What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/29

KS: Kansas Legislature sends Medicaid expansion to governor

The Senate gave final approval to a bill that would expand Medicaid to about 150,000 Kansans. Republican Gov. Sam Brownback has signaled a likely veto of the bill. Kansas is one of 19 states that have not expanded the federal-state health insurance program for low-income people.

CO: Proposal would send millions to rural Colorado schools, roads and hospitals

To boost areas of Colorado where folks feel left behind by the state’s economic rebound, the bill would dedicate $300 million to road projects in counties with populations of 50,000 or less, direct $400 million to rural and small school districts and send millions more to rural hospitals with large populations of Medicaid patients.

MD: Maryland Senate gives final approval to fracking ban

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has pledged to sign the legislation, which prohibits hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. New York and Vermont have also banned fracking, but Maryland would be the first state with gas reserves to pass a ban through legislative action.

CA: California proposal would change how bail is set 

Under the bill, bail would be set based on a person’s income and criminal defendants wouldn’t have to post money as a condition of release from jail. Some power to assess the risk defendants would pose if allowed out into the community would shift from California judges to pretrial services agencies.

NM: New Mexico governor says furloughs could start next month

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez says her administration is preparing to order state employees to take unpaid days off as soon as next month to help save money as New Mexico faces a budget crisis.

ID: Grocery tax repeal bill heads to Idaho governor's desk

Idaho would join 37 other states that do not tax groceries under a proposal headed to Republican Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s desk. But the fate of the proposal remains unclear: Otter has sternly warned legislative leaders that he is against the bill, but stopped short of promising to veto it.

TX: Supreme Court rules Texas used wrong standards to determine death row inmate’s mental ability

The U.S. Supreme Court threw out the standards Texas used to decide that a convicted murderer was not intellectually disabled and thus eligible for execution, continuing a trend of the justices narrowing how states can make such determinations.

WV: West Virginia House backs change in parental notification of abortion 

West Virginia lawmakers voted to require a psychiatrist or licensed psychologist to determine whether a minor is mature enough to decide whether her parents should be notified that she seeks an abortion. The juvenile or her doctor could also seek a court waiver to keep from notifying parents.

FL: Florida cities, counties fight lawmakers over power of local government

Proposals before the Florida Legislature would limit the power of cities to allow wireless facilities in public rights of way; prevent cities from raising taxes unless they first spend cash reserves; and restrict anti-blight agencies that offer tax incentives to rejuvenate downtowns. Cities also are up in arms over a bill that would block them from specifically regulating vacation rentals of private homes.

LA: Millions misspent on dental claims in Louisiana Medicaid

A new audit says Louisiana's health department and its dental benefits program administrator paid $6.4 million for dental claims that violated the Medicaid program's rules. Examples included payments for exams for people who weren't eligible and for claimants who didn't get prior authorization for services.

OK: As meth surges, overdose deaths reach record in Oklahoma

A record 952 Oklahomans died from drug overdoses in 2016, and for the first time in years, methamphetamine was the single biggest killer, preliminary data show. Meth was involved in 328 of the deaths, climbing steeply from 271 in 2015 and surpassing the total combined deaths involving much-abused opioids hydrocodone and oxycodone.

MT: Montana Senate approves two gun bills, including one to let lawmakers carry in Capitol

The Montana Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill that would allow legislators who have a concealed carry permit to arm themselves while on state property, and another that would let restaurant patrons carry concealed weapons if they have a permit.

GA: Drone bill soars through Georgia Senate

The legislation would regulate the launching and landing of drones in Georgia, and prevent local governments from passing regulations regarding drone activity on top of state law.

U.S. Supreme Court Sides With Small Businesses on Credit Card Fees College Mergers