What We're Reading: Top State Stories 2/22

US: Governors devise bipartisan effort to reduce opioid abuse

Alarmed at an epidemic of drug overdose deaths, the National Governors Association will devise treatment protocols to reduce the use of opioid painkillers. Governors said they are moving forward with the guidelines, which are likely to include numerical limits on prescriptions, because they had not received enough help from doctors or drug companies.

HI: Staff reductions limit Hawaii’s ability to react to Dengue, Zika

Widespread outbreaks of insect-borne diseases could decimate Hawaii’s tourism, debilitate the state’s workforce, and cost millions to combat. But Hawaii has reduced its mosquito-fighting resources, and appears reluctant to marshal the forces that have proven effective in the past.

US: In the age of Common Core, states are still defining ‘proficient’ differently

The vast majority of states have adopted Common Core academic standards, but individual states are still setting different definitions of “proficient” on annual math and reading tests. That means it’s still difficult to directly compare student performance across state lines.

FL: Bill to reform driver’s license penalties moves forward in Florida

A bill that would end the suspension of driver’s licenses for non-driving offenses and reform Florida’s court fee system has moved out of a key Senate committee. 

UT: Utah legislature will audit University of Utah athletics in wake of BYU rivalry suspension

The University of Utah roiled fans across the state — and in the Capitol — when it yanked Brigham Young University from next season's basketball schedule. Now, lawmakers are taking the Utes to task with a sweeping probe of the college's sports department, the first-ever state audit of a single athletic office.

TX: Less than 5 percent of Texas prison inmates are undocumented

About 4.6 percent of Texas prison inmates are undocumented immigrants with standing requests that they be turned over to federal authorities when their sentences are served.

VA: Lawmakers support raise for Virginia teachers, but stop short of Medicaid expansion

Spending plans released by House and Senate finance committees reject Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s attempts to expand Virginia’s Medicaid program, but do direct money toward his education and economic development priorities.

NJ: New Jersey Democrats agree on $15 minimum wage

Democratic legislative leaders have merged their proposals to boost New Jersey's minimum wage to $15 an hour into a single plan they’ll take directly to voters if Republican Gov. Chris Christie vetoes it, as expected.

CA: Bill would make California police misconduct investigations public

Investigations into police shootings and other serious uses of force by law enforcement in California would be made public under a bill proposed in the state Senate.

NE: Nebraska program trains caregivers to offer families a break

The University of Nebraska Medical Center and the state’s Department of Health and Human Services train respite caregivers, who give family caregivers a break from caring for their loved ones with a disability or medical condition. Families may be eligible for up to a $125 a month subsidy for respite caregiving services.

ME: Maine lawmakers look to ease restrictions on lucrative elver fishing

Fishermen are making money on sushi in Maine, the only state with a significant baby eel fishery, and lawmakers are looking to make it possible for them to make more. A legislative committee recently approved a plan to extend the season by a week and allow weekend fishing, as opposed to the current limit of five days a week.

WY: Medicaid expansion axed by Wyoming Legislature

For the fourth year in a row, the Legislature has rejected extending Medicaid coverage to 20,000 low-income Wyomingites.

AR: Arkansas prison farms a growing concern for some critics

Some Arkansas prison inmates drive large equipment, others package thousands of pounds of vegetables and grain, or meticulously pick through 100,000 eggs a day. The inmates, who are not paid for their labor, earn training certifications that translate into job skills that can be used on the outside.

'Social Impact Bonds' Autism Treatment