What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 8/29

MA: Massachusetts presses other states in region to cut emissions

Massachusetts is pressing some reluctant states to require power plants to cut carbon emissions twice as fast as the current guidelines in their regional climate change program, a market-based effort that extends from Maine to Maryland and is considered a national model.

US: More counties likely to see “Obamacare” monopoly

Nearly a third of the nation’s counties will likely be served by only one insurer that participates in an Affordable Care Act marketplace in 2017, a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation finds.

TX: Texas troopers want $1 billion to beef up border security

The Texas Department of Public Safety is asking lawmakers for an additional $320 million on top of the $750 million in the next two-year budget to expand its law enforcement push at the border. The money would help cover hiring another 250 troopers at the border, and new technology and equipment.

TN: Governor opposes decriminalization of marijuana in Tennessee cities

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam said he doesn’t approve of efforts by city council members in Tennessee’s largest cities of Nashville and Memphis to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

IN, KY, NJ, OH: 225 heroin overdoses in 4 states in 1 week

More than 200 people in Indiana, Kentucky, New Jersey and Ohio have been overdose victims of what law enforcement officials are calling a supercharged form of heroin. One person died in Indiana.

UT: Raising Utah’s gas tax was supposed to give cities more money, but some are getting less

When the Utah Legislature raised the state gas tax last year by about a nickel a gallon, cities and counties were promised it would bring in tens of millions of extra dollars. But many say they are being shortchanged because of changes in distribution formulas — and some say it is leading them to raise local property taxes.

IL: Illinois governor vetoes $15 hourly wage for caregivers of disabled

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner rejected bills that would increase wages for workers who care for people with developmental disabilities and expand a child care program for low-income families.

MT: Montana panel recommends mandatory depression screening for kids

A state mortality team seeking ways to fix Montana’s highest-in-the-nation suicide rate is recommending mandatory depression screening of all schoolchildren beginning at age 11 and programs teaching coping skills to kids as young as 6.

MO: New Missouri laws on lobbying, fantasy sports take effect

Under the new laws, state elected and Senate-confirmed appointed officials must wait six months after their term ends before they can become a lobbyist. Fantasy sports companies will have to start paying an annual operating fee of 11.5 percent of net revenue from Missouri participants and verify that participants are at least 18 years old.

GA: Audit expects to force thousands of dependents off Georgia health plan

The state is expecting that an audit will show about 4 percent of Georgians on the State Health Benefit Plan shouldn’t be on the rolls.

AZ: Foster care children aging out of Arizona system need transitional help

Although the state of Arizona and charitable agencies offer help to young people as they age out of foster care, only about a quarter of them take advantage of those services. 

KS: Kansas laws on civil forfeiture too vague, legislative audit says

Law enforcement agencies in Kansas are taking advantage of vague state forfeiture laws and using the proceeds to pay for salaries and possibly other operating expenses — a practice that creates an incentive for more seizures during lean budget years, a legislative audit found.

MN: Governor’s order seeks to make Minnesota more bee-friendly

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton extended a little Minnesota nice to the state’s declining honeybee population by issuing an executive order limiting certain pesticides that harm them, a step advocates said positions the state as a leader in protecting pollinating insects critical to the nation’s food supply.

Tax Holidays HPV Vaccination Rate Rises for Teens, Especially Boys