What We're Reading: Top State Stories 2/22

IN: Indiana bills loosening gun restrictions advance, one week after Florida shooting

Indiana lawmakers have voted to advance bills that opponents say would loosen firearm restrictions. House and Senate committees passed measures that would change background check requirements, waive a lifetime handgun carry permit fee and clarify that people can take firearms onto church grounds, even if a school is on the premises.

NV: Nevada officials cheer bump stocks edict 

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and state Attorney General Adam Laxalt, both Republicans, have endorsed President Trump's directive that the Justice Department come up with a rule to ban devices like the rapid-fire bump stocks used in last October's massacre in Las Vegas.

WI: Wisconsin Senate strengthens restrictions on 'straw' gun purchases

The Wisconsin Senate voted to tighten restrictions on so-called straw gun purchases, which include when a person buys a firearm to provide it to someone who is legally prohibited from possessing it. The bill now heads to the state Assembly.

NM: New Mexico Legislature gets flurry of harassment complaints

The New Mexico Legislature received five complaints of possible sexual misconduct, harassment and discrimination during the monthlong session that ended last week. The complaints, the first under a new policy established by the Legislature this year, follow a decade in which only one formal complaint of sexual misconduct was filed against a New Mexico legislator under the previous policy.

OH: With skyrocketing deaths, Ohio Health Department urges naloxone for all overdoses

The Ohio Department of Health warned that the number of deaths from mixtures of opioids and non-opioids is increasing. In response, it’s now recommending that naloxone be used even in overdoses where it’s unclear whether opioids are the culprit.

UT: Utah House votes to remove sales tax on food

The measure would remove Utah’s 1.75 percent tax on food, excluding candy, and increase sales taxes on other purchases from 4.7 percent to 4.92 percent. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

OK: Eyeing marijuana initiatives, Oklahoma bill would raise threshold for ballot petitions

Some legislators are so concerned about recreational marijuana becoming legal in Oklahoma that they want to make it harder for initiative petitions to get on statewide ballots. A new bill proposes a constitutional amendment that could increase the number of signatures required for initiative petitions and require that a minimum number of signatures be obtained in each of the state's 77 counties.

MT, WA, WY: Montana, Wyoming push back on Washington state plan for carbon tax

Top Democrats in Washington state are backing a proposed $10-a-ton tax on carbon dioxide from various sources including power plants fired by natural gas and coal. But officials in Montana and Wyoming are pushing back, arguing that Washington cannot regulate environmental issues beyond its borders. Both states have coal-fired power plants owned by utilities selling electricity in Washington.

NH: New Hampshire bill looks to make public-sector union talks public record

A New Hampshire bill would mandate that collective bargaining negotiations with state employee unions be conducted at public meetings, under the New Hampshire’s right-to-know law. Unions, including the state workers, municipalities and police unions, are joining to oppose the idea, calling it detrimental to effective negotiations.

MI: Michigan House puts $175M for roads on fast track

Michigan legislators are getting a jump start on Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s call for $175 million in additional road and transportation funding, advancing a mid-year spending bill rather than waiting for next year’s budget. The plan would devote an extra $38.2 million to cities and villages, $68.4 million to county road commissions and $68.4 million to the state.

NE: 'Riot insurance' bill for Nebraska counties with prisons advances from committee

A bill that would require the state to help pay some of a county's costs arising from crimes committed during a prison riot has advanced from the Nebraska Legislature's Appropriations Committee. The covered costs would include prosecution of riot-related incidents as well as defense for indigent inmates.

TN: Bill to allow unlimited taxpayer funded travel for Tennessee House members advances

A measure that would allow Tennessee House members to take more taxpayer-funded out-of-state trips was given approval in a state House committee. The legislation bucks a 2013 policy that limited House members to one reimbursable out-of-state conference or gathering a year, provided they are related to their legislative duties.

MS: Mississippi Senate advances road spending plan based on diverting money

State senators are moving ahead with a six-year plan to divert future revenue and borrow money to spend on Mississippi’s roads and bridges. With Republicans balking at fuel tax increases, the Senate plan focuses on diverting revenue from existing sources in future years. The bill now heads to the House.

Changeable Speed Limits Overdose Deaths