Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 2/20

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 2/20

FL: Appeals court strikes down Florida's felon fines

tampabay.com

A federal appeals court ruled it was unconstitutional to force Florida felons to first pay off their financial obligations before registering to vote. The ruling was an unmistakable victory for supporters of Amendment 4, which passed by nearly two-thirds of Florida voters in 2018.

NM: New Mexico governor signs early childhood education bill

santafenewmexican.com

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill to dedicate $320 million to a fund, to be sustained by oil and gas revenue, to support early childhood education in New Mexico. A state analysis found that pre-kindergarten programs could nearly eliminate achievement gaps and improve literacy.

AL: Alabama bill to deny bail advances in House

al.com

Legislation to give judges more discretion in denying bail to people accused of violent crimes advanced in the Alabama House. The bill is named after college student Aniah Blanchard, who was abducted in Auburn last year and murdered. The man charged with her murder was out on bond after charges of several violent offenses.

LA: 24K Louisianans could lose Medicaid amid stricter rules

theadvocate.com

Louisiana’s health department has sent nearly 24,000 Medicaid recipients letters warning they will lose coverage if they don’t prove they qualify for the program, marking a full year of a new stricter eligibility system that has caused enrollment to remain consistently lower than before.

UT: Utah bill says no hunting, fishing for deadbeat parents

sltrib.com

With bipartisan support, the Utah House has advanced a bill that would use hunting and fishing privileges as leverage over noncustodial parents who are more than $2,500 behind in these payments. Utahns overall are $400 million in arrears on child support, affecting about 121,000 children

MN: Minnesota spending $500M for affordable housing. Here’s how.

twincities.com

A Minnesota House committee approved — with bipartisan support and no audible opposition — a bill authorizing the sale of $400 million in “housing infrastructure bonds” to produce homes that working families can afford and $100 million in general obligation bonds to preserve and improve government-owned public housing.

NJ: New Jersey governor wants more accountable lawmakers

nj.com

New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy unveiled sweeping proposals that would force lobbyists to reveal who they hire, require lawmakers to disclose their finances, limit gifts lawmakers can accept, open the state legislature to public-records requests, and increase how long legislation must be public before it can be voted on, among other changes.

MO: Missouri lawmakers consider “bill of rights” for sexual assault survivors

stltoday.com

A Missouri state Senate committee heard testimony on a proposed bill of rights for sexual assault survivors, while a state House committee weighed updates to the state’s civil protection order statutes to help law enforcement deal with online stalking.

WA: Washington could ban disposable plastics in restaurants and grocery stores

crosscut.com

Amid worries about the mounting environmental and public-health costs of disposable plastic, Washington lawmakers are considering forcing the state’s takeout industry to go compostable-only. Proposed legislation would create a phased-in ban on plastic “food-service products” accompanying ready-to-eat food.

WY: Wyoming lawmakers hold out hope for carbon capture to save energy sector

trib.com

State lawmakers continue to hold out hope for saving Wyoming’s imperiled coal industry, with many seeing the rollout of carbon capture technology as a solution. Legislation would impose new low-carbon electricity generation standards to encourage utility companies to install carbon capture technology on existing coal-fired power plants.

MD: Maryland lawmakers unveil new climate change proposal

baltimoresun.com

Maryland would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2030, under an ambitious measure outlined as the coastal state grapples with increasing concerns about sea-level rise. The measure also would set the state on a path toward achieving net-zero statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.

IL: Religious exemption for vaccines would be dropped for kids in Illinois schools under proposed law

chicagotribune.com

Under newly introduced state legislation, parents in Illinois would no longer be able to claim religion as a reason to refuse vaccinations for their children — a move backed by public health officials as a way to stave off outbreaks of diseases once thought to be eradicated, and shunned by groups vocal about their objections to vaccines.

TN: Tennessee governor changes course on paid leave for state workers

tennessean.com

After issuing an executive order last month aimed at providing 12 weeks of paid family leave to 38,000 state employees, Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee now says lawmakers need to pass legislation to implement the proposal.

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