What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/28

US: More states join suit over decision to add citizenship question to census

The Constitution requires that every resident of the United States be counted in a decennial census, whether or not they are citizens. The states challenging the change argue that adding a question about citizenship would cause fewer Americans to be counted and violate the Constitution.

IA: Iowa bill allowing plans to skirt Obama's Affordable Care Act mandates sent to governor

The Iowa Senate gave final approval to controversial legislation that would exempt certain health plans from Affordable Care Act mandates. The legislation combines two proposals backers say would reduce health insurance costs, but critics worry could undermine consumer protections.

WV: West Virginia governor quietly signs food stamp work requirement bill

Under a bill signed by West Virginia Republican Gov. Jim Justice, starting Oct. 1, any able-bodied adult — 18- to 49-year-olds with no dependents — must either work, volunteer or participate in workforce training programs for 20 hours a week to receive food stamps, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

UT: Utah’s ‘free-range parenting’ law said to be first in the nation

A measure Republican Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed into law earlier this month exempts from the definition of child neglect various activities children can do without supervision, permitting children “of sufficient age and maturity” to “engage in independent activities.”

OK: Oklahoma House approves tax hike to fund teacher pay

The Oklahoma House passed a sweeping package of tax hikes aimed at funding a teacher pay raise and averting statewide school closures set to begin next week. The $447 million package includes tax increases on cigarettes, motor fuel, hotel and motel lodging, and oil and gas. It now heads to the Senate, where its future is uncertain.

NJ: New Jersey expands medical marijuana program

Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced an expansion of the state's medical marijuana program and said residents would no longer have to "jump through hoops" to get access to the drug. Among the immediate changes are the addition of five eligible conditions: anxiety, migraines, Tourette's syndrome and some chronic pain disorders.

SD: South Dakota renters to face eviction for fake support animals

Under a new South Dakota law that takes effect in July, tenants who lie about having a disability to keep a pet in their rental unit will be subject to eviction and fees. Under current law, landlords can't deny tenants from keeping service or emotional support animals.

CO: Colorado bill would extend rape shield protections to civil cases

A bill that would give sexual assault victims protection in civil as well as criminal cases has received unanimous approval from the Colorado House and is being sent to the Senate. The state’s current rape shield law limits how the sexual history of a victim in a sexual assault case can be used as evidence in a criminal case.

WV: West Virginia governor OKs legislation to reduce opioid prescribing

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, signed a bill that aims to curb the number of painkillers that doctors prescribe for acute pain, joining about two dozen other states that have set similar limits. It also would establish protocols for treating chronic pain and require the Board of Pharmacy to flag suspicious prescriptions to medical licensing boards.

CA: California Department of Justice will oversee investigation of Sacramento police shooting

The California Department of Justice will oversee a Sacramento police investigation into the shooting death of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man who was killed by officers during a vandalism investigation. The agency will provide independent oversight into the investigation into the shooting, and review Sacramento's police training and policies on the use of force.

NC: North Carolina prisons change restraint policy for pregnant inmates after complaints

North Carolina prisons no longer will permit the use of leg or waist restraints on pregnant inmates after a recent complaint that two women were shackled to a hospital bed while in labor. The policy still allows for the cuffing of a pregnant inmate's wrists while in transport.

MD: Maryland Senate gives initial approval to bill that outlaws ‘gay conversion therapy’

The Maryland Senate gave initial approval to a bill would make it illegal for health professionals to practice “gay conversion therapy,” which attempts to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The measure would have to move quickly to get to the governor’s desk before the Legislature adjourns April 9.

FL: Florida voters may get to ban politicians naming things after themselves

A proposed constitutional amendment advanced last week by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission would prohibit city, county and state lawmakers from naming taxpayer-funded structures after currently serving elected officials. Critics contend the proposal is a solution in search of a problem.

Election Insecurity Census Adds Citizenship Question