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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/23

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/23

ID: Idaho Supreme Court denies state request to lift pause on abortion law

idahocapitalsun.com

The Idaho Supreme Court denied a request from the state attorney general’s office to end its pause on implementation of an abortion law passed this year. The law allows civil lawsuits against medical professionals who provide abortions after fetal cardiac activity can be detected by ultrasound, which is generally by six weeks of pregnancy.

AR: Arkansas’ eviction rate is highest in 5 years

arkansasonline.com

As of last week, 2,855 evictions had been filed in state courts since the start of 2022, according to an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette analysis. The number is 45% higher than evictions filed last year over the same period. Last month, Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the state didn’t need about $86 million in federal housing aid.

NM: New Mexico removes breakthrough case data from COVID reports

abqjournal.com

COVID-19 cases in New Mexico have ticked up 121% in about a month, and plenty of those are breakthrough cases, according to weekly epidemiology reports. However, about a month ago the state Department of Health quietly removed from its reports data that compared the most recent four weeks of cases, hospitalizations and deaths among unvaccinated, vaccinated and vaccinated and boosted people.

MN: Minnesota legislature approves bill to address drought, fund broadband

minnpost.com

The Minnesota legislature passed a bill that would direct $18.4 million to address drought and disaster relief, mostly for livestock and specialty crop farmers hurt by the 2021 dry period. The bill also includes $110 million to help build high-speed internet infrastructure. Democratic Gov. Tim Walz is expected to sign it.

OK: Oklahoma legislature approves Medicaid managed care legislation

oklahoman.com

Oklahoma legislators approved plans to revamp the state's Medicaid program into a value-based health care model that incentivizes providers to improve patient health. The Oklahoma Supreme Court last year had ruled the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, which oversees the state's Medicaid program, had exceeded its authority in trying to implement managed care.

GA: Ex-Georgia insurance commissioner indicted on health care fraud charges

ajc.com

Georgia’s former insurance commissioner has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of health care fraud and money laundering, prosecutors announced. The conduct alleged in the indictment occurred after his 16-year tenure as insurance and safety fire commissioner ended.

PA: Pennsylvania lawmaker urges public database of bridge conditions

post-gazette.com 

Months after Pennsylvania officials stripped crucial information about poorly rated bridges from public view, a veteran state lawmaker is pushing for databases that will alert people to the condition of thousands of spans statewide. 

MD: Former Maryland governor's assistant abused state office, legislature finds

baltimoresun.com

The former head of the Maryland Environmental Service abused his position at the state agency by collecting exorbitant personal expenses, improperly hiring close personal associates and arranging for an unprecedented $233,647 severance payment when he transitioned out of the job, according to a legislative investigation.

TN: Tennessee addiction treatment centers face staff shortages

tennessean.com

Tennessee addiction treatment centers can’t find enough workers because of a tight labor market and low reimbursement rates by the state. The situation has forced some centers to reduce capacity, leaving low-income Tennesseans with dwindling options for addiction treatment—even as more residents die of opioid overdoses.

WI: Wisconsin Republicans reject recalling Biden votes, removing speaker

apnews.com

Wisconsin Republicans rejected calls to rescind the state’s Electoral College votes cast for President Joe Biden and to remove Republican Robin Vos as speaker of the state Assembly. Delegates at the state party’s annual convention did adopt nearly four dozen other resolutions that include calling for every ballot in the state to be cast on paper and hand-counted on Election Day.

CT: Connecticut poised to pay down billions in pension debt

ctmirror.org

Connecticut is poised to deposit an extra $3.6 billion in its cash-starved pension funds when the fiscal year closes in June, after tax revenues surged yet again. Those supplemental payments would be on top of the $2.9 billion in required contributions the state made this fiscal year to pensions for state employees and municipal teachers. 

SC: South Carolina mobile optometry bill signed into law after years of controversy

postandcourier.com

A debate between South Carolina eye doctor groups and a mobile optometry nonprofit has come to a close after legislation was passed in the statehouse and signed by Republican Gov. Henry McMaster. The new law regulates mobile optometry units. 

FL: Florida lawmakers to target roof claims during property insurance session

tampabay.com

Florida lawmakers unveiled proposed legislation that would allow homeowners with older roofs to still get property insurance and create a fund for Floridians who want to upgrade their homes. Lawmakers are returning to Tallahassee to tackle Florida’s property insurance crisis.

HI: Coalition criticizes Hawaii telehealth bill

staradvertiser.com

A coalition of social workers, psychologists and other medical professionals in Hawaii is urging Democratic Gov. David Ige to veto a bill that could restrict telehealth appointments for mental health services, which soared during the pandemic. 

VA: Virginia budget negotiators signal they are close to a deal

washingtonpost.com

Virginia budget negotiators are so close to a deal that they’re telling fellow legislators to set aside June 1 as a possible date to return to the Capitol for a vote and urging them to wrap up haggling over any other bills held over from the regular session.

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