Top State Stories 5/19

By: - May 19, 2021 12:00 am

AK: Alaska Senate passes bill that would pay for essential, laid-off workers to attend college

The Alaska Senate passed a bill that would pay university tuition for Alaskans who were employed as essential workers or were laid off when the federal COVID-19 emergency began. The bill would provide up to million through the end of 2024 for people to attend Alaska colleges or other state-certified postsecondary programs.

CT: Connecticut Senate votes to create commission to address racial inequities in health care

Prompted by the coronavirus pandemic highlighting wide racial disparities in health care, the Connecticut Senate voted to declare racism a public health crisis and create a special, 28-member commission to study the issue.

MA: As state of emergency ends, Massachusetts mulls keeping some COVID-era rules

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker is ending the state of emergency in Massachusetts. Now, state lawmakers are being pressed to extend, or make permanent, a host of pandemic-related rules governing virtual select board meetings, sidewalk lunches and to-go margaritas before Baker lifts his emergency declaration on June 15.

OR: Oregon says residents must show proof of vaccination to forgo masks indoors

Oregon will allow people to go maskless outside but will require them to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19—and be able to prove it—to forgo masks in most public indoor settings. That’s according to new guidance released by the Oregon Health Authority.

MI: Waste from coal-fired plants threatens Michigan water safety

Michigan’s coal-fired power plants are annually generating more than 1 million tons of waste that’s laden with lead, mercury and arsenic, and poses significant dangers to the health of residents and the state’s ground and surface water, the Michigan Environmental Council said in a new report.

IA: Conservative group that bragged of writing Iowa election law now says it didn’t

Heritage Action, a national conservative group that claimed credit for writing parts of a recently approved Iowa election law that restricted voting access, said in a letter to state regulators that it did not lobby on the legislation. Its executive director claimed in a recently leaked video that “we worked quietly with the Iowa state legislature” to pass the law.

MN: Impasse over ‘clean cars’ rule jeopardizes Minnesota environmental funding

Millions of dollars for environmental efforts around Minnesota remain in limbo despite a broad state budget agreement because of the ongoing impasse over new vehicle emissions rules. Senate Republicans are determined to stop Minnesota from following California’s lead in tightening tailpipe emissions standards and requiring automakers to send more electric vehicles to the state for sale.

VT: Vermont legislature sends mail-in voting bill to governor

The Vermont legislature has passed a bill that would send general election ballots to all active voters, making permanent a policy used last year during the pandemic. If enacted, the measure would be the largest expansion of Vermont voter access in decades, making it one of the most voter-friendly states in the country.

NY: Agricultural seed dispute pits New York farmers against beekeepers

New York crop farmers are pushing back against a bill in the state legislature that would ban a widely used form of pesticide-treated seeds that advocates say are harmful to bees and other beneficial insects.

ME: Bill would end use of student restraint and seclusion in Maine schools

Parents of children with behavioral disabilities, special education teachers, administrators, behavioral specialists and others are urging Maine lawmakers to retain Department of Education rules that allow schools to temporarily restrain and seclude students when they become a danger to themselves or others. 

OH: Democrats, Republicans say Ohio’s current cash bail system traps people behind bars

Fifty lawmakers from both parties have signed onto two companion bills in the Ohio House and Senate that would overhaul how courts use cash bail across the state. 

LA: Louisiana bill would require trauma training for teachers

The Louisiana House Education Committee passed a bill that would require public school teachers, counselors and administrators to receive trauma-informed training that includes recognizing signs and symptoms of traumatic childhood experiences.

WI: Bill that would limit Wisconsin police chokeholds advances without much opposition

Under the bill, Wisconsin law enforcement officers could use chokeholds only in life-threatening situations or in self-defense. Chokeholds have gotten increased attention across the country over the past year, following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer last spring. 

DE: Delaware legislature passes election bills

One bill that now goes to Democratic Gov. John Carney would register eligible Delaware voters when they interact with the DMV. House lawmakers also passed a bill seeking to move the state’s primary date to match the presidential primary in April. That bill now heads to the state Senate. 

CA: Rural California could lose thousands of jobs as prisons close. What can the state do?

California’s prison system employs some 50,000 people and consumes about billion in annual state spending. Several of the prisons are big players in their local economies. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has closed two of the state’s 34 correctional facilities. Some want him to go further, citing a dramatic decline in the state’s incarcerated population. 

MT: Montana governor signs off on recreational marijuana for adults

Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte has signed off on the Montana legislature’s final plan for implementing recreational marijuana in the state. The law will allow existing medical marijuana providers to get licensed to sell to recreational customers, with the first legal sales starting Jan. 1, 2022.

NH: New Hampshire faces high turnover among school superintendents

More New Hampshire superintendents and assistant superintendents are leaving their jobs this year, joining a nationwide trend many attribute to the stress of managing school districts during the pandemic. According to the New Hampshire School Administrators Association, more than 20 district leaders are retiring or changing jobs at the end of this semester, compared with 12 last year, and nine the year before.

TX: Texas Senate passes ban on gender-affirming medical care for transgender youths

The Texas Senate gave final approval to a controversial proposal that would revoke the license of physicians and others who provide or prescribe gender-affirming care to Texans under the age of 18. 


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Stateline staff
Stateline staff

Stateline’s team of veteran journalists combines original reporting with a roundup of the latest news from sources around the country.