What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/30

Top State Stories 1/30

WI: Federal court orders Wisconsin Legislature to redraw district lines

A federal court has ordered Wisconsin lawmakers to redraw the state’s legislative district lines by Nov. 1, saying the current lines are unconstitutional and should be replaced in time for the November 2018 election.

OH: Ohio releases draft rules to govern medical marijuana

The rules would require people who want marijuana for medical use to register with the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy, pay a $25 or $50 annual fee, and receive an ID card to buy the drug from retail dispensaries. Up to 40 licenses to grow and process the drug will be granted, with initial application and license fees of $100,000, and $100,000 annual renewal fees.

LA: Louisiana lawmakers may tap reserves to close budget hole

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards wants to take $119 million from Louisiana’s rainy day fund to help close a $304 billion budget deficit, but House Republican leaders say the gap should be closed with cuts alone.

IL: Illinois treasurer to launch tax-free savings accounts for people with disabilities

Illinois is forming a coalition with 13 other states to allow people with a disability or blindness and their families to open tax-deferred investment accounts, giving them flexibility to save money without jeopardizing state and federal benefits that are limited by income.

CA: California secession ballot initiative moves forward

Backers of a proposed 2018 ballot initiative seeking California's secession from the United States can begin collecting signatures, the state secretary of state's office has ruled.

TX: Federal judge blocks Texas fetal tissue burial rule

A federal judge blocked Texas from requiring that fetal remains be buried or cremated, saying the rule placed burdens on access to abortion that “substantially outweigh the benefits.”

KS: Kansas House bill calls for special fees for electric, hybrid vehicles

The bill would impose a $150 annual registration fee on Kansans who own electrical vehicles and a $75 fee on those who own a hybrid vehicle because they pay little or no gasoline taxes — the main source of financing state highway repair and maintenance. Sponsors argue every driver should pay his or her fair share of keeping up the roads they drive.

NY: New York bets on aging nuclear plants

New York is putting up $7.6 billion in subsidies to ensure that three nuclear plants stay open, part of the state’s strategy to lean on nuclear energy as it ramps up renewable sources such as wind, solar and hydroelectric.

HI: Hawaii bill would classify homelessness as medical condition

A bill introduced in the Hawaii Legislature would classify chronic homelessness as a medical condition and require insurance companies to cover treatment of the condition. The sponsor wants to redirect some of the state’s $2 billion annual Medicaid budget to pay for housing.

WV: Prescription sought for West Virginia nursing shortage

West Virginia needs jobs, and its hospitals need nurses. It’s getting the two needs to align that’s the real trick for potential employees, medical facilities and the colleges where prospective nurses go to be trained.

MA: Massachusetts governor seeks to restrict eligibility for welfare program

A small provision buried in the $40.5 billion state budget proposed by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker could strip benefits from about 5,700 of the poorest families in Massachusetts. Baker proposed a similar change last year but the Legislature nixed it.

PA: Facing budget crunch, Pennsylvania governor wants to merge four departments

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is seeking to merge four state agencies that oversee Pennsylvania's massive health and public welfare programs into a single department.

SC: Proposed law would regulate, eventually eliminate exotic pets in South Carolina

Fears that a hungry lion or an angry chimpanzee could escape captivity in South Carolina are driving a plan to prohibit state residents from keeping the exotic animals as pets. 

Small Towns That Sought Refugees Feel Effects of Executive Order Top State Stories 1/27