What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/4

US: Series of overdose deaths in Upper Midwest linked to fentanyl

Preliminary tests by federal investigators confirm that the deadly synthetic drug, which is 50 times stronger than heroin, has arrived in the Upper Midwest — often with fatal consequences for users.

FL: Florida plans to hire 4,000 corrections officers

Facing ongoing vacancies and turnover, the Florida Department of Corrections plans to hire more than 4,000 correctional officers statewide over the next 15 months. The agency has about 1,300 vacant positions at any given time.

WA: Washington right-to-die group offers cheaper drugs

After a Canadian drugmaker doubled the price for the most commonly prescribed aid-in-dying drug, death-with-dignity advocates in Washington created a cheaper new medication to help terminally ill patients who choose to end their lives under state law.

MS: Mississippi House sends religious objections bill to the governor

The House gave final approval to a bill that proponents say protects religious freedom by allowing Mississippi businesses to deny service to people on religious grounds, but which opponents say sanctions discrimination against gay people.

NE: Nebraska halts production of widely mocked license plate

The license plate is supposed to show the Nebraska Sower, a statue of a man throwing seeds from atop the state Capitol. But since the design was unveiled last month, some have called it boring. Others have joked that it is sexually suggestive.

NM: New law opens door for young voters in New Mexico

New Mexicans casting ballots for president and other offices in the June 7 primary election may be joined by a batch of newcomers: 17-year-olds who for the first time will be eligible to vote in a primary.

SD: South Dakota approves lower tuition for Iowa students

The South Dakota Board of Regents voted to extend in-state, undergraduate tuition to new Iowa freshmen and transfer students at four of the state’s six public universities. Students from Iowa comprise a large share of the student bodies at South Dakota schools.

WV: West Virginia governor signs voter ID bill, vetoes 19 other bills

Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed a bill that requires voters to show identification when they go to the polls. But he vetoed several gun bills, including one that would have allowed people to carry firearms in state parks.

VT: Vermont legislative committee crafts ethics bill that won’t apply to lawmakers

The Senate’s Government Operations Committee is about done with its work on a bill to create a new state ethics commission, but there are challenges. Among them: The commission wouldn’t have any authority over the ethics of Vermont lawmakers.

IA: Iowa judge says inmates facing added time have right to counsel

Iowa inmates have a right to a lawyer when they fight decisions by the Department of Corrections to add time to their sentences, a state judge has ruled. The department said it will appeal the decision, which could have major implications for the prison system and the state-funded public defender system.

VA: New plan brings job training to Virginia high schools

Starting in 2018, Virginia high school students will have the option to train in certain industries during their junior and senior years.

MO: Missouri highway department's mascot found in a ditch

The search for Barrel Bob — the Missouri Department of Transportation's mascot and safety pitchman — is over. Nearly two weeks after it was stolen from a federal highway in Jefferson City, the 10-foot-tall sculpture made from recycled orange and white construction barrels turned up in a Boone County ditch.

Libraries and Homelessness Fentanyl Deaths