What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/23

US: U.S. Supreme Court bolsters rights of learning-disabled students

Helping to clarify the scope of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Supreme Court said public schools must offer special education programs that meet higher standards. Lower courts said even programs with minimal benefits can satisfy the law.

AZ: Arizona lawmakers OK bill to allow refusal of patient's dying instructions

The Arizona Legislature has given final approval to a controversial bill that would protect a health-care provider who refuses for religious or moral reasons to participate in medical care that may lead to a patient's death.

ID: Idaho Senate backs grocery tax repeal

Idaho would remove its 6 percent sales tax from groceries in June 2018, if legislation passed by the Idaho Senate becomes law. Thirty-seven states don’t tax groceries.

LA: Louisiana senators reject closing children's mental health program

Louisiana state senators blocked a plan by Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards to save $2 million by shuttering a Medicaid program that provides mental health services to more than 47,000 children.

CA: California bill would stop toys and household devices from spying on their owners 

To lower the risk of hacking or invasions of privacy, a California proposal would require manufacturers to better secure products sold in the state, and require buyers’ consent before collecting any personal information. 

NM: New Mexico budget officials weigh partial closing of parks, museums

While Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and New Mexico legislative leaders have been locked in a debate over spending and taxes for the coming fiscal year, plummeting state reserves and low operating fund levels have top budget officials studying possible austerity measures for the current budget year. 

KY: Kentucky governor signs charter schools bill into law

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin made Kentucky the 44th state to allow charter schools. The law will provide charters state funding based on student attendance, much like traditional public schools. But charters won’t receive funds for buildings or transportation.

VT: Vermont governor says home detention would save $1.7 million

Republican Gov. Phil Scott says allowing more suspects to be supervised via a GPS monitor while awaiting trial rather than keeping them in prison would reduce the prison population and Vermont’s reliance on out-of-state beds.

TX: Texas Senate passes restrictions on abortion insurance

The Texas Senate gave initial approval to a measure that would require women to pay a separate premium if they want their health plan to cover an elective abortion. Health plans would still be allowed to cover abortions that are deemed medically necessary, but the bill does not make exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

KS: Kansas bill calls for tighter policies on approaching people with guns

A Senate committee is considering a bill that would require Kansas law enforcement agencies to have detailed written policies and procedures that govern how officers ask whether a person is carrying a weapon during a routine traffic stop or other enforcement action.

NV: Amended bill aims to help Nevada craft breweries double production

A Senate committee approved a bill that would allow Nevada microbreweries to produce 30,000 barrels a year, with no more than 10,000 barrels of that total for retail sale on site at a brewery or brew pub.

FL: Florida bill would crack down on rogue condo associations 

A plan to penalize fraud and abuse in Florida condominium associations earned initial approval in House and Senate committees. The bills would impose new criminal penalties for falsifying association documents, committing fraud in association elections and refusing to turn over administrative records.

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