What We're Reading: Top State Stories 12/21

US: Investigation into fixing lottery jackpots expands to more states

An investigation into a former security director of the Multi-State Lottery Association, who was convicted of a high-tech scheme to “fix” jackpot numbers for self-gain, is being expanded to dozens of other states, raising concerns about public confidence in the contests, which generate billions of dollars.

NC: North Carolina Supreme Court orders review of death row racial bias cases

The North Carolina Supreme Court ordered new hearings for four former death row inmates who were resentenced to life in prison without parole under a short-lived and unique state law that helped them to prove racial bias affected their cases.

CA: Proposal to control drug prices makes California ballot

Californians will vote in November on a measure that would impose price controls on state drug purchases by tying prices to those paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. 

IL: No more Illinois budget meetings until early January

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner said he does not expect to meet again with legislative leaders on ending the state budget stalemate until early January. Illinois has been operating since July 1 without full spending authority.

WA: Newest national park is most polluted nuclear site

The nation’s most polluted nuclear weapons production site, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, is now its newest national park.

US: Opposition builds to offshore drilling along Atlantic coast

In recent months, at least 93 coastal communities from Delaware to Georgia have joined a revolt against drilling offshore for oil and gas.

TX: More Texans have health insurance, but state lags

The number of Texans with health insurance has increased 20 percent since 2013 under federal health care reform, but Texas’ health insurance gains continue to lag behind the rest of the nation.

WI: Wisconsin move aimed at cutting Medicaid personal care fraud

Nurses working for freestanding agencies to provide care for Wisconsin Medicaid patients will no longer be the ones deciding how much care their patients need starting in February. Health officials will hire a company to independently assess the patients.

IN: Purdue University in Indiana to end benefits for unmarried same-sex partners

Trustees for Purdue University say benefits for same-sex domestic partners of employees will be coming to an end at the state university in Indiana. The reason: Now that same-sex marriage is legal, retaining the benefit discriminates against unmarried couples in long-term, committed relationships.

ND: Despite oil slump, North Dakota governor expects few budget changes

Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple said he expects the final executive budget proposal he submits next year before leaving office to be in line with past budgets, despite the current downturn in revenue and the prospects for potential spending cuts in the upcoming biennium.

AR: Jury still out in Arkansas on whether to jail truants

Despite research indicating that jailing “status offenders” — juveniles who broke laws that only apply to children — does more harm than good, a number of Arkansas judges continue to funnel them into juvenile detention centers, where they can stay for a few days or as long as three months.

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