What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/13

AZ: Arizona governor offers more teacher pay

Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey proposed a pay package for teachers that he said would raise their pay by 20 percent by 2020. It was a sudden about-face for the governor, who watched for weeks as educators protested and threatened a walkout.

NM: New Mexico police chief resigns over ‘out of hand’ gun program

The police chief of tiny Lake Arthur, New Mexico, resigned over a volunteer reserve program that allowed wealthy donors around the country to get permission to carry a gun in all 50 states. The city’s mayor said the program “got out of hand” in a well-intentioned effort to improve law enforcement in Lake Arthur, population 433. 

PA: For police who want to arrest illegal immigrants, Pennsylvania is a free-for-all

No law enforcement official in Pennsylvania is deputized as a federal immigration officer, unlike in Georgia and Texas where many sheriffs have partnerships with the federal immigration agency. Yet in the year after President Donald Trump took office, police officers in Pennsylvania swept carloads of Hispanic immigrants into ICE's net, according to ProPublica and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

TX: White House looks to Texas for ideas on saving money through prisons overhaul 

After months of lobbying from President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner — an effort that leaned hard on data and experts from Texas — the White House says the president now supports prison changes like those Texas implemented more than a decade ago, which since saved the state more than $3 billion and has resulted in the closure of prisons and a drastic reduction in the crime rate. 

RI: Rhode Island House approves gun control bills

Two gun control bills introduced in the wake of separate mass shootings are aimed at preventing gun violence. One would ban bump stocks and the other would create a "red flag" policy. The bills now move to the Senate.

MI: Michigan House says it’s OK to eavesdrop on your kids

Parents in Michigan may soon be able to surreptitiously snoop on their minor children's phone calls without fear of consequences after a bill passed the House. The bill gives parents an exemption from a law that makes eavesdropping on a child’s phone call a felony.

AK: Alaska fentanyl overdose deaths more than quadrupled in 2017

One hundred people died in Alaska from opioid overdoses in 2017, about the same as the year before. But the numbers show a dramatic shift in Alaska's opioid epidemic: Fatal overdoses from fentanyl or other synthetic opioids more than quadrupled in a year, from eight cases in 2016 to 37 last year, according to the Alaska Division of Public Health.

SC: Anti-Semitism definition and 'sanctuary cities' bill inserted into South Carolina state budget

South Carolina senators used the state's $8 billion budget to give new life to two stalled bills that define anti-Semitism and require the state to certify local governments are enforcing federal immigration laws and not creating so-called sanctuary cities. Inserting the language into the budget gives them a second chance at becoming law.

KY: Collapse of broadband internet project might threaten Kentucky’s ‘entire economy’

Kentucky’s ambitious project to build a high-speed internet network across the state could fall through if the Legislature does not approve funding to settle outstanding claims by contractors, according to a bond-rating service. That could cause a downgrade to the state’s bond rating.

NJ: New Jersey Legislature OKs auto voter registration

Applying for a driver’s license in New Jersey, or renewing one, would automatically register you to vote if Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signs a bill passed by the Legislature. Republicans who voted against said it was costly and increased the likelihood of fraud.

GA: Georgia House speaker held up session’s end for bill pushed by his son

Republican Georgia House Speaker David Ralston delayed the end of this year’s legislative session past a midnight deadline so lawmakers could vote on a bill to allow speeding ticket cameras in school zones. The bill was pushed by Ralston’s son, a lobbyist for an Arizona-based company, American Traffic Solutions.

NH: New Hampshire House approves letting farmers carry loaded rifles in fields

The New Hampshire bill seeks to modify a current law prohibiting the carrying of loaded rifles or shotguns in motor vehicles, snowmobiles or aircraft whether stationary or moving, and aboard boats in motion. The bill passed by the House would limit the prohibition to vehicles in motion and would create an exemption for farmers protecting their crops and livestock.

Some Cities, States Trying to Cut Noise First Responder Training