Top State Stories 2/23
OH: Ohio Senate to hold hearings on train derailment
Ohio’s state lawmakers plan to start hearings on what happened when a train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed in East Palestine and whether they need to make any changes to state law.
CA: California boosts state water allocation again, as heavy snow returns to the mountains
California water officials have again upped the projected delivery allocation for the State Water Project in 2023, as the state braces for a big winter storm this week after a string of storms earlier in the year replenished reservoirs and Sierra Nevada snowpack.
TX: University of Texas System pauses new diversity, equity and inclusion policies
The University of Texas System’s board of regents said it has put a pause on all new policies that promote diversity, equity and inclusion at its 13 university and health campuses and asked all school leaders to provide a report on their current DEI policies. The decision comes weeks after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott ordered state agencies to stop considering diversity in hiring.
GA: Judge rules against DOJ over communications in Georgia voting lawsuit
A judge has ordered the U.S. Department of Justice to turn over communications with organizations suing Georgia over the state’s voting laws, deciding in favor of Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger as he tries to show that the federal government collaborated with his opponents.
AK: Alaska House censures rep for comments about the economic ‘benefit’ of child abuse deaths
The Alaska House of Representatives voted almost unanimously to reprimand state Rep. David Eastman, a Republican, for speculating the state could financially benefit if child abuse victims died of their abuse. Eastman’s remarks, which he said were intended to criticize some arguments in favor of abortion rights, spread on social media contributing to a public outcry.
TN: Tennessee Republicans propose expansion of permitless carry law to include all firearms
The Tennessee legislation would alter state permitless carry laws to say “firearm” instead of “handgun” to enable people to carry any type of weapon openly. It also would expand the law to include anyone 18 and above, except felons, multiple DUI offenders, stalkers and people with mental illness.
FL: Florida seeks to reinstate law blocking state funding for Planned Parenthood
Citing the U.S. Supreme Court case that reversed Roe v. Wade, Florida Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody filed a motion to reinstate part of a 2016 law, blocked by a federal judge, that would have prevented state funds from going to Planned Parenthood and other organizations that perform abortions.
MN: Driver’s licenses for Minnesotans without legal status soon to become law
Immigrants lacking permanent legal status would be able
to obtain driver’s licenses under legislation on its way to Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz. The state Senate passed the bill on a party-line vote, and the Democratic governor has vowed to sign it.
UT: Utah bill allowing religious, modest clothing with sports uniforms clears legislature
Utah students shouldn’t be prohibited from wearing clothing consistent with their religious or moral beliefs during school sports, the bill says.
PA: Pennsylvania governor’s administration says taking Super Bowl tickets didn’t violate his own gift ban
Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro’s administration insists the Democrat did not violate his own gift ban when he and top staff went to Arizona for the Super Bowl on the dime of a nonprofit that has received millions of dollars in state money.
IL: Illinois ‘equitable restrooms’ bill advances in House
A bill that would allow restaurants, hotels and other public places to designate “all-gender multiple-occupancy” restrooms passed out of an Illinois House committee, sending it to the full House for consideration. It’s similar to one that passed through the House in 2021 but died in the Senate.
MT: Montana lawmakers narrowly reject ban on aid-in-dying
A bill that would have allowed criminal penalties for Montana physicians who provide terminally ill patients with medical aid in dying narrowly failed to pass a final vote in the Senate chamber, spelling the likely fate of the bill this session.
CT: Connecticut bill would give parents of English learners more rights in schools
The Connecticut “bill of rights” for parents of English language learners would require that schools provide them with informational materials in their native language. The bill also lays out 17 other rights, including that children may receive a free public education regardless of immigration status.
NV: Tesla awaits huge tax breaks for Nevada expansion. Lawmakers want to weigh in first.
As Tesla prepares to make another major investment in Nevada — and take advantage of a 2014 law providing companies with an array of tax abatements for capital investments of more than .5 billion — Democratic lawmakers hope to slow the process. They want more time to consider the abatements before the tax incentives are considered.
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