What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/8

Top State Stories 3/8

MD: Maryland governor presses Congress for help stabilizing ‘Obamacare’ market

Describing recent health insurance premium increases in Maryland as “unsustainable,” Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and the state’s legislative leaders embraced the idea of a federal reinsurance program that would help offset the expense of the sickest patients. 

ME: Declining dairy prices spur concerns about farmer suicides in New England

A dairy cooperative that serves 1,000 member farmers in New England and New York included mental health resources and the number for a suicide prevention hotline in a letter that was tucked in with the February milk checks. The dairy cooperative saw the suicide of a member farmer in January and one the year before.

CT: Connecticut lawmaker will resign following text messages with teenager

Connecticut state Rep. Angel Arce, a Democrat, is under fire for an inappropriate exchange of text messages with a teenaged girl in 2015. His resignation was announced by the House speaker.

VA: Virginia Legislature rejects bills tied to violent Charlottesville rally

Almost seven months after Charlottesville became synonymous with resurgent white supremacy and political violence, the Virginia Legislature has rejected virtually every legislative proposal stemming from the deadly rally that shook the city last summer. 

NH: New Hampshire House votes to raise marriage age from 13 to 16

Current law in New Hampshire sets the age for marriage with judicial approval at 13 for females, 14 for males and 18 for individuals in same-sex marriages. Under the proposed bill, passed by the House, anyone who is 16 or 17 could still marry with judicial approval, including those seeking a same-sex marriage. It now heads to the Senate.

DC: D.C. voters to decide in June if tipped workers should get same minimum wage

District of Columbia voters will decide whether to require restaurants to pay the minimum wage to waiters, bartenders and others who earn a “tipped wage” — a low base rate plus tips.

AR: Medicaid expansion gets nod as Arkansas House passes $8.2B spending bill

After months of uncertainty, the Arkansas House approved a measure giving spending authority of $8.2 billion to the state Division of Medical Services and clearing the way for the continuance of the state’s Medicaid expansion in the coming fiscal year.

UT: Utah Senate legalizes marijuana for terminally ill patients

A pair of bills approved by the Utah Senate would allow terminally ill people to use marijuana distributed by the state if doctors expect them to die within six months. A third bill would direct the state to apply for a federal waiver for doctors to prescribe cannabidiol.

MN: Minnesota governor proposes more funding for school security, mental health services

Minnesota Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton’s school safety plan focuses on improving school building security, assisting expelled students and adding mental health services. The so-called Safe and Secure Schools Act does not include gun control.

IN: Sexual harassment policy overhaul coming for all 3 branches of Indiana government

A measure that would require Indiana lawmakers to set a sexual harassment policy for themselves — including procedures for investigating harassment allegations against lawmakers — is poised to become law after the House voted unanimously to give it final approval. The legislation now goes to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, who has said he plans to sign it into law. 

FL: Florida lawmakers reach budget deal, but overtime looms

Helping end a budget impasse, Florida lawmakers have agreed to keep a current Medicaid payment formula for hospitals and to increase funding for nursing homes by $40 million, the Senate’s top health care budget writer said.

IA: Iowa Senate approves letting some companies sell insurance outside of ‘Obamacare’ rules

The Iowa Senate voted to let the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield sell health insurance plans that don’t comply with the federal Affordable Care Act. 

AL: Alabama lawmakers pass ethics law change

Alabama House members passed a proposed ethics law change that would exempt economic development activity from the rules governing lobbyists. Critics argued it rolled back the current ethics law to mitigate corruption. The bill now moves to the Senate.

Kratom Regulation Kansas Citizenship Law