Top State Stories 3/28
NC: North Carolina expands Medicaid after Republicans drop opposition
North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper signed a new law after the Republican-led House and Senate agreed to pass Medicaid expansion, reaching a breakthrough after years of debate. North Carolina is one of just 11 states that has not adopted Medicaid expansion under the federal Affordable Care Act.
TN: Emotions flare in Tennessee legislature after deadly school shooting
Republican leaders paused legislative debate after news of the Nashville, Tennessee, shooting broke. Democrats, some of whom spent the day with Covenant School parents waiting to be reunited with their children, decried ongoing legislative efforts to expand access to firearms. “You need to hear the sound of the mother when she was told that she’d never see her child again,” said state Rep. Bo Mitchell, a Democrat who was at the reunification site when a parent learned her child had died. “I’ve never heard a sound like that.”
KY: Kentucky governor allows book banning bill to become law
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, has allowed a controversial anti-obscenity bill to become law without his signature. The law requires schools to adopt a complaint resolution policy for parents who allege that materials taught in school are harmful to minors.
TX: Texas fracking is exacerbating the ‘forever chemicals’ crisis
A new report by the Physicians for Social Responsibility documents the wide use of PFAS in oil and gas drilling and calls on Texas to follow the lead of some other states in restricting use of the chemicals. The group criticized state regulations that allow energy companies to withhold information on the use of chemicals they deem to be proprietary.
WI: Wisconsin gun store owners would play role in suicide prevention under proposed bill
The Republican bill would allow Wisconsinites who sell guns to provide voluntary gun storage for customers or community members who are at risk of suicide. It also would provide grant funding to train people who sell guns in recognizing when a customer is in distress and to make suicide prevention materials available at gun stores and ranges.
MN: Minnesota’s trial against Juul Labs over underage vaping begins
Testimony is beginning in Minnesota’s trial against e-cigarette maker Juul Labs, with Attorney General Keith Ellison, a Democrat, expected to give an opening statement. The state is seeking more than $100 million in damages from Juul, which “deceptively tricked and lured kids into using a product that is dangerous,” the attorney general alleged.
FL: Florida governor signs far-reaching school voucher expansion
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a measure that grants vouchers or education savings accounts to all children in grades K-12, regardless of family income.
OH: Ohio sues prescription drug middlemen over ‘modern gangster’ business practices
Calling them “modern gangsters,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, a Republican, accused pharmacy benefit managers of illegally driving up drug prices for patients who rely on insulin and other key medications. He alleges the companies collude to control drug prices and have failed to live up to promises to negotiate lower drug prices deliver those savings to patients.
CA: California lawmakers approve governor’s oil bill
California lawmakers approved Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s legislation to increase transparency in the oil industry, ending a special session he called last year to penalize excessive profits.
KS: Kansas court signals abortion rights support
The Kansas Supreme Court signaled it is unlikely to overturn its landmark ruling that the Kansas Constitution protects a right to an abortion.
NJ: New Jersey police, firefighters could retire after 20 years under ‘burnout bill’
All police and firefighters enrolled in New Jersey’s pension system would get the option to retire early with a reduced pension after 20 years of service under a proposed law moving through the state legislature.
ME: Maine lawmakers consider raising salaries for sexual victim advocates
Maine lawmakers are considering a 40% raise for sexual assault victim advocates across the state. Advocates say the work of staffing hotlines, helping victims navigate the complex legal system and connecting them with mental health counselors is invaluable. But the pay of $32,000 is too low.
AR: Arkansas Senate panel OKs bill intended to regulate ‘obscene’ books in public libraries
An Arkansas Senate panel approved a bill that would create an offense for “furnishing a harmful item to a minor” and strike a defense from state law protecting librarians from criminal prosecution under obscenity laws.
NY: Poll shows New Yorkers favor judge’s discretion on bail
A majority of New Yorkers, regardless of party affiliation, support giving judges more discretion to set bail for offenders accused of serious crimes, according to a Siena College poll. The poll indicated “overwhelming support” for a proposal from Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul that would revise some of the changes made to the state’s bail laws four years ago.
WV: West Virginia abortion clinic to open branch in Maryland
The leaders of what was West Virginia’s only abortion clinic plan to open a facility providing the procedure in Maryland. Katie Quinonez, director of the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia said the Maryland clinic will address a need for reproductive health care made worse by state bans against the procedure in West Virginia.
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