What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/31

TX: Despite sunny economy, Texas' budget forecast is dreary 

Though unemployment is low and tax revenue is on the rise, big bills coming due for Texas highways and health care programs are giving lawmakers some heartburn. Budget writers last year underfunded Medicaid, and lawmakers shifted $500 million away from health and human services. There are more drains from Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts. 

NY: New harassment rules in New York state Senate include warning to false accusers

The new four-page policy on sexual harassment in the New York state Senate expands the definition of harassment and includes more protected classes. The policy also contains a new statement that “reporting a false complaint is a serious act,” and warns, as it did before, that such false accusations or false statements to investigators can result in disciplinary actions or firing.

ID: Idaho Medicaid work requirements proposed 

New Idaho legislation would require "able bodied" adults on the state's Medicaid program to hold jobs. Idaho and Utah are among the states seeking to impose requirements after Kentucky received federal approvals for a similar plan. 

IA: Paper prescriptions could be barred under Iowa proposal that aims to limit opioid abuse 

Iowa legislators are considering a bill that would require nearly all prescription orders to be made electronically instead of with pen and paper. The idea, which has broad support in the industry, is seen as a way to prevent patients from altering or copying written prescriptions in order to obtain extra pills. 

SD: It's illegal to get drunk in a South Dakota bar. A 65-page proposal could change that. 

If you’ve ever gotten drunk in a South Dakota bar, the establishment that served you was breaking the law. A long-standing provision in the South Dakota alcohol regulations makes it illegal for the owner of an alcohol license to “allow any person to become intoxicated on the licensed premise.” 

KS: New cannabis compound store opens in Kansas; lawmakers look to outlaw product 

The store is expanding in the Wichita area and sells products with cannabidiol oil, also is known as CBD. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt issued an opinion saying that he thinks it is unlawful to have or sell products that contain any CBD. A House bill was introduced to establish the same penalty for possessing CBD as possessing marijuana. 

UT: Utah lawmakers considering letting counties remove elected officials who are mentally incapable 

The Utah Senate wants to give some counties the ability to remove elected officials who are mentally incapable of serving. This move comes after former Salt Lake County Recorder Gary Ott served four years with dementia until shortly before his death last year.

CA: California proposes new lethal injection protocol, but the drugs are difficult to obtain 

The new protocol, slightly revised from a previous proposal, would allow California executioners to use a single infusion of Pentobarbital or Thiopental to put condemned inmates to death. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has barred the import of Thiopental, and the manufacturer of Pentobarbital has prohibited the drug from being used in executions 

HI: Hawaii lawmakers consider ban on plastic straws 

The measure would make it illegal to sell or distribute plastic straws in Hawaii. Under the proposed ban, the fine for violators would be between $100 and $500 for each offense, and the measure also would require violators to pick up litter or do community service for four hours. 

MS: Mississippi Senate plan steps back from Medicaid changes 

The Mississippi Senate Medicaid Committee removed proposals to cut payments to health care providers and require all Medicaid spending to be administered by managed care companies. Mississippi’s Medicaid program covers one-fourth of the state’s population, including people in nursing homes, disabled adults, pregnant women and young children. 

TN: Bill would ban fraternities, sororities at Tennessee’s state colleges and universities 

Fraternities and sororities would be banned at Tennessee’s state colleges and universities under a newly filed bill. The legislation would, however, allow professional fraternities that promote “the interests of a particular profession” and honor societies. Talk of banning fraternities and sororities has heated up in recent years with a spate of high-profile hazing incidents. 

IN: Indiana lawmakers kill hate crimes bill again 

Indiana Senate Republicans have pulled the plug on a hate crimes bill that would have allowed judges to impose tougher sentences for crimes motivated by factors such as race, religion, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation. It leaves Indiana as one of only five states without such a law. 

FL: Bill to ban orca breeding in Florida dies in the Legislature 

Amid strong lobbying from SeaWorld against it, a bill to ban orca breeding and future captivity in Florida has died in a legislative subcommittee.

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