What We're Reading: Top State Stories 8/28
SC: South Carolina governor issues order blocking abortion-related payments
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, has issued an executive order that blocks state agencies from paying state or local money to any physician or medical practice affiliated with an abortion clinic.
CO: Traffic fatalities linked to pot up sharply in Colorado
The trends coincide with the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado that began with adult use in late 2012, followed by sales in 2014. However, Colorado transportation and public safety officials say the rising number of pot-related traffic fatalities cannot be definitively linked to legalized marijuana.
IL: Illinois governor vetoes bill to raise minimum wage to $15 an hour
Advocates for the wage hike had been anticipating a veto by Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican. The bill would have increased the minimum wage to $9 in January and gradually stepped it up to $15 by 2022. Rauner has previously expressed support for a more modest raise.
TN: Tennessee schools hesitate to teach sexual abuse prevention
Many educators in Tennessee are reluctant to teach about sexual abuse under a new law because school leaders are afraid doing so will lead to questions from students that could violate an even older law that prohibits teaching anything but abstinence-based sex education.
KY: Kentucky's pension crisis leaves residents on the hook
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican, has promised to call a special legislative session this fall to tame the state's pension debt — which he estimates at a whopping $15,000 for each of Kentucky's more than 4 million residents.
PA: Pennsylvania senator wants protesters to cover costs if they break the law
Under Pennsylvania state Sen. Scott Martin’s proposal, anyone who commits a felony or misdemeanor during a protest could be on the hook for the entire "reasonable costs" of the public safety response to the event. Martin, a Republican, said he was inspired by emergency responders affected by the Dakota Access pipeline, where the cost of policing protests exceeded $22 million.
NY: New York City delays enforcement of food labeling rules
The decision to postpone enforcement of a rule requiring restaurants, convenience stores and other establishments to post calorie counts for prepared food came in response to an industry lawsuit that was supported by the federal government. New York City officials said they would wait until May, when the Food and Drug Administration is scheduled to put its own calorie labeling rules into effect.
NE: Nebraska's business tax incentives are net loss for state: report
Two key lawmakers strongly backed Nebraska’s business tax incentives despite an analysis showing that the incentives are a net drain on state tax coffers. Looking at raw numbers, Nebraska gave up $295 million in tax revenue last year in credits, refunds and tax withholding incentives.
MN: Minnesota governor's legacy on line at state Supreme Court in funding fight
Minnesota Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton’s constitutionally risky attempt to eliminate funding for the state Legislature comes before the state Supreme Court this week for its final judgment, with the outcome certain to shape the governor’s final year in office and color his legacy.
WI: Wisconsin concealed carry permit applications surge in 2017
The number of Wisconsinites applying for permits to carry concealed firearms is double what it was last year. Though most are renewing their licenses, concealed carry is becoming more popular overall.
GA: Pension, health care, education costs in Georgia eating up new revenue
The boards that run schools, universities and the public health system have, combined, spoken for about $750 million of increased spending for the upcoming year. The money will go to pay for increased enrollment in K-12 schools and universities, and the rising cost of Medicaid, the state-federal health care program for the poor and disabled.
OK: Oklahoma’s new auto sales tax raises $7M since July 1
The Oklahoma Tax Commission has collected more than $7 million from the state's new automobile sales tax since it went into effect in July. Historically, car and truck purchases were exempted from having to pay sales tax, but lawmakers this year rolled back part of the exemption to help raise revenue. However, the tax is being challenged in court.