What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/6

  • March 06, 2018

MI: Overdose deaths fuel surge in organ donations in Michigan


Organ donations in Michigan and nationwide hit record numbers in 2017, due in part to the availability of life-saving hearts, kidneys, livers and other organs that came from people who overdosed on opioid drugs. Michigan had 320 organ donors in 2017, a 26 percent increase from 2014.

CA: California watchdog OKs record number of settlements for ethics and campaign violations


The California Fair Political Practices Commission said it approved a record 340 settlements of cases involving violations of ethics and political finance rules in 2017. The agency collected more than $1.1 million in fines from elected officials, lobbyists, political donors and others for issues that included failing to properly report contributions.

MD: Three female Maryland lawmakers describe harassment, call for independent investigator


Three female lawmakers told a legislative panel they’ve experienced sexual harassment while in office, and called for an independent investigator to handle harassment complaints in the Maryland Legislature.

AR: Feds OK Arkansas’ request to add Medicaid work rule


President Donald Trump’s administration granted Arkansas’ request to add a work requirement to its Medicaid expansion program but held off deciding whether the state can move about 60,000 people off the program by limiting eligibility to those at or below the poverty level.

MO: House probe of Missouri governor starts this week


A Missouri House panel investigating Gov. Eric Greitens’ extramarital affair and its accompanying legal woes will hold its first hearing this week. Following that, the committee is expected to have closed-door sessions to determine whether Greitens should be impeached. The panel has 40 days to complete its work.

OK: Oklahoma finds nearly 7,000 untested rape kits so far


Ten months after Republican Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed an executive order instructing law enforcement agencies to conduct an audit of their untested rape kits, dozens of agencies have yet to comply. The 275 agencies that had responded reported 6,966 untested kits. The agencies that haven’t reported missed both an initial deadline and an extension set by the governor.

TX: Federal government may fight alongside Texas in water dispute, court rules


The ruling is an apparent victory for Texas in a legal battle that has dragged on for more than five years. New Mexico and Texas are bickering over the distribution of water from the Rio Grande. 

FL: Florida voters will decide whether to limit lawmakers’ ability to raise taxes


Florida voters will vote on a constitutional amendment in November on a measure that would require a two-thirds majority vote in both legislative chambers in order to raise taxes. The proposed amendment narrowly cleared the Senate, with three Democrats joining Republicans in putting the measure on the ballot.

WV: West Virginia constitutional amendment on abortion heads to November ballot


The West Virginia House, with more than the two-thirds majority needed, decided to ask voters whether the following sentence should be added to the state constitution: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion.”

UT: Utah House committee rejects bill that would restrict gun access


The Utah House Judiciary Committee has rejected a bill that would have restricted access to guns for people at risk of shooting themselves or others. The bill was the Legislature’s main effort to reduce gun violence this session in the wake of the recent school shooting in Florida.

GA: Georgia governor signs adoption overhaul


Republican Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law a bill to make it easier for families to adopt children in Georgia. The measure reduces adoption waiting times, legalizes reimbursing birth mothers for their expenses in private adoptions, bans middlemen who profit from arranging adoptions, and simplifies out-of-state adoptions.

LA: Louisiana’s cellphone tax for deaf services will increase


The Louisiana Legislature has voted to raise taxes on cellphone users by a half-cent a month to provide more money for deaf services. The Senate approved the legislation unanimously after the House advanced it last week.

KY: Kentucky’s ‘child bride’ bill to move forward


Hearings are scheduled on a bill that would raise the legal age to marry in Kentucky to 18, although 17-year-olds could get permission to marry from a district judge if there is less than four years difference in age between the couple. Currently, 16- and 17-year-olds can marry with a parent’s permission, and a girl under 16 can marry if she is pregnant and going to wed the father of the baby.