What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 1/8

VA: Judges add likely Democratic seat to Virginia congressional map

A new map of Virginia political districts could add an additional Democratic seat to the state’s congressional delegation. The map was redrawn by a federal panel after a judge ruled last year that it illegally packed African-American voters into one district.

NJ: New Jersey closer to raising smoking age

Legislation to raise the legal smoking and e-cigarette age from 19 to 21 in New Jersey passed in the state Senate last year. If the full Assembly passes it next week, it would head to Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s desk.

US: States with the most gun deaths, lax laws

The five states with the most gun deaths per 100,000 people are Alaska (19.6), Louisiana (19.2), Alabama (17.8), Mississippi (17.6) and Wyoming (17.5). Three of those — Alaska, Mississippi and Wyoming — are also among the states with the most lax gun laws. The five with the fewest gun deaths per 100,000 are Hawaii (2.7), Massachusetts (3.2), New York (4.4), Connecticut (4.5) and Rhode Island (5.3). Three of those — Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts — are at the top of the list when it comes to strictness of gun laws.

OK: Oklahoma hit with 70 quakes in a week

A swarm of more than 70 small earthquakes has rattled Oklahoma in the past week, raising concerns that the state’s quake problem is getting worse. A state report last year noted a connection between hydraulic fracturing and some earthquake swarms.

MO: Missouri bill defines sex between lobbyists and lawmakers as a gift

Lobbyists who have sex with a Missouri lawmaker or a member of a lawmaker’s staff would have to disclose it on monthly gift disclosure forms under a bill introduced in the House.

AL: Alabama governor sues feds claiming noncompliance with Refugee Act

Republican Gov. Robert Bentley said the state of Alabama is suing the federal government for noncompliance with the Refugee Act of 1980, which requires the federal government to consult with the state government before placing refugees in a state.

SD: South Dakota task force looks to make Medicaid expansion a reality

Leaders in South Dakota are starting to talk about how to expand Medicaid, under a plan proposed by Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard.

AR: Arkansas governor favors separating state King/Lee days

Arkansas has formally celebrated Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's birthday since 1947. In the mid-1980s the state recognized Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, but as part of a compromise the state’s King holiday is on the same day that it commemorates Lee. Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson wants to split the two.

MA: Massachusetts to require record of operating room comings and goings

Surgeons would have to document each time they enter and leave the operating room under a new regulation tentatively approved by the Massachusetts medical board amid heightened scrutiny of doctors who do more than one operation at a time.

CA: Daily fantasy sports bill passes California committee

An Assembly bill would authorize licensed California companies to offer Internet fantasy sports, although it's not clear the Legislature has authority over the issue. 

OH: Backers of Ohio drug-pricing initiative sue to try to get legislative action

Backers of an effort to change Ohio law to require the state to negotiate for lower drug prices have gone to the state's Supreme Court to try to force Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted to send their proposed law to the General Assembly.

HI: Hawaii’s last sugar plantation shuts down

The sugar growing industry shaped Hawaii for over 100 years. Now the state's last plantation is shutting down, saying its business is no longer sustainable.

GA: Lawmakers to weigh ticket tax breaks for any Super Bowl in Atlanta

Georgia lawmakers are set to consider a measure this year that would waive the state sales tax on tickets for the Super Bowl — worth an estimated $10 million to $12 million — and possibly other pricey sporting events.

Stateline Calendar 2016 Return to the Sun Belt