What We're Reading: Top State Stories 10/10

CA: Californians to get more information on prescription drug prices

California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed a law requiring drugmakers to provide notice to health plans and other purchasers 60 days in advance of a planned price hike if the increase exceeds certain thresholds. The new law also requires health plans to submit an annual report detailing the most frequently prescribed drugs, those that are most expensive, and those that have been subject to the greatest year-to-year price increase.

CO: Colorado prisons take steps to decrease inmate suicides

Jails and prisons across Colorado are employing an array of strategies — from plexiglass paneling on bunk beds to flexible pens — to push back against rising inmate deaths and suicide attempts, a problem complicated by the state’s burgeoning mental health and opioid addiction crises.

NC: Donor’s North Carolina charter school network grew after his money backed new state law

A charter school network founded by a wealthy Oregon resident is expanding quickly in North Carolina, according to The (Raleigh, N.C.) News & Observer. John Bryan’s influence extends beyond support for the schools themselves and into education policy. He is a generous contributor to political campaigns and school-choice causes in North Carolina.

TN: Tennessee top court urges more funding for public defenders

The Tennessee Supreme Court said it is going to try to ratchet down the costs of providing attorneys for poor people, recommend a boost in pay for those lawyers, and lend its voice to a push for money to reform a broken system.

NJ: New Jersey bow hunt for bears gets off to a slow start

Lousy weather, fewer permits and a low turnout by hunters turned the opening day of New Jersey's second bow season for bears into a bust. Hunters killed 26 bears Monday, which is far below last year's opening day total of 206.

NV: Nevada patients with chronic pain agonize over new opioid rules

A new Nevada law that takes effect Jan. 1 will add numerous restrictions on long-term opioid prescriptions, so many that some doctors who specialize in treating pain fear it will likely drive practitioners out of the state and leave patients with chronic pain in the lurch.

NY: New York needs $27B to fix local bridges

About half of New York state's 17,000 bridges are owned by local governments. Nearly 13 percent of these locally owned spans are considered structurally deficient. Some need repairs to allow them to carry heavier loads; others are prone to floods.

NE: Wind energy's expansion in Nebraska creates sharp new divide

Many of Nebraska's neighbors are national leaders in wind energy, and advocates say the state could easily join them. But as wind energy has grown in Nebraska, so has a fervent resistance from mostly rural landowners and lawmakers who view the turbines as noisy, heavily subsidized eyesores that lead to lower property values.

TX: Texas offers funding boost to schools with low attendance following Harvey 

Texas’ plan to help schools struggling with low attendance following Hurricane Harvey could cost the state $400 million. Districts now receive state funding in part based on how many students attend school each day, and fewer students or fewer instructional days due to facilities damage would otherwise mean an estimated $250 million in reduced funds for Harvey-affected districts.

MI: Michigan vacation rental bans under state scrutiny

A battle is brewing at the Michigan Capitol over Airbnb and other short-term rental properties, pitting the rights of owners against local restrictions inspired by neighbors’ nuisance complaints. Proposals in the state House and Senate would prohibit local governments from enacting zoning ordinances that ban or restrict owners from renting out homes or condominiums for less than 28 days at a time.

RI: New Rhode Island state law bans e-cigs on school property

The law, which takes effect Jan. 1, also requires liquid used in electronic nicotine delivery systems to be sold in child-resistant packaging. An earlier report showed that use of electronic cigarettes was on the rise among Rhode Island youth.

DC: Washington, D.C., launches program to transport city employees via taxi

The District of Columbia is testing a novel way of helping struggling cab drivers while transporting city government employees back and forth from their assignments more efficiently, saving money at the same time.

SD: South Dakota’s average teacher salary increases 8.8 percent

Average teacher salary in South Dakota is on track to meet a statewide target of $48,500, which legislators adopted in 2016 as a part of the blue-ribbon education funding package.

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