What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/13

Top State Stories 1/13

MA: Massachusetts governor urges Congress to keep key parts of Affordable Care Act

With the GOP-controlled Congress moving rapidly to dismantle President Obama’s health care law, Gov. Charlie Baker is urging fellow Republicans to maintain several key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including allowing Massachusetts to keep its first-in-the-nation mandate that all residents have health insurance.

NE: Nebraska governor seeks tax cuts, agency mergers amid $900M shortfall

Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts proposed a property tax overhaul, a merging of state agencies and incremental income tax cuts that would begin in 2020. Nebraska faces a projected $267 million shortfall in the current budget and funding gaps for existing programs that total nearly $900 million through June 2019.

PA: Pennsylvania to try new payment structure for rural hospitals

Officials in Pennsylvania are experimenting with a new payment system that would use Medicare and Medicaid funds to pay rural hospitals a set monthly amount rather than reimburse them for specific services provided.

MO: Missouri faces deep budget hole

A new analysis of state finances shows Missouri is on track to spend $456 million more than it receives in the fiscal year beginning July 1. Slower-than-anticipated revenue growth also will leave the state nearly $40 million in the red when the current fiscal year ends on June 30.

GA: Electric car sales are plummeting in Georgia

Georgia has the second most electric vehicles in the nation, largely funded by what was one of the country’s most generous state tax incentives. But lawmakers canceled the credit in 2015 and installed a $200 registration fee instead.

US: Rural Americans more likely to die from the top 5 causes of death

Rural Americans are more likely to die from heart disease, cancer and the three other leading causes of death than their urban counterparts, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CA: California lawmakers introduce bill to promote media literacy 

Bills in the California Assembly and Senate would direct a state curriculum board to develop resources for schools to teach students how to distinguish between real and fake news stories.

LA: Louisiana floods drive surge in insurance policies

The National Flood Insurance Program is on pace to top its 2012 high of roughly 483,000 active policies in Louisiana. A large chunk of the increase came from 20,000 new policies in Ascension, East Baton Rouge and Livingston parishes, the epicenter of the August floods in the state.

IA: By defunding Planned Parenthood, Iowa would lose federal money

Republican Gov. Terry Branstad’s plan to defund Planned Parenthood would cost Iowa millions of federal dollars that had gone to family planning services. His plan would make up the difference by tapping a fund for vulnerable children, adults and families.

KS: Kansas attorney general seeks to increase penalties for crimes against police

Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt asked the Legislature to make penalties more severe for crimes against Kansas law enforcement officers, saying they are crimes against legitimate authority in society not just an individual.

AR: Arkansas House changes add to speaker's power

The Arkansas House passed new rules giving future speakers the authority to make committee assignments. The new rules do away with the old system of letting members, on the basis of seniority, choose their own assignments.

SD: South Dakota lawmakers say mug shots should be open record

A South Dakota legislative panel has approved a bill that would make criminal mug shots subject to the state's open records laws. Under current law, those who share or publish the photos without proper authorization face misdemeanor charges. Forty-eight other states allow access to the photographs under open records laws.

NM: Lawmakers say two pot bills have better shot in New Mexico this year

The sponsors of two measures to legalize marijuana say the issue will get “a full and deep discussion” from New Mexico lawmakers this year because of growing public acceptance and Democratic control of the Legislature.

Stateline Calendar 2017 Social Media in Prison