What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/12

Top State Stories 6/12

US: Drug crisis is pushing up death rates for almost all groups of Americans

The opioid epidemic that has ravaged life expectancy among economically stressed white Americans is taking a rising toll among blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans, driving up the overall rate of death among Americans in the prime of their lives.

PR: Puerto Rico votes in favor of U.S. statehood amid low turnout

The economically struggling U.S. island territory of Puerto Rico voted overwhelmingly on Sunday in favor of becoming the 51st state, although turnout for the non-binding referendum was low and adding another star to the U.S. flag likely faces an uphill battle in Congress.

FL: Florida governor signs bolstered 'stand your ground' law

Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed amended “stand your ground” legislation, making it easier for defendants in Florida to successfully claim they were protecting themselves when they commit violence.

IL: Illinois governor signs law to change rules for cash bail

Low-level offenders who have been arrested and can't come up with enough money to get out of jail can get a rehearing of their bail amount under a new Illinois law signed by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

RI: It’s been an odd year at the Rhode Island State House

Putting aside the many pieces of legislation bestowing Rhode Island lawmakers’ congratulations or condolences, reinstating corporate charters or allowing dignitaries and others to perform marriage ceremonies, the 2017 General Assembly had enacted only four “public laws” as of June 9.

OH: Ohio lawmakers benefit from business tax cuts they created

When Ohio lawmakers approved generous cuts in, or outright elimination of, state income taxes for many businesses, they didn’t mention that dozens of the legislators who voted on those reductions stood to personally benefit.

KS: Kansas lawmakers approve raises for state workers

Kansas legislators approved pay raises of up to 5 percent for state workers who haven't had any in recent years as lawmakers wrapped up work on budget issues and adjourned their unusually long annual session.

CO: Colorado governor signs civil asset forfeiture bill

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law a controversial bill that changes how state law enforcement agencies seize money and property suspected of being linked to crimes, despite pressure from Colorado sheriffs and police chiefs who say the measure will hurt investigations.

NM: New Mexico pharmacists can prescribe birth control pills

Pharmacists in New Mexico who undergo training will legally be able to prescribe and provide birth control pills to women. The initiative is an attempt to deal with a shortage of primary care doctors, gynecologists and obstetricians in New Mexico, particularly in rural areas, and a large number of unintended pregnancies in the state.

AR: Arkansas execution autopsies don't end debate over drugs

Arkansas' chief medical examiner says nothing in autopsy reports suggest that four inmates put to death in April suffered while they died. But that won't end the debate over whether the state's three-drug execution is cruel.

WI: Wisconsin Senate backs background checks for voucher school teachers

The plan moving quickly through the Wisconsin Legislature would also bar voucher schools from employing teachers who aren't eligible for teaching licenses because of their criminal history and eliminate requirements that voucher schools have to meet to receive state money, including standards for student attendance, grade-level promotion and academic growth.

NV: Nevada governor signs bill to give state workers raises

The bill signed by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval increases the cost-of-living raises for state workers in Nevada from 2 percent to 3 percent per year.

NC: Litter pickup by North Carolina prisoners poised for scrap heap

A common sight for more than 100 years along North Carolina roads — prisoners picking up trash or clearing debris while guards keep close watch — could soon go the way of inmates smashing rocks with sledgehammers into gravel.

AIDS in the South Birth Certificates