Top State Stories 2/24
MI: Michigan House OKs bill to let doctors prescribe unapproved COVID treatments
Michigan doctors could prescribe ivermectin and similarly unproven or harmful medications to patients dying of COVID-19 and not risk losing their licenses under a bill House lawmakers approved.
OR: Key Oregon eviction protection set to expire
A grace period Oregon state legislators approved for unpaid rent from April 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021, covering some of the worst of the pandemic closures and resulting economic turmoil, expires at the end of the month, opening the door for a possible spike in evictions.
MO: Missouri lawmakers continue to chip away at gun restrictions
Even with Missouri’s gun safety rankings among the worst in the nation, state lawmakers are still pressing to peel back any remaining gun control measures. Several bills heard in a House committee take on pandemic- and church-related restrictions on firearms.
AL: Alabama House committee approves bill banning abortion-inducing medications
An Alabama House committee approved a bill that would ban the use of medication in inducing abortions. The bill would make it a Class C felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, for a doctor to prescribe medication that would induce an abortion.
AZ: Arizona bill would use COVID relief funds to create sanctioned homeless encampments
Arizona cities could use federal COVID-19 relief funds to establish sanctioned homeless camping areas under a new bill making its way through the state legislature.
NM: Pandemic crisis standards to expire for New Mexico hospitals
New Mexico’s top health official said the state is still on track to lift its crisis standards of care declaration for hospitals in the coming weeks as COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations continue to decline.
CA: Los Angeles County bars, offices, gyms can drop mask rules with COVID vaccine verification
Individuals who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be able to shed their masks in certain indoor settings in Los Angeles County, California, health officials said. Unvaccinated individuals would still need to wear masks indoors. That rule is in place statewide in California.
WY: Bills restricting abortion advance in the Wyoming legislature
Three bills that would restrict abortion in Wyoming passed legislative committee votes. One bill would ban abortion pills in the state, one would ban “selective” abortions based on the fetus’ disability or other characteristics and the other would enact a near-total ban in the event Roe v. Wade is overturned.
WI: Wisconsin Assembly approves bill to limit liability for firearm manufacturers
Lawmakers in the Wisconsin Assembly passed a bill that would limit the legal liability for firearm and ammunition manufacturers, new protections that could prevent such companies from being sued over their products’ role in mass shootings.
MN: Minnesota’s new naloxone finder makes it easier to get lifesaving drug
Amid a surge of deaths from opioid overdoses, Minnesota is making it easier to locate a drug that can revive an overdosing person. The Minnesota Department of Health has created an online tool allowing Minnesotans to locate providers of naloxone. More than 400 providers statewide are listed.
WA: Washington tax proposal has neighboring states fuming
A proposed 6-cent per gallon tax on fuel exported from Washington state is running into bipartisan pushback from neighboring states that stand to absorb the additional cost. But Democrats in Olympia, including Gov. Jay Inslee, have so far continued to back the new source of funding.
AR: US Justice Department declines to intervene in Arkansas redistricting case
The federal government won’t intervene in the challenge to Arkansas’ new state House map, effectively ending the lawsuit unless it’s appealed. The lawsuit argued that the new map violates the 1965 Voting Rights Act by diluting the Black vote. But a federal judge last week ruled that only the federal government could bring a discrimination claim.
AK: Alaska bill would give state funds to some students in homeschool, private school
Alaska legislators released a spate of bills aimed at public education curricula last week, including one that would provide public funding for students who are homeschooled or in private school. Students would be eligible for ,930 per year in scholarships if they have disabilities, attend a “low-performing school” or have a parent in the military, among other criteria.
ID: Idaho Senate passes resolution criticizing critical race theory
Passing the resolution marks another effort from Idaho Republicans to legislate how history and race are discussed in the classroom. The resolution denounces “divisive content” that “seeks to disregard the history of the United Stated and the nation’s journey to becoming a pillar of freedom in the world.”
GA: Bill seeks to expand Georgia medical marijuana program and end delays
Georgia legislators are trying to jump-start the state’s stalled medical marijuana program, which is mired in prolonged disputes among companies competing for licenses to manufacture and sell the drug to patients.
NY: New York authorizes hemp farmers to grow cannabis
A new law that will allow hemp farmers to apply for a conditional license to grow cannabis beginning this spring is expected to accelerate New York’s launch of a legalized marijuana marketplace.
PA: Philadelphia School Board set to codify voter registration for 18-year-olds
After three years of youth advocacy, the Philadelphia school board is poised to pass a landmark voter education resolution codifying citywide efforts to register all 18-year-olds to vote and encouraging all students to be civically active.
CO: Colorado lawmakers are rethinking a 2019 drug possession law
Democratic Gov. Jared Polis and Colorado lawmakers are rethinking a 2019 law that made possession of thousands of lethal doses of fentanyl a misdemeanor as overdoses from the potent opioid continue to rise. The bill made possession of up to 4 grams of almost all drugs for personal use a misdemeanor.
KS: Kansas House approves antisemitism awareness resolution
Nearly four months after a Kansas lawmaker compared COVID-19 mandates to the Holocaust, the Kansas House unanimously approved a resolution acknowledging that antisemitism is a growing problem in the United States. The resolution is part of a nationwide effort by the American Jewish Committee to have states acknowledge the problem.
NE: Governor appoints new Nebraska lawmaker after photo scandal
Mike Jacobson, a Republican, will represent the North Platte area as a senator in Nebraska’s unicameral legislature. Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts appointed him after Republican state Sen. Mike Groene stepped down when it was revealed that he took photos of a former female staffer without her permission.
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