What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/13

Top State Stories 7/13

AK: Alaska draws federal funding to shore up individual health insurance market

Alaska will receive more than $300 million in new federal funding over the next five years to shore up the state's individual health insurance market. Alaska is the first state to receive an "innovation waiver" under the Affordable Care Act, meant to help states try new strategies aimed at offering high-quality and affordable health insurance.

WV: West Virginia starts fiscal 2018 with $11M budget gap

West Virginia began fiscal 2018 with a shortfall of roughly $11 million in its $4.26 billion budget, after lawmakers voted to deplete the state's Rainy Day Fund and draw from public agencies to narrow the funding gap.

CA: California puts money behind diabetes prevention campaign

California officials have decided to dedicate $5 million to prevent people at high risk for diabetes from getting the disease, hoping to stem the huge numbers of Californians expected to be diagnosed in the coming years.

CT: Hartford, Conn., bonds downgraded to ‘junk’

Standard & Poor's downgraded Hartford’s debt to junk bond status, less than a week after Connecticut’s capital city hired a law firm with expertise in restructuring municipal finances. The city’s mayor has warned that Hartford could file for bankruptcy protection if it doesn't receive tens of millions of dollars in additional aid from the state and concessions from unions.

FL: Thousands of Florida felons wait decades to regain the right to vote

Florida is one of three states that permanently revokes the civil rights of anyone convicted of a felony, a system that has disenfranchised an estimated 1.5 million people. Even after felons complete their sentences, pay their fines and serve probation, they must wait at least five years to ask the state to restore their rights, and that can take a decade or more.

VA: Virginia closes fiscal year with $132M surplus

Virginia ended its fiscal year with a multi-million dollar surplus, and Republican legislative leaders said they want the money put into savings right away.

OR: Oregon bill could mean life sentences for second-strike sex offenders

Repeat rapists and certain sex offenders could be given a "two strikes and you're out" ticket to life in prison under a bill recently passed by the Oregon Legislature. The measure gives judges latitude to impose lighter sentences based on "substantial and compelling reasons."

MI: Michigan governor signs police body camera law

Legislation signed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder exempts audio and video recordings from body cameras worn by Michigan police officers from public-records requests under certain circumstances, including if the recordings were made in a "private place."

AR: Arkansas fails to stop execution-drug suit

A lawsuit claiming that Arkansas prison officials duped a medical supplier into selling them medication used to execute four convicted killers survived another court challenge.

MT: New Montana education plan calls for more improvement in standardized test scores

The Montana Office of Public Instruction will ask schools to raise test scores significantly, especially for Native American and special education students, in a new education road map that will be submitted to the federal government later this year.

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