What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/11

WI: Wisconsin governor signs welfare reform bills

Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed nine pieces of legislation into law, including one that would require parents with children between the ages of 6 and 18 to work or get job training or lose food stamp benefits after three months. Another measure would increase the work or training requirement for all able-bodied food stamp recipients from 20 hours a week to 30 hours. 

IA: Iowa 'sanctuary' city ban signed into law

Iowa cities and counties that intentionally violate federal immigration law will have their state funding revoked under a bill signed into law by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds. The bill passed in response to an Iowa City policy that says the city will not commit local resources to enforcing federal immigration law. 

NY: New York governor proposes legislation to address gender wage gap

Last year Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed two executive orders that prohibited New York state entities from evaluating candidates based on their wage history and required state contractors to disclose data on the gender, race and ethnicity of employees. The proposed legislation would expand the prohibition on wage history questions to private employers. 

NM: Tiny New Mexico town gave wealthy donors access to 50-state gun licenses

A volunteer police program in tiny Lake Arthur, New Mexico, gave members, like a New York hedge fund operator and bodyguards for Kansas-based Koch Industries, a chance to carry weapons legally in all 50 states. The arrangement illustrates how a 2004 federal law has come to be used by some of the nation’s wealthiest people to arm themselves or their private security forces. 

KY: Kentucky governor signs hybrid pension plan for teachers

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican, signed a controversial pension reform bill that stops defined pensions for new teachers, creating a hybrid pension and 401(k) style savings plan. Bevin called it “the first of many steps” to solve a financial crisis in pension financing. 

ME: Maine takes a big step toward retail marijuana sales

A supermajority of the Maine House of Representatives endorsed a regulatory bill for the state’s new recreational marijuana market. It’s the Legislature’s second bid in a year to set up a commercial system for marijuana cultivation and sales. 

NE: Bill allowing self-driving cars in Nebraska moves forward

A bill that would allow autonomous cars to operate in Nebraska was advanced by lawmakers, but it was far from a smooth ride. Proponents said it could make Nebraska a leader in the new technology. 

MS: Mississippi governor closes county-owned bridges

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant ordered Mississippi state workers to close 83 dangerously deteriorated county bridges to traffic, saying counties' failure to do so is threatening safety and federal funding. Bryant is considering a special legislative session to deal with flagging and underfunded infrastructure. 

RI: Rhode Island House panel approves bump stock ban, 'red flag' bill

With the Florida high-school massacre still fresh in the national consciousness, a Rhode Island legislative committee approved a bill to ban bump stocks and remove guns from people “red-flagged” by the police as an “extreme” danger to themselves and others. It goes to the full House this week. The measures faced opposition from gun-rights advocates.

Middle Class Growth Pursuing Desegregation