Editor’s Picks From Around the Web
OR: Oregon prisons recognized for innovative solitary confinement
The “Blue Room” project offers Oregon’s most incorrigible prisoners in the state’s largest prison a chance to sit alone in a room where they can watch videos of nature scenes. The project was named to Time magazine’s list of “25 Best Inventions of 2014.”
NY: Plan approved for Wi-Fi at New York City’s pay phones
A review committee unanimously approved the plan of Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration to convert aging pay phones to wireless Internet hot spots, clearing the way for the installation of thousands of Wi-Fi sites across New York City over the next decade.
ND: Tougher regulations approved to transport oil in North Dakota
A North Dakota commission has passed new regulations aimed at reducing the volatility of oil transported through the state.
KS: Kansas governor announces 4 percent budget cuts
Republican Gov. Sam Brownback announced a 4 percent cut to state agency budgets and proposed moving $200 million from dedicated funds to help fill a $280 million budget hole for the current fiscal year. The state still faces a $436 million shortfall next year.
OK: Without state funding, Oklahoma public health lab will continue to crumble
The Oklahoma Health Department will request $5.8 million from the legislature in the coming session to help build a new public health lab. Health officials said the old facility has gone from bad to worse and may be very close to losing accreditation.
AK: Alaska’s looming retirement fund problem shifts to new administration
Former Republican Gov. Sean Parnell’s plan for dealing with Alaska’s troubled and underfunded retirement system called for borrowing money to pay this year’s costs and deferring repayment of the debt to future administrators and legislators, according to the Parnell administration budget released by Independent Gov.-elect Bill Walker.
UT: Pay commission: Give governor a 36.5 percent salary bump
Utah Republican Gov. Gary Herbert is due a sizable pay raise — more than $40,000 — and the state’s other elected officials and judges are also due a salary hike, according to a commission that studied salaries for elected officials across the country.
MN: Super Bowl documents suggest what NFL will seek from legislature
As they’re sorting through requests for more funding from programs and agencies next legislative session, state lawmakers are likely to be asked to help out a huge New York City-based nonprofit: the National Football League.
IA: Study shows Iowa tax reform would boost business
Iowa’s complex tax structure makes it a less attractive, less competitive place for investors, according to the report commissioned by the Iowa Chamber Alliance, a pro-business coalition representing Iowa’s 16 largest chambers of commerce and economic development groups.
VA: Governor, state GOP play one-upmanship over caps on gifts
The anything-goes gift culture that once dominated Virginia’s Capitol is giving way to a game of legislative limbo, with state lawmakers and the governor competing to take the value of acceptable handouts ever lower.
NH: High court sides with legislature on higher pension contributions
The New Hampshire Supreme Court has sided with lawmakers who revamped the state retirement system in 2011, requiring public employees to increase their retirement contributions.
CO: Douglas County vouchers argued before Colorado Supreme Court
Lawyers sparred over Douglas County’s contentious, groundbreaking school voucher program before the state’s highest court in oral arguments that veered into broader discussions about the shifting definition of public education and how to pay for it.
LA: Study shows TOPS free Louisiana college tuition goes mostly to white students
Awards from Louisiana’s free college tuition program known as TOPS have gone disproportionately to white students over the last decade, and on average to students from wealthier families.
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