What We're Reading: Top State Stories 8/29

Top State Stories 8/29

FL: Florida’s opioid crisis needs another $20M, senator says

The budget chairman of the Florida Senate is calling on Republican Gov. Rick Scott to allocate another $20 million from state reserves toward the opioid crisis. Opioids were the direct cause of death of 2,538 Floridians and contributed to an additional 1,358 deaths in 2015, the last year for which data are available.

WY: Wyoming governor says he regrets not expanding Medicaid

In an interview with reporters, Gov. Matt Mead lamented the $100 million that Wyoming left on the table by choosing not to expand Medicaid. The Republican said state legislators will likely be even less interested in expanding Medicaid in the coming session, given the uncertainty in Washington.

TX: U.S. Supreme Court temporarily blocks ruling against Texas congressional map

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had asked the Supreme Court to block a three-judge panel's unanimous finding that Congressional Districts 27 and 35 violate the U.S. Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act. State leaders have said they have no immediate plans to call lawmakers back to Austin to redraw the congressional map. Instead they looked to the high court to protect Texas from needing a new map ahead of the 2018 elections.

CT:  Abused dogs and cats now have a (human) voice in Connecticut courts

A rising movement in the criminal justice system has placed an emphasis on giving more of a voice to and adding support for crime victims. The Connecticut law that includes animals, the nation’s first, is being watched closely by lawmakers, legal scholars and animal activists, some of them with an eye toward adopting similar measures in other states.

DC: Widespread problems in Washington, D.C., food stamp program alleged in new lawsuit

Low-income Washington, D.C., residents are not getting the help they need to buy groceries because of widespread problems with the district’s food stamp program that serves needy families, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court. The court filing details delays in processing applications and the elimination of benefits without warning in violation of federal law.

IL: Illinois governor signs immigration, voting bills

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, signed into law one bill that would protect immigrants who are in the country illegally from being detained solely because of their immigration status and another that would automatically register many Illinoisans to vote. The voter registration bill will allow people to sign up when they get or renew a driver’s license.

MD: Maryland AG clears public financing for legislative races on a county-by-county basis

An attorney from the Maryland Attorney General’s Office says it would be legal for the state to allow public financing for candidates on a county-by-county basis, clearing the way for the drafting of a bill in the 2018 legislative session. There is evidence of growing support in parts of Maryland for publicly financed campaigns.

GA: State officials predict big shortfall for Georgia health plan, again

Georgia officials are projecting a massive shortfall in a few years for the health insurance program that covers 640,000 teachers, state employees, retirees and their dependents. Georgians on the plan have heard such projections before, and fear it is a precursor to reducing benefits and raising premiums.

UT: Utah health systems want the state to reopen a high-risk insurance pool

SelectHealth and University of Utah Health Plans want the state to reopen a high-risk insurance pool. Patients with predictably higher medical costs would buy their coverage through the pool — an option that can mean higher premiums or other consumer costs and is typically subsidized by taxpayers.

MA: Massachusetts opioid addiction agencies can't find enough personnel

Addiction treatment agencies in Massachusetts are struggling to find providers, as well as housing and transportation that patients need to sustain their recovery after leaving.

WI: Wisconsin school districts vie for a piece of the pie in next state budget

Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker and GOP lawmakers have different ideas on how to pay for education under the next two-year budget. Smaller districts would benefit under the governor’s proposal while low-spending districts stand to gain under the Legislature’s plan.

CO: By eating weeds, goats clean up Colorado trails

A Colorado transit authority has hired a crew of 220 goats to chomp down on pesky weeds along trails in the Roaring Fork Valley. Not only do the goats eliminate the need for herbicides, they also fertilize the soil with their manure.

Safety in Sports Gentrifying Chinatowns