Top State Stories 4/12
US: After Texas ruling, Democratic states move to stockpile abortion pills
A federal judge’s decision to invalidate the F.D.A.’s 23-year-old approval of mifepristone could affect availability even in states where abortion is legal. States led by Democrats have been scrambling to adjust to a possible future without it. Among the efforts, Massachusetts Democratic Gov. Maura Healey has asked the University of Massachusetts to purchase a one-year supply of mifepristone and issued an executive order shielding pharmacists who stock the drug, abortion providers and patients from criminal and civil liability.
TN: Tennessee governor calls for ‘order of protection law’ to keep guns away from dangerous individuals
Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee, whose wife lost two friends in the recent mass shooting in Nashville, signed an executive order aimed at strengthening background checks for firearm purchases, in addition to calling for lawmakers to pass an order of protection law, commonly known as a red flag law, to keep guns away from people who present a danger to themselves or others.
MO: Missouri House Republicans vote to defund all public libraries
Missouri House Republicans voted to defund all of the state’s public libraries, in a proposed .6 billion state budget that will soon move to a vote in the GOP-controlled state Senate. Lawmakers voted to cut not only the .5 million Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, had slated for libraries, but also costs for diversity initiatives, childcare and pre-kindergarten programs.
OK: Oklahoma board votes down Catholic charter school but the process isn’t over yet
With the eyes of the nation watching its decision, a state school board in Oklahoma voted against what could be the first religious charter school in the country. But the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City will have a chance to address the board’s questions and resubmit its application.
FL: Restrictions on Florida drag shows, pride parades in question under bill
The Republican-led Florida Senate approved legislation that would bar children from attending drag shows with “lewd” performances, a proposed restriction that follows a national theme in GOP states and that comes a day after a Florida GOP lawmaker called members of the LGBTQ community “mutants” and “demons.”
TX: Texas House budgets M for prison air conditioning
Sweltering heat has killed Texas inmates, driven away prison workers and cost taxpayers millions in lawsuits. The House budget would provide air conditioning for 46 prisons, but it’s unclear whether the Senate will sign on.
AR: Arkansas governor signs criminal justice, fentanyl bills
Arkansas Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed into law expansive criminal justice bills that aim to overhaul Arkansas’ parole system and hold dealers of fentanyl and other dangerous drugs responsible for overdose deaths.
VT: Nearly three-quarters of Vermont’s school districts are under scrutiny for special education
Thirty-eight Vermont school districts and supervisory unions — nearly three-quarters of the total — are under state scrutiny for their special education practices, according to a list provided in response to a public records request.
WA: Washington state Senate passes bill allowing duplexes, fourplexes in single-family zones
The Washington state Senate passed legislation that would allow duplexes or fourplexes in most neighborhoods in most cities throughout the state, regardless of local zoning rules that have long limited huge swaths of cities to only single-family homes.
AL: State House rally demands legislators end Alabama’s grocery tax
Protesters carried signs that read, “Untax Groceries” and “Protect Public Education” at the rally, which was organized by Alabama Arise. Alabama is one of three states that impose a tax on groceries.
VA: Virginia governor to meet with Democrats on felon voting rights restoration
Virginia Democratic lawmakers plan to meet with Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin to press him to change — or at least clarify — a policy for restoring the voting rights of people convicted of felonies, which has led to far fewer restorations than the practices of his recent predecessors.
NC: Civil rights group files federal lawsuit against North Carolina’s new anti-rioting law
The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina lawsuit challenges House Bill 40, which would increase penalties for certain existing rioting charges and create new offenses related to rioting, among other provisions.
KS: Kansas to raise legal smoking age
On July 1, Kansans between the ages of 18 and 21 will no longer be able to legally buy and smoke tobacco. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, signed a bill increasing the minimum age for tobacco consumption.
MT: Pending abortion ban in Montana can’t be prevented, judge rules
A bill to restrict abortions in Montana will become law — at least temporarily — if the governor signs it, a judge ruled. The ruling denies a request by abortion rights advocates to preemptively block legislation that would ban the abortion method most commonly used in the second trimester.
IA: Iowa House passes bill banning drone surveillance of livestock facilities
The Iowa bill is a response to animal welfare organizations documenting conditions and treatment of animals at Iowa livestock and dog-breeding facilities. Iowa legislators have repeatedly passed so-called “ag-gag” laws to attempt to criminally penalize activists who record and publish images and videos of livestock facilities and businesses.
CT: Connecticut firefighters urge support of bill on easier access to workers comp for cancer patients
A Connecticut Senate bill would provide firefighters who are stricken with cancer easier access to workers’ compensation; the bill essentially says it’s assumed the firefighter’s cancer was work-related, unless proven otherwise. The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities agrees firefighters deserve the benefit but reject the way the bill is structured.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.