What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/16

US: CDC tells doctors to avoid prescribing opiates for chronic pain

Moving to combat the nation’s deadly prescription painkiller epidemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged doctors to avoid prescribing powerful opiate painkillers for patients with chronic pain, saying the risks from such drugs far outweigh the benefits for most people.

MO: Ferguson council approves agreement with U.S. Justice Department

The City Council in Ferguson, Missouri, where an where an unarmed black teen died in a confrontation with a police officer, unanimously approved an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to overhaul the city’s police department.

US: In policy reversal, White House bars Atlantic offshore drilling

The Obama administration is reversing course on opening Atlantic waters to a new generation of oil and gas drilling, after a revolt by environmentalists and coastal communities that said the activity threatened marine life, fishing and tourism along the East Coast.

KY: Kentucky’s largest city sees rise in abandoned houses

Louisville had a 23 percent increase in complaints about vacant and abandoned properties last year compared to 2014, as neighbors asked that the properties be boarded up, cleaned or mowed. Crews in the Kentucky city cleaned about 6,300 properties last year.

NJ: New Jersey Legislature says no to ‘upskirting’

Lawmakers in New Jersey have sent Republican Gov. Chris Christie a bill that would make it illegal to photograph or record video underneath another person’s clothing.

MD: Maryland Senate advances bill to encourage private school scholarships

A controversial proposal to give state tax credits to companies that make donations for private school scholarships is gaining momentum in Maryland, drawing support from top Democratic leaders to the consternation of the state teachers’ union.

PA: Pennsylvania charges ex-leaders of Catholic order with aiding sexual predator

Three former leaders of a Franciscan religious order in Pennsylvania were charged with felonies for allowing a friar who was a known sexual predator to repeatedly work with children. The complaint was the first time members of a Roman Catholic religious order have been charged with aiding an abuser.

CA: Thousands of California drivers receive traffic fine, court fees amnesty

More than 58,000 California drivers have had their traffic fines and court fees reduced so far under Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown's amnesty program. 

ME: Bill to keep video recorders away from Maine polls sent to governor

After the Maine Senate’s vote, a bill to establish a minimum distance of 15 feet between video recorders and voters is on its way to the desk of Republican Gov. Paul LePage. Voters last November raised concerns when activists pointed their cameras at them as they signed citizen initiative petitions.

OK: Oklahoma revenue collections fall 18 percent below estimate

State finance officials delivered more bad news about Oklahoma's economy, reporting that collections to the state's main operating fund missed the official estimate last month by 18 percent. Overall collections in February were $225.6 million, down 25 percent from a year ago.

KS: Selling Kansas’ tobacco settlement money gains little traction

The idea of selling Kansas’ share of a 1998 settlement with tobacco companies on the bond market as a way to get an influx of cash into the state treasury isn’t gaining much traction. Banking giant CitiGroup presented the idea to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, but many legislative leaders say they aren’t keen on it. The money is currently used to fund children’s programs.

CT: Connecticut GOP seeks cut in legislators’ salaries

Facing a severe budget shortfall, Republican lawmakers in Connecticut are proposing to cut legislators’ salaries by 10 percent and are calling for furloughs for state workers.

WV: West Virginia’s revenue outlook worsens

New revenue estimates show that West Virginia faces an additional $92.4 million shortfall, making the hole $238.8 million for next year’s budget – one that lawmakers cannot agree on and are leaving town without finishing.

Top State Stories 3/17 Opioid Epidemic