Top State Stories 10/31
TX: Texas pediatric hospitals short on beds as respiratory illnesses surge among children
After two years of mild flu seasons, Texas hospitals are seeing high rates of respiratory illnesses among children. A shortage of pediatric beds has forced some families to seek treatment out of state.
US: Permitless carry laws raise new dilemmas for police officers
Many people celebrate the end of the bureaucracy erected around what they consider a constitutional right to carry firearms. But permitless carry laws have created a dilemma for officers working the streets: They now have to decide, sometimes in seconds, whether someone with the right to carry a gun is a danger.
ME: Too many cases and too few lawyers. Maine courts stretch to find available defense attorneys
The crisis in Maine’s legal defense system for the poor is worsening, with jailed defendants waiting as long as six weeks to be assigned an attorney and some parents of children who have been removed from home lacking a lawyer days before scheduled hearings, emails obtained by The Maine Monitor show.
ID: Idaho secretary of state launches election misinformation reporting tool
The Idaho secretary of state’s office said intelligence officials have warned state officials that foreign and domestic actors are spreading misinformation before the Nov. 8 election. A website form is intended to provide Idaho voters with one nonpartisan location to report social media posts that are attempting to undermine and discredit Idaho elections.
VT: University of Vermont will offer free tuition to residents whose families make under K
Starting next fall, the University of Vermont will be tuition-free to all Vermont residents whose families make less than ,000 a year, university officials announced. The board of trustees approved the plan, which would cover tuition and fees for in-state students — a total of ,890 a year. Out-of-state students pay more than twice that to attend UVM.
LA: Louisiana regulators face insurance storms on multiple fronts
Homeowners’ insurance has turned into a minefield for Louisiana officials, who are fielding a surge of complaints from policyholders over storm damage claims and rising premiums — all while trying to limit the number of insurers leaving the market or folding.
CO: Medicaid denials for Colorado children with severe disabilities set off ‘sheer panic’ among parents
Parents of children with medical needs so severe they need round-the-clock nursing care at home are in “sheer panic” as Colorado’s Medicaid program notified them this fall that their services have been denied or reduced. At least 20 families have hired legal counsel to fight the denials and about 150 people attended a meeting to discuss the denial letters, which were received during the past few weeks.
WA: Washington, governor lawmakers aim to keep anti-abortion ‘tentacles’ out of state
Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, and state Democratic lawmakers revealed details about a push to enact a “shield law” in Washington state that would protect abortion patients and providers from out-of-state legal action and announced two more bills in the works designed to ensure reproductive health care access.
AK: Partisan hardliners likely won’t fare well under Alaska’s new election system
In this year’s general election, almost half of the 59 Alaska legislative races feature intra-party contests. It’s a result of the state’s new open primary elections, where the top four candidates advance to the general election, regardless of their parties. In this new system, the fervent partisanship that drove out less hardline Republican incumbents in 2020 is now likely a liability.
MT: Environmentalists challenge Montana wolf rules in state court
Environmental groups WildEarth Guardians and Project Coyote are asking a court to toss out Montana’s current wolf-hunting regulations and declare four hunting laws passed last year unconstitutional. The groups argue that the four laws and the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission-set wolf quotas for the 2022-2023 hunting season violate the Public Trust Doctrine, “an ancient doctrine recognizing the principle that certain natural and cultural resources belong to the people, and that the government must protect and maintain these resources for future generations.”
MI: Michigan’s deer herd is flourishing as hunters stay home
Michigan’s deer herd is flourishing, and it’s becoming a problem. The herd is estimated at 2 million deer, up 300,000 from a decade ago. Michigan is the second-leading state for car-deer accidents in the U.S., and farmers and orchard growers are seeing rising problems as well.
WY: Vulnerable Wyoming state coffers see boost for now
The past fiscal year was much more lucrative for Wyoming than financial forecasters predicted. All major state revenue streams exceeded what was estimated in January, partially due to high oil and natural gas prices.
FL: Florida voters asked to scrap one way to amend constitution
Florida voters are deciding whether to get rid of a commission that meets every 20 years to recommend changes to the state constitution, the only such panel among the U.S. states that refers amendments directly to a statewide ballot.
MA: Massachusetts tax refunds to start going out Tuesday
Massachusetts officials said they intend to begin sending taxpayers their share of a billion refund when the calendar flips to November Tuesday, kicking off a roughly six-week process of doling out checks and direct deposits to millions of taxpayers. Eligible taxpayers will receive their refunds on a rolling, random basis, GOP Gov. Charlie Baker’s budget official said.
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