What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 2/9

PA: Pennsylvania’s budget gridlock reaches historic levels

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is sending lawmakers a new budget proposal seven months into a standoff on taxes and spending. The Pennsylvania governor seeks to sell the Legislature on a $1 billion tax increase to end the stalemate.

ME: Maine governor delivers written State of the State; Calls legislators ‘socialists’

Republican Gov. Paul LePage took the unusual step of issuing a written State of the State address in Maine, using it to rail against “socialist” lawmakers and accuse them of blocking his proposed agenda to lower taxes, reform welfare and address the state’s drug crisis.

KS: Kansas governor signs bill to fund state’s courts

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback ensured that Kansas courts will remain funded, which had been in doubt during a standoff between the state’s Legislature and Supreme Court.

KY: Kentucky House votes to increase donation limits to state campaigns

Citing the rising costs of campaigns and ‘dark money’ flowing in from outside the state, the Kentucky House voted to boost the sums that campaign donors and corporations can give to state politicians and their parties.

GA: Georgia bill would support athletes’ right to display religious beliefs

The bill was prompted by an incident last year in which a Georgia high school runner who wore a headband with a Bible verse was disqualified.

WV: West Virginia House votes to let people carry concealed guns without a permit

The House of Delegates approved a bill that would allow adults in West Virginia to carry concealed handguns without having to take a gun safety course and get a permit as required now.

MO: Prescription drug database up for debate in Missouri House

Missouri is the only state without a database aimed at informing doctors and pharmacists when similar prescriptions were recently written or filed. But amid a national opioid epidemic, Missouri lawmakers are considering a proposal for a prescription monitoring program that would bring the state in line with all others.

NE: Nebraska fund would clarify financial onus of rape kit exams

A measure being considered in the Nebraska Legislature would create a state fund to cover the charges that pile up when a victim reports a sexual assault, ensuring survivors won't be billed when they go to the hospital. Advocates say survivors of sexual assaults in the state mistakenly receive statements for costs of medical exams, despite state and federal law prohibiting it.

AZ: Tax cuts have left Arizona short on cash, some economists say

Arizona officials blame lingering effects of the Great Recession for the state's sluggish tax revenues and flat budgets. But some economists say the real culprit is the cumulative effect of two decades of governors and lawmakers chipping away at the state's bottom line.

TX: Narrow marketplace plans in Texas pose problems for autistic children

Most major insurance carriers in Texas have done away with PPO plans and have replaced them with options that provide no coverage for out-of-network care, such as HMOs. The new, narrower networks often mean families are losing access to therapists and providers they have used for their autistic children.

CT: Connecticut tribes haven’t selected site for third casino

The operators of casinos for the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes say they have yet to select a site for Connecticut’s third casino near Hartford that would compete with an $800 million gaming venue now under construction in Springfield, Massachusetts.

HI: Hawaii’s Big Island declares state of emergency over dengue

With 250 dengue cases confirmed over the past four months — the largest outbreak in Hawaii since the 1940s — Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi declared a state of emergency.

Hepatitis C Drugs Tribal Recognition