What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/20

Top State Stories 9/20

CA: U.S. appeals court blocks San Francisco ordinance on soda health warnings

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the beverage industry, granting its request to block a San Francisco ordinance mandating health warnings for soda and other sugary drinks. The court ruled that the California city’s ordinance unfairly targeted one group of products.

FL: Florida may set up gasoline reserve for hurricanes

Still reeling from the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, Florida lawmakers may consider setting up gas reserves and whether to make food and water available along major highways.

CO: Colorado court cases hinge on the difference between a tax and a fee

Fiscal conservatives and business groups in Colorado are contesting government fees of as little as 20 cents. They’re arguing in court that some fees should be considered a tax, and thus must be approved by voters under the state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

MA: Massachusetts high court says sobriety tests aren’t definitive evidence for pot use

The Supreme Judicial Court said Massachusetts police officers can no longer cite their subjective on-scene observations or sobriety tests to conclude in court testimony that a driver was under the influence of marijuana. The court found there is no scientific consensus those tests definitively prove someone is intoxicated by marijuana.

IL: Fed-up Illinois legislators head for the exit in big numbers

Illinois residents aren't the only ones throwing up their hands at the gridlock and increasingly polarized politics that have defined state government in recent years. More than two dozen legislators — about 15 percent of the General Assembly — have either resigned or said they won't seek re-election.

TN: Tennessee overdose deaths jump 12% in 2016, as opioid crisis rages

At least 1,631 Tennesseans died from drug overdoses in 2016 — up from 1,451 in 2015, according to new figures from the Tennessee Department of Health. The number of deaths is likely higher due to inconsistencies in how counties investigate and report deaths. Deaths from synthetic opioids increased from 169 in 2015 to 294 in 2016, according to the state data.

US: Not drinking or driving, teens increasingly put off traditional markers of adulthood

The percentage of adolescents in the U.S. who have a driver’s license, who have tried alcohol, who date and who work for pay has plummeted since 1976, with the most precipitous decreases in the past decade, according to a new study. The declines appeared across racial, geographic and socioeconomic lines and in rural, urban and suburban areas.

WY: Wyoming wants to get better at collecting debt

People or companies owe Wyoming roughly $80 million, and state lawmakers are eager to recover the money to help address the state’s $700 million deficit. One bill under consideration would add a 20 percent surcharge to late payments.

LA: Louisiana infants born exposed to drugs, alcohol triples in 8 years

The number of newborns in Louisiana exposed to alcohol and drugs before their births almost tripled over an eight year period ending in 2016. Officials said opioid addiction is part of what is driving the increase.

OK: Organizers launch fund drive for Bill of Rights monument at Oklahoma Capitol

A monument to the Bill of Rights will be placed on the east side of the Oklahoma Capitol, if organizers can get the funding. The Bill of Rights Monument Project hopes to raise about $850,000 over the course of design and construction.

AR: Arkansas receives 322 applications for medical pot licenses

Arkansas officials said there were 322 applicants for just 37 licenses to be the first to grow or sell medical marijuana in the state. And business records from the secretary of state's office show that dozens of pot-related ventures have already been registered.

NJ: New Jersey may become first state to use video replay for high school football

The statewide athletic association is exploring the possibility of implementing a pilot program in which select New Jersey schools would voluntarily participate. Only schools that use a wireless program that allows game action from press box and end zone angles to be instantly replayed on a tablet device would be eligible.

Farm Taxes Tennessee Reinstates Work Requirements for Food Stamps