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States look for better returns from pension plans, eye New York’s proposed overhaul

By Stephen C. Fehr Stateline staff writer Nearly every state has cut public pension benefits for new workers in the last three years, with an emphasis on reducing the money the states will owe to employees when they retire. Now, some state and local governments are turning to the other significant part of pension math: […]

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Home heating help slashed by $1 billion nationwide

By Pamela M. Prah Stateline Staff Writer Just in time for the cold weather and holiday season, states have learned that Congress cut $1.2 billion from a program to provide heating and cooling assistance to low-income families. The large spending bill that Congress approved this month for 2012 contained about $3.5 billion for the Low […]

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Proposal to ban cell phones while driving gets cool reception in some states

By John Gramlich Stateline.org staff writer The National Transportation Safety Board was unanimous when it recommended this week that states ban drivers from talking on cell phones while driving. The states themselves, however, aren’t exactly jumping at the chance to implement the proposal. “You know the NRA saying that if they want my gun they’ll pry […]

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Infographic: How a European recession could hit state economies

By Carla Uriona and Mary Mahling Stateline.org Economists are increasingly concerned that Europe’s debt crisis will result in economic contraction across the continent. Will the fiscal pain impact U.S. states? Some states more than others, concludes a recent report by Wells Fargo Securities. The report looks at exports of goods from the 50 states to Europe […]

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Kenley to Congress: Online retailers need to collect sales taxes

By Lesley Weidenbener The Statehouse File INDIANAPOLIS – A key Indiana official told a Congressional committee Wednesday that online retailers should be required to pay sales taxes on web-based purchases to help state budgets and reduce their advantages over so-called brick-and-mortar stores. Sen. Luke Kenley, a Noblesville Republican who chairs the state Senate Appropriations Committee, […]

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Rokita: Nation’s fiscal overhaul must begin with Medicare

By Timothy Cox The Statehouse File FRANKLIN, Ind. – U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita said Monday that the nation’s mounting debt is “the red menace” and that getting control of the problem must begin with changes to Medicare. “The greatest threat to our national security in fact is not Al Queda. It’s not North Korea. It’s […]

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Mental health funding decreases in many states

Indiana has made small funding cut By John Gramlich Stateline.org staff writer South Carolina has slashed general fund appropriations for mental health programs by 39 percent over the last three years. During the same span, North Dakota increased its appropriations by 48 percent. Indiana mental health funding FY 2009: $249.9 million FY 2012: $245.6 million […]

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Foreclosure probe explained: What state AGs want from big banks

By John Gramlich Stateline.org report When all 50 state attorneys general launched an investigation into the national foreclosure crisis a year ago, it was specifically aimed at “mortgage servicers” — the companies that process homeowners’ mortgage payments, modify loan terms and handle foreclosure paperwork on behalf of lenders. The states accused the servicers of using […]

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Just How Much Can the State Restrict a Peaceful Protest?

As protests supporting Occupy Wall Street have swelled in recent weeks, hundreds of demonstrators have been arrested across the U.S. This weekend, nearly 100 people were arrested in New York and 175 in Chicago. More than 100 protesters were arrested in Boston last week; a few weeks ago, 700 were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge.

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70% of juvenile offenders nationally reoffend in three years

Juvenile incarceration is expensive, harmful to kids and ineffective. That’s the conclusion of a new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which argues that major changes are needed in the juvenile justice system to make it more cost effective and reduce recidivism.

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