What We're Reading: Top State Stories 2/9

FL: State budget proposal could cost Florida safety net hospitals $170 million in Medicaid funding

Safety net hospitals could see their state Medicaid payments decrease by $170 million under a proposal in the budget that the Florida Senate is poised to approve. The proposal, which targets about $318 million in payments that currently go to 28 hospitals with a higher percentage of Medicaid patients, would funnel those funds into the base rates paid to all hospitals instead.

WA: Airlines sue Washington state over new law that mandates sick leave

A trade group representing three major U.S. airlines has filed a lawsuit against the state of Washington over its new paid sick leave law. The suit argues the paid sick leave mandate is unconstitutional for Washington-based pilots and flight attendants because they spend most of their working time outside of the state.

AK: Now that marijuana is legal in Alaska, this bill would hide misdemeanor pot convictions

A new bill in the Legislature aims to seal Alaskans' convictions for low-level marijuana possession — nearly four years after voters approved a citizens’ initiative to legalize the drug's commercial sale. 

CO: Colorado Senate gives initial OK to rural broadband bill

Colorado’s Republican-led Senate has given initial approval to a bill that would expedite the construction of high-speed broadband service in rural areas by taking money from a state fund that has long subsidized rural telephone service. Rural broadband is a top session priority for lawmakers and for Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat.  

ME: Maine lobstermen will have to report closely guarded fishing details by 2023

All Maine lobstermen will have to start giving up their most treasured fishing secrets, including where they set their traps and how much they catch, in five years. In other states besides Maine, the nation’s lobster capital, lobster fishermen have been submitting reports on every trip for years.

NH: Spiking rents in housing park prompt New Hampshire bill

As land rents spike in a housing park in New Hampshire, one lawmaker is proposing a fix: an optional review of any potentially unfair rent increases before a state board.

SD: Conflicting craft beer bills advance, setting up clash in the South Dakota Senate

South Dakota Senate panels advanced two conflicting craft beer bills this week, setting up a debate about how much microbrewers should be allowed to make and whether they can sell directly to retailers.

AL: Alabama Senate approves anti-voyeurism bill

The Alabama Senate passed a bill that would make it a crime to take photos or videos of a person’s private parts without their consent in areas where they can expect privacy. It now goes to the House of Representatives. If the bill passes, the crime could be punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

ID: Out of cells, Idaho sends prisoners to Texas

Up to 250 male inmates from Idaho prisons and jails will be transported and temporarily held at a correctional center in Texas. The Idaho Department of Correction is seeking a long-term agreement for 1,000 beds at an out-of-state facility.

WI: Wisconsin lawmakers green light new funding for rural, cash-strapped schools

Schools in rural Wisconsin and in districts with low-spending levels will see millions in new funding under measures that have approved by the Legislature's budget-writing committee. More than 100 school districts would be able to raise their property taxes without voter approval to pay for programs and teachers under the proposal approved by the Joint Finance Committee.

NM: New Mexico lawmakers call for privacy curbs on police video

New Mexico lawmakers are calling for restricting public access to body camera recordings of police interactions with people with mental illnesses. The proliferation of video recordings taken by police can discourage people from calling emergency services or interfere with the work of mental health crisis teams, advocates say.

AZ: 12 pads a month, no tampons. Is that enough for Arizona’s incarcerated women? 

The Arizona Legislature is considering a bill that would provide incarcerated women with an unlimited supply of feminine hygiene products. The bill narrowly made it out of an all-male committee, with the chairman, who voted no, stating, “I’m almost sorry I heard the bill. I didn’t expect to hear pads and tampons and the problems of periods." 

KY: Proposal would cut benefits for out-of-work Kentuckians 

A proposal in the Kentucky Legislature would eliminate or reduce unemployment benefits for tens of thousands of out-of-work Kentuckians each year, boosting the bottom lines of businesses by forcing the unemployed to live on less.

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