What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/24

TX: Texas Senate panel OKs limits on abortion insurance coverage

A Texas Senate committee approved a bill to ban standard abortion coverage in private insurance plans, as well as plans offered to state employees and under the Affordable Care Act. Under the measure, women who want insurance to cover the cost of an abortion would have to purchase separate coverage or a supplemental plan if offered by their insurer.

CT: Connecticut state parks are busy, and dirtier, under budget cuts

Connecticut's state parks remain as popular as ever despite cutbacks forced by the state budget crisis, but some visitors say they are seeing the impact in less staff, dirtier trails and beaches, and fewer lifeguard shifts.

SD: South Dakota's regional mental health centers falling short

Thousands of young South Dakotans who qualify for mental health care from state-funded centers are not getting counseling from the network of 11 regional nonprofits set up to serve them.

LA: Louisiana courts prepare to alter sentences of hundreds of juvenile murderers

Under a new Louisiana law, almost all convicted killers under the age of 18 will be sentenced to life with parole. Nearly 300 inmates in Louisiana prisons committed similar murders when they were juveniles, and under the new law district attorneys can request parole hearings for them, too.

HI: Hawaii prepares for North Korea missile threat

Starting in November, Hawaii will begin monthly tests of an “attack warning” siren the state hasn’t heard since the end of the Cold War. Informational brochures, along with TV, radio and internet announcements, will help educate the public about the siren and provide preparedness guidance. 

MA: Key part of Massachusetts opioid law not working

More than a year after a comprehensive law was passed to address the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts, few patients appear to be taking advantage of a key provision designed to help them connect with addiction treatment after an overdose.

NJ: New Jersey raises smoking age to 21

New Jersey is raising the minimum age to buy tobacco to 21, joining California and Hawaii. The new law, which takes effect Nov. 1, includes the sale of all tobacco and electronic tobacco and smoking products.

VA: Virginia to launch local needle exchanges to stem spread of hepatitis C

Hoping to reduce the rate of deadly infections, state officials in Virginia have paved the way for local governments to open needle exchanges that would allow drug users to swap used syringes for sterile needles.

OR: New prosecutions after old rape kits are tested in Oregon

DNA results from recent testing of old sexual assault kits from three Oregon counties has led to indictments in three new cases.

SC: South Carolina to require psychological tests for aspiring law enforcement officers

Starting Jan. 1, becoming a law enforcement officer in South Carolina will require psychological testing under a new requirement aimed at weeding out people not suitable for the job.

Stateline Legislative Review 2017 AIDS in D.C.