Top State Stories 3/20
SC: 9 Republicans in South Carolina have pulled support from abortion bill
Nine South Carolina Republicans who had co-sponsored one of the most severe anti-abortion proposals in the country have since withdrawn their support, reversing course on a measure that proposed applying the state’s homicide laws to people who undergo abortions.
OH: Ohio pulls out of voter registration database targeted by conservatives
Ohio pulled out of a multi-state voter registration database as GOP criticism mounts against a little-known system championed for curbing election fraud. The Election Registration Information Center, known as ERIC, was founded by Republican and Democratic election officials in 2012 to help states maintain accurate voter rolls.
US: As activists push for child marriage bans, some states resist
All but seven states allow people younger than 18 to get married — sometimes with the permission of a parent, judge or both. The bills to ban child marriage face an uphill battle in some states, where conservative lawmakers argue that younger teens have long been allowed to marry — often pointing to their own family’s stories as proof that it’s acceptable.
MN: Minnesota governor signs universal school meals bill into law
Minnesota Democratic Gov. Tim Walz signed a bill into law to provide breakfasts and lunches at no charge to students at participating schools. It makes Minnesota the fourth state in the country to do so.
AZ: Black Arizonans protected from hair discrimination in state employment by governor’s order
Black Arizonans won protection from discrimination based on their natural hair or hairstyles after Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs signed an executive order banning such discrimination in matters of state employment and contracts.
MD: Maryland House passes transgender treatment bill
The bill would require Maryland Medicaid, beginning Jan. 1, 2024, to provide coverage for additional gender-affirming treatments, which are currently disallowed in the state’s plan but commonly covered by private insurance. The expanded treatments include hormone therapy, hair alteration, voice therapy, physical alterations to the body and fertility preservation.
WA: Washington state looks to address housing shortage with density, zoning changes
One bill in Washington state would provide for more duplexes, fourplexes and other multi-unit housing in cities with more than 25,000 people. A pair of Republican-sponsored proposals, to allow additional homes on lots and to streamline permitting in urban growth areas, passed nearly unanimously.
AK: Alaska state school board supports barring transgender girls from participating in girls sports
The Alaska State Board of Education approved a resolution that supports regulations that would prohibit students whose sex at birth wasn’t female from participating in girls’ sports.
WY: Governor allows sweeping Wyoming abortion measure to pass, setting up court fight
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon, a Republican, allowed the most sweeping abortion measure in the state’s history to become law without his signature, though he expressed concern that the law will delay a final resolution on the question of abortion’s constitutionality in the state.
OK: Oklahoma weighs sending out alerts when adults go missing
Lawmakers are considering a statewide system to alert the public when Oklahoma adults go missing under suspicious circumstances. Supporters see the alerts as a vital way to protect adult victims in a state where domestic violence kills two people every week on average.
HI: Hawaii may boost Medicaid payments to help patients access care
Hawaii state lawmakers are considering boosting Medicaid reimbursement rates for health care providers in an effort to improve access to care for residents with low incomes who often struggle to find doctors willing to take their insurance.
KS: Kansas governor vetoes ban on transgender athletes
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, vetoed the GOP-controlled legislature’s third attempt at banning transgender athletes from girls and women’s sports. Republicans appear to have the votes to override the veto for the first time.
CA: California governor proposes bond measure, mental health system changes
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is asking lawmakers and voters to approve sweeping mental health changes that would commit billions of dollars in state funding for behavioral health-based housing and treatment facilities throughout California.
NY: 3 years into COVID, New York health care fundamentally changed
COVID-19 kills over 100 New Yorkers per week, according to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and for better or worse, the state’s health care infrastructure is fundamentally changed. Burnout has taken a toll — more than half of the state’s county health officials quit their jobs or were forced out since March 2020.
AR: New law allows anti-abortion monument at Arkansas Capitol
Arkansas Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders has signed a new law that will allow a monument near the state Capitol marking the number of abortions performed in Arkansas before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade.
IL: Illinois House passes legislation holding rideshare services liable for passenger safety
The Illinois House of Representatives passed legislation that would hold rideshare services liable if someone is injured or attacked during a trip. The legislation would eliminate legal provisions that a “transportation network,” such as Uber or Lyft, is not equivalent to a taxicab association and therefore cannot be held liable in the event of an incident.
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