What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/8

Top State Stories 9/8

US: Governors tell Congress to stabilize individual health insurance market

Republican Govs. Bill Haslam of Tennessee, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Gary Herbert of Utah and Democratic Govs. Steve Bullock of Montana and John Hickenlooper of Colorado called on Congress to move quickly to stabilize the individual health insurance market and then embark on a serious effort to deal with skyrocketing health care costs.

NY: New York top court rejects right to doctor-assisted suicide

New York’s highest court ruled that doctor-assisted suicide is illegal in the state, rejecting a lawsuit claiming that mentally competent, terminally ill patients have a right to have their doctors prescribe lethal drugs. The New York Court of Appeals said the state had legitimate reasons for outlawing the practice, including to protect vulnerable patients from pressure to end their lives.

IL: Illinois governor to borrow $6B to start paying off state’s unpaid bills

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner announced plans to borrow $6 billion to help pay down Illinois' massive backlog of unpaid bills, but he warned that he will try to trim state spending in order to pay for the new debt costs. The move comes months after Democrats and some Republicans gave the governor the borrowing authority as part of a budget they enacted over his objections.

WA: Washington state to spend $1M on electric car charging stations

The state of Washington will spend $1 million to help build 15 new electric-vehicle charging stations along busy highways. The money comes from a $150 annual registration fee on electric cars, and will be matched by about $1.5 million in private spending. Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee has set a goal of 50,000 electric vehicles in Washington by 2020, up from 8,000 in 2013.

OK: Oklahoma governor to call for special session on budget fix

Republican Gov. Mary Fallin said she will ask lawmakers to return for a special session Sept. 25 to adjust the budget after the Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected a proposed cigarette tax, creating a $215 million shortfall.

CA: California may allow marijuana growers and sellers to work alongside each other

California lawmakers have proposed allowing stores licensed to sell medical marijuana to also sell pot for recreational use if they are licensed to do so. In addition, a marijuana store would be able to run a manufacturing operation at the same site, and businesses could group together multiple cultivation licenses in one facility, which would allow medical pot to be grown next to adult-use cannabis.

WI: Wisconsin budget committee rejects governor's income tax cut, credit for working poor

Lawmakers in Wisconsin next week will take up a two-year spending plan that includes tax cuts for wealthy families and business owners but rejects Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s proposals to ease the tax burden on poorer families.

AK: Governor says interest in Alaska LNG plan is ‘unprecedented’

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, an independent, said there was sufficient interest from potential gas buyers and pipeline investors to continue the $43 billion Alaska LNG project, despite Alaska's $2.5 billion deficit and the departure of the state's one-time pipeline partners — ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and BP — amid low gas prices and a global glut of liquefied natural gas projects. 

US: Opioid use may explain 20% of drop in men’s labor-force participation, study says

The new study by Princeton University economist Alan Krueger echoes previous research that attributes most of the decline in labor force participation since the early 2000s to an aging population and young people choosing school over work. The opioid crisis is exacerbating the problem, Krueger wrote.

MT: Montana fire fund drained

The cost to the state of Montana for battling wildfires that have burned more than a million acres this summer has reached $53.7 million, a price tag that has completely drained a state fire fund.

VT: Vermont governor creates marijuana study commission

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, has created a commission to study legalized marijuana after vetoing a marijuana legalization bill earlier this year. The commission will study public health and safety issues, as well as the possibility of a taxed marijuana market.

FL: Floridians flood price-gouging hotline

Floridians bracing for the pounding winds and rains of powerful Hurricane Irma are complaining at a historic clip about price gouging and shortages of fuel, Attorney General Pam Bondi said.

GA: Georgia will test voting with paper ballots in a November election

Paper ballots could be making a comeback in Georgia, with the state planning to test a new voting system this November in a local municipal election.

Online Sales Taxes Top State Stories 9/7