What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/1

CA: More than 500 Californians sought life-ending prescriptions under new law

At least 504 terminally ill Californians have requested a prescription for life-ending drugs since a state law allowing physician-assisted deaths went into effect in June 2016, the first publicly released data on how the practice is playing out in the nation's most populous state.

OH: Ohio sues five drug companies over opioid crisis

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, a Republican, sued five major drug manufacturers, accusing them of misrepresenting the risks of prescription opioid painkillers that have fueled a sky-rocketing drug addiction epidemic.

OK: Oklahoma governor signs $6.8B spending plan

Republican Gov. Mary Fallin signed a $6.8 billion spending bill that slashes the budgets of most Oklahoma agencies by about 5 percent. The Legislature closed an $878 million hole in the budget through budget cuts and revenue raising measures, including a $1.50-per-pack cigarette fee and a new 1.25 percent tax on vehicle purchases.

DC: A driver’s license in DC will soon come with a perk: automatic voter registration

Every District of Columbia resident over the age of 18 who gets a driver’s license would become automatically registered to vote under a spending plan set to be approved by the D.C. Council. The District would join­­ eight states with automatic voter registration.

NH: New Hampshire on verge of legalizing firecrackers in time for July 4th

New Hampshire currently prohibits retail sale of firecrackers, but the Legislature has approved a bill to make them legal and sponsors expect Republican Gov. Chris Sununu to sign it. Five of the six New England states prohibit firecracker sales, with Maine the exception.

SC: Compromise reached on South Carolina budget

A South Carolina legislative panel has approved a compromise on a roughly $8 billion spending plan that begins shoring up the state pension system, spends $55 million to upgrade K-12 schools, and provides $68 million for Hurricane Matthew cleanup costs.

LA: Louisiana voters could choose flat rate, lose tax break

Louisiana voters would be given the opportunity to establish flat income-tax rates for individuals and corporations in exchange for losing a popular tax deduction under bills passed by the Louisiana House. Both bills now go to the state Senate, which has already passed legislation to put the individual income tax measure on the ballot.

CT: Despite incentives to stay, Aetna likely to leave Connecticut

Insurance giant Aetna confirmed that it is negotiating to move its corporate headquarters out of Hartford after more than 150 years in Connecticut's capital city. An Aetna departure would come a year after General Electric shifted its headquarters from Fairfield to Boston.

OR: Oregon House backs bill that could be model for regional bus networks

The Oregon House sent the Senate a bill that would allow the regional agency that operates bus service in Central Oregon to ask voters to fund new service through property taxes. Supporters say the bill is a model for how rapidly growing areas can join together to fund bus networks across city limits and state lines.

WI: Wisconsin lawmakers introduce bill to crack down on lethal opioids

Wisconsin legislators are considering a bill that would crack down on lethal opioids by tightening loopholes drug dealers use to sell fentanyl analogs, substances that have been tweaked to mimic the effects of an original drug.

IA: Iowa Democrats consider absentee-style participation in presidential caucuses

Iowa Democrats could participate in the party’s first-in-the-nation presidential contest without being present on caucus night under a new recommendation offered by a party committee. Under such a system, people who are unable to attend caucuses because of work, family or travel commitments could request a “non-present participation form” in advance to choose their presidential preferences.

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