To see if my 2017 Refunds are taxable, TT is asking me to enter some info from my 2017 federal return. Should it not check that information directly from its record?
No you have to enter it yourself. Someone might not have used Turbo Tax last year or even if they filled out a return they might have filed somewhere else. Or used the Desktop program, etc.
Did you Itemize Deductions last year? A State Tax Refund is taxable if you itemized deductions on that prior year's federal return and took a deduction for state income taxes instead of the sale tax. You got a deduction benefit for it so now you have to include it as income. If you took the standard deduction or filed a 1040EZ or 1040A it is not taxable and you don't need to report it.