What We're Reading: Top State Stories 2/16

FL: Florida lawmakers rally around mental health proposals but dodge gun control 

Although Republican lawmakers in Tallahassee hesitated to discuss restricting certain weapons or high-capacity magazines, many were more eager to advocate for beefing up mental health services following this week’s mass shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17. 

TN: Gun bill dies in Tennessee legislative panel 

A bill that would allow handgun carry permit holders to take their weapons almost anywhere in Tennessee won't advance in this year's legislative session. A half-dozen gun-related bills came before lawmakers, and scores of protesters gathered in the legislative office building this week to demand stricter gun control. 

MO: Missouri law lets domestic abusers have guns; lawmakers trying to change that 

A Missouri lawmaker is sponsoring a bill that would restrict people with misdemeanor convictions of domestic violence from having access to guns. For the second year, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is trying to close a loophole that was created after lawmakers overrode the veto of then-Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, and legalized concealed carry without a permit in 2016. 

WY: ‘Stand your ground’ bill moves ahead in Wyoming Legislature 

A so-called stand your ground bill that would provide immunity to people who use defensive force to protect themselves has moved forward in the Wyoming Legislature with overwhelming support. Wyoming is the only state that requires individuals to retreat when attacked in public. 

UT: Utah campus sexual assault bill moves forward, despite concerns 

A panel of Utah lawmakers has approved a campus sexual assault bill that says schools can report sexual assault allegations to police in serious circumstances, like when multiple victims are involved. Opponents of the bill say encouraging colleges to alert police could keep victims from reporting assaults. 

MT: Montana gas tax boost pays off for local governments 

The 6 cent Montana gas tax increase approved during the last legislative session is starting to pay off for cities and counties. Cities can wait until March 1, 2023, to spend the gas tax funds they receive in 2018, which could help them save for larger projects. 

WI: Wisconsin Assembly Republicans pass full slate of governor's welfare limits 

The Wisconsin Assembly has approved Republican Gov. Scott Walker's proposed welfare limits and sought federal help to cover more of the nearly $90 million in costs from the proposals. Republicans approved the bills on party-line 62-35 votes, sending them to the Senate, where they are expected to pass quickly. 

CA: California special needs students could use medical marijuana in school under new legislation 

The measure would allow a parent or guardian to administer the drug in the form of oil, capsules, tinctures, liquids or topical creams on California school campuses where the practice has been approved by the county board of education. Students in kindergarten through 12th grade are prohibited by law from taking medical cannabis on school campuses. 

WV: West Virginia Senate nixes proposal to force drug firms to disclose opioid pill numbers 

West Virginia lawmakers rejected a proposal that would have required drug companies to report the number of prescription opioids manufactured and shipped to the state during the past decade.  

OH: Lawmakers deciding how much Ohio counties get for voting machines 

Ohio lawmakers are debating how much money to give counties to replace aging voting machines, but those funds aren’t expected to be part of the state capital budget that provides funding for infrastructure projects across the state. 

MS: ‘Brain drain’ tax credit legislation passes Mississippi House 

The Mississippi House wants young people to stay in Mississippi. It unanimously passed a measure to offer tax breaks to recent college graduates who stay in Mississippi and work in the state immediately after graduation from a four-year college or university. 

TX: Texas prison system delays release of public information on executions 

Earlier this month, defense lawyers claimed Texas was botching its executions with old drugs. Now, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has stalled the release of information on how many lethal doses the state has and when they expire. 

DE: Delaware attorney general calls for more state money for drug treatment 

Delaware lawmakers on the state's finance committee expressed support for Attorney General Matt Denn's call to provide millions of taxpayer dollars for drug treatment — the latest indication of a shift in legislator sentiment on drugs. Denn's Department of Justice is requesting that lawmakers earmark $4 million in funds to incentivize the construction of private treatment facilities. 

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