What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/19

WV: West Virginia drug czar steps down

West Virginia’s drug czar has resigned after a little more than four months on the job. Jim Johnson, director of the state’s new Office of Drug Control Policy, was hired to help lead the effort to reduce drug overdose deaths. West Virginia has the highest fatal overdose rate in the nation.

AR: No right in constitution for Arkansans to sue government, justices decide

Arkansans have no right to file a lawsuit against their state government, even where the Legislature has given them permission to, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled in a split decision that overturned two decades of case law.

MI: Michigan Senate spent $269K on sex harassment complaints

The Michigan Senate spent the money to investigate and settle sexual harassment complaints against one or more senators more than a decade ago. The names will not be disclosed because the Senate does not release personnel records, a spokeswoman said.

CA: California AG threatens fines for businesses that share employee information with immigration agents

Concerned about “rumors” of an imminent immigration enforcement sweep in California, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a Democrat, warned employers he is prepared to seek fines of $10,000 if they violate a new state law that prohibits them from giving information on employees to federal authorities.

KS: Kansas senator saves colleague with Heimlich maneuver

Kansas state Sen. Ed Berger performed the Heimlich maneuver on state Sen. Dan Goddard as he was choking during dinner. The Republican saved his fellow senator at a Topeka Country Club reception. “He was choking and struggling and I asked, ‘the Heimlich?’ and he said ‘yes.’ So I gave him the Heimlich maneuver and was able to dislodge what he was choking on,” Berger said.

NE: Nebraskans could vote on medical cannabis under constitutional amendment proposed in Legislature

A state senator wants Nebraska voters to have a choice on medical cannabis, arguing those who find that cannabis eases their pain and suffering should not be forced across state lines or be treated like criminals.

ID: One-third of Idaho prisoners have costly hepatitis C

Roughly 30 percent — or more than 2,500 — Idaho prisoners are infected with hepatitis C, according to the state corrections department. Some fairly new medications can cure the condition, but they are very expensive, costing as much as $62,000 per inmate.

WY: Wyoming counties are short $42 million in delinquent taxes from oil, gas, coal

Oil, gas and coal extraction companies owe 12 Wyoming counties $42 million in property taxes, according to a local landowners group. Some of the tax money is owed by companies that went bankrupt during the recent energy industry bust.

TN: Tennessee to receive tax payments from Airbnb under new deal

The Tennessee Department of Revenue and Airbnb have reached an agreement that will allow the online-based hospitality company to collect and remit sales taxes on behalf of everyone in the Volunteer State who rents out their properties through Airbnb. Guests who use Airbnb in Tennessee will see a new line-item for the sales taxes.

AL: Alabama cities and counties disagree on online sales tax

Alabama cities and the state’s county commission association are gearing up for a fight in the Legislature over a bill that allows Amazon and other online retailers to continue participating in a state tax program. Some cities are concerned that it will allow greater flexibility for more retailers to join the program and pay reduced taxes to city governments.

NV: Nevada officials look for ways to extend CHIP

Nevada’s division of health care policy and finance plans to approach state legislators to ask for additional sources of funding that could extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program that covers more than 27,000 kids through April.   

SD: Advocates aim to bring marijuana measure to South Dakota

Advocates of medical marijuana say they'll aim to allow access to a marijuana derivative this year. New Approach South Dakota brought a bill to the Legislature that would legalize the possession and use of cannabidiol oil, a derivative of marijuana.

WI: Wisconsin’s governor wants work requirement for parents on food stamps

Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker is calling for a special legislative session to overhaul the state's welfare programs. Walker is pushing for a series of welfare bills, including requiring able-bodied parents of children on food stamps to work or get training to receive more than three months of benefits and increasing the existing work requirement for all able-bodied adults from 20 hours a week to 30.

Environmental Clash Homelessness and Domestic Violence