What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/22

US: Some states make it a serious crime to leave your pets in the cold 

All 50 states have felony animal cruelty laws, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund. What they may not have, though, is a provision that defines leaving your pet out in the cold as “cruelty.” But it’s something more states are passing. 

MO: Missouri reverses restrictive policy on hepatitis C drugs 

The state of Missouri is reversing course and will allow anyone on Medicaid with hepatitis C to receive the medication that cures the disease. The change in policy comes after a lawsuit was filed against the department that oversees the state's Medicaid program, arguing that some Medicaid patients were denied medically necessary treatment. 

ME: Forced to wait for help, or get none at all, Maine kids with disabilities risk starting school behind 

Over the past three years, Maine Child Development Services has expanded its services for children with autism. But the system has also fallen short of its legal obligations, according to interviews with school officials, experts and parents, and based on a review of program data. 

MA: Massachusetts crime bills would expand inmates’ access to addiction treatment 

A proposal tucked deep within the Massachusetts Legislature’s criminal justice bills would make Massachusetts only the second state to pledge to provide the full array of treatments for the opioid crisis, including requiring prisons and jails to offer inmates all approved addiction medications. 

NH: New Hampshire birth control prescription from a druggist?                                                        

New Hampshire could become one of a handful of states that allow birth control pills to be prescribed by pharmacists, after a commission appointed by the state Legislature voted unanimously to endorse the concept. 

CA: California's most recent cap-and-trade permit auction raises more than $800 million 

The regular auctions are a key feature of California’s cap-and-trade program, which requires companies to buy permits to release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. In November’s auction, every permit offered by the state was sold, and prices reached their highest-level in the program’s five-year history. 

SC: South Carolina House works to stop failed nuclear project from reaching into consumers’ wallets 

South Carolina lawmakers are ready to drop the hammer on SCE&G — with bill after bill aimed at blocking the utility from charging its 700,000 residential customers any more for its failed nuclear project. 

MI: Pharmacists in Michigan set to keep dispensing opioid overdose drug

Michigan has extended an emergency rule that allows pharmacists to dispense life-saving doses of naloxone. It is among at least 30 states where naloxone is available without a personal prescription.

WI: Wisconsin board grapples with saving text messages, social media posts as public records

The chairman of Wisconsin’s Public Records Board says he hopes to develop updated guidelines for state and local officials, when it comes to new technologies, such as whether text messages and work done on Twitter, Facebook and other social media gets saved and for how long.

OR: Oregon Health Authority reports $78 million in additional overpayments

Money problems at the Oregon agency that oversees Medicaid could be more than twice as large as already disclosed, a new report reveals. The state might have overpaid its contractors or owe other entities as much as $78 million, according to the Oregon Health Authority. That's on top of $74 million in overpayments The Oregonian reported last month.

KY: ‘Repulsive.’ Kentucky governor renews calls for resignations in sexual harassment case

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican, is not satisfied with the repercussions for the four representatives from his party who secretly settled a sexual harassment claim made by a member of their staff. In an interview, Bevin said it’s not enough that the representatives step down from leadership; he said they need to resign from office.

PA: Pennsylvania State Police to test body cameras in 2018 — footage not public

Under a pilot program funded with a federal grant, about 30 Pennsylvania troopers are scheduled to start wearing body cameras by March. But a new state law allows them to treat the footage the same as dash cam footage and withhold it from the public, even after an investigation closes.

AZ: Many Arizona teens on opioids misuse them

One in four Arizona teenagers prescribed opioids such as OxyContin or codeine have used the highly addictive pain medications in ways not directed by their doctors, according to a new survey. The state has declared opioid abuse a public health emergency, killing two Arizonians a day last year.

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