What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/11

Top State Stories 5/11

VT: Vermont Legislature becomes first to approve legal marijuana

The Vermont House sent Republican Gov. Phil Scott a bill that would legalize small amounts of marijuana possession in 2018. Other states have legalized marijuana following a voter referendum, but no state has yet legalized marijuana solely through the legislative process.  

US, DE, NE: Aetna fully exits ‘Obamacare’ exchanges with pull-out in two states

Health insurer Aetna Inc. said it will exit the 2018 “Obamacare” individual insurance market in Delaware and Nebraska, the two remaining states where it offered the plans. Aetna had already said it would exit the individual commercial market in Virginia and Iowa, after pulling out of several other states last year.

CT: Connecticut governor calls for immediate budget cuts, withholding local aid payments

Facing sharp declines in income tax collections and a growing budget deficit, Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy ordered immediate cuts and called for withholding local aid. The plan to close Connecticut’s estimated $390 million budget gap will virtually empty the state's $235.6 million rainy day fund. 

CA: California weighs bill to limit child marriages

After facing opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union and some lawmakers, a bill that would have prohibited marriage for people under 18 in California now calls for more stringent judicial screening of child brides and grooms. 

NY: New York seeks applications to test driverless cars

In a first step toward possibly allowing driverless cars in New York, the state is seeking applications from companies interested in testing the vehicles on public roads. Testing under the one-year pilot program will require that the vehicles comply with all safety standards and come with a $5 million insurance policy.

LA: Bill would lift Louisiana ban on food stamps for drug felons

Louisiana lawmakers are advancing a proposal to repeal a one-year ban on people convicted of drug-related felonies from getting food stamps and welfare benefits when they leave prison. The measure is part of a package of bills aimed at lessening Louisiana’s incarceration rate and improving opportunities for those exiting prison.

WA: Washington governor signs gun background-check notification bill

The measure signed by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee requires Washington gun dealers to notify law enforcement if someone fails a background check after trying to buy a gun. The measure also requires the creation of a statewide notification system so that people are notified if someone they have a court-protection order against tries and fails to buy a gun.

SD: With revenue lagging, South Dakota’s governor asks agencies to cut expenses

Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard is calling for state agencies in South Dakota to cut as much as $15 million in expenses to balance the budget by the end of June, despite an uptick in tax collections last month.

SC: South Carolina Senate passes diminished Freedom of Information Act bill

State senators dramatically weakened a bill that would have made it easier for members of the media and the public to obtain government documents in South Carolina. 

OK: Oklahoma schools shorted $93 million in state aid this year

With state revenue collections continuing to fall short of expectations, the monthly payment from the state to Oklahoma public schools will be shorted by an additional $6.8 million, bringing the total reductions since January to $93.4 million.

AR: Loss of funding for DNA testing raises costs, concerns for Arkansas police agencies

A lab that handles tens of thousands of dollars worth of DNA testing in police investigations plans to soon stop accepting out-of-state samples, a move that officials say poses a problem for Arkansas and could add hefty new fees for local law enforcement agencies.

PA: Pennsylvania Senate OKs bill to clear way for more police body cameras

The bill would add Pennsylvania to a growing list of states that are setting statewide policy over the collection of audio and video by officers, including from dashboard and body cameras. The measure would exempt recordings from requests under Pennsylvania’s open-records law, although a court still could order the release of a police recording.

South Carolina Legislators Move to Limit Exotic Pets Unclaimed Property