Top State Stories 6/15
DE: Delaware House votes to up gun buying age to 21, strengthen background checks
Delaware House lawmakers passed two bills that would strengthen gun background checks and increase the state’s purchasing age for most firearms to 21 years old. Both are a part of an overarching gun law overhaul package; last week, the chamber passed a bill that would ban the sale of assault weapons.
US: Major water cutbacks loom as shrinking Colorado River nears ‘moment of reckoning’
As the West endures another year of unrelenting drought worsened by climate change, the Colorado River’s reservoirs have declined so low that major water cuts will be necessary next year to reduce risks of supplies reaching perilously low levels, a top federal water official said during a U.S. Senate hearing.
MA: Massachusetts’ highest court rejects gig worker ballot question in victory for unions
Massachusetts’ highest court rejected a controversial ballot question that could have reshaped how gig economy workers are classified in the state. The decision upends a fierce, multimillion-dollar battle between a coterie of high-powered tech firms and labor advocates over working conditions for some 200,000 people in the state.
NJ: New Jersey could soon remove the phrases ‘illegal alien’ and ‘inmate’ from state documents
Considered by some to be dehumanizing and outdated, the terms “illegal alien” and “inmate” could soon be removed from state statutes in New Jersey. State lawmakers began advancing a bill that would replace references to “alien” and “illegal alien” in state laws, rules and documents and replace them with the terms “foreign national” and “undocumented foreign national.”
NY: New York court rules Happy the elephant isn’t a person
An Asian elephant named Happy that has been at the Bronx Zoo for more than 40 years will remain there after New York’s highest court ruled that she is not a person, in a legal sense, and therefore not entitled to a fundamental human right. The Court of Appeals rejected an animal-advocacy organization’s argument that Happy was being illegally detained at the zoo and should be transferred to a more natural environment.
MT: Montana governor declares flood disaster
The office of Montana Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte declared a statewide disaster in response to severe, destructive flooding in southern Montana and Yellowstone National Park. The worst of the flooding has and continues to hit Park, Carbon and Stillwater counties, though the entire state is under a flood warning.
IA: Iowa to invest M in federal funds toward mental health, school security
Iowa will allocate million in federal funds toward school security and mental health programs. Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, proposed the investment, which includes no gun control measures, for prevention of school shootings and other violence, she said. The plan starts with the creation of a School Safety Bureau that will work as a hub for law enforcement and school staff to train for emergency response situations.
WI: Poll watcher training led by Trump lawyer to come to Wisconsin
A poll watcher training event will be held in Wisconsin, organized by a Republican lawyer who played a key role in the legal effort to overturn the 2020 election in favor of former President Donald Trump. Branded as an “election integrity summit” by lead organizer the Conservative Partnership Institute, the event will include sessions on the recruitment, training and deployment of poll watchers.
FL: Synagogue challenges Florida abortion law over religion
A new Florida law prohibiting abortion after 15 weeks with some exceptions violates religious freedom rights of Jews in addition to the state constitution’s privacy protections, a South Florida synagogue claims in a lawsuit. The lawsuit contends the law that takes effect July 1 violates Jewish teachings.
OH: Ohio will keep looking for K-12 public education leader after surprise resignation
The search for a new head of Ohio’s public education system is underway again. And questions remain about why Steve Dackin, the man hired to be the new state superintendent, resigned about two weeks into his tenure.
MO: Missouri psychiatric hospitals still understaffed as officials push for mental health treatment
Staffing problems continue to dog Missouri’s mental hospitals despite attempts by Republican Gov. Mike Parson and the legislature to boost state worker pay. According to the Missouri Department of Mental Health, there are currently 203 individuals awaiting admission to state psychiatric hospitals after being ordered by a judge for “competency restoration.”
TX: CEO departure latest blow to Houston-Dallas bullet train
The departure of Texas Central Railway’s CEO has critics of the proposed bullet train between Houston and Dallas optimistic the controversial project has reached its last stop, far short of ever starting construction. The proposed train line would whisk travelers between Houston and Dallas in 90 minutes, compared with nearly 4 hours by car.
MN: Minnesota climate goals jeopardized by stubborn tailpipe pollution
Even after passing clean car rules last year, Minnesota lags in cleaning up carbon emission from vehicle tailpipes, according to a state plan to reduce greenhouse gases. Transportation, led by cars, trucks and SUVs, is the single biggest contributor to the heat-trapping pollution produced in Minnesota.
NM: New Mexico governor asks feds to delay migrant relocation
As New Mexico continues to deal with raging wildfires that have charred more than 900 square miles of land, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, has asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to delay a plan to transport migrants from the U.S.-Mexico border region to Albuquerque and other interior cities.
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