What We're Reading: Top State Stories 2/14

OR: Oregon House OKs health care as a right, but funding questioned

Oregon’s Legislature took a step toward enshrining the right to health care in the state constitution, a move that would be unprecedented in the United States but raises serious funding questions. The House’s endorsement of the bill sends it to the state Senate, whose approval would put the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot for Oregon voters in November.

PA: Pennsylvania court set to redraw voting maps after governor veto

Pennsylvania’s top court was set to lay out new congressional voting districts for the state after Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf rejected a version drawn by Republican legislative leaders as unfairly skewed in their party’s favor.

OH: Ohio wants to require those on Medicaid to get a job

Ohio’s health agency is preparing to ask federal regulators to OK adding a work requirement for adults who gained health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid. The state would exempt those over 55, in school or training for a job, in treatment for addiction, and those with intensive health care needs or serious mental illness.

FL: Payday lenders in Florida a step closer to longer loans for more money

A Florida House panel approved a bill that would allow payday lenders to provide longer-term loans for larger sums of money. The bill would allow loans up to $1,000, with repayment over 60 to 90 days. Current law limits the loans to $500 for periods of seven to 31 days.

NH: Commission says it can’t withhold New Hampshire Powerball winner’s name

New Hampshire’s lottery commission is asking a court to dismiss a complaint from a Powerball winner who seeks to remain anonymous, arguing that releasing the person’s name and address is required by law, helps ensure transparency, and doesn’t put the person’s safety at risk.

CA: California city votes to become sanctuary for cannabis

Cannabis users and providers in Berkeley got an added layer of protection as the California city declared itself a sanctuary for marijuana, likely the first of its kind. The Berkeley City Council voted to prohibit city agencies and employees from turning over information on legal cannabis activities and assisting in enforcing federal marijuana laws.

WV: Sports betting bill advances to full West Virginia Senate

Under the proposed legislation, if the U.S. Supreme Court later this year overturns a federal law barring most states from offering sports betting, West Virginia’s Lottery Commission would be able to license the state’s five casinos to offer wagering on sporting events on-site and through smartphone applications.

MD: New Maryland law allows termination of parental rights for rapists

Women who become pregnant in Maryland as a result of sexual assault can now sue to terminate the parental rights of their attackers, under a law approved by the Legislature after nine failed attempts. Only five other states had no laws on the books regarding parental rights and sexual assault.

NY: New York state may move to close Rikers jail ahead of city’s 10-year timeline

A state commission that oversees New York City’s jail system may move to close the troubled complex at Rikers Island ahead of the city’s 10-year timeline to do so, citing the city’s inability to correct long-standing problems there.

GA: Bill that would grant earlier Sunday drinking clears Georgia Senate

After several years of failed attempts, a bill to expand the sale of alcohol on Sunday mornings cleared the Georgia Senate. The compromise legislation would bump the time for alcohol sales at privately owned restaurants and wineries that serve food from 12:30 p.m. to 11 a.m. on Sundays, but not at grocery stores.

TN: Bill limiting campaign loans advances in Tennessee House  

A bill approved by a Tennessee House committee would prohibit local and statewide candidates from loaning their campaign more than $100,000, with anything over that threshold considered a contribution. Several gubernatorial candidates in this year’s race have loaned their campaigns well over $100,000.

WI: Wisconsin plan to hold down ‘Obamacare’ premiums passes without a way to pay for it

Lawmakers in Wisconsin have approved Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to hold down “Obamacare” premiums but left funding the $200 million proposal for another day. The Joint Finance Committee also ordered the Walker administration to study bringing back the state’s high-risk insurance pool, which was phased out after the passage of the federal Affordable Care Act.

AL, MS: Alabama bans importation of Mississippi deer carcasses

Alabama’s conservation department is banning the importation of deer carcasses from Mississippi to stop the spread of disease. A 4-year-old buck found dead in Mississippi in January tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease, a neurological disease that affects deer, elk and moose and is always fatal.

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