Top State Stories 2/27
TX: Texas abortion funds likely safe from prosecution, federal judge rules
A federal judge issued a favorable ruling for Texas abortion funds, indicating they likely cannot be criminally charged for helping people travel out of state to terminate their pregnancies. After the overturn of Roe v. Wade, the nonprofit groups stopped paying for Texans to leave the state, citing their fear of being prosecuted under the state’s intersecting abortion bans.
AZ: Arizona lawmakers push to strip 19 cities of home rule rights
Arizona lawmakers are moving to strip 19 cities of their right to home rule simply to help get Republicans elected to the Tucson City Council. A proposal awaiting action by the full state Senate would ask voters to repeal a provision in the Arizona Constitution that allows cities to adopt their own charters.
US: Democratic state attorneys general sue Biden administration over abortion pill rules
A coalition of state attorneys general is suing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, accusing the agency of excessively regulating the abortion pill mifepristone. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington state by a dozen Democratic state attorneys general, asks the FDA to lift additional layers of regulation above and beyond those for typical prescription drugs.
IA: Iowa GOP bill would tackle election ‘fraud’ by allowing any resident to challenge a voter registration
Currently, Iowans can only challenge registrations in the county where they reside. One of several elections-related bills discussed in the Iowa Senate’s State Government subcommittee meeting would let Iowans challenge registrations in any county.
UT: Utah bill allowing religious clothing, modesty standards in athletic uniforms heads to governor’s desk
A bill that would ensure Utah athletes the right to wear religious clothing while participating in high school sporting events passed through the legislature and is headed to Republican Gov. Spencer Cox’s desk for signature into law.
HI: Hawaii government spending could trigger COVID aid payback
The Hawaii Department of Budget and Finance is advising the legislature that million in spending appropriations last year should be delayed in order to avoid triggering a requirement to return million in coronavirus pandemic aid to the federal government.
NM: New Mexico Senate passes bill to ease some drug possession sentences
New Mexicans with a felony record who are convicted of drug possession would no longer face extended criminal sentences, under legislation approved by the state Senate. The bill would not reduce the basic penalties for drug possession but would exclude such crimes from qualifying for a sentencing enhancement for habitual offenders — or being the basis for such a sentence extension.
ID: Activists push back on Idaho bill to strip transgender access to bathrooms, health care
More than 300 people gathered in front of the Idaho statehouse in opposition to anti-transgender legislation moving through the Republican-dominated legislature. One bill would ban gender-affirming health care for minors, while another would allow students to sue their school if they encounter a person using a bathroom or locker room that doesn’t align with their sex at birth.
KS: Kansas Senate passes 2 anti-abortion bills
Six months after Kansas voters decisively rejected an anti-abortion constitutional amendment, Republican lawmakers are pushing forward with anti-abortion legislation. Lawmakers voted to pass a ban on telemedicine abortion and wrangled with liability insurance for abortion clinics.
VA: Virginia General Assembly ends session with no budget deal, leaving money unspent
The Virginia General Assembly ended its legislative session without reaching agreement on sweeping changes to the state budget, leaving both tax cuts and massive new spending on the table as Republicans and Democrats couldn’t break a late deadlock over priorities.
AL: Alabama only state where Medicaid won’t cover some breast cancer screening
Lifesaving tests for genes that increase risks of breast cancer still aren’t available to Alabama Medicaid recipients, despite a push by advocates who say the agency should offer the screening available in all other states.
CA: Pipeline debate at center of California carbon capture plans
While there are other ways to transport carbon dioxide gas, such as trucks or ships, pipelines are considered key to making carbon capture happen at the level California envisions.
OH: Ohio public pension funds lost B last year
Ohio’s five public pensions systems collectively lost billion in the tough investment market last year — huge losses that will take years to recover. They include funds for police, firefighter and school employees.
NJ: New Jersey residents question why municipal council meetings are still virtual
Some New Jersey municipalities still hold public meetings remotely nearly three years into the COVID-19 pandemic. Some residents say a return to in-person meetings is long overdue.
MD: Maryland to close mass testing and vaccination site
Having largely served its purpose of handling massive numbers of people during peak periods of the coronavirus pandemic, Maryland’s largely empty testing, treatment and vaccination site is closing.
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