What We're Reading: Top State Stories 2/8

US: ACA’s state-run insurance exchanges fare better than the law’s federal marketplace

Overall enrollment for 2018 stayed essentially level from the year before in the 11 states that run their own Affordable Care Act insurance market­places, while sign-ups in states that rely on the ACA’s federal exchange fell, on average, by more than 5 percent. Five states with hybrid systems did best of all, according to a report compiled by the National Academy for State Health Policy.

SC: South Carolina House moves to block local governments from passing plastic bag bans

The growing effort by coastal communities to ban plastic bags and Styrofoam containers hit a major snag in South Carolina, with the House’s approval of a bill that prevents local governments from adopting bans on such packaging.

NC: After Supreme Court ruling, North Carolina gerrymander challengers turn to state court for relief

Democrats and voters who filed the first lawsuit this decade challenging North Carolina lawmakers’ redistricting plans went back to state court, seven years after challenging the 2011 election maps. They are seeking relief from districts they contend still weaken the overall influence of black voters.

MD: Former Maryland legislative staffer details harassment 

A former Maryland legislative staffer who worked in Annapolis for eight years told a panel of female lawmakers that male lawmakers and their aides had propositioned her, rubbed against her, and stared at her body.

TN: Proposal would allow use of Bitcoin for financial transactions in Tennessee

A Tennessee lawmaker wants to officially accept electronic cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin for financial transactions in the state. His bill would also protect ownership rights of information secured by the same methods.

MI: Michigan to end problem-plagued privatization experiment with prison food

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder said Michigan will end a four-year experiment with privatizing its prison food service after years of maggots in food, smuggling by kitchen employees, kitchen workers having sex with inmates, inadequate staffing levels and other problems. Snyder asked for an extra $13.7 million to move back to state workers running the prison kitchens.

CA: California officials vow to block Trump plan for more coastal drilling

California officials vowed to block the transportation of oil using existing or new pipelines, a move that would disrupt President Donald Trump’s plan to expand drilling off the state’s coast. The California State Lands Commission and the California Coastal Commission have authority over the permits required to extract and move oil and gas from coastal waters.

IA: Bill to legalize sports betting advances in Iowa House

Sports betting would be legalized in Iowa under a bill that cleared a House subcommittee, although it's far from decided how the gambling would be conducted and how the profits would be shared. The legislation is being discussed in anticipation that the U.S. Supreme Court will take action in the coming months to strike down a federal law that bans sports betting in most states. 

NE: Senators seek to shield Nebraskans from unintended tax hike

Facing the prospect that new federal tax law could result in a $226 million state tax increase for Nebraskans, the Legislature's Revenue Committee began considering legislation designed to neutralize the impact on state taxpayers.

UT: Utah Department of Public Safety says it’s losing state troopers to higher-paying jobs

As violent crime increases in Utah, the state Department of Public Safety is struggling to retain state troopers. Law enforcement agencies are losing officers to higher-paying jobs elsewhere, officials say.

WI: Wisconsin would spend millions of dollars to attract out of state workers for companies like Foxconn

Wisconsin would shell out nearly $7 million to draw workers to jobs at state businesses under legislation from Republican Gov. Scott Walker that is coming before lawmakers. With the unemployment rate at 3 percent in Wisconsin, Walker has said the state needs more workers to fill jobs, including at a display-screen plant that Foxconn Technology Group of Taiwan plans to build.

KY: Suing someone who hurts you could become more difficult in Kentucky 

One measure moving through the Kentucky Senate would let the General Assembly limit the damages that juries can award in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. Another would set a broad range of restrictions on medical malpractice lawsuits against doctors, hospitals and nursing homes.

TX: Texas community centers fear layoffs, closures without federal funding 

Twenty-three million people — including 1.3 million Texans — may lose access to community health centers in the next several weeks if the federal government doesn’t renew funding for them. There are more than 70 health centers statewide.

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