What We're Reading: Top State Stories 8/17

TX: After months of controversy, Texas bathroom bill dies quietly

With the national debate over North Carolina's bathroom still lingering, opponents of the Texas version of the bill were bolstered by top business executives who worried that Texas could invite the same economic blows the Tar Heel State faced after passing a similar bill, including canceled corporate expansions and sports tournaments.

LA: Louisiana to review 16,000 prison sentences

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and the Louisiana Legislature overhauled the criminal justice system this past spring, aiming to reduce the state’s highest-in-the-world incarceration rate. The 16,000 prison terms being reconsidered, around 45 percent of the 35,500 people the state has locked up now, are for nonviolent offenses only and many will likely remain unchanged.

US: Attorneys general ask Congress to clarify their authority to prosecute child sex traffickers

Attorneys general from all 50 states have asked Congress to amend federal law to ensure local jurisdictions have the authority to investigate and prosecute child sex traffickers who operate online.

VT: Number of Social Security checks sent to Vermont rapidly growing

Nearly a quarter of all Vermonters — 145,000 people — receive a check from the U.S. Social Security Administration. Only West Virginia and Maine have a higher percentage of their population receiving those benefits.

WI: Wisconsin governor's administration scales back fire sprinkler rule in second reversal on issue

Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s administration has determined it cannot enforce a 7-year-old Wisconsin requirement that fire sprinklers be put in new apartment buildings with three to 20 units — a rule that fire officials contend is one of the best ways to save lives.

MI: Michigan LGBT rights fight divides GOP, Democrats

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission lacks the authority to “circumvent” the Legislature and apply existing anti-discrimination protections to gay and transgender residents, according to a group of House and Senate Republicans urging the panel to reject a request for a new interpretation of an old law.

NM: New Mexico coffers are filling up
More money is expected to flow into New Mexico's coffers thanks to positive investment returns stemming from a bullish stock market and recovery in the oil and natural gas sector. That offers hope that the state can avoid more painful cuts as lawmakers gear up this fall to consider their budget options.

KS: Kansas’ privatized Medicaid system rates last in managed care programs

Kansas’ privatized Medicaid system, KanCare, came in last among 36 states’ managed care Medicaid programs in a customer satisfaction survey conducted by the firm J.D. Power. A spokeswoman for state agencies in Kansas said the state would like to see the full survey results and how they were collected, but J.D. Power has not made that information public.

IL: Illinois House rejects school funding plan, will attempt veto override

The Illinois House will attempt to reverse Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of a public school funding bill next week, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan said. School opened in most parts of the state Wednesday. Without a funding plan in place, the first state aid check due Aug. 10 was delayed. 

NE: Nebraska governor: ACLU lawsuit over prison overcrowding could have dangerous consequences

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican, said the ACLU lawsuit could prompt the early release of “dangerous criminals” and limit tools to manage the inmate population.

CT: Connecticut set to begin tax-free week despite budget woes

Even as Connecticut faces a deficit of $3.5 billion over the next two years, the state is poised to give away a projected $4.1 million in unclaimed sales tax during next week's sales tax holiday. Certain items of clothing, footwear and accessories under $100 will be exempt from the state's 6.35 percent sales tax.

CA: Billions in new spending for housing, water, parks could be on 2018 California ballot

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and California lawmakers are considering five proposals that would finance new homes for low-income residents, build parks in neighborhoods without them and restore rivers, streams and creeks, among dozens of other projects. 

NAFTA Talks ‘Doula’ Programs