What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/19

US: Drug overdoses propel rise in mortality rates of young whites

Drug overdoses are driving up the death rate of young white adults in the U.S. to levels not seen since the end of the AIDS epidemic more than two decades ago — a turn of fortune that stands in sharp contrast to falling death rates for young blacks.

AZ: About 33,000 Arizonans to lose food stamps

Arizona's improving employment rate started a three-month clock that limits food stamp benefits for able-bodied adults without dependents. Social-service agencies are bracing for a wave of confusion and appeals for food when the benefits expire this spring.

KY: Kentucky House votes for bill that would let low-level felonies be expunged

The Kentucky House voted to let people convicted of most Class D felonies — the lowest level of felony, punishable by one to five years in prison — erase their criminal records and get a second chance at jobs, housing and other opportunities sometimes denied felons.

OH: Ohio to propose Medicaid premiums for able-bodied adults

Tens of thousands of low-income Ohioans could lose Medicaid coverage under a state plan to charge premiums and impose penalties on those who miss the payments, advocates for the poor warn.

PA: Upcoming primary means Pennsylvania lawmakers unlikely to act on budget

Pennsylvania’s approaching primary elections likely mean lawmakers won’t take action on unresolved budget issues and other high-profile legislation to avoid making controversial votes before ballots are cast in April.

KS: Kansas’ sales tax on food drives people across the border for groceries, study finds

Kansas’ high sales taxes on groceries have people crossing state lines to shop, particularly residents living in border counties, a new study from Wichita State University's Kansas Public Finance Center finds. The study analyzed shopping trends before lawmakers raised the tax to 6.5 percent last year. Kansas is one of only 14 states that tax food.

DE: With increase in newborn addictions, Delaware changes hospital rules

Following an increase in babies born with drug or alcohol dependencies in Delaware, statewide hospital discharge forms are being changed to ensure that babies go home to safe environments and mothers have support systems in place.

LA: New Louisiana governor’s transition committee issues menu of tax options

The panel appointed by Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards recommended reducing income tax rates while eliminating federal deductions to Louisiana’s state income tax and establishing a flat corporate tax rate. It also suggests increasing the gas tax and extending the sales tax to more services.

MT: Montana governor expands discrimination ban

Citing an expected worker shortage, Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock signed an executive order to protect against discrimination on the basis of “genetic information, gender identity or gender expression” in state contracts, as well as against military veterans and those with pregnancy- or childbirth-related medical conditions.

TX: Is Texas building too many medical schools?

Texas universities are racing to build new medical schools, but without enough slots for postgraduate residents, some worry they're building a pipeline that will funnel new doctors out of state.

NC: Push for North Carolina crowdfunding law persists despite new federal regulations

Even though new federal regulations hold out the promise of opening up crowdfunding to the masses, advocates of this new source of funding for startups and other small businesses say a state crowdfunding law is still needed.

WY: Wyoming officials back various schemes in bid to rescue coal

Coal has few allies these days. But Wyoming is still fighting to save the industry. From a proposal to burn the stuff underground to a contest to find profitable uses for carbon dioxide from power plants, the top coal-producing state has spent tens of millions of dollars to try to save coal — with little to show for the effort.

AR: Arkansas incentive programs yield mixed results

An Arkansas Democrat-Gazette analysis of state incentive programs found that new jobs sometimes cost more to create than they pay in a year and that companies don't always fulfill their job promises or stick around after they take taxpayer funds.

Airbnb Study Food Stamps