What We're Reading: Top State Stories 12/21
CO: Colorado governor makes emergency request to fund children’s health insurance program
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, sent an emergency request to state lawmakers to find money for a one-month extension of a children’s health insurance program. The program, which in Colorado is known as the Children’s Health Plan Plus, is currently set to end Jan. 31 unless Congress reauthorizes the money for it.
FL: Florida state senator resigns over harassment allegations
Jack Latvala, a powerful Florida state senator and Republican candidate for governor, resigned after two reports of allegations he sexually harassed and made demeaning and vulgar comments to female staffers and lobbyists. Latvala has denied any wrongdoing.
TX: For homebuyers within Texas ‘flood pools,’ no warning
In Texas’ development and engineering circles, the dangers were well documented. But as Houston's leaders repeatedly signed off on a relentless building boom, few mentioned them publicly or took them seriously. In broad strokes, that's how county and city officials approved the construction of 30,000 suburban homes and businesses on the edges of two reservoirs, inside invisible lakebeds that government and private engineers had long predicted would be inundated in an extreme storm.
OK: Oklahoma opioid commission lays out legislative priorities
The Oklahoma attorney general's commission fighting the opioid crisis proposed penalties for trafficking fentanyl; requiring doctors to use electronic prescriptions, which are more difficult to duplicate or forge; creating a "good Samaritan" law that would prevent prosecution for people who call for help during an overdose; setting up a database to track overdoses; and other changes.
AZ: Most Arizona deportations still at border
While nationwide more people are getting deported from inside the country, in Arizona, 4 out of 5 removals are still of those caught at the border. In the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, there were nearly 4,000 deportations from the interior of Arizona compared to 16,800 from the border.
MI: After court ruling, Michigan teachers to get $550M refund
Michigan plans to refund nearly 275,000 public school employees a combined $550 million plus interest for retiree health care paycheck deductions deemed unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court.
MO: Missouri attorney general to investigate legality of governor’s texting app
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley has launched an investigation into whether Republican Gov. Eric Greitens and his staff illegally destroyed public records by using an app that erases text messages.
CA: California’s homeless population drives national increase
More than one-quarter of the total homeless population nationwide lives in California, roughly 114,000. The vast majority are “unsheltered” — living on the streets, under freeways and tucked into grassy fields and parks in cities all around the state.
RI: Report calls on Rhode Island’s child-welfare system to make changes following deaths
For the second time this year Rhode Island’s Office of the Child Advocate has released a critical review of the way the state child-welfare system handled cases of children in its care who either died or were seriously injured, noting that many “vital” recommendations first made more than a year ago remain unmet.
US: Life expectancy is down for a second year. Drug overdoses are a big reason why.
Health researchers have some grim news for Americans: We are dying younger, and life expectancy is now down for the second straight year — something not seen in more than half a century. One undeniable culprit is the opioid epidemic, which is cutting down young adults at alarming and increasing rates, the researchers say.
WV: West Virginia legislator backs free IDs for the homeless
The chairman of the West Virginia House’s Committee on Government Organization says he'll reintroduce legislation in January to help homeless people get identification documents needed to get jobs and apply for public benefits.