What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/8

KY: Judge strikes part of Kentucky ethics law

A federal judge has struck down part of Kentucky’s legislative ethics code, ruling that state lawmakers can accept gifts from lobbyists and that lobbyists can make campaign contributions to candidates for the state Legislature.

IL: Illinois end-of-year budget deficit to top $6B

Forecasters for the Illinois General Assembly estimated the state’s budget deficit will top $6.2 billion for the fiscal year through June 30, and if the state goes a third full year without a budget agreement, its pile of past-due bills will hit $22.7 billion.

WI: Wisconsin submits plan to become first state to drug screen some Medicaid enrollees

Republican Gov. Scott Walker has asked President Donald Trump’s administration to let Wisconsin become the first state to require drug screening for poor childless adults who seek Medicaid and impose a time limit on coverage unless they work.

MO: Missouri governor calls special session on abortion

Republican Gov. Eric Greitens said he will convene a special session of the Missouri Legislature next week to consider new abortion regulations and counter a local St. Louis law he said made it an "abortion sanctuary city."

FL: Florida lawmakers reach deal on medical marijuana

The Florida Legislature reached a likely deal to implement Florida’s medical marijuana constitutional amendment, adding new licensed growers and establishing a temporary cap on dispensaries.

AR: Arkansas panel votes to take highway funding plan to voters

The Arkansas Highway Commission has decided to seek a ballot measure to increase money for state roads next year after lawmakers refused to send voters a proposal that would have raised $200 million a year. The panel will spend the coming months studying the level of additional funding it wants to seek.

MN: While Minnesota authorities focus on opioid abuse, meth is making a comeback

Last year, Minnesota’s Violent Crime Enforcement Teams seized about 490 pounds of meth, more than twice the amount seized in 2015. And they’re on track to exceed that this year.

LA: Louisiana transportation revamp wins final legislative approval

Despite charges that it will spawn politically driven road and bridge projects, the Louisiana House gave final approval to a bill that would allow the House and Senate transportation committees to add to the list of road and bridge projects authorized by the state Department of Transportation, rather than just subtract from it.

OH: Color photo ID may be required on food-stamps card in Ohio

A legislative panel has signed off on a measure that would require color photos on benefits cards used by needy Ohio residents to buy groceries through the federal food stamp program. Proponents say the changes are needed to cut down on fraud, but opponents say it could lead to a loss of food benefits for need residents.

NY: New York’s free college tuition program begins accepting applications

More than 3,000 people signed up for New York state’s new tuition-free college program the first day the applications were available. Applications will be accepted through July 21, and applicants should know within a week whether they're eligible to receive funding.

MT: Montana to switch how it counts wolves in the state

Montana wildlife officials say the way they count wolves is too expensive and falls far short of an actual population estimate, so they plan to switch to a model that uses information gathered from hunters.

NH: Tighter school requirements roil New Hampshire nurses

Currently, all that’s required to be a school nurse in New Hampshire is a nursing license from the state Board of Nursing. But a new law requires school nurses to also be certified by the Board of Education, just like teachers, which means they need a bachelor’s degree, rather than an associate degree, and have three years of experience in pediatric nursing or related areas.

RI: Bill to require parents to take driver’s education advances in Rhode Island

Senators passed a bill that would require Rhode Island parents to take driver’s education classes ahead of their child getting a license. The classes would be free and available online and at community colleges. The House passed a similar bill last month. 

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