Top State Stories 4/10
US: Congress approves states’ Colorado River drought plan
The U.S. House and Senate have approved the Colorado River drought contingency plan and sent it to President Donald Trump for his signature. Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming spent years negotiating the plan. The states aim to keep two key reservoirs from falling so low they cannot deliver water or produce hydropower.
SC: Billion-dollar Medicaid fraud ring has roots in South Carolina
The scheme involved offshore call centers in the Philippines, money laundering, bribes, kickbacks, U.S. doctors, companies with hidden owners and thousands of cheap, Chinese-made arm, leg, back and neck braces. Federal officials seized 22 bank accounts and five cars from a South Carolina man said to be a key part of the scheme.
FL: Florida lawmakers jump to fund red tide research, but some environmentalists are wary
A pair of bills in the Florida legislature promise to fund red tide mitigation efforts at Mote Marine Lab at million a year for six years. Some environmentalists are not so keen on the plan.
OK: Working in background, Oklahoma lawyer reaps fees in opioid case
Attorneys in Oklahoma’s opioid lawsuit have bragged that they slept on cots in their offices and went through millions of pages of evidence. But one private attorney in the case, a former legislative leader, stands to make .6 million in the recent settlement against a drugmaker despite having no obvious role documented in court filings.
GA: Georgia OKs providing menstrual products to low-income girls, women
In a first, Georgia legislators set aside money in next year’s .5 billion state budget to provide free menstrual pads and tampons to low-income women and girls.
CO: Colorado bill would let college student-athletes be paid
A bill set to be introduced in the Colorado state Senate would add colleges and college-athletes to state consumer protection laws. It would allow students to receive money from their universities directly and from endorsement deals, as well as give both the right to sue if the NCAA pushed back.
NY: The long life of New York’s film and TV tax credit
An million deal renewing New York’s film and television tax credit for two years was quietly tucked into the state budget.
AZ: Arizona bill would prevent cities from cracking down on bad landlords
City councils and other small governments in Arizona will not be allowed to pass any new rules for landlords under a bill approved by both chambers of the state legislature. The apartment industry backs the bill, while opponents say the bill handcuffs municipalities that want to set requirements for things like trash removal, security and living conditions of renters.
WI: GOP won’t confirm Wisconsin governor’s cabinet amid appointment fight
The Republican leader of the Wisconsin Senate said he is holding off on confirming Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ cabinet because of a dispute over whether 15 appointees of former GOP Gov. Scott Walker can keep their positions.
HI: Hawaii lawmakers consider vacation-rental tax legislation
Hawaii lawmakers eager to gather tax revenue from the state’s flourishing, yet mostly unpermitted, vacation rental sector are considering legislation that would require websites like Airbnb to collect and pay taxes on behalf of short-term rental hosts.
IL: Illinois lawmakers propose fingerprinting, more background checks on gun purchases
The proposed legislation would require fingerprints as part of gun license applications and background checks on all gun purchases in Illinois. It also seeks to strengthen efforts to remove firearms from the possession of someone whose gun license has been revoked.
OH: State lawmakers offer new proposal to allow sports betting in Ohio
Ohio state lawmakers have introduced a new bill that would legalize and tax sports betting, using the proceeds to pay for education and running the program under the state lottery. The bill is modeled after one in West Virginia, which launched its own sports-betting program last year.
MO: Shrinking summer vacations spur call for Missouri schools to start later
In a move pitting the tourism industry against school groups, a Missouri lawmaker wants to bar schools from starting classes before late August.
MA: Massachusetts bill aims to crack down on black market marijuana
Two Massachusetts state lawmakers want to create a task force of law enforcement, public health leaders and regulators to crack down on unlicensed marijuana sellers. The group would receive investigative tips, share information on criminal investigations, refer leads to police and prosecutors, and focus resources on areas where illicit activity is “most prevalent.”
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