Top State Stories 8/23
AL: Appeals court rules Alabama can’t ban second-trimester abortion procedure
A federal appeals court agreed with a lower court’s ruling that Alabama can’t limit a woman’s access to second-trimester abortions, effectively ending the right to an abortion at 15 weeks. The Legislature passed the ban in 2016, and it was set to take effect last year.
CA: California lawmakers move to help expunge pot-related convictions
A measure sent to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown would require the California Department of Justice to prepare a list of those convicted of marijuana crimes who are eligible to have them expunged, and to provide those names to the county prosecutors who handled the original cases. Prosecutors would have one year to challenge any dismissal of convictions.
IL: New Illinois law to strengthen insurance coverage for mental illness
The new law, signed by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, will bar private insurers in Illinois from requiring prior authorization for medications to treat addiction. It also will prohibit them from requiring patients to try cheaper anti-addiction medications before stepping up to more expensive ones.
MD: Maryland receives federal waiver for health care reinsurance pool
The Trump administration has approved a waiver allowing Maryland to create a reinsurance program designed to curb skyrocketing individual health care insurance premiums. Maryland is one of several that have asked the federal government for permission to create a pool of money that will essentially serve as insurance for insurance companies.
TX: Did Texas’ emergency registry for disabled residents do much good in Hurricane Harvey?
Texas has a system in place to identify people with disabilities who will need extra help during a natural disaster. But it’s unclear how many people actually received help through the State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry, or STEAR, during Hurricane Harvey.
MS: Mississippi governor calls special session on transportation
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant called lawmakers into special session to discuss more money for roads and bridges. The plan outlined by the Republican governor includes diverting some taxes on internet sales to cities and counties, creating a state lottery, using proceeds from a tax on sports betting and borrowing up to million.
FL: Florida governor requests school safety money shuffle to add more campus officers
Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott announced that unused money for a program to arm school staff — million — should soon be redirected to help school districts with other school safety measures, such as hiring more officers on campus.
ME: Maine governor’s bills to revamp child protection system sent to lawmakers
Maine Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, has drafted five bills that would dramatically overhaul the state’s child protection system, which has been under investigation for months following two high-profile deaths. The proposals include adding 18 positions, raising workers’ pay and reducing the emphasis on family reunification.
WI: Wisconsin closer to clearing backlog of untested sexual assault kits
Wisconsin’s attorney general said there are “well under” 500 kits left to be tested. The state received million in grant funding to test thousands of sexual assault kits sitting on police department and hospital shelves in hopes of developing DNA profiles.
PA: Pennsylvania casinos file suit claiming online lottery games infringe on their turf
A group of Pennsylvania casinos filed suit in Commonwealth Court seeking to stop the Pennsylvania Lottery from offering its new online games, claiming that they are too similar to slot machines.
NJ: New Jersey attorney general orders police to share info on crime guns
New Jersey’s law enforcement agencies are already required to trace all guns used in crimes in the state, but they have never been required to share the results of such a trace with one another for guns coming from other states.
WY: Wyoming water banking bill faces opposition
Lawmakers and water developers have challenged a draft of Wyoming’s first water banking bill with questions of need and whether it should apply only to Colorado River tributaries. One goal of the bill is to help ensure the state can meet water-supply obligations under the Colorado River Compact.
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