What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/16

Top State Stories 5/16

US: Six U.S. states accuse opioid maker Purdue of fueling overdoses

Six U.S. states sued the maker of the opioid OxyContin of using deceptive marketing to boost drug sales that fueled opioid overdose deaths. Drugmaker Purdue Pharma minimized risks and overstated benefits of long-term use of narcotic opioids, according to a civil complaint filed in Nevada state court and similar lawsuits filed in Florida, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas. 

LA: Public to decide fate of Louisiana’s Jim Crow-era jury law

The state Senate approved a constitutional amendment that would bring Louisiana in line with most of the rest of the nation in requiring that a jury reach a unanimous verdict before convicting a person. The proposal, once seen as a long shot, is now heading to a public vote in November. 

AK: Why Alaska is crafting a plan to fight climate change

While many conservative-leaning states have resisted aggressive climate policies, Alaska is already seeing the dramatic effects of global warming firsthand, making the issue difficult for local politicians to avoid. Ideas under discussion include cuts in state emissions by 2025 and a tax on companies that emit carbon dioxide.

CA: A dangerous opioid is starting to show up in cocaine and meth in California

Fentanyl, a lethal substance 50 times stronger than heroin, is sometimes mixed into other opioids to produce a stronger high. Now it is increasingly showing up in non-opioids such as cocaine and methamphetamine in California, worrying public health officials that the state may be staring down a new dimension of the deadly epidemic.

MI: Michigan House bill shortens space between self-driving trucks

Self-driving trucks would be allowed shorter distances between vehicles under legislation that passed the Michigan House. The bill would provide an exemption from the state’s requirement that trucks maintain sufficient space behind another truck or truck tractor – as long as the vehicle is part of an electronically linked group of self-driving trucks.

CO: Colorado boosts savings to $730 million, but it may not be enough

Thanks to a boost from a recent tobacco industry settlement, Colorado plans to sock away an extra $90 million next year in the state’s reserves. But by one credit rating agency’s analysis, it’s still woefully unprepared for the next economic downturn.

MN: Minnesota Republicans call for crackdown on child care assistance fraud

The GOP legislators introduced a measure that would grant regulators in Minnesota expanded powers to investigate child care fraud, following a news report that illegally obtained funds may be going overseas to fund terrorist groups. The state would be able to close child care providers that participate in its child-care subsidy program but do not fully cooperate with investigators.

KY: Kentucky lawmakers held illegal secret meeting to discuss pension cuts, judge rules

A judge has ruled that the Kentucky House of Representatives violated the state’s open meetings law with a closed-door conference in August where lawmakers from both parties huddled to discuss their plans to deal with the state’s pension crisis.

OH: Ohio governor creates state-level office to assist legal immigrants

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has long has welcomed immigrants to live and work in the state. Now the second-term Republican is offering formal state assistance, signing an executive order to create the Office of Opportunities for New Americans.

OR: Oregon sheds jobs for the first time in 16 months as economic slowdown continues

Oregon's total employment fell by 2,900 jobs in April, the first monthly decline since December 2016. Statewide unemployment remains at a historic low, 4.1 percent, but Oregon wage growth has slowed after three years of strong gains.

CT: Federal lawsuit seeks to block Connecticut from using conservation money to close budget deficit

The court action is to stop Connecticut from using $175 million that energy ratepayers contributed to three separate energy conservation programs through their utility bills. The bipartisan budget passed by the General Assembly last October calls for taking that money to help solve a multibillion state deficit crisis.

Physician-Assisted Suicide Law Marijuana Businesses