What We're Reading: Top State Stories 8/11

Top State Stories 8/11

RI: Many overdose patients at Rhode Island hospitals refuse recovery counseling

Nearly half of all patients hospitalized in Rhode Island for drug overdoses — 45 percent — refused to speak with a recovery coach, according to state health department data. The daunting statistic is a setback for a peer counseling program that has become a national model.

WA: Washington state supreme court upholds gun tax

The Washington state Supreme Court upheld Seattle’s tax on gun and ammunition sales. The plaintiffs have said the tax — $25 per gun and 2 or 5 cents per round of ammunition — violates a Washington law that bans cities from regulating firearms, reserving that authority for the state.

GA: Growing student debt a danger to Georgia economy

A growing number of Georgians are dropping out of college because of the rising costs and the debt that comes with it.

IL: Feds say Illinois county’s soda tax collection violates food stamp rules

Cook County's sweetened beverage tax has landed Illinois in hot water with the feds, potentially causing roughly $87 million in federal food stamp money to be withheld. The problem: Purchases made with federal food stamp benefits are exempt from the soda tax under federal law, but Cook County has allowed retailers to tax those purchases and provide refunds as a workaround.

NC: North Carolina legislators OK redistricting rules

North Carolina’s legislative leaders adopted rules they will use when drawing new election district lines, after 28 districts were ruled unconstitutional last year. The current lines were drawn in a way to unfairly disenfranchise black voters, federal courts found.

ME: Federal audit finds Maine failed to investigate deaths of developmentally disabled patients

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services failed to investigate 133 deaths and failed to report 34 percent of critical incidents involving developmentally disabled Medicaid patients in Maine.

NV: Ban on home delivery for recreational pot surprises Nevada industry

The Nevada Department of Taxation's draft regulations to govern recreational marijuana don't include home delivery service, which is currently allowed under temporary regulations. 

AL: Judge says law barring sex between Alabama teachers and students is unconstitutional

An Alabama judge has ruled that a state law criminalizing sex between high school teachers and their students is too broad and does not account for students who are otherwise legally able to consent at age 16. 

TX: Texas lawmakers dug budget hole, report says

A new report says the deferrals and other fiscal tricks Texas lawmakers used this year are digging a $7.9 billion hole legislators will have to fill when they return to write a new budget in January 2019. The report estimates that lawmakers put $2 billion less than will be required into the state’s Medicaid program, and will have to make up a deferral of sales taxes intended for transportation that will end up costing $3.6 billion.

MO: Out-of-state travelers expected to pack Missouri roads for solar eclipse

More than a million out-of-state visitors will pack Missouri’s roads over the four-day weekend, according to the Missouri Department of Transportation. There could be traffic jams on the highways, like Interstate 29, leading into cities that are prime viewing of what for many will be a once-in-a-lifetime event.

WI: Wisconsin Senate leader says Foxconn should get deadline to create jobs

Wisconsin state senators want Taiwanese manufacturing company Foxconn to be given deadlines to create the 13,000 jobs it has promised to bring to the state in exchange for a $3 billion incentive package funded by state taxpayers.

SC: For the first time, South Carolina could have rules for tethering dogs

Dogs left tethered outdoors could suffer serious injuries or even die from neglect. A special panel created by South Carolina lawmakers is proposing rules that would require dogs be provided with food, water and shelter, and be able to comfortably move around.

CO: Switchblades are legal again in Colorado

"Knife rights" activists celebrated this week as a law overturning Colorado's 54-year ban on switchblades went into effect. 

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