What We're Reading: Top State Stories 10/16

CA: Neighborhood that burned down was exempt from California fire regulations

Because it was outside the officially mapped “very severe” hazard zone, more than five miles to the east, Coffey Park in Santa Rosa, California, was exempt from regulations designed to make buildings fire resistant in high-risk areas. California fire officials developed hazard maps in the 2000s that for the first time tied building codes to geographies based on risk.

TN: Years after disasters, Tennessee agencies still wait for FEMA money

The Federal Emergency Management Agency earmarked more than $96 million for local governments and nonprofits to clean up debris, repair damage and take protective measures after 2010 floods in Nashville and other natural disasters in Tennessee. But some of the recovery expenses were later rejected for reimbursement by FEMA, leaving the state, local governments and nonprofits with a multimillion-dollar deficit that is still unpaid.

SC: Anticipating Trump’s order, South Carolina insurer already planned ‘tremendous’ hike

Anticipating President Donald Trump’s elimination of payments to health insurers to help low-income Americans purchase insurance, Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina — the state's largest insurer and the only one selling Affordable Care Act policies in the state — already planned for this scenario by pricing its 2018 “Obamacare plans an average 31 percent higher to mitigate the potential financial fallout.

AK: State report details how Alaskans live and die

Teen births are down and more older women are having babies, according to the 2016 Alaska Vital Statistics annual report. By one measure, the rate of Alaskans dying from treatable diseases like cancer and diabetes is declining while more are dying from suicide and in accidental ways such as wrecks and drowning.

NJ: New Jersey to join Nevada, Delaware in online poker pact

Online poker fans in New Jersey will soon be able to play against people in Nevada and Delaware, expanding a growing portion of the state’s gambling industry. Players in Nevada and Delaware have been able to play against each other since 2015.

NY: Unions sue to block new rules for charter teacher training in New York

A fight over charter schools and teacher training escalated when the New York City and state teachers’ unions filed a lawsuit in state court seeking to prevent new rules from going into effect that allow some charters to certify their own teachers.

NC: After prison workers killed, North Carolina employees’ union slams Legislature for inaction

The deaths of two prison employees during an attempted escape should shine light on poor working conditions and benefits at prisons all around North Carolina, the group representing state workers said Friday.

WI: Wisconsin state officials move closer to drug testing food stamp recipients

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has submitted its plans to Republican Gov. Scott Walker's office to create the new policy, which would implement drug testing for able-bodied, childless food stamp recipients.

CO: Colorado officials urge hunters to leave drones at home

Colorado wildlife officials say they’re seeing more hunters illegally using drones when they’re in the field as ownership of the small, remotely operated flying vehicles increases. It’s illegal to use drones to scout hunting grounds or locate animals that later will be shot.

NV: Nevada’s first tribal marijuana retail facility opens

The 15,500-square-foot Nuwu Cannabis Marketplace is Nevada’s largest marijuana retail facility and first on tribal lands. The store was designed with recreational marijuana buyers in mind.

MT: Montana-based program gets vets started in agriculture

A weeklong boot camp in Montana for veterans not only teaches agriculture, but also develops a network of other veterans with similar interests. The Armed to Farm program has reached 800 veterans since 2013.

SD: South Dakota children's health insurance funds to run out in March

Thousands of South Dakota children that receive federal health insurance could be cut off next year if Congress doesn't vote to continue funds for the Children's Health Insurance Program. More than 16,000 low- and middle-income children and pregnant women rely on the program to obtain health care.

 OH: If tech gadgets are required for classes, should Ohio schools charge fees?

Ohio’s public schools aren’t allowed to charge students for the use of textbooks, but they can charge “reasonable fees” for technology and instructional materials. What happens when the pace of technology outstrips the law, as it often does, and gadgets begin to replace textbooks?

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