Editor’s Picks From Around the Web
NH: New Hampshire to pilot new competency testing of students
New Hampshire will be the first state to try a new approach to measuring student progress — one that relies more on demonstrating competence and less on standardized tests — thanks to an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education. The pilot program allows four school districts to reduce standardized testing in favor of assessments of multi-day tasks built into a student’s day-to-day work.
UT: Utah on verge of restoring firing squads for executions
The Senate has sent to Republican Gov. Gary Herbert a bill to reinstate the firing squad for carrying out Utah’s death penalty if a drug cocktail necessary for lethal injections is not available at least 30 days before a scheduled execution.
TX: Housing bill brings debate on local control in Texas into focus
A bill that would prevent Texas cities from requiring landlords to accept federal housing vouchers is focusing attention on a broader effort by Republican state lawmakers to limit the power of local officials. More than a dozen bills have been filed this session to limit cities’ capacity to do everything from crack down on payday lenders to restrict the use of plastic bags.
CO: Colorado House votes to ban gay conversion therapy
The measure would forbid Colorado mental health therapists from trying to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of a person under 18.
MA: No presidential primary in Massachusetts?
Democratic Secretary of State William Galvin warns that proposed budget cuts to his office will mean Massachusetts won’t be able to have its 2016 presidential primary on March 1 next year.
SD: South Dakota considers raising interstate speed limit to 80 mph
Lawmakers are looking at possibly raising the speed limit on interstate highways in South Dakota to 80 mph from 75 mph, which Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s office said he was willing to explore as part of a highway funding package.
OH: Legalized pot could raise million in taxes for Ohio, group claims
Supporters of a constitutional amendment that would legalize marijuana in Ohio said their plan could generate million in annual tax revenue once the industry has been established.
NY: Assembly Democrats reject Gov. Cuomo’s education proposals
Majority Democrats in New York’s Assembly have rejected Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposals linking an increase in statewide school aid to an array of changes, including making a teacher evaluation system rely more heavily on state tests, raising the number charter schools and allowing failing schools to be taken over by outside groups.
WV: West Virginia among many states to see bills targeting unions
West Virginia’s new Republican legislative majority is among GOP lawmakers in statehouses nationwide working to weaken organized labor with an array of bills.
KY: Bill setting insurance for ride-sharing services in Kentucky advances
A bill that would help set insurance rules for Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing companies similar to what is required of taxis in Kentucky is headed toward final passage in the House.
NC: State fines Duke Energy record million
The state-record million fine North Carolina’s environmental agency penalizes Duke Energy for years of groundwater contamination.
MN: Audit calls for more scrutiny of HMO administrative spending in Minnesota
A legislative audit calls for more oversight on administrative spending by the HMOs hired to manage care for people in public health insurance programs. For decades, Minnesota has hired HMOs to manage care for people with coverage through the state’s Medicaid program, which is called Medical Assistance.
KS: Kansas ranks 32nd in student loan debt burden
Kansas is home to 441,000 student borrowers owing a total of .9 billion in student loan debt, according to data released by the White House. That calculates to an average of ,787 of debt per borrower.
MI: Kill Michigan film incentives? Not so fast, Gov. Snyder says
Just as the Michigan House prepares to vote to end incentives to the film industry, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has stepped in to say he now doesn’t think it’s prudent to end them all at once.
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