What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/3

Top State Stories 4/3

US: Teachers in Oklahoma, Kentucky strike for second day

Many schools remained closed for a second day in Oklahoma and Kentucky as teachers continue to strike for higher pay and education funding in a rebellion that has hit several Republican-led states across the country.

CA: Trump administration steps up war with California over environmental protections

The Trump administration is suing to reverse a state law that seeks to handcuff the federal government from selling any of the 45.8 million acres of property it controls in the state. The Justice Department lawsuit, filed in Sacramento, is the latest federal effort to roll back California's strict environmental protections as the Trump administration seeks to open more land in the West for mining, drilling and other interests.

NY: New York passes $168 billion budget

The final document includes measures intended to protect New York residents from federal tax changes, sweeping sexual harassment legislation, $26.7 billion in education aid, and $12 million for the city of Albany to plug its 2018-19 budget gap. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo noted that the state is facing a $4.4 billion budget deficit and that the recent federal tax overhaul has capped state and local tax deductions.

ME: Maine legislative committee approves pay increase for Maine’s next governor

Maine Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, moved one step closer to a long-sought victory when a legislative committee overwhelmingly approved more than doubling the pay of the next governor from $70,000 a year to $150,000. Maine’s governor’s salary is the lowest in the nation.

GA: Computer snooping ban passes Georgia Legislature

A proposal to ban accessing a computer or network without permission is now in the hands of Georgia Republican Gov. Nathan Deal. Supporters of the bill say it’s needed to prevent identity theft and other online crimes, while cybersecurity researchers said it would criminalize legitimate efforts to find and fix vulnerabilities.

HI: Hawaii early college program expands dramatically

Encouraging Hawaii’s public school students to chart their career and college paths as early as freshman year appears to be bearing fruit, according to a report. The number of graduates completing Career and Technical Education pathways has climbed substantially since 2014, and the number of students who take college courses in high school has more than doubled.

AL: FBI arrests Alabama representative, lobbyist, health care CEO

Longtime Alabama Republican state Rep. Jack Williams, former state GOP Chairman Marty Connors and Trina Healthcare CEO Ford Gilbert were arrested by the FBI. Gilbert is accused of hatching a plot to push a bill through the Alabama Legislature in 2016 that would benefit Gilbert’s company.

AZ: Arizona blocks cities from increasing elections transparency

Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill that protects anonymous political spending, less than a month after Tempe residents voted overwhelmingly to increase transparency on that type of spending in local elections. The battle between city and state opens a new front in the national debate over so-called dark money in politics.

MA: Modest state aid increase leaves many Massachusetts school systems strapped

The effort from Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, to boost local education aid would offer little relief to most school systems across the state that are grappling with escalating budget costs, according to a Boston Globe review of the proposal.

MO: Missouri officials settle prison guard sex harassment case

Missouri officials paid nearly $600,000 in February to settle a sexual harassment case involving a female prison guard, the Missouri attorney general’s office said in a report. The guard alleged that male co-workers used sexually derogatory terms toward her, showed her pictures of male anatomy, and was called a lesbian because she had short hair.

IA: Iowa will see 'hits across the board' as trade war with China escalates

An escalating U.S. trade war with China will hit two key parts of Iowa's economy — farming and manufacturing. China said it will levy tariffs of up to 25 percent on pork, ethanol and dozens of other products that would hammer Iowa's ag economy as it struggles to get out of a lingering downturn.

PA: Most Pennsylvania voting machines are old, hackable and likely to be used in 2020

At a time of national concern over foreign interference in U.S. elections, 57 percent of the voters in Pennsylvania are casting their ballots on machines that don’t provide a paper record of each vote to safeguard against fraud. After Texas, Pennsylvania has the most registered voters using machines with no paper trail, according to Verified Voting, a nonpartisan group promoting trustworthy voting systems.

SC: South Carolina brewery business booming thanks to decade of pro-craft-beer laws

A decade ago, it was still illegal in South Carolina to sell specialty beers with a higher percentage of alcohol than a Budweiser. But a succession of pro-craft-beer laws has created a booming brewery business in this Bible Belt state.

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