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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/22

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/22

NY: Impeachment probe of New York governor moves quickly

timesunion.com

The New York Assembly's impeachment probe of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, has moved swiftly as the law firm conducting the investigation has contacted attorneys for 70 witnesses and requested records from four government agencies. The investigation began in March.

WY: Ambulance services are on life support across Wyoming

wyofile.com

The historic revenue crisis facing Wyoming’s state, county and municipal governments is threatening to claim yet another casualty: universally available ambulance service. Cash-strapped local governments are grasping to find a sustainable funding model to maintain a service most agree is essential.

NM: New Mexico governor signs bill legalizing recreational pot

apnews.com

New Mexico became the latest state to legalize the recreational use of cannabis—with retail sales to begin by early 2022. Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a legalization bill into law and a companion bill that will give many people with past marijuana convictions a clean record.

TN:‘Bathroom bill’ clears Tennessee Senate

tennessean.com

The Tennessee Senate approved a bill that would allow students, teachers and school employees to refuse to share bathrooms and locker rooms with their transgender peers. Schools could get sued if students encounter someone of the opposite sex in the same changing room, shower room, bathroom or other facilities, according to the bill language.

OK: Oklahoma governor signs bill to protect drivers who hit protesters while fleeing from riots

oklahoman.com

Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt has signed a controversial bill that grants immunity to drivers who unintentionally injure or kill protesters while driving away from a riot. The bill is just one of a handful of Republican-backed proposals introduced in the legislature this year aimed at cracking down on protests.

VA: Virginia governor signs bill legalizing marijuana possession starting this summer

wtop.com

Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bill legalizing simple possession of marijuana beginning this summer, making it the first Southern state to do so and accelerating a revamp of cannabis laws that have disproportionately jailed Americans of color for nonviolent offenses.

WI: Task force unveils proposed changes to Wisconsin policing laws

wpr.org

A bipartisan group tasked with proposing changes to Wisconsin policing laws has released 18 recommendations, including limiting use of chokeholds and creating new reporting requirements for use of force. The group is part of a larger legislative task force on racial disparities and policing.

AL: Alabama Senate approves bill banning traffic stops based on racial profiling

montgomeryadvertiser.com

The Alabama Senate passed a bill that would ban racial profiling by law enforcement. The legislation would not penalize officers involved in racial profiling, but it does allow the Alabama attorney general to withhold funding from law enforcement agencies that don’t develop polices outlined in the law. The bill now heads to the House.

KS: Kansas counties turn down COVID-19 vaccines

kansaspublicradio.org

Though Kansas remains far from reaching the coveted public health standard of herd immunity against COVID-19, more than 60 counties are turning down their weekly allotment of vaccine doses. Cheyenne, Decatur, Lane, Phillips, Sheridan and Woodson counties have skipped their allocations for the past four weeks. Their immunization rates range from roughly 26% to 32%.

WV: West Virginia governor urges vaccine-hesitant residents to get shots

wvgazettemail.com

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, posed a question to people refusing vaccinations. “How many people you know are going to have to die for us to awaken to the fact these vaccines are safe and necessary?” Justice said that without more participation, the state—which was once a leader in vaccine distribution—is never going to be able to lift COVID-19 restrictions.

SD: South Dakota bans local vaccine passports

argusleader.com

Republican Gov. Kristi Noem announced an executive order banning governments in the state from issuing COVID-19 vaccine passports in South Dakota. Florida and Texas have similar bans.

CA: California governor launches effort to deal with drought; emergencies declared in two counties

latimes.com

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a drought emergency in two Northern California counties as he stood on the dry shoreline of Lake Mendocino. Newsom has been under pressure from some quarters to declare a statewide drought emergency. But the administration favors a more targeted approach.

ID: Idaho senators are fast-tracking a bill that would allow more wolf hunting

idahostatesman.com

For the second time this session, Idaho lawmakers have proposed legislation that would expand opportunities to kill wolves, potentially whittling the animal’s population toa fraction of its current estimated size.

AZ: Arizona House passes bill that would change early voting list

azcentral.com

A bill that would require county officials to remove voters who miss the general and primary elections, as well as local mayoral and city council elections during two election cycles, passed the Arizona House.

TX: Video shows Texas GOP official recruiting ‘army’ to monitor minority polling locations

chron.com

In a leaked video obtained by The Washington Post, a man who identifies himself as a GOP official in Harris County, Texas, says the party needs 10,000 Republicans for an “election integrity brigade” to monitor voters at every precinct in the county.

MI: Michigan secretary of state blasts GOP elections bill

freep.com

A GOP-proposed election bill package “harms our election system or restricts Michigan citizens hard-fought freedom to vote,” said Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. "You embarrass all of us," she said.

GA: Poll shows deep divisions over Georgia voting law

ajc.com

Georgia voters are split along party lines over the state’s new election law, with a divided majority supporting drop box limits, absentee ballot ID requirements and shorter deadlines to request absentee ballots, according to a University of Georgia poll.

MS: Mississippi Senate killed 19 House bills that would restore voting rights

mississippitoday.org

This legislative session, the Mississippi Senate killed bills that would have restored the voting rights of people who were formerly convicted of felonies. If the bills had been signed into law, they would have amounted to the most voting restoration bills for people convicted of felonies the legislature has passed since 2004.

FL: Florida House passes school voucher expansion 

orlandosentinel.com

The Florida House voted to expand the state’s school voucher programs, opening up scholarships created to help children living in poverty to youngsters from families earning nearly $100,000 a year.

MO: Missouri House expels lawmaker accused of abuse by his children

stltoday.com

Six days after rejecting state Rep. Rick Roeber’s letter of resignation, the Missouri House voted resoundingly to expel the Kansas City-area Republican whose adult children testified that he sexually abused them when they were minors.  

UT: Utah governor ceremonially signs equity bills

ksl.com

Utah Republican Gov. Spencer Cox ceremonially signed six bills that would address equity in the form of hunger, homelessness, immigration, housing affordability and language barriers. Cox said the ceremonial signing was meant to highlight bills that deserved more attention but got “lost in the shuffle” of the 2021 legislature.

 

Pandemic Nomads Stalled Vaccinations
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