Top State Stories 6/10
MD: Maryland to investigate Baltimore school grade-rounding
Maryland school officials and Republican Gov. Larry Hogan called for an investigation of Baltimore schools over policies that changed some failing grades to passing ones. Criticism centered largely on teachers and administrators rounding up grades when a student was within one to three percentage points of passing.
DE: Delaware House passes a bill to ban assault weapons
The Delaware House passed a ban on the sale of assault weapons, the first bill voted on in a sweeping gun restrictions package. Democratic lawmakers also plan to limit high-capacity magazines, increase the purchasing age for most firearms, hold gun manufacturers and dealers liable for negligible actions that lead to gun violence and ban the use of devices that convert handguns into fully automatic weapons.
LA: Feds launch civil rights investigation into Louisiana State Police
The U.S. Department of Justice has launched a civil rights investigation into the Louisiana State Police to determine whether a “pattern or practice” of abusive unconstitutional policing exists within the agency, federal authorities announced.
TX: New lawsuit seeks to block Texas from treating transgender care as child abuse
Saying Texas child welfare workers have reopened abuse cases against parents who provide gender-confirming care for their adolescents, a new lawsuit is seeking court intervention to halt the investigations as illegal and harmful. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of PFLAG, a longstanding LGBTQ advocacy group, and three Texas families with transgender children.
AZ: Arizona provides sweet deal to Saudi farm to pump water from Phoenix’s backup supply
Arizona is leasing farmland to a Saudi company, straining aquifers and threatening future water supplies for Phoenix.
MN: Minnesota’s first COVID test-to-treat site opens
Minnesota’s busiest COVID-19 testing center is adding a test-to-treat option where vulnerable people with coronavirus infections can receive immediate antiviral treatment. The site is among the first set up in the U.S. with federal support and medical staff. Two more will be added in Minnesota next week.
OK: Amid conflicts, Cherokee Nation will stop displaying Oklahoma flag
The Cherokee Nation will no longer fly the Oklahoma state flag except in special cases as friction increases between elected leaders of the state and the largest tribe. Past flashpoints include disagreements over gaming fees, hunting and fishing licenses and, most recently, a bipartisan bill to increase coordination among state and tribal courts.
HI: Hawaii prisons’ phone service provider to repay inmates up to M
A company that provides pay-per-minute telephone service to Hawaii prisoners and their families has agreed to pay up to million to settle a lawsuit alleging the company has been improperly draining money out of some of its customers’ accounts.
CT: Connecticut conservatives are wary about a misinformation officer overseeing 2022 election
Nearly six years after the hotly contested 2016 elections, Connecticut conservatives are highly concerned about the upcoming hiring of a new “misinformation” officer to monitor the internet and combat foreign and domestic interference in this fall’s elections. The specialist, a state employee who will be paid ,000 per year, will monitor social media for false information that often starts on obscure, lesser-known websites.
FL: Florida governor signs bills to help veterans get jobs
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed several bills that aim to help people who serve in the military get jobs or advance their education once they leave their service. One law will supplement federal benefits for disabled veterans attending state universities or government-run career centers.
ME: Maine panel to craft plan for paid family, medical leave
A commission in Maine will develop a plan to implement a paid family and medical leave benefits program for the state. The commission’s job will be to consult with other states that have established such a program and develop one for Maine, officials said.
VT: Vermont governor signs .5M workforce and economic development bill
Vermont Republican Gov. Phil Scott signed a key workforce and economic development bill into law, investing .5 million into what have been perennial focal points of his agenda. The law allocates both state funds and federal COVID-19 relief dollars to bolster Vermont’s economic future by funding business growth and supporting fields such as health care and the trades.
NJ: Teens would be allowed to work more hours under bill proposed in New Jersey
As school lets out and teens are on the hunt for summer jobs, a proposed bill would permanently increase the number of hours teens are allowed to work. The bill was passed unanimously in the New Jersey Assembly Labor Committee after members heard testimony by employers and parents who supported the measure. A companion bill in the Senate is awaiting a committee hearing.
WA: Race must be considered in determining legality of police stops, Washington Supreme Court rules
The Washington state Supreme Court ruled that a person’s race, and law enforcement’s long history of discrimination against people of color, should be taken into account when determining the legality of police seizures. The court also clarified state law to say that police have seized a person if an objective observer would conclude that the person was not free to leave or refuse a request.
MI: Michigan governor candidate arraigned on federal charges in Jan. 6 actions
Republican candidate for Michigan governor Ryan Kelley was arraigned in federal court on four misdemeanor charges related to his alleged involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection on the U.S. Capitol. Kelley, who was arrested by federal agents at his Allendale home, appeared in court in handcuffs.
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