What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/17
CA: To recruit doctors, California is paying off medical school debt
California will spend $340 million paying off doctors’ debts using Proposition 56 tobacco tax revenue. California’s program is aimed at increasing the number of doctors who see low-income Medi-Cal patients in a state experiencing a shortage of health care providers.
DE: Delaware raises smoking age from 18 to 21
Delaware Democratic Gov. John Carney signed the law that increases the legal smoking age to purchase tobacco products to 21. The law prohibits retailers from selling and adults from purchasing tobacco products for young people, threatening to fine them up to $1,000 for doing so.
PA: Pending Pennsylvania bill could curb opioid treatment drug
Senate Bill 675 would require that doctors who prescribe buprenorphine also get special state licenses and pay new fees of as much as $500.
MO: Missouri high court blocks challenge to clean water commission
The Missouri Supreme Court rejected an attempt to block a 2016 state law that gives farming interests more power to regulate the state’s water quality. In a unanimous decision, the high court said the Missouri Coalition For The Environment did not have legal standing to pursue the state legislature’s rewrite of the Missouri Clean Water Commission.
MD: Maryland created a website to deter gambling. It ended up promoting casinos
Legislative auditors have accused Maryland’s Behavioral Health Administration of lax oversight of hundreds of millions of dollars in grants — including a mismanaged anti-gambling website — and referred two other matters to the attorney general for possible criminal investigations.
NY: Landlords sue to dismantle New York’s new rent regulations
New York landlords are striking back at new rent laws, filing a lawsuit intended to dismantle the entire rent-regulation system, which dictates the rents of about 2.4 million tenants and nearly a million apartments.
CO: Colorado health exchange premiums could drop 18%
For the first time since Colorado started its health insurance exchange, the prices people pay for coverage are expected to drop — by a statewide average of 18.2% — next year if the federal government approves a new state program called reinsurance.
NV: Behavioral health homes to continue in Nevada
The innovative behavioral health home model that Nevada helped to pioneer two years ago isn’t going away anytime soon, state officials said, despite reports that clinics in other early-adopter states notified staff and patients of layoffs and service cuts after Congress failed to reauthorize funding for the program last week.
NJ: Governor just made New Jersey's gun laws even tougher
New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed four new gun control bills into law — including one designed to make personalized “smart guns” more easily available in the state. The laws expand the list of crimes that bar someone from owning a gun in New Jersey, attempt to curtail gun trafficking from other states, and aim to prevent suicides.
HI: Negotiations break down between Hawaii officials and telescope protesters
Negotiations over ground rules about access to Mauna Kea Access Road broke down between Native Hawaiian activists and the state. The leader of the Thirty Meter Telescope protesters said police refused a handful of terms, including the maintenance of the protest checkpoint, including the kupuna tent with about a dozen elders, and not allowing the National Guard up the mountain.
FL: New lawsuit alleges Florida teachers owed up to $30 million
A former teacher filed a class-action lawsuit that accused the Florida Department of Education of allowing employer taxes to be wrongfully deducted from bonuses, costing high-performing teachers hundreds of dollars each check.