What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/30

WV: Drug firms shipped 20.8M pain pills to West Virginia town with 2,900 people 

Over the past decade, out-of-state drug companies shipped 20.8 million prescription painkillers to two pharmacies four blocks apart in a Southern West Virginia town with 2,900 people, according to a congressional committee investigating the opioid crisis. 

NM: New Mexico faces lawsuit over driver ID cards 

A class-action lawsuit accuses New Mexico's Taxation and Revenue Department of illegally denying driver’s authorization and other ID cards to residents who can’t or don’t want to provide the more onerous documents required for a full driver’s license. The cards are an alternative to the federally mandated "real ID" licenses required for air travel and other purposes. 

TN: Payments for Tennessee lawmaker expenses in 2017 most in five years 

Tennessee lawmakers raked in more extra pay last year — on top of their legislative salaries, than in the last five years. Lawmakers received $2.4 million in taxpayer money for expenses like mileage and office work, state records show. That’s $370,000 more than last year, a 17 percent increase. The money is on top of the roughly $22,000 salary most lawmakers receive for their work. 

PA: In Pennsylvania, drawing new congressional districts gets off to a slow start 

There are a few signs of progress a week into the three-week period established by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for lawmakers to produce a replacement congressional district map. Senate Republican leaders introduced legislation to replace the 18-district map ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court last week, but they say a lack of guidance from the justices is a problem. 

CA: Californians are buying fewer guns since Trump took office 

About 870,000 guns were sold in California during 2017, down by 450,000, or 35 percent, from 2016, according to a Sacramento Bee review of new FBI instant background check data. In 2016, gun buyers raced to buy rifles equipped with “bullet buttons.” Those rifles, which are easier to reload, were banned at the start of 2017. 

IA: House bill would bring a return to capital punishment in Iowa 

The Iowa House of Representatives is set to consider a bill that would allow those convicted of first degree murder to be put to death by lethal injection, potentially reversing a half-century-old ban on capital punishment in the state. 

VA: Speaker of Virginia House signals willingness to consider Medicaid expansion 

Virginia House Speaker M. Kirkland Cox signaled that Republicans would be willing to go forward with some kind of Medicaid expansion if Democrats support a work ­requirement for recipients. In a letter to the governor, he indicated that he would consider providing health care “coverage to more Virginians” under certain conditions. 

AK: Alaskans turn to government for food and health care amid recession 

Tens of thousands of people have turned to the government for health care and food amid Alaska's recession, prompting questions from state lawmakers about the sustainability of those safety-net programs. The state projects 240,000 people to be enrolled in the Medicaid health-care program next year, up from 163,000 in 2015. 

AL: Day care oversight bill set for Alabama House committee hearing 

A bill to put new requirements on unlicensed day cares in Alabama would require any facility receiving state or federal funds; operates for a profit or has a child who qualifies for a subsidy to get licensed. Unlicensed day cares would also be subject to new oversight. State law exempts day care programs considered an “integral part of a local church ministry or a religious nonprofit” from licensing requirements. 

KY: GOP lawmaker fighting Kentucky governor’s effort to scrap liquor quotas 

A leading Republican lawmaker has filed a bill to stop Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration’s attempt to eliminate liquor license quotas, a move critics say would bring a glut of bars and liquor stores in rural Kentucky. 

NJ: New Jersey embraces an idea it once rejected: Make utilities pay to emit carbon 

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, ordered his state to rejoin a regional carbon trading program that his Republican predecessor, Chris Christie, had pulled out of in 2012. The program requires power plants in participating states to buy permits for the carbon dioxide they emit. State officials often use revenue from these permit auctions for energy-efficiency programs. 

MS: Drugmaker to pay Mississippi $33 million in pricing lawsuit 

A drugmaker will pay Mississippi $33.4 million in a lawsuit over drug pricing. Watson Pharmaceuticals, now part of Israel-based Teva Pharmaceuticals, will make the payment after the state Supreme Court upheld a verdict in a suit claiming drugmakers wrongly inflated prices paid by the state-federal Medicaid health insurance program. Mississippi's Medicaid agency will get $8 million of the settlement. 

LA: National group joins fight to repeal four-decade-old Louisiana law on felons voting

A national association of probation and parole officers has come to the aid of a group of Louisiana felons challenging a four-decade-old state law that prohibits felons on probation and parole from voting. State District Judge Tim Kelley reluctantly upheld the 1976 law last year, saying he agreed with the plaintiffs but could not bend the law. 

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