What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/22
OR: Proposal to ban assault rifles filed in Oregon
A proposal to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in Oregon has been submitted as a ballot initiative petition intended to prevent mass shootings. The proposal would also require some legal gun owners to surrender or register their assault weapons or face felony charges.
KY: Kentucky state workers brace for higher premiums as lawmakers raid health insurance fund
To help them balance the state budget, Kentucky lawmakers plan to sweep hundreds of millions of dollars from a health insurance fund that covers 263,913 public workers and their relatives. Lawmakers already have taken more than $700 million from the insurance fund over the past decade to balance previous state budgets.
AR: Judge rules that Arkansas’ system for licensing pot growers is illegal
A circuit judge declared unconstitutional Arkansas' process for licensing the first medical-marijuana growers, citing the appearance of bias and of failure to verify applicants' compliance with key requirements. For now, the ruling halts the rollout of the state’s medical marijuana program.
IA: Sweeping measure to improve Iowa's troubled mental health system heads to governor
Sweeping legislation aimed at making comprehensive changes to Iowa's often-criticized mental health system is headed to Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds’ desk. However, questions were raised during debate whether the Legislature will follow through with sufficient state funding to implement the bill.
WA: Washington state law on student loan servicers in feds’ crosshairs
A new Washington state law that will regulate student loan servicers could draw a challenge from the U.S. Department of Education, which claims states have no authority to regulate the industry. The law requires servicers to be licensed by the state and creates a student loan advocacy office.
CO: Colorado legislation seeks to prevent environmental harm from new mining
Colorado lawmakers have proposed legislation — immediately opposed by industry — that would require companies to make reclamation plans that include an end date for water treatment to remove pollution. The bill also would force companies to post better financial assurance to cover costs of cleanup.
AL: Alabama lawmakers approve execution by nitrogen hypoxia
Alabama lawmakers have approved a new method of execution, by nitrogen hypoxia. Death would occur by forcing the inmate to breathe only nitrogen, with no life-sustaining oxygen. The method has never been used although it has been authorized by two other states.
TN: Bill to arm Tennessee teachers passes another legislative hurdle
A bill to arm some Tennessee teachers passed yet another key legislative hurdle, passing out of one committee and moving to another. The legislation would allow a select number of teachers to carry guns on campuses across Tennessee.
HI: Hawaii lawmakers proposing paid family leave for all employees
Hawaii workers would have access to several weeks of paid time off for the birth or adoption of a child or to care for a family member under proposed legislation advancing in both the House and Senate. While some employers offer paid family leave benefits, federal and state laws mandate only certain employers to provide unpaid leave for eligible family and medical reasons.
ME: Maine governor proposes doubling pay of state’s next governor
Maine Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, submitted a bill to boost the salary for Maine’s next governor from $70,000 a year, the lowest of all 50 states, to $150,000 a year. Previous efforts to boost the governor’s salary, which hasn’t changed in over 30 years, have failed.