What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 8/16

US: In U.S. jails, a constitutional clash over air conditioning

Judges from Arizona to Mississippi to Wisconsin have declared over the years that the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution forbids incarceration in decidedly hot or cold temperatures. Still, prison reform activists encounter deep resistance in their quest to cool the nation’s cellblocks in many states, especially in the South.

MA: Drunken driving suspects not entitled to Miranda warning before Breathalyzer, Massachusetts high court says

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled unanimously that the chemical breath test is not a “critical part” of the criminal investigation of a suspected drunken driver and, as such, does not trigger the protections against self-incrimination enshrined in the state and federal constitutions.

OH: Ohio’s medical marijuana market could generate $400 million in sales

If new estimates hold true, Ohio could be one of the largest medical marijuana markets in the country, generating $23 million in sales tax revenue.

MN: One in five patients in Minnesota mental hospitals don’t need to be there, study says

The research performed by the Wilder Foundation found that hospitals could make room for new patients if there were more room available at other facilities like community hospitals or long-term treatment centers. High demand and a shortage of beds for psychiatric services has been a major problem for years in Minnesota.

KS: Schools say test scores show funding in Kansas is inadequate

School districts in Kansas’ ongoing public school finance lawsuit are telling the state Supreme Court that student test scores in reading and math prove the state is failing to fund schools adequately and that they need roughly half a billion dollars a year in additional funding. But attorneys for the state say that funding is at record levels and all schools are meeting state standards.

DE: Attorney general won’t appeal Delaware death penalty ruling

Delaware’s attorney general has decided not to appeal a state Supreme Court ruling that found the state’s death penalty law unconstitutional, leaving the future of the death penalty in Delaware in the hands of the already-divided General Assembly.

TX: Texas Ethics Commission chases “campaign in a box” spending

Political candidates would be required to detail some of what their consultants spend on their behalf under new rules proposed by the Texas Ethics Commission. Commissioners are trying to open “campaign in a box” disclosures, in which candidates report their spending on consultants without detailing the specific campaign services those consultants provide. 

WY: Who owns the wind? We do, Wyoming says, and it’s taxing those who use it

In the four years since Wyoming began taxing power generated by wind turbines, it has collected a little less than $15 million in revenue — not much money in a resource state rocked by the simultaneous decline in the prices of coal, oil and natural gas. Now, as one of the world’s largest wind farms is about to begin construction, some powerful state lawmakers are looking to raise those taxes.

IN: Judge to hear Indiana conservatives’ lawsuit challenging religious freedom law fix

Indiana cities, including Indianapolis and Carmel, are pushing back against a lawsuit challenging local ordinances that protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination.

NC: North Carolina puts “medically fragile” children on waitlist for special Medicaid program

North Carolina stopped adding more children to a Medicaid program that pays for in-home nursing care and other benefits. The program offers care to “medically fragile” children who need feeding tubes, use ventilators or who cannot learn basic activities such as dressing or bathing.

KY: Kentucky social workers to get first significant raises in a decade

Kentucky’s 3,765 state social service workers, whose starting pay is about $32,500, have reported higher caseloads, constant turnover in local social service offices and vacancies throughout the state with workers leaving faster than they can be replaced.

Court Interpreters Taxing Groceries