What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/25

Top State Stories 1/25

ID: Idaho plan would let insurers ditch ‘Obamacare’ requirements 

Concerned about soaring health care costs, Idaho plans to allow insurance companies to sell cheap policies that ditch key provisions of the Affordable Care Act. It's believed to be the first state to take formal steps without prior federal approval for creating policies that do not comply with the Obama-era health care law. 

KS: Kansas Gov. Brownback wins federal post; will resign 

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s old friend, Vice President Mike Pence, cast two tie-breaking votes to give the Kansas Republican a federal post as ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, six months after he was nominated. Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, a Johnson County surgeon, will succeed Brownback. 

NY: New York governor issues net neutrality order 

New York state will require internet providers to observe net neutrality or risk losing eligibility for state contracts under an executive order issued by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

ME: Maine lawmakers to consider lowering minimum wage 

Republicans and some business groups in Maine have pushed to reverse a minimum wage hike approved by voters in 2016 that they argue will harm the state’s economy in the long term. Lawmakers last year agreed to remove the voter-approved minimum wage hike for tipped employees. 

OK: Oklahoma bill would make wildlife property of ‘Almighty God,’ not state 

Legislation filed by Republican state Sen. Nathan Dahm would make Oklahoma’s wildlife the property of “Almighty God” instead of the state. The measure has been criticized by some as a waste of time and money, but Dahm said the measure is in response to over-zealous game wardens. 

VA: Virginia lawmaker proposes runoff elections, not drawing names, as new way to break ties 

After a tied Virginia House of Delegates election was decided by drawing a name from a bowl, a state lawmaker announced she'll push to change state law so that elections are decided via the political equivalent of overtime: runoff elections. 

IA: National bid to amend U.S. Constitution advances in Iowa Senate 

An initiative aimed at amending the U.S. Constitution to restrict the authority of the federal government is advancing in the Iowa Senate, despite contentions it could create a political free-for-all. The resolution would impose fiscal restraints, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and ask Congress to propose similar amendments. 

NV: Nevada regulators crack down on marijuana testing labs 

Nearly half of Nevada’s marijuana labs have had their license suspended in the past five months, three since late December. 

AL: Alabama House passes bill to end Senate special elections 

The Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill that would eliminate special elections when there are vacancies in the U.S. Senate. The Republican-backed bill passed 67-31 on a party line vote after about two hours of debate. It moves to the Senate. Democrat Doug Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore Dec. 12 to claim the seat in a bitterly contested race. 

MS: Mississippi pushes for Medicaid work requirements 

Thousands of Medicaid recipients in Mississippi would be required to work to be eligible for the program if the Trump administration approves a state waiver request. The proposal is likely to set off a firestorm of criticism from those who argue that work requirements, combined with Mississippi’s strict Medicaid eligibility requirements, will result in thousands of people losing their coverage. 

IN: With hopes of landing Amazon, Indiana lawmakers reconsider light rail ban 

An Indiana House panel has given initial approval to a measure that would repeal the prohibition on public spending on light rail projects in seven counties. State legislators are reconsidering the ban on light rail in Indianapolis, in hopes of being chosen for Amazon's second headquarters. 

FL: Florida Legislature may expand Miami needle exchange 

Two years after Florida lawmakers approved a needle-and-syringe exchange program in Miami-Dade County, the House and Senate are considering taking it statewide and expanding the types of providers who can offer the services. 

RI: Rhode Island to remove highway guardrails blamed for deaths elsewhere 

Rhode Island has become the latest state to ban a type of highway guardrail blamed for impaling vehicles in several deadly crashes across the country. There has been one known fatality involving the X-LITE guardrail in Rhode Island.

ACA Tug-of-War Stricter Welfare Rules