Top State Stories 5/2
TN: Tennessee enacts ‘acquired immunity’ COVID law
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee declined to sign legislation requiring governments and businesses to treat immunity from a previous COVID-19 infection as equal to getting vaccinated. The bill, which requires a letter from a licensed physician or certain lab test results as proof of “acquired immunity,” became law without the Republican’s signature, taking effect immediately.
AZ: Arizona law gives parents access to school libraries, all student records
Two controversial education bills that will create procedures for Arizona parents to review library books and allow parents to sue if they think a school has violated their access to a student’s records were signed into law by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey.
TX: Texas governor redirects M from other agencies to fund border security mission
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, said he is moving another million to fund his security initiative at the Texas-Mexico border, which has a price tag of upwards of billion a year. State officials already transferred another million from other agencies in January to keep the operation running through the spring.
MT: Montana won’t provide birth certificate gender forms despite court order
The Montana state health department is not providing the forms needed for people to change the sex on their birth certificate, despite a recent court order. The order came out of a lawsuit over a 2021 law requiring transgender Montanans get surgery and a court order to get a different sex on their birth certificate.
CT: Connecticut Senate passes abortion rights bill after emotional debate
The Connecticut Senate approved a bipartisan abortion bill that would be the most far-reaching in the state in the past 32 years. It would increase the number of medical professionals allowed to perform abortions and expand abortion-related protections regarding lawsuits, and Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont has pledged his signature.
NM: New Mexico increases child care funding, still highest in US
Low- and middle-income New Mexico families have had access to the most generous child care subsidies in the country since last June, but they still paid as much as per month for one child. Now the copay will be waived, and child care will be basically free for all families up to nearly twice the median income in the state.
OK: Oklahoma lawmakers aim to block state deals with anti-gun and anti-fossil fuel firms
The Oklahoma legislature is moving to prevent the state from contracting with businesses that “discriminate” against gun makers and entities that boycott fossil fuel companies. Two bills that cleared the Senate last week could limit the companies with which the state does business.
LA: Minimum wage increase bills rejected by Louisiana House labor committee
Five bills to establish a minimum wage in Louisiana were all voted down along party lines in a House committee. One of the bills would have established a state minimum wage of .65 an hour.
CO: Colorado Supreme Court to consider whether state’s new paid family leave law violates state constitution
The Colorado Supreme Court will consider whether the state’s fledgling family and medical leave program violates the state constitution. The legal challenge focuses on funding for the newly voter-approved program, which will, beginning in 2024, offer up to 12 weeks of paid time off to most workers who are either sick or caring for their newborns or seriously ill family members.
SC: South Carolina public library leaders fight proposal banning sexually explicit books from children’s sections
South Carolina’s public library leaders are fighting a statehouse proposal banning sexually explicit books from children’s sections, calling it censorship that threatens the “freedom to read.”
NJ: New Jersey plans to spend M to try to stop rise in stolen cars
Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy announced that New Jersey will invest million of federal funding into new technology geared toward helping fight the increase in violent crime and car thefts throughout the state. The state will buy high-speed, automated camera systems to create a database of license plate photos for law enforcement.
WI: Wisconsin legislators call it quits at near-record pace
The number of Wisconsin state lawmakers hanging it up this year is near a modern-day high, and could even exceed the record set during World War II. The mass exodus comes amid uncertainty over legislative boundaries due to a redistricting fight, an ever-more partisan political environment and years of animosity between majority Republicans and minority Democrats.
AK: Solar power heats up in Alaska
Households and businesses in Alaska are increasingly producing their own solar power and selling the excess electricity to utilities. Solar panel installers report strong demand for their services. They say homeowners are increasingly signing up after hearing positive reviews from neighbors with their own rooftop arrays.
FL: Florida governor promises permitless carry gun law before he leaves office
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, promised to push for a bill allowing Floridians to publicly carry firearms even if they have not previously taken a training course or gotten a permit.
ID: Former Idaho lawmaker found guilty of rape
Exactly one year to the day that former Idaho state Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger resigned from his seat after a House ethics panel recommended his suspension over his conduct as a legislator, a jury in Ada County found him guilty of rape and not guilty of forcible penetration with a foreign object. Von Ehlinger, a Republican, was arrested and taken into state custody following the guilty verdict.
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