What We're Reading: Top State Stories 10/31

Top State Stories 10/31

US: In 1,500 counties, ‘Obamacare’ could end up being free

In an odd twist, low-income people in about half of U.S. counties will now be able to get a taxpayer-subsidized “Obamacare” policy for free, according to a new study that suggests some actions by President Donald Trump against the Affordable Care Act could backfire. The study, from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, found that in 1,540 counties a hypothetical 40-year-old making $25,000 a year can get a basic “bronze” plan under the ACA next year for zero monthly premium.

FL: Someone’s spying on Florida lawmakers. Camera found at condo building

The covert surveillance camera outside a condo and a photo of a Florida gubernatorial candidate planting a kiss on a lobbyist in a parking lot weren’t routine smartphone photos captured for fun. They were the work of private investigators whose research has fueled an escalating barrage of rumors in the past week about sexual harassment in Tallahassee and infidelity among the state’s elected legislators.

WV: West Virginia implements drug testing requirements for TANF welfare recipients

West Virginia residents who apply for welfare now are subject to a drug screening, state health officials announced. A fiscal note provided by the Legislature estimated the drug-testing program will cost around $55,000 in federal TANF funds the first year and around $22,000 for each year after. Those estimates don’t include the increased drug-treatment costs that Medicaid would pick up.

TX: Amid opioid crisis, Texas subsidized drug company it’s now investigating

In 2016, Gov. Greg Abbot, a Republican, announced a $9.75 million grant to McKesson Corporation. Now, Texas is among the states investigating the giant drug distributor's role in a growing opioid crisis.

MA: Massachusetts legislative leaders won't blame Beacon Hill culture for alleged harassment

Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo, a Democrat, introduced an order adopted by the House requiring its counsel to conduct a comprehensive review of the branch's sexual harassment policies and report back with recommendations in March 2018.

UT: Utah governor urges residents to donate to Puerto Rico hurricane relief

Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, is urging Utahns to donate to a charity that acts as an umbrella for a variety of Utah groups working to help hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. Herbert’s son and Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox will travel to the island soon to deliver donated supplies from the Beehive State.   

OH: Ohio panel unanimously approves Medicaid funding

At Gov. John Kasich’s urging, Ohio’s Republican-led state Controlling Board voted unanimously Monday to continue funding for tax-funded health insurance for more than 3 million poor Ohioans.

CA: Proposed California initiative would end early release for some crimes 

A coalition including police officers and prosecutors proposed a California state initiative that would end early release of rapists and child traffickers and expand the number of crimes for which authorities could collect DNA samples from those convicted. The proposed initiative would add 15 crimes to the list of violent crimes for which early release is not an option, including child abuse, rape of an unconscious person, trafficking a child for sex, domestic violence and assault with a deadly weapon.

PA: Pennsylvania governor signs revenue bills to wrap up stalled budget

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf signed a set of bills to provide $2.3 billion in new revenue and end a four-month impasse with lawmakers over how to pay for Pennsylvania’s fiscal 2018 budget. The new legislation will boost revenue in part by expanding gambling and securitizing expected funding from tobacco companies for health care costs.

MO: Missouri Legislature won’t restore cuts to seniors, disabled, leader says 

A top Republican in the Missouri Legislature says an attempt to restore cuts to an estimated 8,000 elderly and disabled appears to be dead for the year. Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard said he received no response from Gov. Eric Greitens about his Oct. 20 request for a special session to deal with the reductions.

MD: Top Maryland Democrats vow to push through bill terminating parental rights for rapists 

A Maryland bill that would allow women who become pregnant as a result of a rape to terminate their attackers’ parental rights has received key legislative support and, after nine years of failed attempts, appears likely to be approved next year.

ME: Maine Medicaid expansion vote seen as ‘Obamacare’ referendum 

On Nov. 7, voters in Maine will decide whether to join 31 other states to expand Medicaid. The ballot measure comes after Maine's Republican governor vetoed five attempts by the politically divided Legislature to expand the program.

WI: Body camera bill up for Wisconsin Assembly committee vote 

A proposal that would make it more difficult for the public to see footage captured on police body cameras is up for a vote in a Wisconsin Assembly committee. The measure is opposed by open records advocates, who argue it is too restrictive and will make it nearly impossible for the public to see video captured on police body cameras.

Puerto Rican Teachers Drowsy Driving