Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 2/14

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 2/14

FL: Florida governor wants grand jury to investigate schools

apnews.com

Saying that parents remain frustrated with school officials’ responses to last year’s Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis called for a statewide grand jury to investigate whether school districts are following laws enacted in the wake of the attack that left 17 dead.

US: States weigh bills addressing Native deaths, disappearances

apnews.com

Lawmakers in at least seven states have introduced legislation to address the unsolved deaths and disappearances of numerous Native American women and girls. An Associated Press review of the bills found that mostly Native American lawmakers in Minnesota, the Dakotas, Montana, Washington, New Mexico and Arizona have sponsored measures.

AK: Governor says every Alaskan will feel impact of budget cuts

apnews.com

Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy unveiled a pared down budget that he says will impact every Alaskan, addressing a projected $1.6 billion deficit. He proposed deep cuts to the University of Alaska system, K-12 public education and health and social services. Critics called his plan reckless and said it would devastate key services such as education.

ND: North Dakota Senate defeats bill to study natural gas flaring

bismarcktribune.com

North Dakota senators voted against a study aimed at decreasing the wasteful flaring of natural gas, which is at record high volumes in the state. The bill would have initially curbed flaring by requiring companies to pay taxes and royalties on flared natural gas from wells that have flared for more than one year.

MT: Bill to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day clears Montana House

helenair.com

Lawmakers supporting the bill said celebrating Columbus Day is demeaning to the state's Native population and that Columbus is not a historic figure worth honoring. Opponents said history is complicated and Columbus' legacy can't be dismissed entirely.

KY: 'Trigger law' bill to ban abortion in Kentucky clears House committee

courier-journal.com

A bill to ban abortion in Kentucky — should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing it — easily cleared the House Judiciary Committee, despite objections from some members who said the measure punishes women and is based on speculation.

OH: Ohio needs $1B for road repairs, DOT chief says

dispatch.com

The state transportation director gave Ohio lawmakers a blunt assessment of Ohio’s road construction money situation. Jack Marchbanks, who heads the Ohio Department of Transportation, told the House Finance Committee that the department is about $1 billion short on revenue. A gas tax increase would raise about $67 million per penny each year.

UT: Utah Senate passes affordable housing bill

sltrib.com

The Utah Senate passed a bill that would encourage cities to plan for affordable housing, even though senators raised worries the measure doesn't do enough and that it spends too much money. 

MI: Police couldn't seize property until conviction under bill passed by Michigan Senate

freep.com

Police and prosecutors would be prohibited from seizing cash and property from people accused of a crime until they are convicted on the charges, under a bill passed in the Michigan Senate. Law enforcement objected to the bill during committee hearings last year. The bill now moves to the state House, where it passed last year.

TX: This Texas program lands poor people in jail. Getting rid of it is complicated.

texastribune.org

The Driver Responsibility Program, enacted in 2003, charges Texan drivers additional yearly fees for certain traffic violations — from $100 for a few traffic tickets to $2,500 for driving while intoxicated, on top of the cost of the ticket. Lawmakers have tried to repeal or reform the program in past years, but its fees pay for nearly half of the state’s emergency trauma-care system.

NH: ACLU sues to block New Hampshire voter fraud law

unionleader.com

Under a New Hampshire law that takes effect in July, anyone who votes must obtain an in-state driver’s license and vehicle registration within 60 days of casting their ballot. The American Civil Liberties Union has sued the state on behalf of two college students who claim the law violates their constitutional rights and represents a 21st-century “poll tax.”

CO: Colorado to expand driver’s license program for immigrants

coloradosun.com

Colorado lawmakers this year could drastically expand the state’s long-troubled driver’s license program for people living in the U.S. illegally. A state Senate bill would require that at least 10 state Division of Motor Vehicles offices offer appointments for applicants seeking licenses, up from four currently.

NY: Victims offer harrowing testimony at New York sexual harassment hearing

timesunion.com

Eight former New York legislative staffers — seven women and one man — detailed how they were subjected to unwanted misbehavior and how the Assembly's leadership and its top staff worked to discredit and silence them.

GA: Georgia legislature passes school bus safety bill

ajc.com

Georgia lawmakers rushed through legislation to protect children from motorists at school bus stops. Nearly every member of the House voted for the measure, which passed the Senate unanimously last week and now goes to the desk of Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.

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