What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/9

Top State Stories 3/9

US: Republican governors complain about GOP health care plan

Republican governors said a GOP House proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act would force millions of lower-income earners off insurance rolls or stick states with the cost of keeping them covered.

KS: Kansas Senate votes down governor’s proposal to raise taxes on cigarettes, alcohol 

Senators killed Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s attempt to raise cigarette and alcohol taxes to help Kansas overcome roughly $1 billion in projected revenue shortfalls through June 2019.

AR: Arkansas voter ID measure to be on 2018 ballot

The proposed constitutional amendment would require the Arkansas General Assembly to enact a law requiring voters to present valid photo identification before they receive ballots at the polls. Arkansans voting by absentee ballot would have to enclose a copy of their photo identification with their ballot.

MD: Maryland bill would direct state money to Planned Parenthood if Congress cuts funding

A proposal from Democrats in the General Assembly would allocate $2.7 million to help pay for health care services that officials say nearly 25,000 women in Maryland could lose under a proposal introduced in Congress this week.

MT: Montana Senate advances bill banning drones above private property

The measure approved by the Montana Senate would establish a civil penalty if a person flies a drone over private property below 500 feet. It also would change the minimum fine from $500 to $2,500 if a drone flew over a critical infrastructure facility.

NE: Nebraska senators compromise on mandatory minimum sentences

The Nebraska Legislature gave initial approval to a bill that would eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for people convicted of possessing and intending to distribute cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine. The crimes now carry mandatory minimum sentences of three or five years.

UT: Utah lawmakers pass $1.2 million bill mandating testing of all rape kits

The bill, which includes half the funding originally sought, gives Utah's law enforcement agencies 30 days to submit rape kits to the state crime lab after collection, with testing required by a to-be-determined deadline.

WV: West Virginia House passes bill that would impose tougher penalties for drug trafficking 

House members voted to increase the minimum prison time and double the maximum for those convicted of bringing heroin and other major narcotics into West Virginia, regardless of the amount. They carved out an exception for trafficking in marijuana, which would carry a lesser penalty.

KY: GOP lawmakers seek to rein in Kentucky’s Democratic attorney general

GOP lawmakers are seeking to strip Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear of some of his powers after he sued Republican Gov. Matt Bevin three times. Their proposal would give the governor the exclusive authority to represent Kentucky in many major lawsuits.

AL: Alabama moves a step closer to ending judicial override on death penalty

The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would prohibit judges from imposing a death sentence when a jury has recommended life imprisonment. Alabama is the only state that allows a judge to override a jury's sentence recommendation in capital murder cases.

NV: Transgender name change bill gets unanimous OK in Nevada Senate

The bill allows transgender people to change their names in Nevada without publishing their new and original names in a newspaper.

PA: To battle Pennsylvania’s overdose epidemic, Philadelphia considers safe injection sites

As Philadelphia continues to reel from last year's 910 fatal drug overdoses, local officials, medical professionals and philanthropic organizations in the Pennsylvania city are considering a controversial idea: opening special facilities where heroin users can inject drugs safely.

SD: South Dakota Senate adopts state’s first gift restrictions for public officials

South Dakota senators approved a measure that would restrict gifts that lobbyists and their employers give to public officials, including legislators and their families, with annual gifts limited to $100. 

Vermont Mayor Blames Defeat on His Support of Refugees Absent State Action, Missouri Localities Launch Opioid Prescription Database