What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/13
VA: Virginia attorney general opens investigation of Black soldier’s traffic stop
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat, asked the town of Windsor’s police chief for personnel records and use of force data as outrage builds over the December traffic stop of a Black Army lieutenant. The attorney general’s civil rights office said it has the authority under state law to investigate police conduct that might constitute an "unlawful pattern or practice."
HI: Hawaii nurses can now perform abortions
Hawaii nurses are now allowed to perform abortions in the first trimester of pregnancy after Democratic Gov. David Ige signed a bill into law. Hawaii joins 12 other states that allow abortions to be performed by advanced practice registered nurses.
SC: South Carolina governor bars unaccompanied migrant children from being placed in state
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, issued an executive order to block unaccompanied immigrant children from being placed in South Carolina foster care facilities and group care homes. The move was in response to inquiries from President Joe Biden’s administration.
NY: ‘Bond Girl’ talk and groping: Women speak out about New York capital’s toxic culture
As allegations against New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo put a new spotlight on sexual misconduct in Albany, numerous women there described an enduring predatory and misogynistic environment.
US: NCAA suggests states with transgender ban will not host championships
The NCAA Board of Governors is speaking out against recent legislation banning transgender athletes from participating in sports. While the statement stops short of banning championships from states with such laws, it implies that those states may not be chosen as hosts.
WI: Wisconsin asks some unemployment recipients to pay back large sums
Nearly 80,000 Wisconsinites received overpayments for their unemployment benefits, amounting to tens of millions of dollars in state funding. Because of a combination of state backlogs and the increased benefits paid out as a result of federal coronavirus aid laws, some Wisconsin families are now being told they'll have to repay eye-popping sums.
MD: Maryland legislative session draws to a close after focus on inequity
Maryland’s General Assembly was set to adjourn its annual session having taken dramatic votes to address systemic inequities in education, criminal and social justice and health. The emphasis on fixing long-standing social unfairness defined a session that also sought to bolster civil rights and aid for immigrants, hasten action on climate change and assist those most devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.
AL: Alabama state senators want Confederate tax to fund Black history
Two Alabama state senators say they want to divert part of a statewide property tax tied to the legacy of the Confederacy to preserve and promote Black history in the state.
MN: Minnesota COVID hospitalizations double in past three weeks
Minnesota health officials remain hopeful that this latest surge of COVID-19 activity won't be as severe as the spring and winter waves last year, because of continued progress in vaccinating high-risk individuals. Hospitals have reported younger patients and fewer deaths compared with those prior waves.
CA: California lifts capacity limits on places of worship
The California Department of Public Health said capacity limits on places of worship are no longer mandatory but still strongly recommended. The move follows recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings that lifted California’s worship-related COVID-19 restrictions.
CO: Colorado lawmakers approve 2 bills tightening gun restrictions
No Republican legislators voted for the bills, which Colorado Democratic Gov. Jared Polis plans to sign into law. The bills would require people to store their guns with a trigger lock or in a gun safe in many situations and mandate they report to police if one of their firearms is lost or stolen.
OH: Four Ohio bills would stiffen penalties for demonstrators
The protests around Ohio last summer were organized because people wanted to see change—especially to policing procedures— from their elected officials. But a wave of bills introduced by state Republicans were not what they had in mind.
WA: Washington lawmakers eye 33 new taxes, fees to pay for transportation
Washington legislators have drawn up a menu of 33 tax and fee increases under a proposed 16-year transportation plan. That way, perhaps no single cost will provoke enough public fury to torpedo the plan.
TX: Texas Senate revives push to block cities' paid sick leave ordinances
Supporters say the Texas bill, which would ban cities and counties from requiring companies to provide specific employee benefits such as paid sick leave, would make it easier for businesses to operate in multiple cities. Opponents call it an "existential threat to Texas workers.”
NC: North Carolina trial tests whether voter ID law is constitutional
A trial in Raleigh will help decide whether North Carolina voters will need photo identification the next time they vote. This is the state-level trial over the constitutionality of a 2018 voter ID law. There is also a separate lawsuit over the same law that is moving forward in federal courts.
AK: Alaska governor launches summer tourism campaign
Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced that Alaska’s state government will conduct a national advertising campaign to support the tourism industry this summer. The governor repeated his call for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to allow a cruise season.
OR: Bill that would require vegan food at Oregon hospitals, prisons hits wall
Oregon lawmakers have declined to move forward a bill that would require hospitals, long-term care facilities and prisons to provide vegan options at every meal time. The bill was opposed by lobbying groups representing hospitals.
WV: West Virginia offers cash, free passes to outdoor enthusiasts who move to the state
West Virginia will try to lure outdoor enthusiasts to live in the rural state using enticements of cash and free passes for recreational destinations. The goal is to leverage one of West Virginia’s most appealing assets, its epic natural beauty, to stem the tide of population loss in the only state that has fewer residents now than in 1950.
RI: Rhode Island bill would allow veterinarians to prescribe pot for pets
A Rhode Island state legislator has introduced a bill that would allow pet owners to purchase medical marijuana, provided they have a valid prescription from a veterinarian certified in areas of marijuana dosage. But the Rhode Island Veterinary Medical Association opposes the bill, saying the psychoactive-active component in marijuana, THC, “is highly toxic to dogs.”