What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/11

Top State Stories 1/11

US: States may impose Medicaid work requirement, Trump administration says 

The Trump administration issued guidance to states that will allow them to compel people to work or prepare for jobs in order to receive Medicaid for the first time in the half-century history of this pillar of the nation’s social safety net.

PA: Federal judges rule in favor of Pennsylvania Republicans in gerrymandering case

A panel of federal judges effectively upheld Pennsylvania's often-criticized congressional district map, declining to take up a novel challenge that sought to have it declared unconstitutional as gerrymandered to favor the party in power.

KS: Kansas governor’s budget calls for $400 million boost to education, but no plan to pay for it

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback proposed a $600 million increase in school funding after the Kansas Supreme Court ruled this fall that education spending was inadequate under the state constitution. Brownback did not say how Kansas would pay for $400 million of that increase – only that it would not include a tax increase -- angering Republican leaders.

MA: Marijuana shops in Massachusetts go cash-only with fear of federal crackdown

A majority of Massachusetts’ medical marijuana dispensaries were forced to stop accepting debit cards from patients after threats of a federal crackdown prompted a key payment processing company to pull out of the Massachusetts cannabis market.

RI: Rhode Island lawmakers attend sexual harassment training for first time

Sixty of Rhode Island’s 75 state representatives attended the training. But notably, the two Republican leaders of the House — Minority Leader Patricia Morgan and Senior Deputy Minority Leader Anthony Giarusso — did not attend the entire session. Giarusso did not attend at all.

TX: State supreme court could put an end to plastic bag bans in Texas

If the Laredo Merchants Association’s challenge to a local plastic bag ban is successful, Texas cities, including Austin, Fort Stockton and Port Aransas, could find their similar local bans on bags struck down. The case also might create deeper questions about the role of local regulation in the state.

OK: Bullying leads to enrollment in Oklahoma virtual charter schools

Forty-one percent of students who attend a virtual charter school in Oklahoma left their previous school because they were victims of bullying. That’s according to a survey commissioned by the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board, which oversees the state's four virtual charter schools and their combined 12,000 students.

IL, WI:  Wisconsin launches ad blitz to lure Chicago millennials

Fresh off its Foxconn manufacturing plant win, Wisconsin is taking aim at Chicago’s millennial talent pool, with a marketing campaign designed to lure young skilled workers to move out of Illinois. The $1 million marketing blitz – online, on “L” trains, and in bars -- is promoting a message that Wisconsin offers lower rents, shorter commutes and a better quality of life for millennials “disillusioned” by Chicago.  

CA: California governor offers spending plan for new gas taxes and fees

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown wants to spend $4.6 billion from new gas taxes and vehicle fees on repairs to California’s roads and bridges and improvements to its rail systems. Brown’s transportation budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 depends heavily on funds generated by the new taxes, which are the focus of an initiative drive by Republicans who want to repeal them.

WI: Details on harassment, discrimination claims against Wisconsin lawmakers released

The Wisconsin Legislature has released new details on harassment and discrimination investigations of lawmakers, including a 2016 claim against a senator. But leaders again resisted providing the public with a fuller look into accusations that legislators have mistreated their employees.

AL: Judge dismisses lawsuit challenging Alabama voter ID law

A U.S. District Court judge dismissed a federal lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of Alabama's voter ID law. The lawsuit specifically targeted a 2011 law which requires absentee and in-person voters to show a photo ID in order to cast a regular ballot.

NH: New Hampshire House votes to create commission studying decriminalizing sex work

The committee in New Hampshire would look at the experiences of law enforcement officers, policing and arresting costs, and the effect of the trade on the mental and physical health of sex workers, who often face continual danger.

SC: South Carolina governor wants offshore 'no drill' oil exemption just like Florida

Republican Gov. Henry McMaster is asking the Trump administration to exempt South Carolina from offshore drilling, saying the state's tourism-rich coast is too precious an entity to put at risk.

Harm Reduction Census Undercounting