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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/19

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/19

OR: Teacher pay in Oregon lags behind private sector, study finds

oregonlive.com

A study by a pro-worker group found that Oregon public school teachers are paid so skimpily that, despite their generous health and pension benefits, their overall compensation is 9 percent lower than they would receive in the private sector. Oregon teachers make 22 percent less in salary than a comparable Oregon worker, the study says.

AL: Alabama prisons face contempt hearing on mental health staffing

al.com

A federal judge has ordered the Alabama Department of Corrections to show why it should not be held in contempt of court for failing to meet deadlines for increasing mental health staffing in state prisons.

GA: Judge says Georgia elections at risk but rules against paper ballots

myajc.com

A federal judge found a “concrete risk” that Georgia’s electronic voting system is vulnerable to tampering, but she ruled against a quick switch to paper ballots less than four weeks before early voting begins for November’s election.

VA: New payment program could reduce evictions in Virginia

pilotonline.com

A program that would help tenants get on their feet while catching up on back rent could be debated by Virginia lawmakers next year. Modeled after a similar program in Michigan, it would send eligible court cases to a “diversion” track, allowing tenants at risk of eviction to pay past-due rent over several months as long as they also pay their regular rent each month.

CT: Connecticut cybersecurity chief: Washington has left states on their own

ctmirror.org

The leader of Connecticut’s cybersecurity efforts said that Washington, with a deeply polarized Congress and faction-riven White House, has abrogated its role in defending the nation’s electrical grid, natural gas system and public water supplies against hackers who are growing bolder, more numerous and more sophisticated.

DC: Sports betting would be legal in D.C. under newly introduced legislation 

washingtonpost.com

The nation’s capital could be the next home to legal sports betting. A proposed bill would let residents and visitors place wagers on sports matches, following a Supreme Court decision that cleared the way for localities to legalize the practice.

MT: Montana has nation's largest income growth

kulr8.com

Montana is the top state in the nation for increase in median household income between 2016 and 2017, up 4.7 percent to $53,386. Wages are growing faster than inflation, state officials said.

OH: Ohio report confirms complaints about pharmacy benefit managers

dispatch.com

The Ohio Department of Medicaid released a heavily redacted report analyzing the costly practices of pharmacy middlemen in the $24 billion tax-funded Medicaid program.

WY: Wyoming lawmakers consider corporate taxes once again

trib.com

The Wyoming Legislature’s Revenue Committee plans to revisit the topic of instituting a state corporate income tax, a political non-starter with lawmakers over the past several years. Wyoming and South Dakota are the only states without a corporate tax or a gross receipts tax. 

UT: Utah schools charge excessive dues to participate in extracurriculars, audit finds

sltrib.com

Utah schools are charging students excessive and unreasonable dues to participate in sports and extracurricular clubs, and in many cases, are ignoring fee waivers for low-income students, according to a state audit. In one school, it cost $2,500 to be a member of the cheerleading squad. 

PA: Racial disparities plague Pennsylvania’s life-without-parole system 

philly.com

A report on Pennsylvania's 5,300-strong lifer population said black Pennsylvanians are sentenced to life at a rate 18 times higher than white ones. More than half of lifers were 25 or younger at commitment. And Philadelphia is the nation's leader in life-without-parole sentencing, where 1 in 294 black residents is serving a life sentence.

WI: Wisconsin approved massive water diversion for community without public notification

jsonline.com

Wisconsin officials in 2010 quietly approved a massive new allotment of water from Lake Michigan to fast-growing Pleasant Prairie in Kenosha County without extensive public reviews required in other Great Lakes water diversions in recent years.

NH: New Hampshire governor backs effort to shut down psychiatric unit at state prison

unionleader.com

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu says he supports efforts to close the psychiatric unit at the state prison in Concord and move patients to a more therapeutic setting. New Hampshire is one of a handful of states with no forensic hospital for mentally ill people who become involved in the criminal justice system.

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