Top State Stories 4/15
ID: Idaho House supports measure to ban city mask mandates
Idaho House members approved a bill that would prohibit local governments from imposing mask mandates as a health precaution, despite concerns over the measure’s legality. The bill would prohibit government entities or any public official from requiring face masks, shields or coverings.
OK: Oklahoma legislature approves bill granting immunity to drivers fleeing riots
Oklahoma’s legislature gave final passage to bills that seek to crack down on protests and prevent outbursts in local public meetings. Several bills, including a measure that would grant civil and criminal immunity for drivers who unintentionally injure or kill protesters while “fleeing from a riot,” now head to GOP Gov. Kevin Stitt’s desk.
IN: Indiana lawmakers send abortion ‘reversal’ bill to governor
The Republican-dominated Indiana House gave final legislative approval to a measure that would require doctors to tell women undergoing drug-induced abortions about a scientifically dubious option that the bill’s proponents claim could halt an abortion midway through the process. The bill now goes to GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb for consideration.
WI: Wisconsin Supreme Court rules governor can’t limit bars and restaurant capacity
The Wisconsin Supreme Court again said Democratic Gov. Tony Evers acted illegally when he took steps to curb the spread of COVID-19 without first getting approval from the state legislature. In a 4-3 decision, the conservative majority ruled Evers should have sought to limit capacity in bars and restaurants through a legislative process known as rulemaking.
AZ: Arizona lawmakers pass bill restricting sex education
Arizona lawmakers gave final approval to legislation that would require special parental permission before a student is taught anything about sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. The bill also would ban sex education before the fifth grade and require additional parental permission before a student is taught about AIDS and the HIV virus.
NE: Governor designates Nebraska as ‘sanctuary state’ for gun rights
Doubling down on his pro-gun rights credentials, Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts signed a symbolic proclamation designating Nebraska as a “Second Amendment Sanctuary State.”
TX: Texas Senate approves bill that would keep more people in jail if they can’t post cash bonds
The Texas Senate approved the chamber’s priority bail legislation that aims to keep more people accused or previously convictedof violent crimes in jail before trial unless they can post cash bonds.
MT: ‘Personhood’ bill aiming to ban abortion dies in Montana Senate
A bill that would have banned abortions in Montana was voted down in the Senate when it failed to get the two-thirds majority support from the full legislature necessary to advance. It would have had voters decide on changing the state constitution to define a person as starting at the moment of conception.
MI: Governor says Michigan’s COVID-19 surge is ‘not a policy problem’
Asked about her resistance to resuming some of the same restrictions that appeared to work in slowing the spread of coronavirus in the past, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Michigan doesn’t have a policy problem—it has a variant and compliance problem.
FL: Florida House passes bill to ban transgender athletes from women’s sports
In one of the most contentious votes of the legislative session, the Florida House voted to ban transgender athletes from women’s and girls scholastic sports. Florida is one of at least 30 states debating such a bill.
ND: Transgender sports bill goes to North Dakota Senate after House passage
Legislation that would restrict transgender girls in K-12 sports in North Dakota is one step away from the governor’s desk. The bill would prohibit public elementary and secondary schools from “knowingly” allowing a student to participate on a school-sponsored athletic team exclusively for their opposite sex.
OR: Oregon Senate approves bill to give tenants until February to repay missed rent
The Oregon Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of a bill that would give struggling renters until the end of February 2022 to repay missed rent accumulated during the coronavirus pandemic. The bill still needs approval in the House, but it appears likely to pass.
MN: Minnesota lawmakers clash over infrastructure funding
Minnesota legislators are facing off over how much to spend on construction projects but do agree on one thing: The state should not wait on the fate of President Joe Biden’s .3 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan to shore up roads, bridges and water systems.
SC: Religious, private schools sue to change South Carolina constitution over COVID aid
A new federal lawsuit calls for removing the amendment in the state constitution that bars South Carolina from using public funds for the direct benefit of private and religious schools.
ME: Bills to require photo ID to vote poised for defeat in Maine
Three Republican-backed bills requiring voters to show a photo ID before casting their ballots in Maine elections were voted down along party lines by a key legislative committee.
TN: Tennessee Senate passes bill to ban vaccine passports
The Tennessee Senate has passed a bill that would ban government-issued vaccine passports in the state and strip power from some county boards of health.
NV: Nevada governor sets June as goal for 100% reopening
Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak is lifting a statewide social distancing requirement on May 1 that he says will enable every county in Nevada to reopen to 100% by the beginning of June. Final decisions about whether to do so will, however, remain in the hands of counties.
GA: Georgia legislature invests in support for victims of stalking, domestic violence
Lawmakers passed bills that would make it easier for Georgians who are being stalked to get out of a residential lease, allow those in violent dating relationships to obtain protective orders and better track sexual assault evidence. Legislators also passed a budget that includes additional money for domestic violence shelters and sexual assault centers.
MS: Mississippi medical marijuana hangs in balance with state Supreme Court
The medical marijuana program Mississippi voters approved in November, set to begin in August, depends on a case before the state Supreme Court. The arguments focus on procedural issues—whether the initiative’s placement on the ballot through a signature petition was constitutionally proper.
MD: Maryland governor signs mental health law named for congressman’s son
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan signed a measure expanding access to Maryland’s 211 system, allowing people in mental distress to request periodic phone calls from a team staffing a crisis hotline. The law is named for 25-year-old Thomas Bloom Raskin, the son of U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat, who died by suicide late last year after what the family described as a years-long battle with depression.
UT: Utah redistricting meeting hacked by explicit images, language
Utah’s independent redistricting committee meeting was cut short after several people hacked the meeting’s video conference call. About 40 minutes into the meeting, an individual joined playing music with explicit lyrics and displaying a pornographic image. Shortly after, multiple people joined the meeting posing as Russian hackers. Some also blared music and used racial slurs.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.