Top State Stories 5/27
TX: Texas lawmakers again want to ‘harden’ schools; experts say it won’t work
A 2019 Texas “hardening” law has fallen short: Schools didn’t receive enough state money to make the types of physical improvements lawmakers are touting publicly, and many school districts either don’t have an active shooting plan or produced insufficient ones.
TN: Tennessee broke its own rules in carrying out executions
A Nashville Tennessean review of thousands of pages of court records shows Tennessee and its contractors regularly deviated from the lethal injection protocol the state instituted in 2018, likely resulting in the execution of two convicted murderers using expired, compromised or untested drugs.
US: States divided along partisan lines in response to shootings
Aside from several Democratic-controlled states, most state legislatures have taken no action on gun control in recent years or have moved aggressively to expand gun rights. That’s because they are either controlled politically by Republicans who oppose gun restrictions or are politically divided, leading to stalemate.
MI: Half of Michigan’s GOP candidates for governor disqualified from ballot
A state elections panel deadlocked 2-2 on whether five Republican candidates for governor should be barred from the August primary ballot because they each submitted too many fraudulent signatures. The effect of the deadlock is that none of the five candidates will be on the ballot, the state elections director said.
WA: Politics have stalled tsunami prep efforts on Washington coast
Far from bringing people together in common cause, the tsunami threat has proved a source of dispute and division in some Washington communities. School districts in threatened communities have seen mixed results when backing school bond measures to fortify or relocate endangered schools.
FL: Florida governor signs condo safety bill after building collapse
Florida will require statewide recertification of condominiums over three stories tall under new legislation Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law as a response to the Surfside building collapse that killed 98 people.
US: US Supreme Court allows greenhouse gas cost estimates
The U.S. Supreme Court said that it would allow the Biden administration to continue to take account of the costs of greenhouse gas emissions in regulatory actions, rejecting an emergency application from Louisiana and other Republican-led states to block the use of a formula that assigns a monetary value to changes in emissions.
SD: Federal judge rules against South Dakota on voting access
A federal judge ruled that South Dakota is not following federal laws requiring states to make it easier to register to vote. The judge sided with two South Dakota tribes, the Rosebud Sioux and the Oglala Sioux, who sued saying there should be more opportunities to register during routine interactions with state agencies such as change of address for driver’s licenses.
OK: Oklahoma governor vetoes parts of .8B state budget, calls special session
Criticizing tax relief measures in the .8 billion proposed state budget package as unsubstantial for Oklahoma families, Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt vetoed parts of it. Stitt also called state lawmakers into a special legislative session on June 13 to eliminate the state’s grocery sales tax and cut individual income taxes.
WI: Poor broadband service in Wisconsin is worse than previously estimated
The number of Wisconsin families without high-speed internet could be much higher than was known earlier even as hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent addressing the problem. State officials now say approximately 650,000 people lack adequate home internet access and another 650,000 people can’t afford the service that’s available to them.
NV: Nevada Supreme Court upholds dismissal of education funding lawsuit
The Nevada Supreme Court has sided with a lower court judge in dismissing a parent-led lawsuit aimed at dramatically improving K-12 education funding in the state.
MT: Democrats say Montana rule on birth certificates is ‘insulting’
Democrats on a state legislature interim committee sent a letter urging the Department of Public Health and Human Services to rescind an emergency rule it enacted this week that closed the door for transgender Montanans to update the sex on their birth certificates, arguing that the process of creating the rule was “anti-democratic and insulting to Montanans.”
IL: Illinois suit targets post-election count of mail ballots
Three Illinois Republicans have filed a federal lawsuit that argues the state should not count mail-in ballots that arrive after the date of an election. It asks a judge to prevent election authorities from counting mail-in ballots that arrive in the days following in-person voting.
WY: Wyoming’s unconstitutional ‘data trespass’ laws set for repeal
A legislative committee voted to rescind an unconstitutional “data-trespass” law that Wyoming unsuccessfully tried to defend. The law, passed first in 2015, criminalized the collection of “resource data”—such as water-quality samples or photographs of range conditions—from public land if the person collecting the data trespassed on private land in the process.
CA: Delta water crisis linked to California’s racist past, tribes and activists say
Tribes and environmental groups are challenging how California manages water in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, a major source for much of the state, arguing the deterioration of the aquatic ecosystem has links to the state’s troubled legacy of racism and oppression of Native people.
MA: 329 years later, last Salem ‘witch’ who wasn’t is pardoned
It took more than three centuries, but the last Salem “witch” who wasn’t, has been officially pardoned by Massachusetts lawmakers. They formally exonerated Elizabeth Johnson Jr., clearing her name 329 years after she was convicted of witchcraft in 1693 and sentenced to death at the height of the Salem Witch Trials.
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