Top State Stories 4/18
TX: Texas governor eases truck inspections at Mexico border checkpoints
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has ended his aggressive truck inspection program at all Texas border checkpoints following days of withering bipartisan criticism and a scathing condemnation from the nation’s largest trade organization for truckers.
WI: Wisconsin Supreme Court adopts legislative maps drawn by Republicans
The Wisconsin Supreme Court embraced a redistricting plan crafted by Republican state lawmakers, three weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court threw out election maps drawn by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. The new maps tilt heavily in Republicans’ favor, with 63 of the 99 Assembly seats and 23 of the 33 Senate seats leaning toward the GOP.
PA: Pennsylvania GOP toughens stances on election changes
When Pennsylvania House Republicans proposed sweeping changes last year to the state’s 2019 election law, they warned Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf that it would be the best deal he’d see come across his desk. He vetoed the measure, and now Republicans are trying to push through tougher laws piecemeal.
CA: California backs away from COVID vaccine mandates for kids
The author of a California bill that would have mandated COVID-19 vaccines for all children pulled the legislation, and state health officials pushed back the date of their student vaccine mandate. It was a striking shift for a state that had been the nation’s first to announce a planned K-12 COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
MI: Michigan civil rights agency again asks feds, AG to help investigate Grand Rapids police
In the wake of Patrick Lyoya’s killing by a Grand Rapids police officer, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights once again is asking federal and state investigators to help examine whether the city’s police department has engaged in a pattern of racial discrimination.
AK: Calling Alaska ‘under attack’ by Biden, state House votes M for lawsuits
As Alaska’s proposed state operating budget advances to the Senate, it contains $2 million for a special account designed to fund lawsuits against the federal government.
US: Some state lawmakers call it quits due to low pay
Lawmakers in several states, often those with part-time “citizen” legislatures, have raised complaints about low pay. Bills increasing pay were proposed in several states this year, including Connecticut, Georgia, Oregon and New Mexico, which is the nation’s only unsalaried legislature. So far most of the bills have faltered as some lawmakers fear rankling voters by approving their own pay raises.
MA: Driver’s license bill for immigrants in Massachusetts moving slowly in Senate
Two months after the Massachusetts House approved by a veto-proof margin a bill that would allow residents without legal immigration status to get a driver’s license, it’s yet to surface in the Senate despite the top leader backing it and more than half the chamber formally supporting similar language.
DE: Study shows disparities in race and gender in Delaware state contracts
The study found that businesses owned by women received less than 3% of total Delaware state contracting dollars from 2015 to 2020, while during that same period those owned by people of color received less than 7%.
GA: Georgia lawmakers get raises, higher pensions in hopes of more diversity
The General Assembly has moved to recognize the realities of the job in hopes of both retaining members and recruiting more Georgians to run for office by making the job less of a financial burden.
ND: North Dakota Democrats short of candidates for legislature
North Dakota Democrats lack candidates for 15 state House seats and three seats in the state Senate, and Republicans have been unable to recruit candidates for a House seat and Senate seat in the state’s biggest city of Fargo, secretary of state filings show.
OK: More than 50 Oklahoma state lawmakers automatically reelected this year
Half of the state lawmakers seeking reelection this year will coast to another term in the Oklahoma legislature after no one filed to challenge them this election cycle.
MS: Mississippi governor signs bill changing the state’s song
Mississippi Republican Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill to replace “Go, Mississippi” with a new song, “One Mississippi.” The previous song was based on a former governor who pledged to preserve segregation.
WA: Washington insurance chief accused of using racist slurs; staff allege mistreatment
Half a dozen former or potential employees disclosed instances of Washington’s insurance commissioner being demeaning or rude, overly focused on race and using derogatory terms for transgender people and people of Mexican, Chinese, Italian or Spanish descent, as well as asking some employees of color for unusual favors.
MN: Fewer people going to college in Minnesota could reshape higher ed, workforce
In Minnesota, total undergraduate enrollment has plunged by almost a third to levels last seen in the late 1990s, according to the state Office of Higher Education, outpacing the more gradual drop in U.S. undergraduates. The pandemic accelerated the enrollment spiral, which threatens to worsen labor shortages and change the career trajectory of a generation of Minnesotans.
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