What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/28

AL: Alabama officials abandon Medicaid reform plan

Alabama officials have abandoned a plan to transform the state’s Medicaid program from a fee-for-service model into a managed care system led by local healthcare organizations due to uncertainty about funding and high start-up costs.

CA: California Supreme Court ruling bolsters bullet train foes

U.S. law does not allow state-owned rail projects to completely bypass California's strict environmental regulations, the state Supreme Court said in a decision that ensures further legal complications for the planned $64 billion bullet train between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

FL: Florida’s legal losses up to $19M since 2011

Since Republican Gov. Rick Scott took office in 2011, Florida has paid at least $19 million to cover expenses and fees for lawyers who have sued the state. Many of those lawsuits took aim at policies put in place by Scott and the Republican-controlled Legislature.

AK: Alaska Legislature approves capital budget

Alaska lawmakers have passed a capital budget that drives a knife deeper into two controversial megaprojects and pays for a new effort to study Arctic roads. The budget puts up more than $230 million in state funds to draw down $1.2 billion in matching federal funds.

IL: Illinois pays out Medicaid money, still has billions in outstanding bills

The Illinois comptroller's office said it had paid $740 million to Medicaid managed care organizations — insurers that administer benefits for about 2 million people in Illinois. But the state still owes Medicaid managed care organizations about $3.5 billion.

PA: Pennsylvania Senate approves budget balanced by drilling, utility taxes

The Pennsylvania Senate narrowly approved a plan to balance the state’s nearly $32 billion budget in part by taxing drilling for natural gas and raising or imposing new taxes on consumers’ telephone, electric and gas bills.

MA: Massachusetts governor signs pregnant worker protection bill

The measure signed by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker requires Massachusetts employers to offer "reasonable accommodations" to pregnant workers and makes it illegal to fire or refuse to hire a worker because of her pregnancy.

OH: Multi-state companies major players in Ohio’s budding medical pot trade

The list of companies wanting to break into Ohio’s budding medical marijuana business includes major players on the national and international stage with experience and access to financing that gives them an edge, industry experts and insiders say.

MD: Maryland governor wants to give drivers an extra year for new-car emissions tests

Owners of new cars in Maryland would have an extra year before their vehicles must undergo an initial emissions inspection under a proposed change announced by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. A first checkup would be required after 36 months, rather than the current 24 months.

MI: Michigan judge upholds ruling barring state money for private schools

A state judge has upheld an earlier ruling that puts a stop — for now — to Michigan plans to provide public money to private schools to help them cover the cost of complying with state mandates.

D.C.: Washington, D.C., lawmakers consider baby boxes to prevent infant deaths

City council members in the District of Columbia are considering a bill that would provide all new parents with an online guide to safe infant sleeping as well as a cardboard box of baby supplies that can double as a bassinet. 

WA: New law leaves Washington state drivers wondering if they can still drink coffee on the road

A section of Washington state’s new distracted-driving law treats non-electronic distractions as a secondary offense, meaning an officer can write an extra $99 ticket if you’ve been pulled over for a primary violation, such as speeding or tailgating. Specific distractions aren’t defined, but officials have mentioned eating or drinking, applying mascara, reading a book, or having a dog on your lap. 

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