Oct. 8-14 Here are this week's top state news stories from Stateline.org reporters:
Govs' 527 groups gain greenbacks, influence The Republican and Democratic governors' associations are little known to the public, but they now rank as the two biggest players in garnering millions of dollars in “soft money” contributions from corporations and labor groups to help sway state elections..
Elections will bring five freshmen governors A Navy reserve officer who shipped out to Afghanistan weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks and a millionaire businessman whose family invented the “clamshell” container for McDonald's Big Mac are among the newcomers competing to join the nation's corps of governors on Election Day. At least five freshmen governors will be elected this November in 11 gubernatorial races across the country.
TV shock-show wiz weighs run for Ohio governor CANTON, Ohio – Jerry Springer, onetime mayor of Cincinnati and longtime king of daytime shock TV, is traveling across Ohio to Democratic Party functions these days, bashing Republicans and testing the waters for a possible statewide candidacy in 2006, most likely for governor.
Crime & courts:
Underage drinking laws take aim at parents States are taking a new tack in underage drinking law enforcement, one that targets parents when minors drink. Under social host laws in about 35 states, adults are liable if they serve alcohol to minors who then are involved in a death or injury. Tougher laws in 15 of those states allow police to arrest parents who fail to halt underage drinking on their property, particularly at large house parties.
Taxes & budget:
Congress restores state sales tax deduction Taxpayers in seven states will get a temporary break on their federal income taxes. A giant corporate tax bill that Congress approved over the Columbus Day weekend includes a provision that will allow taxpayers in states without income taxes to deduct sales taxes instead from their federal taxable income in 2004 and 2005.
Medicaid spending to eclipse education For the first time, state spending on Medicaid, the health safety net program serving more than 50 million Americans, is expected to eclipse education spending, according to an annual review of state budgets released Oct. 12. Click on the link below for the report.
Business & economy:
Study ranks business-friendly states South Dakota ranks tops as the most “business-friendly” state in a new report from the Tax Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan Washington, D.C., group. Click on the link below for the report.
Homeland security - Where's the vision? There's little question the Bush administration has shown a lot more gusto for waging war in Iraq than the nitty-gritty of homeland security in America's cities and towns.