Top State Stories 5/24
CA: California aims to shield against Texas-style abortion laws
State lawmakers voted to stop courts in Texas and other states from penalizing abortion providers and volunteers in California, part of Democrats’ plan to make the state a sanctuary for women seeking reproductive care should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade.
FL: Appeals court blocks key parts of Florida governor’s Big Tech censorship law
A federal appeals court ruled it is unconstitutional for Florida to prohibit social media companies from permanently banning political candidates, dealing a blow to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ push to combat what he declares to be online censorship.
US: Missing foster children are often gone for over a month, report says
Children who go missing from foster care in the United States are typically gone for more than a month before being found, according to a new federal report highlighting the vulnerabilities of a group whose disappearances rarely make headlines. Those who disappeared while in foster care were unaccounted for on average 34 days, an analysis of data from 45 state agencies found.
TX: Texas lawmakers might target businesses that help employees get abortions
Fourteen Republican members of the Texas House have pledged to introduce bills to bar corporations from doing business in Texas if they pay for abortions in states where the procedure is legal. This would explicitly prevent firms from offering employees access to abortion-related care through health insurance benefits and would expose executives to criminal prosecution under pre-Roe anti-abortion laws.
NM: New Mexico governor says feds liable for wildfire damages
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, said that the federal government faces significant legal liability for its role in igniting the largest wildfire in state history, the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire still burning in northern New Mexico. She added that it’s “problematic” that federal emergency aid isn’t designed to fully compensate victims for their losses.
IA: Bottle bill that would exempt many grocers heads to Iowa governor
The Iowa Senate gave its approval to sweeping changes to the state’s can and bottle redemption law—commonly known as the bottle bill—that would triple the amount of money redemption centers receive per container and would allow many retailers to stop taking back the containers they sell. It would be the first overhaul of the bottle bill since its enactment in 1978.
HI: Limits on renewable energy could become Hawaii law
Hawaii lawmakers are on the cusp of putting new parameters on renewable energy generation in the state that cap power produced from different technologies including wind and solar.
GA: Automatic voter registration rebounds in Georgia after error corrected
The state’s automatic voter registration system was broken in Georgia for 15 months. A minor change to a registration website fixed it instantly. Voter registrations skyrocketed last month after the Georgia Department of Driver Services resumed signing up eligible voters by default unless they opted out.
MN: Minnesota legislature adjourns without passing tax cut, spending bills
Having .25 billion in surplus and more than billion in federal cash from the American Rescue Plan Act meant both parties in the Minnesota legislature potentially could get some of what they wanted. But the House and Senate ended the regular session without passing most tax and spending bills.
KS: Kansas lawmakers seek M for pandemic-affected businesses
Kansas is moving to provide million in relief to businesses such as bars, gyms and hair salons that were forced by state or local officials to shut down or restrict their operations during the first weeks of the coronavirus pandemic.
TN: Tennessee OB-GYNs say state’s looming abortion ban threatens treatment for miscarriages
Tennessee OB-GYNs say outlawing abortion also could criminalize how they care for other pregnant patients, since for medical purposes, a miscarriage is considered a “spontaneous abortion.” Drugs that induce abortions are used to manage miscarriages.
WA: Washington zoos hide birds to reduce risk of avian flu outbreak
With cases of bird flu confirmed in Washington state, several Washington zoos are taking precautions to reduce risk to certain birds by removing them from public exhibits. Some local zoos have moved birds to covered off-exhibit areas where the public is not available to view them.
OR: Ballot blunder in Oregon county reinvigorates false conspiracy theories against voting machines
Thousands of Clackamas County ballots from Oregon’s May 17 primary have to be reprocessed because misprinted barcodes left them unreadable by tabulating machines. For some voters, this incident has added to their underlying fears that ballot-counting machines aren’t trustworthy, rooted in the false theory that the 2020 general election was rigged against former President Donald Trump.
WY: Wyoming lawmakers: Fed court will decide if corner crossing is trespassing
Wyoming Judiciary Committee lawmakers agreed that the legislature should wait for a pending federal court case to run its course before weighing in on so-called corner crossing. Corner crossing is the act of stepping kitty-corner from one parcel of public property to another—without touching private land—where land ownership is arranged in a checkerboard pattern.
AK: A shotgun shell shortage is making it hard for Alaska hunters to harvest migratory birds
A shortage of shotgun shells nationwide is complicating things for migratory bird hunters in Southwest Alaska, who are eager to get out after a long winter. For many, the arrival of geese, ducks and swans in the spring is the source of the first fresh meat in months.
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