Top State Stories 12/3
WA: Washington lands commissioner floats insurance surcharge to fight wildfires
Washington Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz is asking lawmakers to add an annual surcharge to property and casualty premiums to raise money to prevent and fight wildfires. The proposal is projected to raise million per two-year budget cycle.
HI: New policy could result in cuts for special needs funding for some Hawaii schools
A new policy for special education in Hawaii is touching off some fears it could mean dramatic cuts for some schools and the ability to serve disabled students. The state’s largest public employees’ union, which represents principals and educational assistants, is raising the alarm and advising the state Department of Education to slow down implementation of the policy.
OK: Oklahoma state health department requests less funding, smaller budget
While Oklahoma ranks among the worst states for most health outcomes, the state Department of Health is aiming to reduce its budget by 1.5% next year. In a budget hearing at the state Capitol, Oklahoma Commissioner of Health Gary Cox asked legislators for a .5 million reduction in funds, a move that surprised and confused lawmakers.
NY: New York to expand syringe exchange programs into rural areas
New York has quietly established a program that expands access to clean syringes in rural areas, where more people are reluctant to buy clean syringes at authorized pharmacies because of stigma or cost. The state Health Department adopted the program using emergency regulations.
RI: Rhode Island growers angry about artificial state Christmas tree
This year’s state Christmas tree won’t fall victim to dehydration, missing needles or an untimely death, but the artificial tree that Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo selected to adorn the rotunda has outraged some who grow evergreens for a living.
MI: Michigan pot shops rake in K on first day
The state’s first three licensed pot shops opened in Ann Arbor, Michigan, 13 months after voters approved legalization of “adult use” of marijuana. The state imposes a 10% tax on adult use marijuana products and a 6% sales tax.
MN: Minnesota expands medical cannabis
Minnesota regulators unveiled a big expansion of the state’s medical marijuana program, adding chronic pain and age-related macular degeneration to the list of conditions that can qualify for treatment. The state Health Department also said it would add more sites where patients can access medical cannabis.
MS: Mississippi leads U.S. in asthma deaths
Jackson, Mississippi, is one of the deadliest U.S. cities for people with asthma. While other neighboring cities have similar allergens, environmental triggers and even higher asthma prevalence rates, Mississippi consistently has one of the highest death rates for asthma.
WI: Wisconsin election officials plan to ask lawmakers for clearer rules on when to purge voter rolls
Wisconsin election officials plan to ask the legislature to help set rules for when they should purge the voter rolls, in part in response to a lawsuit against the state. The commissioners want clearer rules about how to treat voters who may have moved.
MT: Montana lawmakers acknowledge lobbyists helped craft their op-eds attacking Medicare-for-all
Lobbyists either helped draft or made extensive revisions to opinion columns published by two Montana lawmakers in a way that warned against the dangers of Medicare-for-all and other government involvement in health care, according to emails obtained by The Washington Post.
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