Top State Stories 4/11
TN: Expelled Tennessee lawmaker returns to legislature after unanimous Nashville council appointment
Democratic state Rep. Justin Jones left the Tennessee Capitol April 6, expelled from the House of Representatives for leading a gun-safety protest from the floor following a deadly Nashville school shooting. On Monday, hundreds of jubilant supporters marched alongside him as he walked up the Capitol steps to take back his seat.
TX: Texas House advances bill decriminalizing fentanyl test strips
To combat a rising number of opioid overdose deaths in the state, the Texas House gave initial approval to a bill that would decriminalize fentanyl test strips, which warn people if a drug they are about to take contains traces of the deadly synthetic opioid.
LA: Another Louisiana House Democrat has switched parties to Republican
Democrats in the Louisiana House have lost another member, the second party switch in less than a month amid a yearslong decline in Democratic electoral fortunes.
KY: Recent bills in Kentucky have loosened restrictions on guns
Many Democrats, nationally and in Kentucky, have called for more gun control in the wake of the mass shooting event in Louisville. But the state legislature, controlled by Republicans for the last several years, has focused on limiting gun control.
SC: After targeting CRT, some South Carolina lawmakers want to take aim at college diversity initiatives
At the University of South Carolina, the state’s flagship college is working to add Braille to nameplates outside professors’ offices after a number of blind and low-vision students said they were having trouble attending office hours. A vocal group of ultra-conservative lawmakers say they want to go after DEI programs and funding, arguing that unconscious bias and anti-racism training are being forced onto university faculty, staff and students and is unnecessarily influencing grading, hiring and evaluation practices.
WA: Washington state Senate OKs assistance for homebuyers affected by racist covenants
Homebuyers whose families were once barred from living in many Seattle neighborhoods could soon qualify for new down-payment assistance as Washington state attempts to address the legacies of housing discrimination.
AK: Alaska fish hatcheries get a new look amid Yukon River salmon crisis
The salmon crisis in Western Alaska is prompting new discussions in the U.S. and Canada about an idea that would have been a non-starter a decade ago: building hatcheries to stem the steep fish declines on the Yukon River.
MD: Maryland lawmakers pass gun control bill on session’s final day
The Maryland legislation seeks to ban licensed firearms at polling places, schools, certain health care facilities and places where people consume alcohol or cannabis, including bars and restaurants.
MN: Despite legal uncertainty about medication abortion drug, procedures will continue in Minnesota
Medication abortions, which have become increasingly popular in the state, will continue in Minnesota, even if a legal challenge to mifepristone, a drug used in the procedures, prevails.
OH: Texas driller offers Ohio ‘potential’ of nearly B to frack largest state park
Encino Energy offered Ohio a signing bonus and royalties that it claims could tally nearly billion over a period of more than 15 years as it sought to be the first to frack Ohio’s largest state park, records show.
IA: Revised social media bill would require parental permission for minors in Iowa
Minors in Iowa would have to get parental permission to create accounts on TikTok, Instagram and other social media platforms under an amended bill that passed the House Ways and Means Committee. A previous version would have banned the apps for minors entirely, but Amazon and Microsoft asked lawmakers for changes.
MO: Sports wagering bill remains caught in Missouri Senate, divided over gambling expansion
As in each year since state-regulated sports wagering became legal nationally, the Missouri Senate is fractured among those who want sports wagering, those convinced gambling shouldn’t be expanded without also legalizing video lottery machines and those who think both proposals are a bad idea.
CT: Connecticut policymakers prepare for industry battle over lowering health care costs
As health care costs surge in Connecticut, Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont and members of the General Assembly are now bracing for a legislative confrontation, pitting two of the state’s most powerful industries — insurance and health care — against each other.
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