State and local governments must add billions of dollars in health care liabilities to their balance sheets under new accounting rules aimed at better disclosing what is owed former employees. States alone have $529.8 billion of unfunded liabilities for health care and other benefits besides retirement checks, according to a November report by Standard & Poor’s.
The Senate approved a bill that would make California the first state to extend health coverage to children who are in the country illegally. It would allow up to 240,000 immigrants younger than 19 to enroll in Medi-Cal, the state’s health program for the poor, and an unspecified number of low-income adult immigrants to receive the same services from a separate program.
Mississippi is the latest state to shut down or scale back shifting state prisoners to county jails to perform work for free for local governments because the costs have become too burdensome. The change, scheduled to begin Aug. 1, is expected to affect more than 600 inmates. Other states that have reduced similar programs include North Carolina, Michigan and Florida.
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan announced plans to begin treatment of heroin addicts in eight Maryland county jails and detention centers with a drug that could keep them from using once they are back on the streets. Last year, 578 people died of heroin overdoses in Maryland, a 25 percent increase from 2013 and more than double the number in 2010.
The Kansas House gave final approval to a bill that would allow people who committed felony-level crimes as juveniles to qualify to carry concealed weapons. It also limits the authority of city and county governments to regulate federally licensed gun dealers in their communities.
The bill would provide greater consumer protections, including at least one year of identity-theft protection for any customer who is a victim of a data breach that compromises confidential information.
The bill, now awaiting Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's signature, eliminates the automatic transfer to adult court of 15-year-olds accused of any crime, no matter how serious. For 16- and 17-year-olds, only those charged with murder, aggravated criminal sexual assault and aggravated battery with a firearm would automatically be sent to adult court.
The money would keep plans on track to open a medical school at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and begin classes by fall 2017.
The legislation provided a defense for those prosecuted for possessing small amounts of drugs while seeking medical help for an overdose victim. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said the bill lacked "adequate protections to prevent its misuse by habitual drug abusers and drug dealers."
The measure approved by the Senate’s fiscal committee would eliminate the sales tax on all hunting equipment—including firearms, ammunition, clothing, knives, ATVs and tree stands—for three days in September. The panel did away with similar sales tax holidays for back-to-school purchases in early August and hurricane preparedness supplies next May.
A provision added to Wisconsin's state budget would greatly expand independent charter schools in public school districts across the state. The move, which would drain money from other schools in the districts, is opposed by the state schools superintendent.