What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/2

MD: If you don’t release your tax returns, you could be left off the presidential ballot in Maryland 

Presidential candidates — including President Donald Trump if he runs for reelection — would have to publicly release their federal income tax returns to be on the ballot in Maryland, under a bill that received an initial nod from the state Senate. 

OK: Oklahoma Legislature advances bills expanding gun-carry rules 

Three bills that advanced in the Oklahoma House would dramatically expand the rights of gun owners to carry weapons, with or without a license, on virtually any private property in the state. One of the bills would also give public school boards the ability to let licensed handgun owners carry their weapons inside schools. The law now only lets law enforcement and certified armed security guards carry guns in school. 

MN: Gun control measures quickly stall at Minnesota State Capitol 

A Minnesota House panel delayed decisions about two gun control measures, despite recent national and local momentum. One proposal would expand the state’s criminal background check requirements to private gun sales and most gun transfers. The other bill would allow police or family members to ask the court for a gun violence protective order to temporarily prohibit someone from having firearms. 

AZ: Arizona governor creates task force to fend off cyberattacks 

As threats of cyberattacks on state data systems increase, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, is assembling a team to better secure everything from resident driver’s license information to health and financial records. So far the state has seen no sign of cybersecurity breaches. 

VT: Vermont bill would empower towns to limit marijuana odor 

A bill in the Vermont House would allow Vermont cities and towns to classify marijuana odor as a "public nuisance," a ticketable offense. Medical marijuana has been legal in Vermont since 2004. Another state law takes effect in July that will prohibit people from consuming marijuana in public places, including streets, sidewalks and hotels. 

IN: Indiana GOP avoids floor fight on bills reducing gun restrictions 

Republicans at the Indiana Statehouse killed two bills that would have loosened the state's gun restrictions, but language removing the fee for a lifetime carry permit could still find its way into other non-related bills before the legislative session ends in two weeks. Most of that committee discussion could be done in private, and once the committee issues its final report, amendments can't be made.  

AK: Alaska’s public defenders may have to start refusing new cases, says top defender 

The head of Alaska's Public Defender Agency says the problem would be fixed with an extra $1 million for his $26 million budget, to add four attorneys to his staff of 100. But midway through Alaska's annual budgeting process, lawmakers have so far rebuffed the request. 

NM: New Mexico governor signs bill to curb 'step therapy' 

A bill designed to rein in “step therapy,” the insurance company practice of requiring patients to try a less expensive medication before using a costlier option, will become law in New Mexico. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez signed the bill. 

CA: $2 billion to help house California's homeless isn't being spent 

Nearly two years after California lawmakers approved a $2 billion bond to help finance new housing for the state's homeless, not a penny has been spent, and it's unclear when any of the money will be available. The dollars are tied up in court as a Sacramento attorney challenges the state’s plan to pay off that debt with money California voters approved in 2004 for mental health services. 

IL: Marijuana legalization one step closer in Illinois 

The Illinois Senate voted to put a question on the November ballot on whether recreational use of marijuana should be legalized and taxed in Illinois. The ballot question would be only advisory, so even if voters approve, lawmakers still would have to act. The question now goes to the House. 

NH: New Hampshire could allow full year of birth control pills with a single prescription 

A proposed bill in New Hampshire would lift the present three-month cap for contraceptive prescriptions, raising it to 12 months. Doctors would prescribe 12 months of the medication, and insurance carriers would be mandated to cover it without imposing copays. 

ME: Maine ends child abuse prevention program 

Maine officials say the $2.2 million Community Partnerships for Protecting Children program duplicates other Maine prevention programs and is not evidence-based. The move comes after Maine has seen two children die of alleged child abuse in three months. 

MI: Michigan lawmakers: No rainy day funds for roads 

Michigan legislators unanimously approved $175 million in new transportation spending but rejected a plan to fund additional repairs through a $275 million withdrawal from the state’s nearly $1 billion rainy day savings account. The midyear spending bill is designed to send extra money to local and state road agencies by the summer construction season.

Death Penalty for Drug Dealers? Looser Gun Laws