What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 4/20

US: States warned that ending funding for Planned Parenthood may break the law

The Obama administration warned all 50 states that actions to end Medicaid funding of Planned Parenthood may be out of compliance with federal law. Ten states have cut off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood after anti-abortion activists released a video purporting to show that the organization illegally sold fetal tissue for a profit.

ME: Maine moves to end landline phone service

A new law makes Maine the first state to eventually end basic telephone service requirements in communities where there is competition. Thirteen states in the last three years have passed laws to limit demands that telephone companies provide traditional, price-controlled phone service.

UT: Utah governor signs resolution declaring pornography a public health crisis

The resolution, signed by Republican Gov. Gary Herbert, calls for increased “education, prevention, research, and policy change at the community and societal level” to combat pornography in Utah.

CA: Nation’s second-largest city to require six days of paid sick leave

The Los Angeles City Council voted overwhelmingly to require all employers in the city to offer workers at least six days of paid sick leave a year, twice the mandatory minimum under California labor law.

LA: Louisiana governor adds chicken coop to mansion

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards paid for the coop himself. He also had chickens at his private home, and plans to take the coop home with him when he leaves office. The eggs produced probably will be used in the governor's mansion.

RI: Rhode Island taxpayers irked by refund delays; State says it’s to combat fraud

The state is running weeks behind on getting Rhode Islanders their income tax refunds. But state tax officials attribute the delay to a stepped-up effort to keep these refund dollars out of the hands of identity thieves. The state has identified 30,315 potentially fraudulent returns — valued at $31.2 million — so far.

NC, VA: Appeals court rules for transgender teen in Virginia bathroom case

Less than a month after North Carolina lawmakers mandated that transgender people use bathrooms in public schools and government buildings that correspond to the gender on their birth certificates, a federal appeals court has ruled that such restrictions are discriminatory.

NM: New Mexico proposes rate cuts to Medicaid providers

New Mexico hospitals, dentists, doctors, long-term care facilities and behavioral health providers would see their Medicaid reimbursement rates slashed under a recommendation that could save the state up to $114 million in total funds but potentially hurt staffing numbers and the level of care available.

MD, NJ: U.S. Supreme Court rules against Maryland in power plant subsidies

The court said Maryland’s program to subsidize natural gas-fired electricity plant construction to serve the power needs of its residents infringed on the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's authority to regulate interstate wholesale electricity rates. The ruling is likely to resolve a separate case concerning a similar program in New Jersey that also was pending before the court.

MO: Missouri Senate OKs sentencing changes for kids convicted of murder

Missouri senators voted to change the state’s sentencing guidelines to eliminate the mandatory sentence of life in prison for minors convicted of first-degree murder, which was ruled unconstitutional. Instead, a 16- or 17-year-old could be sentenced to a minimum of 50 years without parole, and somebody 15 or younger could face a minimum of 35 years.

TX: As college costs rise, Texas schools open food pantries for students

At least 14 colleges in Texas have opened food pantries in recent years. They range from big public schools like Texas Tech University and the University of North Texas to community colleges like Tarrant County College and Amarillo College. Most were created after administrators or students realized that food insecurity was a growing problem at their schools.

AL: Alabama House approves IRA bill for state employees

House members passed a bill that would enroll new state employees in retirement accounts despite some pushback from legislators who questioned the purpose of the bill.

SC: Want Viagra? Come back tomorrow with a note, lawmaker says

Democratic state Rep. Mia McLeod is proposing that men who want Viagra wait for 24 hours and get a sworn statement from their sexual partners detailing their problems. She says her bill is a tongue-in-cheek response to all the rules South Carolina's male-dominated Legislature places on abortion.

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