What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/30

CO: Colorado lawmakers fund school safety package

Colorado lawmakers have agreed to spend $35 million next year on police officers in schools and security upgrades to school buildings. The revision to the state budget came after thousands of students descended on the Colorado Capitol to protest gun violence twice in two weeks.

AZ: Arizona governor rejects teachers' raise demand

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey said Arizona teachers aren't going to get the 20 percent pay hike they are demanding — not now and not in the foreseeable future. Ducey intends to continue proposing further cuts in state taxes even as teachers say that, without substantially more money, they may have no choice but to strike.

OK: Oklahoma governor signs tax increase, teacher pay hike, into law

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, signed into law the largest teacher pay raise in the state's history and a massive package of tax hikes to pay for it. The bills will give public school teachers raises of between 15 and 18 percent and increase taxes on cigarettes, motor fuel, lodging and oil and gas production that would raise an estimated $450 million.

CA: Californians to take their coffee with a cancer warning

California Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle said that Starbucks and other companies failed to show that benefits from drinking coffee outweighed any risks. A nonprofit sued Starbucks and 90 other companies under a state law that requires warnings on a wide range of chemicals that can cause cancer. One is acrylamide, a carcinogen in coffee.

IA: Iowa governor signs mental health, suicide prevention bills

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, signed bills that make sweeping changes in the state’s mental health system and will require suicide prevention training for school employees. One of the bills adds six regional “access centers,” calls for “assertive community treatment” teams and makes changes to mental health commitment rules.

IN: Why more women are fighting for 'seat at the table' in Indiana legislative primaries

Seventy-five women are running for a seat in Indiana's Legislature in the May 8 primary election — double the number that ran four years ago. Nationally, record numbers of women are poised to file for Congress and run for governor this year.

KY: Kentucky lawmakers pass pension overhaul despite protests

Republican Kentucky lawmakers passed changes to pensions that preserve benefits for most workers and do little in the short-term to address the state’s massive debt. They did this in response to one of the worst-funded public retirement systems in the country and in defiance of a powerful teacher’s union that vowed political retribution.

WA: Washington state bans conversion therapy

A measure banning licensed therapists from trying to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity was signed into law by Democratic Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. The new law, which takes effect in June, will deem it “unprofessional conduct” for a licensed health care provider to perform conversion therapy on a patient under the age of 18.

ID: Idaho's supply of high school sports referees dwindles

In the last five years, Idaho's supply of referees for high school games has dropped by 170, causing some games to be postponed or played without enough referees. Some blame abusive behavior by parents and fans.

HI: Doctor-assisted suicide close to becoming law in Hawaii

Hawaii lawmakers passed legislation that would make it the sixth state to legalize medically-assisted suicide. Hawaii Gov. David Ige, a Democrat, has said he will sign the bill. The legislation includes safeguards intended to prevent abuse, but opponents said it puts the poor, elderly, sick and disabled at risk.

DC: Class-action lawsuit says D.C. is destroying belongings of homeless

A group of homeless people — with the help of a high-powered team of attorneys — has filed a class-action lawsuit against the District of Columbia, alleging that city workers are improperly throwing out their belongings during sweeps of street encampments.

KS: Kansas indictments highlight lax state rules on water parks

As water parks prepare to open across the country for the summer season, the Kansas indictments highlight the patchwork of state regulations that cover amusement parks. The federal Consumer Products Safety Commission says it knows of 12 deaths at water parks and another 22 at other amusement parks since 2010.

‘Highway Cap Parks’ Foxconn and the Great Lakes
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