Top State Stories 2/28
TN: Tennessee governor will sign drag bill, reacts to yearbook photo showing him dressed as a woman
Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee said he intends to sign an anti-drag show bill, which bans “adult-oriented entertainment” that is “harmful to minors” from public property and places where they might be seen by children. Lee said comparisons between the performances targeted in the bill and an old yearbook picture of him dressed in woman’s clothes were “ridiculous.”
US: Final state COVID emergencies winding down 3 years into pandemic
As California’s coronavirus emergency officially ends, such declarations continue in just five other states — including Texas and Illinois — signaling an end to the expanded legal powers of governors to suspend laws in response to COVID-19. The federal government will end its own version May 11.
NE: Nebraska’s GOP governor supports Democratic mental health bill
Nebraska Republican Gov. Jim Pillen stepped across the political aisle to provide surprise personal testimony in support of a Democratic-sponsored bill to bolster mental health care. The bill would enable the creation of a community behavioral health clinic model through the Medicaid program.
MT: Montana bill banning vaccinated blood donations would ‘decimate’ supply, opponents say
Proponents said the bill, a continuation of anti-vaccine legislation that passed in Montana last session, was about medical autonomy and the right to receive blood from donors who had not been vaccinated against COVID-19. According to medical professionals, more than 90% of current donors have either been infected with COVID-19 or vaccinated against it.
AZ: At Arizona Capitol, Republican leaders spotlight far-fetched election conspiracies
A monthlong series of presentations in the state Senate Elections Committee came to a head with the airing of a massive conspiracy theory involving alleged “bribery” of Arizona elected officials by a drug cartel.
UT: Utah Republican lawmaker pulls his ‘too harsh’ bill to eliminate diversity offices at state universities
A controversial bill to eliminate diversity, equity and inclusion offices and leadership positions at Utah’s public universities has been shelved after GOP Sen. John Johnson, the sponsor, said he recognized his proposal was “way too harsh.”
MS: Mississippi governor changes stance, now supports postpartum Medicaid
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican who ran in 2019 promising to “say no” to Medicaid expansion, announced that he supports an extension of Medicaid coverage to mothers who are up to 12 months postpartum. Without the extension, the pandemic-expanded Medicaid expires in April.
DC: District of Columbia homicides up 40% over last year
District of Columbia police statistics show 35 people have been victims of homicides this year, 10 more than at this time in 2022. But police say overall violent crime is down 10% since Jan. 1, in part due to a drop in robberies.
MA: Massachusetts governor pitches nearly B tax relief plan
Moving to fulfill a central campaign promise, Democratic Gov. Maura Healey unveiled a nearly billion tax code overhaul she said would help save Massachusetts families, renters and older adults millions of dollars. The expansive proposal would reshape more than a dozen tax credits or incentives.
CO: Colorado lawmakers want to make prison phone calls free
Colorado lawmakers are considering a bill that would make phone calls free to people incarcerated in state prisons and their families. Requiring incarcerated people to pay for phone calls breaks their connection with their families — the exact connection that studies say helps people succeed after they leave prison, proponents of the bill said.
WY: Crossover voting bill goes to Wyoming governor’s desk
For lawmakers aspiring to limit so-called crossover voting by restricting how and when Wyoming voters may affiliate with a political party, the ninth time may be the charm. A bill is headed to Republican Gov. Mark Gordon’s desk that would create a 96-day period ahead of the primary election, forcing voters to affiliate with a party before the nomination period opens for candidates.
WA: Washington state schools leader warns of education funding shortfalls
Washington state schools Superintendent Chris Reykdal is sounding the alarm that a declining birthrate and “perfect storm” of financial pressures could roil school district finances in years to come. In a meeting with the State Board of Education, Reykdal sketched out the money pressures facing public schools.
ID: Idaho Senate Republicans reject school vouchers
The legislation would have allowed Idaho families to collect about ,000 annually for private school or home-school expenses. The sponsors touted the legislation as a way to help families with low incomes afford private education, but the proposal did not include income limits, as voucher programs in other states have.
IA: Iowa lawmakers advance bill to cut jobless benefits for large families, require more job searchers
The legislation would require unemployed workers to complete four to six “work searches” weekly to continue receiving benefits, depending on how many job openings Iowa Workforce Development lists. It also would cut benefits for large families and tighten rules for waivers on job searches for workers who face seasonal layoffs.
TX: Texas Department of Public Safety sent driver’s licenses to crime group targeting Asian Texans
The Texas Department of Public Safety was duped into shipping at least 3,000 Texas driver’s licenses to a Chinese organized crime group that targeted Asian Texans. The organization was then selling the licenses, obtained using the personal information of Texas drivers, to people in the country illegally.
HI: Hawaii bills aim to add ‘tiny home’ sites for homeless
Bills are moving through the Hawaii House and Senate that would expand Democratic Gov. Josh Green’s vision of creating more communities of tiny homes across the state to house the homeless and provide them with social services to reduce the islands’ homeless population.
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