What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/2

Top State Stories 11/2

LA: Louisiana governor can’t protect LGBT rights via order, court says

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, lost his latest legal battle over his executive order aimed at protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in state government. The state’s attorney general, a Republican, had challenged the policy. Three judges, all elected Republicans, ruled unanimously in the decision of Louisiana’s First Circuit Court of Appeals.

AK: Alaska sues drugmaker, saying its OxyContin stoked opioid crisis

The state of Alaska filed a lawsuit against the drug manufacturer Purdue Pharma that squarely blames the maker of OxyContin for stoking the state's opioid epidemic with deceptive marketing practices that led doctors to over-prescribe prescription painkillers and Alaskans to become addicted to them. The lawsuit, filed in Anchorage Superior Court, claims Purdue Pharma violated state consumer protection law with years of aggressive and misleading marketing that minimized the risk of addiction in pursuit of profit.

OH: Despite estimate of no savings, Ohio House cracks down on food stamps

A pair of bills that Republicans say will reduce fraud in food stamp, Medicaid and welfare programs, but Democrats say are misguided, easily passed the Ohio House. Analysis of the bills by the nonpartisan Legislative Service Commission estimates that neither will produce savings from reducing fraud.

OR: Oregon overpays almost $75 million for Medicaid

The state wrongly paid Oregon health care organizations nearly $75 million in federal Medicaid money from 2014 to 2016, and might have to repay all of it, the Oregon Health Authority said.

OK: Left lane for passing only in Oklahoma under new law

Impeding the normal flow of traffic in the left lane already had been against the law in Oklahoma. But under the new law starting this month, any motorist in the left lane who is not passing another vehicle, even without any other traffic in the area, is violating the law and could face a $235 fine.

IL: ‘Babies before Bezos’: Protesters say billions to lure Amazon should go for child care

Carrying signs that read “Babies before Bezos,” about two dozen union workers called on Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a Democrat, and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, to spend more on child care subsidies, citing $2 billion in incentives Illinois dangled to lure Amazon to Chicago.

ME: Maine governor signs food sovereignty bill fix

Maine Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, signed into law legislation addressing federal objections to the state’s food sovereignty law. Without the changes, federal officials would have taken over the state’s food inspections of meat and poultry, and several slaughterhouses would have been put out of business.

MI: Medical marijuana dispensaries in Michigan can stay open — for now

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has reversed itself and decided to let dispensaries stay open during the licensing process, after it received hundreds of complaints from medical marijuana card holders that they would be without the product they need for their health for an extended period of time.

TX: Judge in Texas slams Houston Housing Authority over forced relocations of low-income seniors

A Harris County, Texas, judge has abruptly stopped the Houston Housing Authority from moving low-income seniors out of a Harvey-damaged high-rise, saying officials decided to force relocation of residents rather than make needed repairs.

HI: Hawaii governor pursues Airbnb tax deal

Hawaii Gov. David Ige, a Democrat, is pursuing a private tax agreement with Airbnb Inc. that would allow the vacation rental company to collect taxes from its hosts and send the money to the state. Airbnb says collecting taxes from its hosts would generate more than $30 million a year in additional state taxes.

NJ: New Jersey ups tobacco purchase age to 21

New Jersey followed California and Hawaii in raising the minimum age for cigarettes and other tobacco products in a bid to decrease smoking rates among teens and young adults and eliminate short- and long-term health effects and costs. Maine and Oregon have since passed laws raising their tobacco age thresholds to 21.

MT: Montana budget deal near on $227 million shortfall

A deal on fixing Montana’s state budget woes could materialize in coming days and a special session could follow shortly after. The shortfall could come from temporary tax increases and cuts to state agencies.

AR: Arkansas report on child deaths shows improvements, concerns

Fewer infants died in their sleep and more children are being adopted this year, but other figures — like the doubling of firearm fatalities — prove that efforts to improve child health in Arkansas must continue, officials told lawmakers.

Millennials Moving Estate Taxes