What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/27

SC: South Carolina’s domestic violence laws include same-sex married couples, court rules

People in married, same-sex relationships are protected under South Carolina’s domestic violence law passed in 2015, the state Supreme Court said in a split ruling.

PA: Pennsylvania Senate considering tax on natural gas drillers to balance the budget

Working to close a $2 billion gap in Pennsylvania’s $32 billion budget, the Republican-controlled Senate began pushing a plan to tax drilling for natural gas and raise or impose new taxes on telephone, electric and gas services. A plan that includes $1.3 billion in borrowing and a yet-to-be-determined method to expand gambling was also being considered.

OH: Ohio executes man after delays over lethal injection drugs

After a lengthy legal dispute over the choice of lethal injection drugs, Ohio put to death a 43-year-old man convicted of raping and killing a 3-year-old child in what was the state's first execution in more than three years.

TX: Bill restricting abortion insurance gets initial nod in Texas Senate

Texas women would have to pay a separate health insurance premium to get coverage for non-emergency abortions under a bill the Texas Senate tentatively approved. The measure does not contain exceptions for instances of fetal abnormalities, rape or incest.

NY: New York eyes ‘textalyzer’ to bust drivers using phones

Police in New York state may soon have a high-tech way of catching texting drivers: a device known as a "textalyzer" that allows an officer to quickly check if a phone has been in use before a crash. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed officials to examine the technology, as well as the questions about privacy and civil liberties its use would raise.

CA: With campaign contributions, California’s growing marijuana industry seeks political influence

The cannabis industry’s open pursuit of political influence through campaign contributions shows how a once-underground business is becoming a part of the establishment in California.

CO: Colorado proposal would force presidential candidates to disclose tax returns 

A citizens group wants to ask voters to require presidential candidates to disclose their income tax returns — or be barred from the Colorado ballot. Similar legislation was introduced in at least 26 other states this year, after Donald Trump became the first major party presidential candidate in more than 40 years not to release his returns.

AZ: Arizona legislators attend conference with help from corporations that lobby them at home

More than a third of the Republicans in the Arizona Legislature gathered in Denver last week to absorb conservative ideas and mingle with lobbyists at a conference where corporate donors picked up much of the tab.

HI: Hawaii begins another sweep of homeless encampments 

Contractors began dismantling several homeless encampments near the H-1 freeway, part of Hawaii’s effort to keep areas near roadways clear of illegal encampments.

NJ: New Jersey law aims to cut food waste

A new law in New Jersey aims to shrink the state’s climate footprint and feed the hungry by drastically reducing the amount of wasted food that ends up in landfills. The law, which mirrors an EPA goal for the entire country set under the Obama administration, requires the state to develop a plan over the next year to cut its food waste in half by 2030.

FL: As president’s fraud commission sought data, some Florida voters cancelled registrations

After news spread last month that President Donald Trump’s fraud commission was requesting voter data from all 50 states, 1,715 voters in Florida took themselves off the registration rolls. Though barely perceptible in a state with 12.9 million registered voters, the cancellations concern some elections officials.

AR: Insurers propose rate increases for Arkansas marketplace

Health insurers have proposed rate increases ranging from nearly 8 to 22 percent starting in 2018 for thousands of Arkansans covered through the marketplace set up under the federal health care law. Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson praised the increases as among the lowest in the country and credited the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion, which uses Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents, for keeping the increases low.

ME: Maine governor takes aim at alleged abuse of woodland tax breaks

Republican Gov. Paul LePage ordered the Maine Forest Service to review properties enrolled in the state’s tree growth tax program to root out potential abuses. LePage and others say the program, which offers property tax breaks to landowners who promise to actively manage their woodlands, is being misused by some woodland owners.

Ballot Initiatives Prisoner Re-Entry