stage for a tight vote by the Legislature.

KY: Kentucky becomes first state to require protective headgear in high school softball

Protective face masks will be mandatory for high school softball pitchers, first basemen and third basemen in Kentucky beginning with the 2018 season.

SD: South Dakota closes budget year with $8M surplus

South Dakota finished the 2017 budget year with roughly $8 million left over, thanks to spending reductions that offset lower-than-expected tax collections, Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard said. It’s the state’s sixth straight year of surplus.

NH: New Hampshire governor signs bill to decriminalize marijuana

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu signed a bill eliminating criminal penalties for possession of three-quarters of an ounce or less of marijuana. Opponents of the New Hampshire law said it would send the wrong message to youth, especially with the state deep in a drug addiction crisis.

VT: Vermont attorney general sides against facial recognition program

Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan has concluded that a facial recognition program used by the state's Department of Motor Vehicles does not fully comply with state law. Donovan said the program should remain suspended until the Legislature provides the DMV with authorization to use it.

ID: Idaho Supreme Court upholds grocery tax veto

The Idaho Supreme Court upheld Republican Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's contentious veto of legislation repealing the state's 6 percent sales tax on groceries. That means Idahoans will continue paying the tax and the state won't be at risk of losing the tax revenue, which helps pay for public schools and transportation projects.

FL: Florida officials say schools can hold recess inside

Florida schools can comply with the state’s new recess mandate for elementary schoolers without taking children outside. The state Department of Education has told school superintendents that there’s nothing in the state law that dictates where recess must take place.

WY: Wyoming's coal sector has stopped bleeding, but most jobs probably aren't coming back

Wyoming mines lost nearly 1,000 workers between 2015 and 2016. About 330 of those jobs have come back, but industry experts don’t expect employment numbers to climb much higher.

CA: California regulators tell employers they must offer commuter benefits

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District says thousands of California employers have not demonstrated that they’re complying with a 2014 rule that requires large employers in the region to offer workers a benefit to encourage commuting methods that reduce gridlock and air pollution.   

AL: You can buy diapers tax free in Alabama this weekend

The Alabama Retail Association is reminding shoppers that diapers — both cloth and disposable — are tax exempt during the state’s upcoming tax-free weekend. It's the first time Alabama has held the back-to-school tax holiday in July, a change that moves it ahead of the early-August start for most school systems.

Helping Cops Cope Gifts From Lobbyists