What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/24

UT: Utah adopts toughest drunken driving limit in the US

The legislation signed by Republican Gov. Gary Herbert lowers Utah’s blood alcohol limit for most drivers to 0.05 percent from 0.08 percent.

KS: Kansas Senate to take up Medicaid expansion 

A bill that would expand Medicaid to cover more low-income Kansans is going to the Senate floor for a vote. The House already has passed the bill, which could extend medical coverage to more than 150,000 people.

OH: Ohio Senate approves $7.8 billion transportation budget 

The Senate touted the spending plan as a $7.8 billion investment to fund the construction, maintenance and safety of state’s transportation system. Among the provisions: reducing the registration fee for high-volume, commercial vehicle fleets to encourage development in Ohio's trucking and commercial vehicle industry.

AR: Law ends minors' absolute life terms in Arkansas

Under the law signed by Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, more than 100 people serving life sentences in Arkansas prisons for crimes they committed before their 18th birthdays will be eligible for parole after 20 or 30 years, depending on their level of culpability.

IL: Chicago judge says Illinois lawmakers should be paid first

A Cook County judge ruled that Illinois lawmakers should be paid before anyone else owed money by the state, including nonprofit social service agencies that provide programming for the state's most at-risk residents. The state currently has a backlog of more than $12 billion in unpaid bills.

CO: Colorado crackdown on homegrown pot advances

A Colorado Senate committee voted to set a statewide limit of 12 marijuana plants per residential property, down from the 99 plants allowed under current law. Medical marijuana patients and their caregivers could have up to 24 plants, if they register with the state and with local authorities.

NJ: New Jersey lawmakers vote to block secret whistleblower settlements

The bill backed by the New Jersey Assembly would require the state's attorney general to publish online a list of all state settlements with details about the case, including whether any fees were paid to outside counsel. 

TN: Tennessee House approves bill to block Nashville, Memphis marijuana laws

The legislation would repeal any local law that is inconsistent with penalties in state statutes pertaining to drug control and narcotics. The bill would also prevent local governments in Tennessee from creating their own sanctions.

WI: Wisconsin plan would raise retirement age, alter pensions for new public employees 

A Wisconsin proposal would raise the retirement age from 55 to 60 for most new public workers and change the way pension payments are calculated to ensure the future solvency of the state’s pension system.

MA: Death benefit for public safety workers would double under Massachusetts bill

The one-time payment for police, firefighters, and other Massachusetts public safety workers killed in the line of duty would increase from $150,000 to $300,000 under the legislation sent to Republican Gov. Charlie Baker.

NE: Nebraska legislators won't get free meals from lobbyists during debates this session

Lobbyists have traditionally picked up catering bills for Nebraska lawmakers during late-night debates. But the legislative speaker said his office will coordinate food provided to senators this session, and suggested lawmakers help pay for the meals.


Energy States Weigh Options in Spending Wealth Funds Upgrading 911