What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/27

Top State Stories 11/27

TX: Without recovery funds, more than 50 Texas day cares close after Harvey 

Across Hurricane Harvey-affected counties in Texas, 52 child care centers have permanently closed and an additional 65 are voluntarily suspended and expected to reopen within three months, as of Nov. 10, according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Those facilities had the capacity to serve almost 5,000 children. 

VA: Virginia parole board changes 3-strikes stance after investigation, could free more than 200 inmates 

The state parole board is changing how it interprets Virginia’s three-strikes law in a way that could free hundreds of inmates — many of them nonviolent — who are serving prison terms significantly longer than the typical first-degree murderer. 

ID: Idaho's tax burden among lowest in nation 

The annual Tax Burden Study, which the Idaho State Tax Commission has prepared each year since the 1970s, shows that Idaho’s total state and local tax burden per person ranks 48th among states. Still, Republican Gov. Butch Otter and all three of the leading GOP candidates to succeed him in next year’s election are calling for tax cuts. 

IN: More guns at Indiana Statehouse lead to safety concerns among some lawmakers 

As Indiana legislators prepare to return to the Statehouse in January for the upcoming legislative session, leadership is prepping for the potential influx of more handguns. Lawmakers approved a bill this spring that allows House and Senate staff, along with workers at the Legislative Services Agency and the Indiana Lobby Registration Commission, to bring firearms into the Statehouse, if they have a permit. 

NV: ‘Campus’ for homeless people planned in Nevada city 

A planned courtyard for homeless residents in Las Vegas, modeled on San Antonio's Haven for Hope Campus, will provide temporary shelter and access to social service providers. The Nevada city ranks in the top 10 nationally for unsheltered homeless people. 

PA: Protective orders on the rise in Pennsylvania 

Pennsylvanians are increasingly turning to two new legal mechanisms: protection-from-intimidation orders, designed to help children who are being harassed or stalked by nonfamily members, and sexual-violence protection orders, for victims of sexual violence whose attackers are not family members or dating partners but strangers, friends or acquaintances. 

RI: Rhode Island struggles with lack of foster homes 

Rhode Island needs more foster parents. It’s the only way, child welfare professionals say, to get children out of group homes and into a more nurturing environment where, hopefully, they can thrive. The state recently determined that nearly half of the roughly 200 children in state group homes are mentally and emotionally healthy enough to live with foster families — if only there were enough foster parents to go around.

OK: Private Oklahoma sheriffs’ group made millions in role collecting fines

A private organization once mired in scandal has become rich, thanks to a 2010 law giving it an administrative role in the collection of overdue fines, court costs and fees in criminal cases. The Oklahoma Sheriffs' Association has made more than $4 million off its role in the program even though it has never collected a dollar itself, an investigation by The Oklahoman found.

WI: Wisconsin no longer leads in conservation

Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker and fellow Republicans, since voters gave them control in 2010, have engineered the biggest shift in natural resource management in decades by easing regulations and promoting business-friendly policies.

CO: Colorado prosecutors blame sentencing reforms for rise in felony convictions

Felony criminal filings across Colorado increased by nearly 50 percent in the past five years, prompting prosecutors to worry that recent criminal justice reforms are letting dangerous individuals roam the streets.

WY: Wyoming lottery expenses come under scrutiny

From its inception, the Wyoming Lottery has spent big on marketing despite generating little revenue for state government. The spending has attracted the ire of local officials, who might ask lawmakers to require the lottery to turn over more money to the state.

NY: Contractors push back against New York’s diversity hiring goals

Three years ago, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New York would become the first state to direct 30 percent of public contracts to women- and minority-owned businesses. But critics say significant problems have emerged for state agencies and contractors.

CA: New report weighs health risks as California prepares for legal pot

Just weeks before recreational pot becomes legal in California, San Francisco public health officials have published a report on their best guesses for problems that could arise from widespread marijuana use, including abuse of the drug by young people and unforeseen health risks among adults, like the possibility of overdosing or driving under the influence.

HI: Retention of new teachers in Hawaii improves, but shortage persists

The retention rate for new teachers in Hawaii’s public schools improved this year, but the staffing shortage remains severe, with more than 1,000 of 13,000 positions filled by teachers who aren’t fully qualified. Hawaii has long struggled to hold on to its teachers, with the high cost of living and the state’s isolation contributing to the problem.

Violence Against Teachers Cyber Careers