Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 2/15

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 2/15

MI: Michigan legislature rejects governor's executive order

freep.com

Michigan lawmakers rejected Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's executive order reorganizing the state's environmental agency, signaling an early power struggle between the GOP-controlled legislature and the state's newly elected Democratic chief executive. It's the first time in 42 years the Michigan legislature has voted to reject a governor's executive order.

AK: Alaska House ends month-long standoff, elects speaker

apnews.com

Alaska state Rep. Bryce Edgmon, who changed his party affiliation from Democrat to undeclared earlier this week, was elected House speaker, ending a standoff that had paralyzed the chamber. The vote came on the 31st day of the legislative session — the longest stretch the House had gone without electing a permanent speaker.

NY: Amazon pulls out of planned New York headquarters

nytimes.com

Amazon canceled its plans to build an expansive corporate campus in New York City after facing an unexpectedly fierce backlash from some New York lawmakers and union leaders, who contended that a tech giant did not deserve nearly $3 billion in government incentives.

TN: Tennessee hate crime law now covers transgender people

tennessean.com

Tennessee has become the first state in the South with a hate crime statute protecting transgender individuals. The state attorney general issued an opinion that affirms that transgender individuals should be covered under the existing hate crime law, but it must still be tested in court.

AR: Arkansas lawmakers send governor ‘triggered’ abortion ban

apnews.com

Arkansas lawmakers have sent legislation to Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson that would ban abortions in the state if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns its landmark 1973 ruling legalizing the procedure nationwide. Four states have similar “trigger” laws banning abortion.

WY: Wyoming Senate defeats death penalty repeal bill

trib.com

The Wyoming Senate voted down a bill that had passed the state House and would have repealed the state's death penalty, ending the most successful legislative attempt to do away with capital punishment in recent memory. 

NM: New Mexico set to close loophole on background checks

apnews.com

Legislation to expand background checks to nearly all private gun sales in New Mexico cleared its last major hurdle with approval from the state Senate. The 22-20 Senate vote highlighted a marked shift in the politics of firearms regulation in a state with a strong culture of gun ownership.

SC: South Carolina moves to abolish civil forfeiture

forbes.com

A majority of the South Carolina House of Representatives is sponsoring a bill that would end civil forfeiture, a notorious practice that let police seize over $17.6 million from 3,200 residents in just three years. More than 80 of the 124-member body signed on as sponsors. Nebraska, New Mexico and North Carolina already have abolished the practice.

TX: In 2012, there were 19 Republican women in the Texas House. Now, there are six.

texastribune.org

Of the 83 Republicans serving in the Texas House, six are women. Democratic women, by comparison, hold 27 of the party’s seats. The lack of female GOP lawmakers isn’t confined to Texas: There has been a steady decline overall in the number of Republican women elected to serve in legislatures across the country and in Congress.

FL: Florida officials stymied by confusion over restoring felons' right to vote

tampabay.com

Most former felons now have the right to vote in Florida, but legislative guidance is still needed to help implement the measure approved by voters in November. Officials told a joint state House committee that questions remain over what specific offenses might be covered, as well as how officials can determine that a sentence has been satisfied.

MS: Mississippi Senate passes $1K teacher raise. Democrats ask: ‘Is this a joke?’

mississippitoday.org

Mississippi educators would receive an additional $500 in the first year and $500 in the next year, costing the state $50 million annually when the raise is fully phased-in. The Mississippi Association of Educators called the bill “an embarrassment.”

NH: New Hampshire Senate approves mandatory paid family and medical leave bill

unionleader.com

The legislation, a top priority of New Hampshire’s Democratic legislative leaders, calls for up to 12 weeks of paid leave at up to 60 percent of a worker’s salary for the birth or adoption of a child, to take care of a sick family member or to manage employees' own serious illness. It would be paid for with a 0.5 percent payroll tax. A similar measure is expected to pass the state House.

NE: Nebraska considers kicking its habit of recall elections

apnews.com

Nebraska voters have attempted to oust local officials at least 45 times since 2008 — proportionally more than other states where voters can recall their elected leaders, an analysis by The Associated Press shows. That could change this year under a bill in the legislature that would abolish recall elections.

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