What We're Reading: Top State Stories 8/18
OH: CVS, Walgreens and Walmart must pay $650.5M in Ohio opioids case
A federal judge ordered three of the nation’s largest pharmacy chains — CVS, Walgreens and Walmart — to pay $650.5 million to two Ohio counties, ruling that the companies must be held accountable for their part in fueling the opioid epidemic.
MO: Missouri voters to weigh forgiveness for past weed crimes
Missouri could become the first state to pass a voter-led effort to require courts to automatically forgive past marijuana crimes as part of a constitutional amendment to legalize recreational pot on November’s ballot.
WI: Doctors say Wisconsin's abortion ban is making them delay or deny care over legal concerns
Wisconsin's murky abortion law, written in the 19th century, defines abortion as the "willful killing of an unborn child," which could include even situations when it's clear the fetus has ceased to develop. Many Wisconsin OB-GYNs have found themselves navigating an uncertain legal landscape when it comes to providing abortion and miscarriage management care.
MI: Voters in West Michigan defund city's only library over LGBTQ books
When the Patmos Library staff refused to remove its books containing LGBTQ themes, Jamestown Township residents voted to defund the west Michigan community's only library. The decision, which made national news, illustrates a growing trend of book banning debates across the state and country, centering on LGBTQ books.
GA: Georgia governor accuses county DA’s office for playing politics as he fights subpoena
A long-simmering clash between two branches of Georgia government exploded into public view, when an attorney for Republican Gov. Brian Kemp moved to kill a subpoena seeking Kemp’s testimony before the Fulton County special grand jury studying potential criminal interference in Georgia’s 2020 elections.
WA: An old federal rule limits inpatient mental health beds in Washington
When adults in Washington need inpatient psychiatric care, a lengthy list of systemic barriers can prevent them from getting a bed. One of them is a federal rule that dates back to the 1960s and says the federal government won’t pay for inpatient care at psychiatric facilities with more than 16 beds.
OR: 3 chipmakers are eyeing blockbuster Oregon projects
A task force of top business and political leaders issued their long-awaited report on the future of the state’s chip industry, warning that Oregon risks missing out on billions of dollars in private spending and thousands of new jobs unless it makes immediate changes to improve the state’s appeal. The report says the state is courting three unnamed semiconductor companies that are contemplating Oregon investments of at least $6 billion apiece.
AK: Campaign to boost Alaska’s health care workforce gets a nearly $10M infusion
A nonprofit that works to increase health care access in Alaska has received nearly $10 million in federal funding to bolster the state’s chronically understaffed medical workforce, especially support staff. The grant, funded through the American Rescue Plan Act, was awarded to just 32 recipients nationally out of 509 applicants.
NJ: New Jersey launches what governor calls a ‘one of a kind’ student loan and training program
New Jersey championed what Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy called a “one of a kind” program that will give “revolving” loans to college students to help them train for jobs in health care, information technology and clean energy.
FL: Florida governor sued by ousted Tampa state attorney who wants job back
Two weeks after he was suspended from office, the Hillsborough state attorney fired back with a federal lawsuit against Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, citing free speech rights and prosecutorial discretion in his fight to get his job back. DeSantis suspended him after he signed statements pledging to refrain from prosecuting people who seek or provide abortions and condemning laws that criminalize transgender health care.
MN: More than 200,000 Minnesotans receive 'hero pay' denial notice
More than 200,000 Minnesotans have received denial notices for bonus checks through the state's "hero pay" program, marking the beginning of a two-week period for people to appeal that decision. Nearly 1 million Minnesotans are still in line for a check through the program, vying for a slice of the $500 million set aside for frontline workers at the height of the pandemic.
IA: Iowa allows high school athletes to be paid for endorsements
The Iowa High School Athletic Association and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union confirmed that high school students may now earn monetary compensation from the use of their name, image and likeness, known as NIL. Iowa becomes the 15th state to approve high school NIL, which was instituted at the collegiate level nationwide last year.
NM: New Mexico revenue explosion continues, as lawmakers weigh options
New Mexico’s revenue jackpot shows no signs of slowing down, with inflation-related consumer spending, strong wage growth and increased oil production propelling the state’s financial outlook to dizzying heights and raising new questions about how the unprecedented windfall should be put to use.