Top State Stories 3/21
SD: South Dakota governor signs bills for stricter sentences, more prisons
South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem signed bills into law that will allow more prisons to be built, change the definitions for rape and force longer sentences for some crimes before parole eligibility kicks in.
MN: Minnesota House passes bill to shield abortion providers, out-of-state patients
The Minnesota House of Representatives voted 68-62 for a bill that would offer legal protections to patients who travel to Minnesota for an abortion and the providers that treat them. If passed by the Senate and signed into law, the bill would prevent state courts or officials from complying with extraditions, arrests or subpoenas related to reproductive health care that a person receives in the state.
ID: Idaho bill to execute inmates by firing squad clears legislature, heads to governor
Idaho is poised to become the fifth U.S. state to approve prisoner executions by firing squad after the proposed law cleared the legislature on its way to the governor’s desk. The bill would establish a firing squad as the state’s backup method of execution to lethal injection.
VT: Vermont spending package extending emergency housing passes into law
Vermont Republican Gov. Phil Scott will allow a wide-ranging spending package that extends emergency housing in hotels for unhoused Vermonters to pass into law without his signature. The bill sets almost million aside to keep those currently in hotels there until May 31, after which eligibility will narrow.
US: 23 attorneys general demand Kia, Hyundai take action on thefts
Nearly two dozen state attorneys general penned a letter to the leadership of Kia and Hyundai urging the carmakers to take action against the “crisis of thefts” they say is a result of the companies’ failure to equip vehicles with anti-theft immobilizers.
OK: Proposal to boost poll worker pay clears Oklahoma Senate
The Oklahoma House is taking up a bill the Senate cleared without objection that would raise pay for precinct inspectors from to per day. Judges and clerks would receive daily, up from the current rate. The bill has an emergency clause, allowing it to take effect immediately if the governor signs it.
NE: Nebraska voter ID bills could hit rural areas hardest
Legislative proposals to carry out Nebraska’s new constitutional requirement that voters show photo ID would make voting tougher on the 20% of voters who return ballots by mail or county election drop boxes.
MI: 3.17M Michiganders must reapply for Medicaid
For the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Michiganders who have had their Medicaid insurance coverage automatically renewed each year will have to reapply to continue their coverage. About one-third of the state’s roughly 10 million people are covered by some form of Medicaid and will have to go through the reapplication processes within the next 14 months.
WY: Wyoming group plans lawsuit against transgender athlete ban
Wyoming’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization plans to file a lawsuit to challenge new legislation banning transgender students from competing on interscholastic sports teams. The lawsuit will likely be filed after the law takes effect July 1, since plaintiffs have to show harm to have standing for a complaint.
FL: Florida bill allowing death penalty for child rapists gets bipartisan support
A bill that would challenge an existing U.S. Supreme Court precedent by allowing the death penalty for people who sexually batter young children moved through its first committee in the Florida Senate with a unanimous vote. Currently, the application of the death penalty for any case other than murder is unconstitutional.
CA: California bill seeks to eliminate 5 toxic chemicals from food products
California lawmakers are pushing forward a first-of-its-kind bill that seeks to rid food products of five chemicals linked to cancer and developmental issues in children.
GA: Georgia House approves bill limiting use of TikTok, other social media
The Georgia House voted unanimously to ban social media services such as TikTok from state devices if they’re owned by “foreign adversaries” including China. The House made minor changes to the Senate bill, so it will go back to the Senate for its consideration.
TN: Bill to dissolve Tennessee youth commission dead after pushback from child welfare advocates
A bill to dismantle the Tennessee Commission on Youth and Children will not advance this year after widespread opposition from youth advocacy experts across the state. Among other functions, the commission serves as a watchdog for the embattled Department of Children’s Services.
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