What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/14

US: Dangerous level of opioid use common among Medicare recipients, report finds

Nearly 70,000 people on Medicare's drug plan received “extreme” amounts of narcotic painkillers in 2016 and more than 22,000 others appeared to be “doctor shopping” for drugs, patterns that put both groups “at serious risk of opioid misuse or overdose,” a government watchdog reported.

US: Are we doing enough to protect farmworkers?

Drowning and other manure accidents killed farmworkers in at least five states during the past three years. That’s just a fraction of the deaths in agriculture, one of the most dangerous industries in the U.S. More than 5,000 agricultural workers in the U.S. died on the job between 2003 and 2011, a death rate seven times higher than average.

NY: Corruption conviction of former New York State Assembly speaker is overturned

A federal appeals court overturned the 2015 corruption conviction of Sheldon Silver, once the powerful speaker of the New York State Assembly, saying the judge’s jury instructions were in error in light of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that has since narrowed the legal definition of corruption.

VA: Virginia Supreme Court upholds state law allowing surveying without permission

Ruling against Virginia residents who own land in the path of a proposed pipeline, the state Supreme Court upheld a state law allowing gas companies to survey private property without the landowner’s permission.

MI: Police seize $15M in Michigan, in some cases without criminal charges

Police agencies reported $15.2 million in cash and property seized over 11 months of 2016, according to a new report from the Michigan State Police. In about 10 percent of the 5,290 cases reported, no one was charged with the violation for which the forfeiture was authorized.

AL: Alabama governor bans lobbyists from executive branch appointments

Republican Gov. Kay Ivey said more than 100 registered lobbyists now serve on boards or commissions in Alabama, creating conflicts of interest and undermining the public's confidence in government.

OH: Heroin, cocaine are cheap, potent and widely available in Ohio

A new state report says marijuana, cocaine and heroin can be easily purchased in all eight regions of Ohio. Prices for heroin range from $10 to $20 for a “balloon,” about one-tenth of an ounce.

WV: Grant program in West Virginia to fund broadband development

The West Virginia Development Office is expanding its Community Development Block Grant program to include broadband access for unserved and underserved areas. The state plans to dedicate $700,000 to broadband development this budget year.

VT: Vermont begins implementing new law on mental health in prison

Under a new Vermont law that takes effect in 2019, if a mental health provider finds that a prisoner is in need of an inpatient level of care, the inmate must receive that level of care within 48 hours.

OR: Oregon program helps migrant students explore career options

A pilot program at an Oregon community college that is open to high school students whose families have moved for work in the last three years is helping the students explore college and career options over the summer.

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