Top State Stories 2/16
GA: Transparency or conspiracy? Georgia bill seeks public ballot reviews
It was a rare bipartisan election proposal: Make paper ballots in Georgia public so anyone who doubted election results could see for themselves. But opponents fear the legislation would enable endless “audits” driven by losing candidates who will never accept defeat, turning any ambiguity or mistake into the next stolen election claim.
FL: Florida governor backs taking hundreds of millions from schools that mandated masks
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis now supports a plan to withhold million in funding from 12 school districts that mandated masks because of the pandemic, a spokesperson said.
WA: COVID caused backlog in Washington state medical care that could take years to resolve
Thousands of Washingtonians had medical procedures pushed back during the pandemic, as hospitals cleared space for a crush of COVID-19 patients. Hospital leaders have said they expect it will take months, if not years, to work through the backlog of delayed procedures.
OR: Oregon elections workers lobby for bill that would increase penalties for harassment
A bill in the Oregon House would increase criminal penalties for people convicted of harassing election workers. The bill also would exempt the home addresses of election workers from certain public records.
MO: Latest GOP plan to torpedo Medicaid expansion in Missouri wins initial OK
A Republican plan to reverse a voter-approved expansion of Medicaid won preliminary approval in the Missouri House. On a voice vote, the House advanced a proposed constitutional amendment that would ask voters in November to reverse their 2020 decision to permanently expand the government-funded health insurance program.
MI: Michigan Senate approves bill with massive income tax cut
Michigan’s GOP-led Senate approved a hotly contested bill that would roll back personal and corporate income tax rates, moves that would save residents and businesses money but substantially diminish state revenue and programming. The measure would reduce the personal income tax rate from 4.25% to 3.9% and cut the corporate income tax rate from 6% to 3.9%.
MS: 3 Mississippi universities pare back mask mandates
Masks are now optional at the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University except in health care and instructional settings, such as classrooms, labs and studios. Delta State University went a step further by lifting the mask mandate for all indoor activities, including classrooms.
ID: Idaho bill would require permission to remove monuments
Idaho legislators are again proposing a bill that would make it more difficult for cities to remove a historical monument or rename a public building. The House has passed the bill, which would require approval by the Idaho State Historical Society’s board of trustees before historical monuments and memorials on public property are removed.
IA: Iowa governor pushes for private school scholarships
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, is pushing a proposal that would allow eligible public school students to transfer to a private school and access some of the state’s per-pupil funding to pay for educational expenses.
MN: New political district maps shake up Minnesota politics
A special five-judge panel released new congressional and legislative maps setting the political playing field for Minnesota for the next 10 years. The new legislative maps push more districts toward the metropolitan area and will pit multiple incumbents against each other.
WI: Wisconsin Senate approves protections for unvaccinated
The Republican-controlled Wisconsin Senate passed a package of bills that push back against COVID-19 vaccine requirements and aim to shield workers who do not want to protect themselves from the virus by being inoculated. Wisconsin has no statewide vaccine or mask mandate.
NM: New Mexico county clerks support bill that would create elections security program
County clerks from across New Mexico are urging state lawmakers to pass a bill that would increase transparency, create an elections security program, and improve the voter experience by aligning absentee voter deadlines with U.S. Postal Service guidelines.
VA: Virginia governor seeks to make masks in schools optional by March 1
Three Democrats in the Virginia Senate gave Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin a major win by backing his effort to let parents opt their children out of school mask mandates almost immediately.
SC: South Carolina governor and GOP legislators call for massive tax cut
With South Carolina’s already historic tax collections skyrocketing above predictions, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster and GOP legislators are pushing to cut state income taxes by million this year, several times more than a plan House budget writers advanced just two weeks ago.
HI: Bill would ban Hawaii film officials from appearing in movies
A Hawaii lawmaker is trying to crack down on what he says was improper behavior by the Maui County film commissioner, who accepted a substantial part in a television movie being shot on the island, despite the commissioner’s involvement facilitating the industry.
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