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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/2

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/2

LA: U.S. Supreme Court to take up Louisiana abortion law this week

theadvocate.com

Louisiana is set to play a pivotal role in the future of abortion access in the country as the U.S. Supreme Court takes up its first major abortion case of the Trump era. Louisiana's Act 620 would require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

MD: Maryland lawmakers explore restrictions on hospitals suing patients 

baltimoresun.com

Maryland hospitals sued their patients over unpaid bills more than 145,700 times between 2008 and 2018. A bill would require hospitals to do more to provide financial help to eligible patients and potentially allow hospitals to charge all patients more to cover additional charity cases. 

AZ: Arizona county received defective coronavirus tests, congressman says

azcentral.com

U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton, a Democrat, said health officials in Maricopa County, Arizona, received defective new coronavirus test kits from federal authorities and blasted the White House for a "flat-footed" response to the widening scare.

GA: Bill takes aim at long lines on Election Day in Georgia 

ajc.com

A bill backed by Republican Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger would require election officials to do something about long lines. If lines last more than an hour, county election superintendents would have to split up precincts that have more than 2,000 voters, provide additional voting equipment or hire extra poll workers.

MS: Mississippi considers limit on drug called kratom 

apnews.com 

Mississippi legislators are debating whether to either regulate or ban kratom, an herbal drug that can be used for pain relief and that is currently unregulated in most parts of the United States. As of 2018, kratom was illegal in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee, Vermont, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.

AL: Alabama prison plan includes rehab, sentencing, building

al.com

The plan for Republican Gov. Kay Ivey and state lawmakers to tackle Alabama’s prison crisis is taking shape with the announcement of five bills and several other initiatives. The proposals are separate from the governor’s plan to replace some of the state’s aging prisons with three new prisons for men.

WY: Wyoming lawmakers poised to pass 5% statewide lodging tax

apnews.com

Republican Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon has previously endorsed the bill, saying a lodging tax is the only new tax he would support. Wyoming is seeking ways to shore up its budget amid declining energy production revenue, but the Republican-dominated legislature is reluctant to support tax increases.  

OK: Oklahoma lawmakers seek mental health parity

oklahoman.com

Some Oklahoma lawmakers want health insurance companies to cover mental health and addiction the same way they cover physical ailments. Legislation introduced by Republican state Sen. John Montgomery would clarify whether insurers in Oklahoma meet federal requirements for parity. 

IN: Indiana lawmakers advancing landlord-friendly bill tied to real estate

indystar.com

Four House Republicans advanced landlord-friendly legislation at the Indiana Statehouse that would strip away newly enacted protections for Indianapolis renters. All four have professional ties to real estate, which adds a new layer of complexity to a conflict that suddenly erupted over landlord-tenant laws in Indiana. 

MN: Spread thin by budding industry, Minnesota regulators call for state cannabis office

startribune.com

Minnesota regulators are calling on lawmakers to create a central state cannabis office to oversee the booming markets for hemp, CBD and medical pot — which they say are quickly expanding beyond their grasp. 

WA: Washington officials scramble to stem spread of novel coronavirus

seattletimes.com

A man in Washington state has died of COVID-19, an illness caused by the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, and two more cases at a long-term care facility were identified, prompting Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, to declare a state of emergency to try to contain the virus. Washington state’s public health lab started testing samples from patients, significantly reducing the wait time for results.

HI: House Speaker wants Hawaii prepared for coronavirus economic hit

civilbeat.org

The Hawaii House’s top leader said his chamber would form a select committee to assess the threat from the coronavirus to the state’s economy. The committee will identify the potential economic affects of coronavirus, develop short-term and long-term mitigation plans and monitor conditions and outcomes.

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