What We're Reading: Top State Stories 12/17
MI: Michigan governor strips wage, leave initiatives
The bills signed by Republican Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and likely to spur lawsuits weaken minimum wage and paid sick leave initiatives that had been headed toward the Nov. 6 ballot before the GOP-led legislature intervened. Democratic minorities in the state House and Senate were unable to stop the maneuver.
WI: Wisconsin governor curbs successor's power
As his last major act in office, Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation that scales back the authority of his Democratic successor, diminishes the power of the incoming Democratic attorney general and limits early voting.
NJ: New Jersey Democrats withdraw redistricting plans after backlash
Legislative leaders in New Jersey announced they would not move forward with a proposal to redraw legislative districts that would have essentially written gerrymandering into the state constitution.
CO: Stronger beer heads to Colorado stores, parks
On Jan. 1, after years of debate, Colorado’s unusual booze rules are set to change. The state will effectively erase its 3.2 beer law, a Prohibition-era restriction that prevented most general stores from selling full-strength beer.
ID: Court orders Idaho to provide surgery to inmate
A federal judge says Idaho must provide gender confirmation surgery to a transgender inmate who has been living as a woman for years but who has continuously been housed in a men’s prison.
CA: California had highest midterm election turnout since 1982
More than 12.7 million Californians cast ballots in the Nov. 6 election, representing 64.5 percent of the state’s registered voters. That represents the highest voter turnout rate in a gubernatorial election since 1982, when 69.7 percent of voters participated.
TX: Texas university trains health students in opioid overdoses
Starting in 2019, Texas A&M University will be the first university in the nation to train all its health science students to administer the drug naloxone, which reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. This will include more than 5,000 students each year from the pharmacy, dental, nursing, medical and public health schools.
OK: Half of Oklahoma is a ‘maternity desert,’ report says
For women in more than half of Oklahoma counties, pregnancy means preparing for at least one long drive, and putting their trust in a doctor they may never have met in person. The March of Dimes reports 41 of Oklahoma's 77 counties are “maternity deserts,” meaning they lack a hospital performing deliveries or an obstetrics provider.
HI: Hawaii governor unveils $17.3M plan for homeless
Hawaii Gov. David Ige wants to expand emergency shelter space, renovate existing shelters and support permanent housing for the homeless. The Democrat also announced that he had signed an emergency proclamation that will, in part, suspend procurement laws to help expedite the creation of shelter space and housing and the provision of homeless services.
ME: Maine to lose out on millions in federal opioid money
After drug overdose deaths rose to record levels in Maine in 2017, the Trump administration used 2016 data in the funding formula for a grant program, depriving the state of millions of additional dollars to support treatment and prevention programs for the opioid epidemic.
NY: Lawsuit aims to block New York legislators' pay raises
The constitutionality of a special committee that awarded New York state legislators their first salary increase in two decades is being challenged in court. A lawsuit filed in state Supreme Court by the conservative Government Justice Center argues that the process was flawed.
MT: Montana schools to propose ban on teacher-student sex
The Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction is asking legislators to ban consensual sex between school employees — from teachers to custodians to volunteers — and students, even if students are 18. The move is similar to laws in several other states that have been challenged in court but mostly upheld.
FL: Florida may have a plan to help more children get health insurance
Florida may have a plan to address the increasing number of children who lack health insurance, but it remains to be seen whether the proposal will get funded. The state Agency for Health Care Administration wants $16.3 million to help insure an additional 22,000 children.