Top State Stories 3/8
NH: New Hampshire House passes death penalty repeal by a veto-proof margin
The New Hampshire House took a big step toward repealing the death penalty, with a veto-proof vote of 279-88 for a bill that would revoke the existing capital punishment statute and would replace it with a penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of a police officer or other capital offenses.
MD: Maryland House approves legalizing medically assisted suicide
Following an intense and emotional debate that brought some lawmakers to tears, the Maryland House approved a bill that would allow terminally ill adults to obtain prescription drugs they could take to end their lives. It was the fourth attempt to pass the measure.
TN: Tennessee House passes controversial fetal heartbeat bill
The Tennessee House passed a controversial bill that would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, legislation that could become among the most restrictive in the nation. The state Senate has yet to take it up.
AR: Bid in Arkansas to ratify Equal Rights Amendment fails
An effort to make Arkansas the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment failed in a state Senate committee. Approved by Congress in 1972, the proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution would outlaw gender discrimination. Thirty-eight states must ratify it first, but only 37 have.
GA: Georgia Senate approves state takeover of Atlanta airport
The Georgia Senate passed a measure that would give the state control of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, a move Atlanta’s mayor said is tantamount to declaring war on the city. Supporters say the switch is needed to protect the state’s economic engine from corruption and mismanagement.
RI: Rhode Island House passes bill to guarantee abortion rights
The measure approved by the Rhode Island House would protect the legality of abortion in the state, no matter what an increasingly conservative U.S. Supreme Court might do to the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling. The legislation now goes to the state Senate, where its fate is uncertain.
NV: Bill would bar Nevada from using private prisons
The Nevada legislature has again taken up a measure barring the state from contracting with private prisons to house inmates. There are no private prisons in Nevada, but the state contracts with private prisons in other states to house Nevada inmates. The bill would not impact federal inmates.
FL: Florida Bible study bill wins approval in first House stop
A bill that would require Florida public high schools to offer an elective course on the Old Testament and New Testament began moving through the Florida House, but not without significant concerns raised about its possible unconstitutionality.
AL: Gas tax plan clears first hurdle in Alabama legislature
A plan to raise Alabama’s fuel tax by 10 cents over three years to increase funding for roads and bridges and improvements to the state port in Mobile cleared its first test in a House committee.
SD: Pipeline protest bills head to South Dakota governor
The South Dakota Senate and House passed a bill less than 72 hours after it was introduced that would allow the state, and potentially a third party in partnership with the state, to sue protesters to cover extraordinary law enforcement costs related to a pipeline’s construction.
NM: New Mexico House passes recreational marijuana bill
The New Mexico House bill now includes a variety of ideas originally contained in the Senate version — including a plan to offer retail sales of marijuana largely at state-run stores. Private businesses could sell recreational cannabis in certain circumstances, such as if a state store isn’t nearby.
VA: Virginia to join 18 states with full school tobacco bans
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, signed two bills that ban tobacco on school property for every school district in the state — outlawing the product in every school-related setting, including school activities off campus.
ND: Bill tightening seat belt enforcement fails in North Dakota House
Arguments in favor of preserving personal freedom prevailed over safety concerns during a North Dakota House debate on a bill tightening the state’s seat belt enforcement. The bill would have repealed state law requiring police officers to have other grounds to pull over a driver for being unbuckled.
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