Stateline’s annual Legislative Review looks at policy and politics in the states since legislatures began their work in January.
Virginia just became the 34th state to expand Medicaid. Utah, where voters will decide whether to expand in November, could be next. Three expansion states are requiring enrollees to work or potentially lose coverage and seven additional states are seeking federal approval to do the same thing. But a federal judge this month blocked Kentucky’s work requirement, leaving conservative expansion states in limbo. Will the court ruling have a chilling effect on other conservative states that are contemplating expansion?
Fueled by the #MeToo movement, state legislators this year debated bills dealing with sexual consent, rape-kit testing and the statute of limitations on allegations of abuse. But critics say they haven’t done enough to police misconduct within the halls of government or respond appropriately once it’s reported.
Even before a recent Supreme Court decision threatened to undermine the financial stability of public-sector unions, state lawmakers were busy passing legislation to curb the power of organized labor or prop it up.
In the wake of several more devastating mass shootings, lawmakers in more than a dozen states passed stronger gun-control measures, including bump-stock bans and “red flag” laws. But advocates on both sides of the issue doubt both the effectiveness of some of these measures and the sustained momentum for passing further laws.
States have been a battleground this year over immigration, with California and Texas leading the charge for the opposing sides. Each state has tested the limits of how far it can go in forcing localities to fall into line for or against sanctuary policies. The next hot-button topic may be cooperation with detention facilities, as cities increasingly seek avenues to weigh in on harsh treatment for unauthorized immigrants and their children.