Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/9

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/9

SD: South Dakota governor won't ask lawmakers to revisit transgender sports debate during special session

argusleader.com

When South Dakota lawmakers head back to the Capitol for a special session later this spring, it won't be to take up the topic of transgender sports participation. After a conference call between South Dakota legislative leaders and Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, a decision was made not to include a ban on transgender women and girls from playing women’s and girls sports on the list of potential bills.

WA: Washington governor could announce new COVID restrictions

apnews.com

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, will announce next week whether some counties will have to roll back to Phase 2 of the state’s COVID-19 reopening plan because of rising cases. “We’ve let our guard down to some degree,” Inslee said at a news conference.

CO: Colorado braces for an extraordinary fire season

cpr.org

Coloradans should brace for another formidable year of wildfires, according to an annual forecast from the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control. The report warns ongoing drought conditions could intensify throughout 2021, priming forests for another year of large, fast-moving and destructive blazes.

NY: New York budget deal caps nursing home profits

timesunion.com

The budget deal reached this week between New York lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo caps the profits that nursing home operators can make at 5% and includes a new requirement that nursing homes spend at least 70% of their revenues on direct resident care, including at least 40% on staff who deal with residents.

TX: Texas national anthem bill gets bipartisan support

texastribune.org

Democrats in the Texas Senate crossed the aisle to vote in favor of a Republican-backed bill requiring the national anthem be played by professional sports teams with state government contracts.

CA: California governor strikes wildfire deal to put $536M toward home-hardening, prevention

sacbee.com

With California likely facing another brutal wildfire season, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a deal with legislative leaders for $536 million in additional funding to increase fire prevention in the parched state.

KS: Kansas lawmakers revive bill that would ban transgender girls from K-12, college sports

kansas.com

After stalling in the Kansas House, a bill that would ban transgender people from girls sports took a major step forward. If the bill passes, the ACLU of Kansas has pledged to sue, prompting a legal process that the Kansas attorney general predicts would be drawn out and costly.

WI: Some Wisconsin schools shed mask requirements after court ruling

jsonline.com

A week after the state Supreme Court threw out Wisconsin's mask requirement, some schools are no longer requiring face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The moves come amid concerns about the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant, which has popped up in school-based outbreaks in Michigan where cases are surging. 

FL: Florida sues CDC to reboot cruises

miamiherald.com

Florida is suing the federal government in a long-shot attempt to get the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to allow cruising to resume immediately. Cruise lines were caught off guard by the state’s move. 

OR: Oregon could cut unemployment taxes in bipartisan legislation

oregonlive.com

A bill that would give Oregon employers a significant break on their unemployment insurance taxes advanced out of a House committee on a 7-0 bipartisan vote. That signals the bill, which would save employers $100 million in taxes this year and a projected $2.4 billion over the coming decade, could glide through an otherwise contentious legislative session. 

NM: New Mexico will require paid sick leave

abqjournal.com

New Mexico will join about 15 other states in requiring paid sick leave for workers, starting July 2022. The measure was signed into law by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. 

DE: COVID outbreak worsens in Delaware even as vaccinations increase

delawarepublic.org

COVID-19 hospitalizations, new daily cases and the percentage of people testing positive have all trended upward in Delaware over the past month. 

AR: Arkansas Senate passes ‘class-protection’ bill rather than hate crimes bill

arkansasonline.com

Legislation that its sponsor has called "a class-protection bill" cleared the Arkansas Senate, after a competing hate crimes bill failed to clear the Senate Judiciary Committee. The new measure differs from previously proposed hate crimes bills in that it does not list specific protected classes—such as race, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation—but rather gives broad sets of characteristics that could define a protected group. 

HI: Hawaii's transgender community pushes for better health insurance coverage

civilbeat.org

When the Hawaii legislature’s session kicked off in January, members of the state’s transgender community and their advocates had high hopes for proposals that would make it easier for medical procedures related to gender transition to get covered by health insurance. But as the legislative session winds down, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that those measures will pass. 

WY: Wyoming lawmakers consider whether to transfer federal public lands to state

wyofile.com

Wyoming lawmakers raised the possibility of resuming a conversation that has been churning in the minds of many western lawmakers for a half-century: the feasibility of Wyoming taking over a large share of the more than 30 million acres of federal lands within its borders. 

MD: Maryland sees Johnson & Johnson vaccine allotment shrink after plant error

baltimoresun.com

Maryland will have 78,000 fewer than expected doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine next week, according to the Maryland Department of Health. The announcement follows a grave error made at an East Baltimore facility tasked with producing Johnson & Johnson’s and other COVID-19 vaccines, resulting in millions of doses going to waste. 

MS: Mississippi broadband expansion is 'pedal to the medal' as federal money flows in

mississippitoday.org

The Mississippi Public Service Commission has awarded $268 million to local electric cooperatives across the state to hook up more than 102,000 homes and businesses to broadband internet. Mississippi’s expansion of internet services, fueled by $570 million in federal money—with more on the way—promises to be as life-altering for rural Mississippi as electricity was in the 1930s. 

WV: West Virginia transgender athlete bill wins Senate approval

apnews.com

Transgender women and girls in West Virginia would be banned from competing in women’s and girls sports in middle and high schools and colleges under a bill that narrowly won state Senate approval.

IN: Indiana legislature OKs religious activities as essential

apnews.com

The Indiana Senate approved a bill that would designate religious activities as essential services and prohibit any restrictions on them during a declared emergency. The measure, which now heads to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, also bars state and local orders from being more restrictive on churches than on other organizations considered essential.

OK: Oklahoma Senate has 'no appetite' for corporate tax cuts

oklahoman.com

The leader of the Oklahoma Senate does not support legislation that would phase out the state’s corporate income tax over the next five years. Senate Pro Tempore Greg Treat, a Republican, said there is not widespread support in the Oklahoma state Senate for the proposal from House Speaker Charles McCall, meaning the hotly debated tax cut legislation is unlikely to succeed this year.

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