What We're Reading: Top State Stories 2/7

WI: Wisconsin lawmakers advance governor's $90 million package to put work requirements on welfare

Republican Gov. Scott Walker and GOP lawmakers say the legislation will shift additional welfare recipients into the Wisconsin workforce at a time when unemployment is at the historic low of 3 percent. Critics say it will be costly to implement and less effective than using the money for programs like training for workers or public transportation to get them to jobs.

CO: Colorado cannabis-focused credit union gets approval from the Federal Reserve

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s decision to conditionally grant a master account to the Fourth Corner Credit Union marks another milestone in the Colorado institution’s nearly four-year effort to provide financial services to an industry that can’t openly bank.

ME: Maine lawmakers must attend more anti-harassment trainings

Maine lawmakers must now attend annual anti-harassment training in person and can no longer simply sign a form to fulfill the requirement. In the past, such training has been offered every other year.

OH: Ohio Supreme Court upholds state abortion restrictions 

One of Ohio’s eight remaining abortion clinics faces closure after the Ohio Supreme Court overturned lower-court rulings and found state officials acted legally in moving to shutter the facility.

CA: California drivers are putting down their cellphones

Faced with a tough year-old cellphone law, more California drivers are putting their devices aside entirely when behind the wheel. A new study by the state Office of Traffic Safety found that fewer than 4 percent of drivers appeared to be picking up and using their cellphones, a notable drop from a year ago when the same analysis found that nearly 8 percent of drivers were on their cellphones.

MA: Massachusetts plastic bag ban inches closer to law

Stores and restaurants in Massachusetts would be barred from giving customers single-use plastic bags under a bill that cleared a legislative committee. The bill would align state law with local policies adopted from Northampton to Nantucket.

CT: Connecticut governor proposes budget allowing tax break for private K-12 tuition

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget proposes an extension of a break created for college-savings accounts that was widened to include the early grades by the federal tax overhaul. Connecticut currently allows parents to avoid paying state income taxes on up to $10,000 each year that they put into a qualifying college savings account.

FL: Florida lawmakers push new voucher programs, tougher union rules

The Florida House is pushing to create new school voucher programs and to more closely regulate local teachers unions, moves lawmakers argue will strengthen education in Florida but critics fear will undermine public schools. The bill also would alter some standardized testing and lower school board salaries in counties where they are now higher than the pay for a beginning teacher.

UT: Utah highway toll bill advances

A bill approved by the Utah Senate would greatly expand the state Department of Transportation’s authority to impose tolls on roads. Currently, UDOT is limited to only tolling new roads, but the amended bill would allow it to toll any state road without legislative approval.

TX: More than half of Texas public school students are in districts that don’t require teacher certification

A 2015 law lets public schools access exemptions from requirements such as teacher certification, school start dates and class sizes — the same exemptions allowed for open enrollment charter schools. Data from the Texas Education Agency found that 604 rural and urban districts with innovation plans have received an exemption from teacher certification so far.

IA: Bill would clarify judges' authority over guns in Iowa's courthouses

Iowa judges could ban guns in their courtrooms and offices under a bill advanced by the Iowa House, but they would not have the authority to block guns from being allowed in other parts of county courthouses.

VA: One thing Virginia lawmakers can agree on: A program to reduce regulatory requirements

Virginia lawmakers are hailing a bipartisan agreement to reduce regulatory requirements by 25 percent in two state departments with the most regulations.

NE: Should Nebraska students be required to take same civics exam as immigrants seeking citizenship?

A bill in the Nebraska Legislature calls for all eighth-grade and 11th-grade students to take the civics examination given to immigrants seeking citizenship in the United States. The test would not be required for graduation, but aggregate results would have to be reported to the state.

Sexual Harassment Settlements Government Shutdown