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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/31

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/31

KY: Kentucky legislature passes constitutional amendment declaring no right to abortion

kentucky.com

The Kentucky General Assembly scrambled to pass a series of last-minute bills in the waning hours of the final day of the 2021 legislative session, including a constitutional amendment asserting abortion is not a protected right.

AZ: ‘Firearm Freedom Act’ heads to Arizona governor’s office

kold.com

The Arizona Senate approved the “Second Amendment Firearm Freedom Act,” which would bar local governments from enforcing federal rules that don’t line up with the state’s laws on firearm regulation. The measure now goes to the governor’s office for approval.

CO: Colorado air quality enforcers ordered staff to relax pollution standards

denverpost.com

Colorado officials responsible for regulating air pollution this month ordered employees to stop measuring surges of harmful sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulates, according to a whistleblower complaint that alleges “a culture of permitting at all costs” that sacrifices public health.

SD: South Dakota governor issues executive orders in place of women's sports bill

billingsgazette.com

After the South Dakota House vetoed a bill that would have barred transgender girls from participating in girls’ sports, Republican Gov. Kristi Noem issued two executive orders that essentially implement the bill. The first order addresses K-12 athletics and the second concerns collegiate athletics.

NV: Nevada governor extends eviction moratorium

thenevadaindependent.com

Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak is extending Nevada’s state-level eviction moratorium that was on track to expire this week, placing a two-month layer of tenant protections on top of existing federal protections, which were extended for three months.

MA: Massachusetts governor gets high marks on pandemic handling in new poll

bostonglobe.com

Most Massachusettsresidents are satisfied with Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic even as his political foes have sharpened their knives, with strong majorities approving of his job performance and his direction of the state, a new poll by Suffolk University and The Boston Globe found.

WY: Wyoming governor has no plans to reintroduce mask mandate

trib.com

President Joe Biden urged governors of states who have lifted face mask mandates to reintroduce them, but GOP Gov. Mark Gordon said Wyoming does not intend to do so. 

DE: Automatic voter registration bill passes Delaware Senate

delawarepublic.org

Currently, when someone goes to the Delaware Department of Motor Vehicles to get a new driver's license, they are asked if they want to register to vote. But under legislation passed by the Senate, Delawareans would be registered automatically if qualified, and sent a postcard later asking if they’d like to opt out.

TX: Texas kidney patients face pandemic toll

texastribune.org

Early in the pandemic, coronavirus transmission exploded at dialysis clinics, especially in South Texas. The surge has subsided, but patients have no choice but to show up at clinics for the life-sustaining treatments, risking exposure to the virus.

LA: Louisiana keeps mask mandate, opens businesses

theadvocate.com

In Louisiana's biggest step toward reopening yet, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards lifted occupancy limits on bars, restaurants, salons, gyms, malls and casinos. Mask mandates and social distancing remain.

CT: Connecticut governor’s emergency COVID-19 powers will continue

courant.com

Despite complaints by Republicans and conservatives, the Connecticut Senate granted final legislative approval to an extension of Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont’s extraordinary powers to combat the pandemic for another month until May 20. 

RI: Fentanyl fuels alarming rise in accidental drug overdose deaths in Rhode Island

providencejournal.com

Drugs tainted with fentanyl have contributed to an alarming increase in overdose deaths, the Rhode Island Department of Health reported. According to the department, 356 accidental drug overdose deaths were recorded between January and November 2020, “more than any year on record to date.” 

WA: Lawsuit demands immediate vaccinations for people incarcerated in Washington prisons

seattletimes.com

A legal-aid group is suing the Washington Department of Corrections, demanding COVID-19 vaccines immediately be made available for all people incarcerated in the state’s prisons.

OR: Oregon lawmakers explore wiping out stimulus tax penalty

oregonlive.com

The Oregon legislature is moving to wipe out more than $300 million in state taxes triggered by federal stimulus payments, but it could take several months for 900,000 taxpayers to get all their money back.

HI: Hawaii's private schools see enrollment drop more than 20% for preschoolers

civilbeat.org

During the academic year that spanned the pandemic, overall enrollment in Hawaii private schools rose slightly for K-12 but dropped by more than 20% for preschools.

MS: Mississippi legislature approves home delivery of alcohol

mississippitoday.org

Mississippi lawmakers have passed a measure that would allow home delivery of beer, wine and liquor, similar to grocery deliveries that have become popular amid the pandemic. 

ME: Maine governor declares state agencies will ‘lead by example’ on climate change

pressherald.com

Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, said Maine’s government will embrace new strategies to combat climate change, including curbs on greenhouse gas emissions, transitioning to clean power sources and building an all-electric fleet of state vehicles. 

VT: Vermont Senate prepares to vote on constitutional amendments regarding abortion rights, slavery

vtdigger.org

Two amendments to the Vermont Constitution—one in favor of abortion rights, another prohibiting slavery and indentured servitude in any form—have been scheduled for a vote in the Vermont Senate. 

VA: Virginia governor, federal transportation chief seal DC-Richmond passenger train expansion

richmond.com

Virginia has sealed the deal on a $3.7 billion rail package with CSX Corp., Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express that will expand passenger rail travel between Washington, D.C., and Richmond. 

SC: South Carolina will spend $6M on tackling broadband deserts with free computer labs

thestate.com

South Carolina will spend $6 million of its federal COVID-19 aid on addressing broadband deserts across the state. 

MT:Montana Senate advances bill that would ban transgender women from participating in women’s sports 

billingsgazette.com

After an amendment that would void the bill if the federal government raised objections, the Montana Senate gave initial approval to legislation that would block transgender women from playing on women's sports teams.

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