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The New Jersey Supreme Court has held that the governor and the legislature do not have to fulfill the promise to fund the public pensions after Governor Chris Christie vowed to do so.  The governor argued that funding the pensions would lead to a hug fiscal crisis.  The Supreme Court, with reluctance, agreed stating it would violate the debt limitation clause in the New Jersey constitution.
Louisiana is poised to become the 24th state to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana.  The measure is expected to be signed by the Governor Bobby Jindal.  Despite legalizing its use, there is no law that allows for the release of medical marijuana in the state.
In Alabama, in an area known as the Black Belt, community members and advocates are calling attention to the county’s lack of a proper sewage and drainage system which often leads to flooding.  In instances of heavy storms, many residents find their lawns and yards flooded by raw sewage.  This overrun of raw sewage in addition to creating damage is also leading to an increase in parasites impacting community health.
Nebraska has become the first conservative state in 40 years to ban the death penalty.  In a 30-19 vote, the Senate voted to override the governor’s veto ending the death penalty, which had not been used in Nebraska since 1997.
The governor of Texas has signed a new law that would create a grant program for school districts that augment their pre-Kindergarten programs.  The measure is aimed at school districts that are dedicated to improving resources for students from low-income, non-English-speaking, and military families.
The Washington Post is in the process of compiling a database of officer-involved shootings for 2015.  Thus far, the Post has found that half of all deaths were white individuals.  However, when it came down to unarmed suspects, 2/3 of them were Black or Hispanic.
The Mississippi Department of Corrections will shut down a program that pays counties to use state inmates for services.  Another work program will be available for local government to use inmate labor but local government state the new work program will mean higher costs to them as well as increased burdens.
The Illinois legislature has approved a bill that prevents the automatic transfer of juvenile offenders to adult court.  Fifteen year olds will no longer be transferred to adult court no matter how serious the crime.  Sixteen and Seventeen year olds charged with serious offenses such as murder will be sent to adult court.  The measure now awaits the governor’s signature.
Reports from local law enforcement agencies found that African Americans were being stopped for traffic violations 75% more than white drivers in Missouri.  Law enforcement agencies are working to interpret the data to better inform on policing tactics.
The rise in African refugees entering the United States seeking safety and asylum has increased the Black population and has required states to respond to their needs.  States have been able to do so by partnering with the federal government.  With the federal government now pulling back on funds, states are left to provide services for the population, which can include translators, child care, and medical attention.