What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 12/18

MT: Montana signs contract with Blue Cross to administer Medicaid expansion

Montana, the 30th state to expand Medicaid coverage to poor individuals, has signed a contract making Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana the first commercial insurance provider to administer a state's Medicaid expansion program under President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.

CO, OK, NE: Colorado not hurting Oklahoma and Nebraska with pot laws, Obama administration says

Oklahoma and Nebraska shouldn't be allowed to sue Colorado over its marijuana legalization because the state isn't causing a direct injury to its neighbors, the Obama administration told the U.S. Supreme Court. Oklahoma and Nebraska asked for the court’s permission a year ago to sue Colorado over aspects of its marijuana plan, and the court must decide whether to allow one state to sue another.

US: School districts across the nation face terror threats

School districts — including in major cities like Dallas, Houston, Miami and San Francisco — received threats of a large-scale attack Thursday, similar to the threat that closed Los Angeles schools earlier this week.

KY: For-profit health care in Kentucky jails often falls short 

Kentucky’s private-contract model for providing health care in local jails often falls far short of meeting inmates’ critical medical needs and little is being done about it.

NY: New York City’s flu shot mandate for young children is struck down

A state Supreme Court justice ruled that the New York City health department could not require young children to be vaccinated for the flu to attend city-licensed preschools and day care centers.

US: States explore blocking gun sales to terror watch lists

Congress may have declined to ban the sale of guns to people on federal terrorism watch lists, but one state — New Jersey — has, at least theoretically, been stopping such purchases since 2013. And it could serve as a model for a handful of other states, including New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Illinois and California, where lawmakers have been exploring ways to restrict sales without an act of Congress.

IA: Feds to Iowa: Delay Medicaid privatization

Federal administrators want Iowa to wait 60 days before shifting its Medicaid program to private management, a move that Republican Gov. Terry Branstad wants to make Jan. 1. The delay would affect more than 500,000 poor or disabled Iowans who receive health care under the program.

CT: Connecticut to open prison for 18- to 25-year-old males only

In an effort to reduce crime, Connecticut intends to open a new prison that focuses on male criminals between the ages of 18 and 25. Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy's chief criminal justice adviser says the concept is based on research that shows that the brain is not fully developed until the age of 25.

VA: Virginia governor renews call in budget to expand Medicaid coverage

Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced a budget proposal that calls for expanding Medicaid in Virginia, sparking another sharp battle with a Republican-controlled Legislature that has vowed to block his efforts for the third straight year.

TX: Texas foster care system violates children's rights, judge rules

Texas has violated the constitutional rights of foster children by exposing them to an unreasonable risk of harm in a system where children “often age out of care more damaged than when they entered,” a federal judge ruled. The judge ordered Texas to hire more caseworkers and take other steps to improve the system.

MD: Maryland puts daily fantasy sports operations under scrutiny

Maryland officials are reviewing online fantasy-sports operations to determine how the state should regulate the leagues and whether some may be illegal under a 2012 law restricting such activities to noncommercial purposes.

MO: Missouri governor endorses small bump in gas tax

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon said he could support a small increase in Missouri’s gasoline tax. The proposal is seen as a short-term solution to the state’s highway funding crunch and could enable the state to receive its full allotment of federal highway funds.

FL: Florida college presidents want $74 million for campus security

As legislators debate whether to allow guns on Florida campuses, state college presidents say they want $74 million to increase security and protect students from shooters. Only five of Florida’s 28 state college campuses — formerly known as community colleges — have police or armed security. 

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