What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/21

DC: D.C. agency used affordable housing funds for other needs, audit finds

Washington, D.C., has used a $1 billion fund established to create affordable housing and stave off gentrification to repay the federal government millions of dollars for mismanaged grants, an audit has found. 

WI: Lawmakers reach deal on Wisconsin governor's $100 million school safety plan

The Wisconsin Senate has voted to spend $100 million on making security improvements to school buildings, training staff and putting police officers in schools. The package was proposed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Senate Republicans rejected Democratic efforts to also strengthen gun laws.  

FL: Florida governor signs opioid bill, adding $53 million to fight addiction, overdoses

Republican Gov. Rick Scott has signed a bill into law that sets aside $53 million to enhance opioid treatment, law enforcement response, and provide the life-saving, overdose-reversal drug Naloxone to first responders. It also requires prescribers and pharmacists to use the Florida Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and ramps up penalties for doctors that give out drugs improperly. 

TN: Tennessee child marriage ban faces additional hurdle in Senate

A bill that would ban child marriage in Tennessee was sent back to committee after its sponsor removed an amendment that would have allowed 17-year-olds to marry in some cases. Republicans said they could not vote for the measure after the removal of the amendment.

AL: Death row inmate’s legal team contests Alabama’s second attempt to execute him

Alabama Department of Corrections officials called off an attempt to administer the lethal injection to Doyle Lee Hamm last month. Now Hamm’s legal team is arguing in court that a second execution attempt would violate the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment and the double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment.

NC: Staff keeps quitting at North Carolina’s toughest prisons

Dangerous staff shortages have worsened inside some of North Carolina’s toughest prisons, despite recent state efforts to address the problem. Prison leaders are requiring officers to work overtime, which can lead to burnout and fatigue.

MI: Michigan governor OKs $175 million for roads

Michigan will spend an extra $175 million this year on fixing crumbling roads and other transportation projects under a supplemental spending bill signed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder in the midst of a massive pothole season. Experts say the money will not fully reverse projected long-term declines in road quality across the state.

NV: Nevada’s Lake Mead not yet at shortage level

Despite dry conditions in the mountains that feed the Colorado River, forecasters still expect Lake Mead — the Nevada reservoir east of Las Vegas — to contain just enough water by the end of the year to avoid a first-ever federal shortage declaration.

LA: Louisiana bill aims to shield assault victims from retaliatory lawsuit

The Louisiana Senate has decided that courts should postpone any slander lawsuits filed against people who allege they’ve been sexually assaulted until all investigations and proceedings are resolved. Opponents of the bill say it goes too far in impeding due process rights.

OH: Bill aimed at lowering prescription drug costs gets first hearing in Ohio House

An Ohio House committee has opened hearings on a bipartisan bill designed to lower the cost of prescription drugs. It takes aim at pharmacy benefit managers, known as PBMs, and other third-party administrators that operate as a middleman between insurance and drug companies.

AZ: Arizona bans extra taxes on soda, sugary drinks

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, has signed a bill banning cities from imposing extra taxes on soda or sugary drinks, as some liberal-leaning cities in other states have done. Supporters of the bill include conservative advocacy groups and the Arizona Food Marketing Alliance, which represents grocery stores.

Rural County Comeback Voting and Mental Capacity