What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 4/19

US: All but a few states now allow drug felons to get food stamps

Most states have ended or scaled back bans on letting felons who have served sentences on drug crimes obtain food stamps. Georgia is expected to end its ban soon, leaving only eight states — Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia — with a lifetime prohibition.

NE: Nebraska governor signs $450 million transportation bill

Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts signed a highway construction program that earmarks $50 million of Nebraska’s cash reserve fund and roughly $400 million in state gasoline tax revenue to pay for highway construction, county bridge repair and transportation-related economic development. It also aims to complete 132 miles of the state’s four-lane expressway system by 2033.

WA: Washington governor signs $211 million supplemental budget

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee signed a supplemental budget that puts more money into Washington’s mental health hospitals, pays for the cost of last summer's devastating wildfires and spares the state auditor's office from a budget cut.

IL: Comptroller says Illinois lawmakers will have to get in a long line to get paid

Illinois Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger plans to delay monthly paychecks for lawmakers and statewide officials, saying there isn't enough money to pay the state's bills and that other services should come first. The state has a $6 billion deficit and no budget in place.

TX: Texans who need batteries can get them tax-free this weekend

Texans can purchase batteries, smoke detectors, hatchets and other storm-preparation items tax-free this weekend during the state’s first Emergency Preparation Supplies Sales Tax Holiday.

KS: Kansas lawmakers lose patience with governor’s tax cuts

Many of Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s allies in slashing Kansas’ income tax in 2011 are in open revolt and refusing to help the governor cut spending so he can avoid rolling back any of the cuts.

FL: In Florida, Corps of Engineers begin assessing risk of rising seas

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is launching an assessment of the risks flooding poses to Miami-Dade County in Florida as part of an effort to analyze 10,000 miles of vulnerable shoreline from North Carolina to Mississippi.

PA: Care for Pennsylvania pregnant women requires long commute

Rising costs and declining birth rates are leading Pennsylvania hospitals to close obstetric units, leading to long commutes for medical care for pregnant women. 

MN: Minnesota opioid deaths multiply by 10 in six years

In 2008, the state saw 10 or fewer reports of heroin overdose deaths — too few for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to count individually. Only six years later, it was more than 100.

KY: Kentucky to pay $250,000 penalty to newspapers over child abuse records

The state will pay a $250,000 penalty to Kentucky’s two largest newspapers along with about $450,000 in legal fees to settle a lawsuit that requires public disclosure of documents about children who die or are severely injured from abuse or neglect.

Food Safety Top State Stories 4/18