What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/17

Top State Stories 1/17

ID: Idaho to pay more for child health insurance 

Idaho could be facing much higher costs for the Children's Health Insurance Program, even if Congress reauthorizes it. About 22,000 Idaho children currently receive health insurance coverage through the CHIP program. 

NM: New Mexico governor calls for tax reform 

Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, opened the last 30-day legislative session of her administration by appealing for broad tax reform in New Mexico. Bogged down in past sessions by political wrangling, the issue is an ambitious one for a governor on her way out of office and facing a relatively short session. 

IA: Fraud in Iowa's local governments prompts oversight initiative 

Concerns about government fraud in Iowa's 942 cities is prompting State Auditor Mary Mosiman and the Iowa League of Cities to collaborate on a new initiative to bolster oversight by local elected officials. 

CO: Colorado, other Western states spotted with dangerous orphaned wells 

So-called “orphaned” oil and gas wells, which owners have abandoned without properly plugging, can leak pollutants that contaminate groundwater and even trigger explosions. A growing number of such disused facilities can be found across the West. Colorado has 244 orphaned wells on its books, but state officials estimate another 400 have yet to be located. 

AK: Alaska admits recording jail conversations between defense lawyers and clients 

For four years, a tucked-away monitoring system in a certain visitation room at the Anchorage jail recorded conversations between attorneys and their clients — defendants in criminal court — without anyone knowing. Alaska corrections officials say the recordings, which violated inmates’ constitutional rights, generally were not listened to or provided to law enforcement, though in one case, that did happen. 

KY: Kentucky governor proposes ending 70 programs and deep cuts for many state agencies 

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican, proposed a two-year state budget that would eliminate “about 70” state government programs and cut spending at many state agencies by 6.25 percent. Bevin said the cuts will help fund Kentucky’s ailing public pension programs, which have more than $40 billion in unfunded liabilities. 

IL: Judge orders Illinois to expand definition of medical marijuana use to include pain 

A judge has ordered Illinois officials to add intractable pain as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana, a ruling that could greatly expand access to the drug. The Illinois Department of Public Health had rejected intractable pain — defined as pain that’s resistant to treatment — but Cook County Judge Raymond Mitchell ordered the agency to add the condition. 

MO: Five GOP lawmakers in Missouri call for governor to resign 

At least five Republican lawmakers are calling for Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, also a Republican, to resign after allegations that he blackmailed a woman in an effort to keep her quiet about an extramarital affair. He posted a message to Facebook affirming his commitment to the job. 

VA: 83 percent of Virginians support Medicaid expansion, new poll says 

A new poll finds that about 83 percent of Virginians are in favor of expanding Medicaid — that includes nearly 72 percent of Republicans. Officials estimate about 300,000 of 400,000 uninsured Virginians would enroll under expanded Medicaid. The poll was paid for by the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association and conducted by Republican-leaning Public Opinion Strategies of Arlington. 

NV: Nevada tax commission approves permanent marijuana regulations 

Nevada’s eight-member Tax Commission voted 8-0 in favor of adopting 258 pages of pot regulations, which replace temporary “early start” regulations put in place to govern the Nevada marijuana industry from July through the end of 2017. Additions to the permanent regulations adopted this week include guidance for the state’s selection of recipients for 66 new pot licenses and allowance of home delivery. 

LA: Louisiana starts collecting unpaid internet sales taxes 

Residents who bought products last year from online companies that don't have a physical store in Louisiana — and who didn't pay state sales taxes on those purchases — will begin receiving notifications this month from the retailers telling them they owe taxes to the state. 

SC: Proposed South Carolina bill would shield execution-drug suppliers from public eye 

The identities of companies that sell execution drugs to South Carolina would be protected under a bill proposed by a state lawmaker. Public pressure has made pharmaceutical companies reluctant to sell drugs knowing they'll be used to end lives, not save them. Nearly a dozen states have passed laws providing secrecy for suppliers in response. 

CT: Surging income tax receipts boost Connecticut budget reserve 

An anticipated surge in state income tax receipts has bolstered Connecticut’s emergency reserves to nearly $900 million. But it remains unclear how much of the windfall identified by budget analysts is lasting — and how much is only an advance payment of funds Connecticut otherwise would receive in mid-April.

Tax Rewrites Juvenile Court Fees