What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 11/13
KS: Kansas is one of the most secretive states, investigation finds
Kansas runs one of the most secretive state governments in the nation, and its secrecy permeates nearly every aspect of service, The Kansas City Star found in a months-long investigation. From the governor’s office to state agencies, from police departments to business relationships to health care, on the floors of the House and Senate, a veil has descended over the years and through administrations on both sides of the political aisle.
CA: California promises free community college education, but how will it pay?
Weeks after Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed a bill waiving fees for first-time freshmen at California community colleges, officials in local districts are wondering where the money will come to pay for the tuition breaks. Implementation of the program is still contingent on securing funds – one of the reasons that Brown’s own Department of Finance opposed the legislation.
IA: Iowa ag leaders sound warning on NAFTA withdrawal
U.S. threats to pull out of longstanding trade agreements with Mexico and Canada could drag Iowa's ag industry into another depression, some state farm leaders say.
ID: Counties wary of Idaho advice to use voter checking system
Idaho has participated in Voter Crosscheck, launched by the Kansas Secretary of State, since 2014. That year, Ada County mistakenly started to cancel more than 3,000 voter registrations citing its data on apparent double voters from other states, but found many false positives including a school superintendent, a radio personality and a former U.S. attorney.
SC: Most in South Carolina Legislature don’t get away with bad behavior, numbers show
With two more arrests in the past week, the number of current and former South Carolina lawmakers currently facing criminal charges grew to six.
NC: North Carolina state scientist tapped as Trump adviser. Now he’s on investigative leave.
Two North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality employees who were first and second in command during former Gov. Pat McCrory’s Republican administration have been suspended with pay from the state agency under the new Democratic administration.
SD: South Dakota lawmakers could look to voters for a 70 percent raise
The South Dakota Executive Board is set to consider a resolution that would tie lawmakers' paychecks to the state's median household income. And that would likely mean a 70 percent raise for the state's 105 lawmakers.
WV: West Virginia public school enrollment drops for 5th year straight
West Virginia’s public schools lost about 2,460 students from last school year to this one, dropping the total number to 270,708 and making 2017-18 the fifth straight year of enrollment decreases.
NY: New York governor signs bill allowing medical marijuana treatment for PTSD
A new law signed by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo adds post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of ailments that can be treated with medical marijuana under New York’s tightly regulated program. That list already includes cancer, HIV or AIDS, epilepsy and chronic pain, among other conditions.
AK: Alaska lawmakers approve tougher criminal justice measure
The legislation, which independent Gov. Bill Walker plans to sign, toughens a wide range of criminal sentences and reverses major components of a criminal justice bill Alaska lawmakers approved last year with the goal of reducing the state's reliance on expensive prison beds. The backlash against the original bill was especially strong in Anchorage, where critics blamed it for a spike in crime.
OK: Oklahoma health department used federal HIV/AIDS funds for other purposes
Over a period of several years, the Oklahoma Health Department shifted some federal money into programs it was never intended to fund. Now officials say the department faces a $30 million funding shortfall this year, which could grow if the agency has to repay the federal government.