Top State Stories 9/1
MI: Michigan abortion proposal off ballot for now
Michigan’s elections panel deadlocked along partisan lines on certifying an abortion rights measure for this fall’s ballot that proposed adding an explicit right to seek the procedure in the state. The impasse leaves the measure off the ballot. But a spokesperson for Reproductive Freedom for All said the group plans to file an appeal asking the Michigan Supreme Court to put the proposed constitutional amendment before voters.
FL: Florida’s ‘anti-riot’ law infringes on right to protest, United Nations committee says
A law passed by Florida Republicans in reaction to the protests that erupted across the U.S. in the summer of 2020 restricts “the right to peaceful assembly,” according to a report by a United Nations committee tasked with monitoring human rights across the globe.
WI: Wisconsin disabled voters may have help returning their ballots, federal judge rules
Wisconsin voters who have disabilities that prevent them from returning ballots themselves may receive assistance while voting, a federal judge ruled. U.S. District Judge James Peterson said the federal Voting Rights Act allows disabled voters to have friends or family return their ballots despite a recent state Supreme Court decision that barred such practices.
NY: Yes, youngsters can buy whipped cream, New York law’s sponsor says
New York state Sen. Joseph Addabbo, a Democrat, says the law he authored is aimed at prohibiting sales of nitrous oxide canisters, not the entire can of ready-made whipped cream, to those under 21, as some stores have misinterpreted. The law was meant to deter teenagers from improper use of the chargers to get high from inhaling the nitrous oxide gas. The whipped cream itself is fine, he said.
NM: New Mexico governor pledges expanded access to abortion care
In an executive order, New Mexico Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham pledged $10 million to build a state-funded clinic providing abortion and other services and directed the state Department of Health to marshal state resources to expand access to reproductive health — including abortion — in rural parts of the state.
AK: Alaska childhood vaccinations declined from 2013 to 2021, with sharp drop during pandemic
Fewer Alaska children are getting common vaccinations for debilitating and wildly contagious illnesses like polio. State health data show that from 2013 to 2021, the number of children in Alaska who completed the childhood series of vaccinations decreased from about 60% to about 46%, with a steeper drop off starting in 2020, coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic.
MN: Minnesota oversight of housing grants was flawed, legislative auditor finds
The Minnesota Department of Human Services failed to provide adequate oversight while awarding tens of millions of dollars of grants to support those experiencing homelessness and others in need of housing assistance, according to a state legislative auditor report.
OK: Oklahoma AG urges prosecution for performing an abortion
Oklahoma prosecutors should pursue charges against those who perform elective abortions but should give “substantial leeway” to doctors treating pregnant women for emergency conditions, the state’s attorney general wrote in a memo to law enforcement.
NE: Nebraska’s ‘Capitol Cat’ mystery solved
Cameron the Capitol Cat, a feline fixture at the Nebraska State Capitol, was reported missing and then found at a humane society in Lincoln. The cat is a celebrity on social media and has a fan club.
SD: South Dakota raises corrections officer wages amid staffing shortages
More than a quarter of the correctional officer positions with the South Dakota Department of Corrections are unfilled. State officials hope increasing the starting hourly wage by 17% will help.
IN: Top Indiana court backs archdiocese over same-sex marriage firing
The Indiana Supreme Court has upheld the Archdiocese of Indianapolis’ firing of a high school teacher over his same-sex marriage, saying the decision is protected by the doctrine of church autonomy under the First Amendment.
MO: Advocates lobby for psychedelic drugs to address veteran suicides in Missouri
Lawmakers seeking ways to address a suicide crisis among Missouri military veterans heard from several advocates who said psychedelic drugs could provide an answer. The House Interim Committee on Veterans Mental Health and Suicide was meeting against the backdrop of Missouri leading the nation in veterans’ suicides.
NJ: With cases just over the border, New Jersey recommends polio boosters for some adults
With the virus that causes polio circulating just over the border in New York state, New Jersey’s health department has recommended that some fully vaccinated people get polio boosters. New guidance from state health officials advises that health care providers should get a booster if they come into contact with patients who might have polio or handle specimens from those patients.
TX: Texas’ cotton industry is facing its worst harvest in years
Cotton production has been decimated by drought and extreme heat this year, costing Texas High Plains farmers and other agricultural industries at least $2 billion, according to one estimate. A bad year for cotton spells disaster for Texas, which leads the nation in cotton production.
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