Top State Stories 6/21
ME: Maine legislature votes to decriminalize drug possession, bucking governor, police
The Democratic-led Maine legislature endorsed a bill that would reduce the possession of scheduled drugs from a crime to a civil penalty in a victory for criminal justice overhaul advocates this session.
MS: Mississippi Democratic lawmakers announce bill that would eliminate Confederate Memorial Day
Two Democratic Mississippi lawmakers announced they are filing a proposal to eliminate the Confederate Memorial holiday and replace it with Juneteenth at the beginning of the 2022 legislative session.
AK: Alaska agency moves to spend .5M on Arctic refuge development
The Biden administration has suspended oil leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and aims to thwart drilling there, but an Alaska agency is still pushing ahead with its plans for development.
CO: Colorado lawmakers changed policing in response to the George Floyd protests
Colorado lawmakers this session passed bills that would regulate use of force, expand alternatives to policing and make police actions and discipline more transparent to the public.
ID, OR: Rural Oregon’s move to join Idaho has little chance of success
The Greater Idaho Movement faces a daunting path: Its ambitious proposal requires the approval of both the Oregon and Idaho legislatures, followed by Congress.
AZ: Draft rules for sports betting are under review in Arizona
When legal sports books open in Arizona this year, gamblers who owe child support or court fines and win big are likely to have their money garnished to pay their debts to the state.
NM: New Mexico will pay some employees for excess, unused leave
Hundreds of New Mexico state employees are set to receive some extra pay this month as compensation for annual leave they didn’t use last year amid the pandemic.
MO: Missouri leads nation in COVID cases per 100,000 residents
Hot spots in north-central and southwest Missouri have bumped the state into the unenviable position of reporting the most COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days, according to data from The New York Times.
TX: Texas governor vetoes funding for legislature and its staff as punishment for Democratic walkout
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott followed through on a threat to veto a section of the state budget that funds the Texas legislature, its staffers and legislative agencies.
MT: New laws in Montana trigger slew of lawsuits
To date, more than a dozen lawsuits have stemmed from this year’s legislative session in Montana, with 10 filings challenging 11 new laws.
IA: Iowa Supreme Court upholds city’s ‘ban the box’ ordinance
The Iowa Supreme Court upheld a provision of Waterloo’s “ban the box” ordinance that bars employers from asking about criminal histories on job applications.
DE: Delaware General Assembly approves minimum wage measure
Delaware’s minimum wage would rise to an hour by 2025 under legislation approved by the state House and Senate along party lines.
WI: Court throws out Wisconsin law allowing blood draws from unconscious drunken driving suspects
A state law allowing police to draw blood samples from unconscious drunken driving suspects is “unconstitutional beyond a reasonable doubt,” the Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled.
MN: Minnesota lawmakers could end routine shackling of children in court
Criminal justice reformers and child welfare advocates have long sought to bar the indiscriminate shackling of youth—a common but unevenly enforced practice across Minnesota.
LA: Louisiana plans M investment for broadband in rural areas
The Louisiana legislature passed a bill that would grant million to telecommunication firms to build internet infrastructure for underserved, rural communities. The program would use funds from the American Rescue Plan, and the firms would have to cover at least 20% of costs and provide affordable, high-speed internet.
ND: Drought leads to skyrocketing wildfires in North Dakota
The North Dakota Department of Emergency Services and North Dakota Forest Service reported wildfires have burned about 156 square miles of land across the state, more than seven times the amount from the previous year.
UT: Lost Glen Canyon wonders emerge as Utah’s Lake Powell dries up
Ghost forests of half-submerged, long-dead cottonwoods now protrude from the water and sediment, remnants of ecosystems that flourished before Glen Canyon Dam created a 186-mile-long stretch of slack water in the heart of Utah’s Red Rock Desert.
WA: Test-optional policies are changing college admissions in Washington
All of Washington’s public four-year universities will have test-optional policies—permanently, university leaders announced last month. A majority of applications at many schools were submitted without SAT or ACT scores.
OR: Oregon won’t hit target to lift COVID restrictions
Oregon will not reach its vaccination goal to lift nearly all coronavirus restrictions and may not hit the mark by the time the governor’s COVID-19 emergency order expires June 28.
MI: Michigan House votes to end unemployment bonus
Michigan House Republicans spearheaded a move to stop providing an extra per week in unemployment funding to people who lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
CT: Marijuana possession becomes legal in Connecticut July 1
After years of debate, Connecticut lawmakers gave final approval to a bill that legalizes the sale and cultivation of marijuana for adults over the age of 21, joining 19 states and the District of Columbia that allow recreational cannabis use.
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