What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/26

Top State Stories 1/26

KY: Some Kentucky residents had no water for weeks. Now officials want to raise rates by half.

Nearly everyone in Martin County, Kentucky, has a number or knows someone who does. Nine, 14, 21. The number of days people in this rural Appalachian county near the West Virginia line have gone without running water in recent weeks would astonish some, but the problems run deeper than empty faucets.

CT: Connecticut General Assembly to review its policies on sexual harassment

The Connecticut General Assembly becomes the latest public institution to take stock of its workplace culture in the wake of scandals that have swept through the top ranks of entertainment, media and politics. The scandals over harassment and assault have not touched the General Assembly, though few would suggest that the state Legislature has been immune.

KS: One-third of Kansas lawmakers sign on to bill to ban anonymous bills

Dozens of Kansas legislators from both political parties are calling for a state law wiping out the century-old practice of allowing anonymous bills. After recent loud demands for more transparency in Topeka, 40 lawmakers — nearly one-third of the entire Kansas House — signed on as co-sponsors.

NY: As flu epidemic worsens, New York lets pharmacists give flu shots to kids under 18

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order suspending a New York state law that prevents pharmacists from vaccinating children under 18. Over the past week, 7,779 laboratory confirmed flu cases were reported to the state and 1,759 New Yorkers were hospitalized with the flu, the highest weekly numbers in both categories since reporting began in 2004.

IL: Illinois bill would ban tackle football for kids under 12

Illinois state Rep. Carol Sente, a Democrat, introduced the Dave Duerson Act, named for the former Chicago Bears professional football player who took his life in 2011 at age 50. He was found to have had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a degenerative brain disease that has been linked to repeated head trauma.

AZ: Arizona governor prepared to sign new opioid legislation

Paper prescriptions would be banned under legislation that Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey said he’s prepared to sign if it passes as anticipated. All prescriptions would be computerized by next year to cut down on forgeries, and opioid prescriptions would be limited in most cases to a five-day supply.

CA: Following devastating wildfires, California governor will examine forestry policies

A new task force of scientists and forestry experts will “review thoroughly the way our forests are managed and suggest ways to reduce the threat of devastating fires,” California Gov. Jerry Brown announced in his State of the State speech. The Democrat cited California’s growing severity of wildfires and the effects of climate change as driving the need to develop new forestry policies.

IN: Indiana takes small step toward legalizing medical marijuana as House votes to study issue

The Indiana House has unanimously voted to study the possibility of legalizing medical marijuana before next year's legislative session. While the resolution is far from an endorsement of legalizing the substance, it signals a newfound openness to the idea. Neither chamber has voted to study the topic in recent years.

PA: Still waiting for Congress to act, Pennsylvania community health centers begin cutbacks

To save about $400,000 this year, the Keystone Rural Health Consortia in central Pennsylvania laid off two employees, left unfilled four positions — including one of their two dentists — cut everyone’s hours by two-and-a-half hours a week, and reduced hours at their clinics. The grant that provides most of the federal funding for community health centers has now gone unfunded for four months.

WA: Washington Senate bills target workplace sexual harassment

Legislation in the Washington Senate would require employers to adopt more anti-harassment policies and aid victims reporting sexual harassment. Several state legislators were accused of sexual misconduct in 2017.

WI: Bipartisan panel re-appoints Wisconsin state election chief, defying GOP Senate vote to oust him

A bipartisan state commission in Wisconsin has voted to retain the state’s top election official, defying a state Senate vote to oust him. The move came despite strident protests from two Republican commissioners, who warned it could bring “chaos” by creating a legitimacy crisis with state elections.

MS: Mississippi would combat fake urine with ‘Urine Trouble’ legislation

Shoppers can now buy fake urine to defeat drug tests, but Mississippi lawmakers are fighting back with what they call the “Urine Trouble” bill. The bill’s Republican author said synthetic human urine products are being sold in truck stops. Several states, including Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, New Hampshire and Oklahoma, have already banned synthetic urine.

TN: Tennessee whiskey distillers focus on pollution controls as industry grows

As the whiskey industry continues to grow, Tennessee’s two largest distilleries struggled to comply with water quality regulations last year. Jack Daniels and George Dickel exceeded their limits for chlorine and other pollutants that can harm aquatic wildlife. After investigating the violations, the distilleries traced the problems to broken or inadequate machinery and faulty testing.

Plastic Bag Bans ACA Tug-of-War