What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/20
TN: Speaker scandal revives scrutiny of Tennessee lawmakers
As calls for the Tennessee House speaker’s resignation intensify amid a scandal involving racist and sexually explicit texts, the GOP-dominant statehouse once again finds itself grappling with a culture that some say is harmful to women and people of color.
AR: Youth-lockup firm to get Arkansas job despite vote; governor rejects concern
Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he plans to hire an Indiana company to manage five Arkansas youth prisons, even though lawmakers voted against the $15.8 million contract, citing the company’s past management problems.
CO: Colorado will try to import Canada’s prescription drugs
Democratic Gov. Jared Polis has signed legislation allowing for the import of Canadian prescription drugs into Colorado, a change Democrats say could slash prices, if the federal government goes along with it.
IL: ICE detainees could not be held in private detention centers under Illinois bill
A push to ban privatized immigration detention centers across Illinois is headed for Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk. The measure would prohibit any unit of local government from entering into an agreement with a private company to operate a detention facility.
AZ: Arizona lawmakers consider using taxpayer money to pay for out-of-state private schools
The Arizona legislature is considering allowing taxpayer money to be used for private-school tuition outside the state. The proposal comes in response to concerns that some students might be kicked out of Arizona's scholarship program because they had used the public money to pay tuition in New Mexico.
FL: Tougher texting while driving law approved by Florida governor
Starting July 1, Florida police will be allowed to stop and ticket drivers for texting while they’re behind the wheel of a moving car, with limited exceptions. Drivers will still be able to use their phone while their car is stopped.
OH: Ohio bill would partly ban death penalty
An Ohio House bill would prohibit capital punishment for anyone with a serious mental illness. The proposal has stalled for years in the legislature but could advance this week for the first time after gaining support from a handful of Republicans.
HI: Hawaii leaders have done little to fix overcrowding at jails
Overcrowding at the Maui Community Correctional Center has persisted for years, and despite a March riot sparked by the problem, there seems to be little urgency among Hawaii's political leaders to deal with what some corrections officers have described as a crisis.
WI: Wisconsin sends hundreds of children out of state for mental health care
Hundreds of children in Wisconsin's child welfare and juvenile justice systems who have complex behavioral health needs are being sent for care to facilities outside the state — as far away as New Hampshire and New Mexico — as the number of care options within the state dwindles.
MN: Minnesota governor, lawmakers end budget impasse
Minnesota Democratic Gov. Tim Walz and top lawmakers arrived at a spending deal without the gas tax hike the governor wanted, but with schools gaining significantly more money than Republicans had sought. The compromise boosts the general fund overall by 6%.
LA: Amendment to declare abortion unconstitutional heads to Louisiana Senate
The proposed amendment would effectively ban abortion in Louisiana only if the U.S. Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade, its landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide. Voters in West Virginia and Alabama passed similar amendments last November.
CA: Trump threatens to cut millions from fire departments in California after deadly wildfires
Officials in California are crying foul over a Trump administration plan to slash firefighting assistance payments to the state, which could amount to millions of dollars in lost income for fire departments. The U.S. Forest Service, in turn, is accusing local fire departments in the state of overbilling the federal government as part of a federal-state partnership.
VT: Helmet requirement for scooters holds up Vermont transportation bill talks
After Vermont lawmakers thought they had finished hammering out agreements on a transportation spending package, a push to require participants in an electric scooter pilot program to wear helmets stalled negotiations.