Top State Stories 1/20
KY: Kentucky governor vetoes GOP majority’s redistricting maps
Citing “unconstitutional political gerrymandering,” Democratic Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed the House Republican majority’s new maps for the 100 House districts and the GOP-dominated legislature’s plans to redraw the state’s six congressional districts.
FL: 15-week abortion ban passes first test in Florida legislature
A 15-week ban on most abortions moved forward in the Florida legislature, despite fervent opposition from Democrats and abortion rights advocates. A House committee advanced the measure on a 12-6 party-line vote in the first legislative debate on the controversial bill.
NC: Trans state workers can sue North Carolina for health care discrimination
The U.S. Supreme Court won’t reverse a court ruling that found transgender state employees have the right to sue North Carolina for banning the use of state health insurance to pay for transition care, treatment and surgery.
MN: Minnesota sues 2 companies over suspect COVID testing
Two companies that collected nasal swabs but allegedly failed to provide timely or accurate COVID-19 test results are being sued by the state of Minnesota.
MO: New congressional map advances to Missouri Senate for debate
Backers of a congressional map that would likely send six Republicans and two Democrats from Missouri to the U.S. House muscled the plan through the state House over opposition from Democrats and some Republicans. The plan advanced to the Senate on an 86-67 vote.
CA: Britney Spears’ case drives California bid to limit conservatorships
Disability rights activists and advocates for Britney Spears backed a California proposal to provide more protections for those under court-ordered conservatorships, while promoting less-restrictive alternatives.
KS: Kansas GOP redistricting plan splits Kansas City metro, dilutes Democratic vote
Kansas Republicans want to split Wyandotte County—which includes Kansas City—between two congressional districts for the first time since the 1980s. The map, which splits the majority-minority county down the middle, was introduced alongside several other options.
GA: Georgia buys new voter registration system after long lines in 2020
Georgia is replacing a glitchy statewide voter registration system that caused colossal lines during early voting in the 2020 election. The new technology could prevent similar waits in this year’s races for governor and the U.S. Senate.
VT: Former Vermont legislator dies using medical suicide law he helped pass
A former Vermont legislator and House majority leader has died with the help of a law he himself helped pass that allows the terminally ill to end their own lives, his wife said.
ID: Idaho lieutenant governor rails against media
Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, a Republican, reiterated a request that taxpayers fund her legal fees after her office refused to release complete public records to reporters. McGeachin requested ,000 “due to unforeseen legal bills related to a lawsuit from the Idaho Press Club after the Attorney General’s Office failed to properly represent” her.
SD: Lawsuit aims to block South Dakota abortion pill restrictions
Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota filed a lawsuit seeking a halt to the state’s new abortion pill restrictions. The lawsuit hinges on a rule that will mandate pregnant people take abortion medications in-person at a licensed abortion facility.
MD: Maryland governor pushes tax cuts
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan laid out a plan that proposes generous tax breaks for retirees and some low-income workers in Maryland. The state is flush with cash from a combination of federal aid, a resurgent economy and rebounding tax revenues.
SC: South Carolina governor asks for ‘bold’ investments, mental health revamp
Republican Gov. Henry McMaster used his fifth State of the State address to ask legislators to spend South Carolina’s largest-ever surplus to drive prosperity for future generations. One new initiative was a call to reevaluate how the state provides mental health services to children in K-12 public schools.
HI: Mark Zuckerberg donates M to University of Hawaii to study impact of climate change on ocean
The University of Hawaii announced a million gift over seven years from billionaire Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, for research about the impact of climate change on the ocean. It is the largest cash gift in university history.
DC: DC reinstates COVID leave for workers
Washington, D.C., officials are resuming paid COVID-19 leave for city workers, giving employees who test positive an alternative to using their sick leave to isolate. Meanwhile, a unanimous D.C. Council introduced legislation that would significantly expand paid leave benefits for city workers, including new paid medical leave for qualifying ailments such as cancer.
PA: More Pennsylvania waterways are polluted now than 2 years ago
One-third of all Pennsylvania waterways are now considered polluted enough to harm wildlife, recreation or drinking water, according to a report released by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection. The DEP listed 27,886 miles of streams it found impaired in one or more ways, which is about 9% higher than its 2020 estimate.
NJ: New Jersey will ban packing peanuts, require more recycled materials under new law
Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill into law that will prohibit the sale of polystyrene—or Styrofoam—packing peanuts in New Jersey within two years.
MS: Mississippi lawmakers consider ‘common sense’ laws to ease prison sentences for minors
Mississippi legislators are considering two bills to reduce sentences for young people. One bill would make it easier for people who were under 21 when they were arrested to earn supervised release for good behavior while another proposal would allow people who were under 18 when they committed a crime be eligible for parole after 20 years.
WV: West Virginia parents sue over voucher program for private schools
Three parents whose children attend West Virginia public schools filed a lawsuit alleging the state’s Hope Scholarship program violates the state constitution by funneling millions of dollars away from public education and into private and religious schools.
NY: New York movie theaters will be allowed to sell beer, wine
Cinemas in New York will be allowed to sell beer and wine at their concession stands for consumption while watching a movie, the board of the State Liquor Authority ruled in a unanimous vote.
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