What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/18

TX: Texas House budget proposal includes more money for public schools, social services

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus’ $108.9 billion spending plan for the 2018-19 state budget would boost public school funding by $1.5 billion above the cost of enrollment growth and add $268 million for Child Protective Services and $162 million for mental health services.

MO: Missouri Supreme Court orders Kansas City to put higher minimum wage on the ballot

The Missouri Supreme Court ordered Kansas City to put a petition initiative on the ballot that could boost the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. The high court reversed a trial judge’s ruling that said a state law prohibited the city from adopting a minimum wage different from the state’s base wage, which is $7.70 as of Jan. 1.

MD: Maryland governor promises a smaller budget that cuts ‘almost nothing’

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan outlined a $43.5 billion state budget that would shrink spending and close an estimated $750 million deficit, yet increase funding for key programs such as education and the public safety net. Hogan also proposed legislation requiring Maryland to save more money when it has excess revenue.

WV: New West Virginia governor sworn in, hints at tax increases 

Democrat Jim Justice was sworn in as West Virginia’s 36th governor and tentatively committed to raising taxes to fill an estimated $400 million state budget deficit to keep from draining the state’s rainy day fund.

NM: New Mexico legislation would spare bears that attack people

New Mexico lawmakers may scrap and rewrite regulations that mandate that bears and other wild animals that attack a human be euthanized so the animals can be tested for rabies.

IA: Iowa bill would let women sue doctors who perform their abortions

Iowa lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow a woman who gets an abortion to sue the doctor who performed the procedure if she experiences emotional distress later. If approved, it would be the first law of its kind in the U.S.

MA: Massachusetts governor’s plan would penalize employers that don’t offer insurance

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker wants to bring back a provision of Massachusetts’ landmark 2006 health care law that was later repealed: requiring employers with more than 10 full-time workers to pay a penalty if they fail to offer “adequate” health insurance.

ND: North Dakota lawmakers weigh delay to medical marijuana

Top lawmakers are pushing a bill that would temporarily block the North Dakota Department of Health from issuing and receiving applications for medical marijuana dispensaries and issuing certificates of registration. The suspension would last through July 31 or until the Legislature passes a full medical marijuana regulations bill this session, whichever comes first.

OR: Oregon legislators propose birth control protections in case of ACA repeal

Two Oregon lawmakers have launched a pre-emptive effort to preserve the requirement that health insurance policies provide free birth control and other services to women in case the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

WY: Wyoming House OKs internet sales tax

The Wyoming House gave final approval to a bill that demands the collection of sales taxes on internet purchases made from companies outside of the state.

MS: Pay raises raise ire of Mississippi lawmakers

Amid drastic budget cuts and revenue shortfalls, 74 state agencies gave $12.4 million in raises to 3,396 employees during the first five months of the fiscal year, according to a report requested by Mississippi lawmakers.

RI: Rhode Island governor proposes hike in minimum wage

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo proposed a 90-cent hike in Rhode Island’s $9.60 an hour minimum wage. Raimondo was unable to persuade lawmakers last year to raise the state's minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, but the House speaker and Senate president are on record in support of some increase this year, though they have not specified an amount.

NY: New York lawmakers take aim at New York City’s plastic bag fee 

New York’s Republican-controlled State Senate approved a bill that would kill the 5 cents-a-bag fee that New York City wants to institute to encourage shoppers to bring their own, more environmentally friendly reusable bag to stores.  

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