What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/2

VT: Package of gun restrictions set to become law in Vermont

The changes approved by the Vermont Senate include raising the legal age for gun purchases, expanding background checks for private gun sales, and banning high-capacity magazines and bump stocks. The proposals, which were approved by the Legislature and Republican Gov. Phil Scott has said he will sign, reflect a remarkable turnaround for a state that has long opposed gun control measures.

OK: Oklahoma teachers strike; say pay raise inadequate

Oklahoma teachers were rallying at the state Capitol as part of a walkout to pressure state lawmakers to increase education even further than a budget approved last week did. The Oklahoma Education Association said the plan signed by the governor was a “down payment,” but the package only raises about half the revenue the teachers wanted.  

KY: Kentucky Capitol prepares for protest by teachers

Kentucky teachers are set to gather in Frankfort to rally for more education funding and to protest changes to their pension system approved by the Legislature last week.

CO: Colorado governor signs sweeping liquor law; biggest change since Prohibition

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat and former brewpub tycoon, signed sweeping legislation that will allow grocers and big retailers like Walmart to compete with liquor stores. The bipartisan bill was offered as a way to head off a proposed ballot item in November that would allow major retailers to sell wine and full-strength beer. Those stores can sell only the less-popular 3.2 percent “near beer” now.

OH: Ohio police agencies starting to enact state standards

More than 500 law enforcement agencies have implemented Ohio’s first-ever statewide standards on use of force and officer recruitment and training.

CA: California governor pardons immigrants facing possible deportation

California Gov. Jerry Brown’s inclusion of those at risk of deportation — which the Democrat has now done for several rounds of his traditional pre-Easter pardons — is yet another sign of how California has diverged on immigration from the federal government, which has increased arrests and detentions under President Donald Trump.

LA: One Louisiana officer fired, another suspended in Alton Brown shooting

A Louisiana police chief fired the white officer who fatally shot a black man during a struggle outside a convenience store nearly two years ago, a killing that set off widespread protests.

MD: Maryland ballot delivery system is target for hackers, cyber experts say

Cybersecurity experts are asking lawmakers to bring Maryland’s ballot access laws — which they say prioritize accessibility to an extent that makes the voting system vulnerable to hacking — in line with other states ahead of November’s elections.

MA: Massachusetts wants to curb drug spending for Medicaid program

Massachusetts has asked the Trump administration for permission to limit the number of drugs that will be covered in its Medicaid program. State officials say the administration's decision could set a national precedent if it is approved and will show how serious President Donald Trump is about his vow to bring down drug prices.

NY: In New York governor’s budget, a fusillade against New York City’s mayor

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is using the state’s $168 billion budget plan to exert control over New York City and to raise his national profile. Among the Democrat’s initiatives: an aggressive plan to add oversight of the mayor-controlled public school system, and a directive to force the city to pay $418 million for emergency subway repairs.

GA: Bill aims to help more low-income Georgians pay for college

Georgia lawmakers passed legislation in the final hours before they left the state Capitol for good this session that many say marks the state’s most expansive effort to help low-income public college students earn their degrees.

WI: Wisconsin governor signs measure to close controversial youth prison by 2021

More than two years after state agents raided Wisconsin's deeply troubled prison for teens, Republican Gov. Scott Walker and lawmakers of both parties are shutting it down and replacing it. By 2021, Wisconsin will build or renovate smaller, regional facilities closer to offenders' families.

ME: Soaring premiums send thousands in Maine over a health care ‘cliff’

Escalating premiums and deductibles have driven about 10,000 Mainers over a health care “cliff,” where they can barely afford coverage, thanks to a vulnerability in the Affordable Care Act. Depending on the plan chosen, premiums have increased by about 70 percent or more since 2014 for some.

VA: No, Virginia didn't legalize medical marijuana. But cannabis oils get green light

Within the next few weeks, the Virginia Board of Pharmacy will open a competitive application process for up to five cannabis-oil facilities, one for each of the state’s five health regions. The system will put Virginia among a handful of states in the Southeast with medical cannabis programs.

Data Breach Notification Law ‘Highway Cap Parks’