Top State Stories 5/12
FL: Florida judge throws out governor’s congressional map, says it’s unconstitutional
In a swift reversal of Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ bold political gambit, a circuit court judge threw out the congressional map drawn by the governor and approved by legislators, ruling that it violates the state constitution and ordering a new map drawn by a Harvard expert to be put in place.
GA: Eligibility of more than 13K voters challenged in Georgia county
With early voting already underway in the state’s primary, a Georgia man has challenged the eligibility of 13,609 voters in Forsyth County—about 8% of those registered to vote in the county. The challenge appears to be the largest so far under the state’s new elections law.
CA: Court finds California’s under-21 gun sales ban unconstitutional
A U.S. appeals court ruled that California’s ban on the sale of semiautomatic weapons to adults under 21 is unconstitutional.
MA: Massachusetts will soon post complaints against law enforcement—mostly
Massachusetts plans to launch a new online database later this month with thousands of complaints against law enforcement officers across the state. But some information will be missing, according to the people who compiled the records. The database was a key requirement of the criminal justice law passed after protests against police brutality rocked the country two years ago.
OR: Oregon adopts permanent rules to protect workers from heat, wildfire smoke
Oregon adopted permanent job site rules mandating that employers take steps to protect workers from extreme heat and wildfire smoke. The regulations lay out specific steps employers must take once the temperature or air quality reaches a certain threshold.
CO: Colorado will pay residents to replace their grass—if governor gives final approval
A bipartisan proposal to save water by paying Colorado property owners to dig up and replace their ornamental and non-native grass lawns is now on to Democratic Gov. Jared Polis for final approval.
NJ: New Jersey governor announces new push to expand abortion access
Intending to “send a message to women across the nation that we simply will not go backwards,” New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy announced proposals that would make abortion care cheaper in New Jersey and train more clinicians to treat people traveling from states where the procedure is expected to be illegal.
MO: Missouri Senate infighting derails maternal health, needle exchange
Republican infighting in the Missouri Senate may have doomed the passage of a wide-ranging package of changes in state health care policy this year, including the extension of health care benefits for new moms and a needle exchange program.
MI: Tens of thousands of acres needed for solar fields to meet Michigan utility’s climate goals
Consumers Energy officials are looking for suitable land to build out nearly 8,000 megawatts of solar generation to meet the Michigan company’s own 2040 climate targets. Officials expect tens of thousands of acres of solar fields will be needed to meet the company’s climate promises.
AK: Alaska wildland fire crews ready for action with state funding to reduce hazardous fuels
Alaska’s wildland firefighters have been completing annual training and—now with help from a state grant—strategically cutting and removing trees, many of them standing, dry and dead, killed by spruce beetles. That hazardous fuels reduction comes as long-term forecasts signal a “normal” fire season ahead, with about a million acres expected to burn total.
WY: Wyoming is deadliest state to work
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, Wyoming consistently has one of the highest occupational fatality rates in the country. From 2008 to 2018, Wyoming’s average rate of workplace deaths was 11.2 deaths per 100,000, more than three times higher than the national average.
MN: Minnesota legislature approves bill to give judges more power over settlement-payment deals
Minnesota will become the only state in the nation to require the appointment of an outside attorney to advise judges on whether to approve the sale of structured settlement payments for anyone who appears to suffer from mental or cognitive impairments. The new law is expected to be signed by Democratic Gov. Tim Walz and go into effect Aug. 1.
SC: South Carolina senators pass medical ‘freedom’ bill opposed by LGBTQ advocates
Doctors and other medical providers in South Carolina could refuse to perform non-emergency procedures they find objectionable under legislation steps from becoming law. Opponents include LGBTQ advocates who contend it’s about enabling discrimination and denying needed care.
AR: Arkansas sues drug, pharmacy companies over insulin cost
The lawsuit accuses drug manufacturers and pharmacy benefit managers of manipulating and inflating insulin and drug prices in Arkansas. It alleges Nova Nordisk, Sanofi and Eli Lilly conspired with Express Scripts, Caremark and Optum to significantly increase their revenues by unfairly making insulin and other diabetic treatments unaffordable for many diabetics in Arkansas and creating a financial burden for consumers.
TX: Appeals court reinstates Texas law prohibiting social media companies from banning users over their viewpoints
The court did not evaluate the Texas law on its constitutionality but will allow it to go back into effect while a legal case plays out. In passing the law, Texas legislators said social media platforms have an anti-conservative bias.
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