What We're Reading: Top State Stories 8/22

CA: California finds unforeseen benefits to physician-assisted death law

Since California legalized physician-assisted suicide in 2016, doctors say they have adjusted patients’ medicines or treatments because the patients hadn’t before expressed how much pain they were in. And some patients have decided to go on hospice earlier than they would have otherwise.

PA: Pennsylvania state government running out of options for cash to pay bills

Top officials are warning that Pennsylvania's deficit-strapped government is rapidly approaching a more severe stage in its seven-week-old budget stalemate, one in which Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf may have to start deciding which bills to pay and which to postpone.

NM: New Mexico court to rule on whether state can help private schools
At stake is somewhere between $1.1 million and $1.8 million in annual federal funding that comes to New Mexico through the U.S. Mineral Leasing Act. The state Supreme Court decided in 2015 that distributing the public funds to private schools violated the state constitution.

MI: Michigan Democrats pitch prescription drug price transparency plan

State House and Senate Democrats have called for creating a new “consumer protection” board to discourage prescription drug price spikes and shed light on costs they claim are “out of control” in Michigan.

NJ: New Jersey is front line in a national battle over bail

Less than a year after New Jersey established a sweeping new law that all but eliminated cash bail, the state has found itself facing a challenge familiar to others that have overhauled their bail systems: an energetic legal attack from the bail industry.

NY: New York state expands clemency program

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and other legal advocacy groups are joining New York state’s ongoing effort to identify inmates who may qualify for clemency and help them apply. The groups were part of a similar federal program that the Trump administration recently discontinued, and it’s the first time they have teamed with a state-based clemency program. 

OH: Ohio governor not backing bailout for state’s nuclear plants

Republican Gov. John Kasich said he can’t see supporting a proposed financial rescue that FirstEnergy Corp. maintains is needed to keep alive Ohio’s two aging nuclear plants.

TX: Texas state workers fear fallout from changing math on pensions

The Employees Retirement System of Texas is considering lowering its earnings assumption for the $26 billion trust fund. Labor advocates fear the move would push lawmakers to cut benefits or require current workers to chip in more. 

WA: Proposed Seattle taxes targeting foreign buyers, investment properties take fire

Seattle leaders are debating whether to tax overseas buyers or vacant homes to cool a hot housing market. But the City Attorney’s Office has declared both proposals illegal, and the King County, Washington, assessor says such taxes are unneeded and could stoke anti-Asian sentiments.

UT: Utah governor says letting Obamacare fail would lead to a national crisis

Either the Affordable Care Act needs to be improved — and quickly — or legislators should come up with something stable to replace it with, said Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, a Republican. “I really don’t believe that anybody sees it in the interest of Americans to do nothing,” he said.

Opioids and Veterinarians ‘Ban the Box’