State Highlights: Texas’ New Autism Community Is Ready For Enrollees; Milwaukee Health Department Employees Under Gag Order, Officials Find

Media outlets report on news from Massachusetts, Texas, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and California.

The first part of a $12 million project in Denton County that’s aimed at creating job and housing opportunities for adults with autism officially launches this year. Starting in mid-February, adults 18 and older who have a primary diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and who have completed high school can apply for placement in the 29 Acres Transition Academy, the founders say. The two-year transition program will help young people with autism learn to live independently, and offer specialized job training and employment assistance. Residents will be selected on a first-come, first-served basis as they meet the criteria. (Rice, 1/31)

A gag order banned Milwaukee Health Department employees from going to aldermen and Mayor Tom Barrett with their concerns about the city’s troubled lead program and other problems, health officials said Wednesday. Department employees disclosed the policy during a heated meeting at City Hall, where angry aldermen grilled them for more than four hours about a newly released report detailing a litany of problems with the city’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Program. (Spicuzza, 1/31)

The State Auditor’s Office released a 44-page report this week showing the Health and Human Services Commission allowed Superior HealthPlan, Inc., a health insurance company, to report $29.6 million in bonus and incentive payments paid to medical providers’ employees, even though those payments were not allowed under its contract with the state. (Evans, 1/31)

As UMass Boston struggles to fix its overwhelming budget troubles, one especially complex challenge has loomed large: a massive, underground garage in urgent need of costly repair. On Wednesday, interim chancellor Barry Mills said he has found a way to fix the garage for $92 million — dramatically less than the previous estimates of $150 million to $260 million. (Krantz, 1/31)

Glenn Chin, the former supervisory pharmacist at the New England Compounding Center, was sentenced to eight years in prison Wednesday for his role in a 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak that killed dozens of people across the country. Chin was charged in the deaths of 25 people who received tainted epidural steroid shots made at the now-closed Framingham pharmacy. (Cramer, 1/31)

State investigators say a nurse mistakenly gave a short-term resident at a New Hope, Minnesota, nursing home a dose of oxycodone that was 20 times stronger than he should have received, killing him. (1/31)

A North Texas operator of freestanding emergency rooms has moved its corporate office from Lewisville to Las Colinas. In a tweet Tuesday Adeptus Health said that it is now located on 220 East Las Colinas Boulevard in Irving. The Dallas Morning News has learned that its new space in the Mandalay Tower office building is two full floors and totals about 44,600 square feet. That’s significantly smaller than the the 80,000 square foot office space it leased in the Vista Ridge Business Park in Lewisville. (Rice, 1/31)

A limited exception to Iowa’s law making it a felony to carry firearms onto school property has cleared an initial hurdle at the statehouse, with the backing of the Iowa Firearms Coalition. Under the bill, a gun owner with a permit to carry can remain armed while driving onto school property for the sole purpose of transporting a student, but without entering the school building. (Russell, 1/31)

San Francisco will retroactively apply California’s marijuana-legalization laws to past criminal cases, District Attorney George Gascón said Wednesday — expunging or reducing misdemeanor and felony convictions going back decades. The unprecedented move will affect thousands of people whose marijuana convictions brand them with criminal histories that can hurt chances of finding jobs and obtaining some government benefits. (Sernoffsky, 1/31)

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