Top State Stories 2/8
MN: Minnesota governor signs carbon-free energy bill, prompting threat of lawsuit
Democratic Gov. Tim Walz signed a bill that requires Minnesota’s electrical utilities to transition to 100% carbon-free energy sources by 2040. The move has brought a threat of a lawsuit from North Dakota, where officials say the Minnesota law goes too far to limit commerce among states.
SC: Latest effort to ban abortion in South Carolina could be headed for another GOP vs. GOP stalemate
The latest attempt to make nearly all abortions illegal in South Carolina appears to be headed for another stalemate, as the legislature’s most ardent abortion foes continue to reject anything other than a ban at conception despite warnings the proposal is doomed.
TX: Texas’ teacher pension fund divested from firms accused of “boycotting” oil and gas industry
The Teacher Retirement System of Texas has divested part of its massive pension fund from 10 financial firms that the state comptroller singled out for “boycotting” the oil and gas industry.
ID: Idaho bill would criminalize trafficking of minors into or out of state for abortions
The bill also would give Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador, a Republican, the authority and “sole discretion” to prosecute a person for violating any section of the law around human trafficking or abortion if the prosecuting attorney in the respective county refuses to bring charges.
FL: Florida governor floats bill making it easier to sue news outlets
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis raised the possibility of passing legislation that could lower the bar for prominent people to successfully sue news outlets for defamation.
OH: Ohio considers rail improvements after fiery train derailment, governor says
After crews began burning toxic chemicals from several derailed train cars in East Palestine, Ohio, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine said his administration will discuss taking action to improve the condition of the state’s large rail network.
NC: North Carolina Senate approves Parents’ Bill of Rights along party lines, with GOP supermajority
Using their new supermajority in the state Senate for the first time, North Carolina Republicans approved along party lines a measure that would restrict what schools teach and how they can treat LGBTQ students.
PA: Pennsylvania school system ruled unconstitutional
Pennsylvania schools don’t have the resources to adequately educate all students, and the gaps between the haves and have-nots render the system unconstitutional, a Commonwealth Court judge ruled, delivering a long-awaited decision in a landmark case that could reshape education across the state.
MD: Top Maryland lawmakers propose abortion referendum
Maryland’s state House and Senate speakers, both Democrats, support a plan for a statewide referendum on whether to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution.
IN: Indiana lawmakers look to expand birth control access
Indiana lawmakers this session are eyeing ways to expand contraceptive access to prevent unintended pregnancies in the state after the Republican-led legislature pushed through an abortion ban this past summer.
NJ: New Jersey pauses some divorce and civil trials amid judge shortage
The high number of judicial vacancies led New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner to suspend civil and divorce trials in two parts of the state starting Feb. 21.
CA: Drought, disease blamed for death of 36.3M California trees
Roughly 36.3 million dead trees were counted across California in 2022, a dramatic increase from previous years that experts are blaming on drought, insects and disease, according to a report by the U.S. Forest Service.
GA: Georgia Senate approves bill to ban COVID ‘vaccine passports’
The Georgia Senate passed legislation on a party-line vote that would permanently ban any state or local agency, government or school from requiring anyone to get a COVID-19 vaccination.
MT: Montana advances ban on transgender medical care for youth
A bill to ban gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors cleared an initial vote in the Montana Senate after an hour of intense debate and occasional rule maneuvering between lawmakers, the highest profile clash yet this session on the issue that has generated national debate in recent years.
OR: Eugene is first city in Oregon to ban natural gas appliances in new homes
Newly constructed homes in Eugene, Oregon, will no longer include natural gas furnaces, water heaters or other appliances — part of a national push to instead use electric power and eliminate greenhouse gas emissions in buildings.
WY: Attempts to address constitutionality concerns in Wyoming abortion bill fail
A sweeping Wyoming abortion bill that would replace last year’s abortion trigger ban and do away with rape and incest exemptions is headed to its last reading in the House after amendments to address concerns about the bill’s constitutionality failed.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.