Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/27

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/27

AR: Arkansas Senate votes to override governor's veto of gun bill

arkansasonline.com

The Arkansas Senate voted to override Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto of a bill that would prohibit state and local law enforcement from helping to enforce federal gun laws. A simple majority of both houses is required to override a gubernatorial veto, but the House adjourned before taking a vote.

FL: Florida Senate approves changes to elections system

tampabay.com

Florida senators voted mostly along party lines to approve a controversial bill that would make dozens of changes to the state’s vote-by-mail laws, including limiting the availability of ballot drop boxes and instituting new rules for counting and challenging mail-in ballots. The House is advancing a similar measure.

CA: California governor will face recall election as Republican-led effort hits signature goal

latimes.com

Propelled by growing voter frustration over California’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a Republican-led drive to remove Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom from office collected enough voter signatures to qualify for the ballot, state officials reported, triggering, for only the second time in the state’s history, a rapid-fire campaign to decide whether to oust a sitting governor.

VA: Virginia colleges have authority to require COVID vaccines, attorney general's office says

richmond.com

Virginia’s public colleges have the authority to require COVID-19 vaccines among their students, Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring said, the latest development in a nationwide trend in higher education of mandating shots.

VT: Eagles set to soar off Vermont endangered species list

vpr.org

Vermont’s bald eagles were pushed to the brink of extinction by hunting, habitat loss and pesticide poisoning. For decades, no eagles nested in the Green Mountain State. Now, the birds of prey have recovered to the point where the state is ready to take them off the endangered species list.

CT: Connecticut governor’s plan for pandemic relief focuses on economy, child care and education 

ctmirror.org

Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont centered his plans for Connecticut’s latest round of federal coronavirus relief on jump-starting the economy, helping students recover from a pandemic learning gap, maintaining the battle against COVID-19—and avoiding any hikes in state taxes. 

CO: People without smartphones struggle to get Colorado unemployment benefits

cpr.org

The Colorado labor department recently enlisted a third-party platform, ID.me, to verify people’s identities—a process that requires users to scan their faces with a smartphone’s camera, upload photographs of their IDs and in some cases wait for hours for a live video interview. 

UT: Utah lawmakers are making plans for spending new COVID-19 relief funds

sltrib.com

Utah legislative leaders have started to reach out to appropriations committees to solicit ideas for spending the state’s $1.5 billion American Rescue Plan Act allocation. A list of 10 “guiding principles” will direct those spending proposals. The top item on the list urges a focus on long-term challenges for the state. 

WY: Wyoming Business Council ask businesses to return millions in state COVID-19 relief funds

wyomingnews.com

Roughly 225 Wyoming businesses have been asked to pay back money that was given to them through the Wyoming Business Council, the entity charged with administering the state’s grant programs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, roughly $3.5 million in funds were returned voluntarily by businesses, while 175 other businesses have been asked to give back about $9.7 million following third-party audits. 

KS: Kansas governor signs bill to modernize unemployment system

apnews.com

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly has signed a bipartisan bill to give the GOP-controlled Kansas legislature more oversight of the modernization of the state’s troubled unemployment system. The law will require the Kansas Department of Labor to complete computer upgrades by the end of 2022 and calls for a 13-member council that will hire an independent firm to audit the impacts of fraudulent claims and improper payments beginning last year.

AL: Alabama governor signs bill banning transgender youth from public school sports

montgomeryadvertiser.com 

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, signed a law that bans transgender athletes from joining public school sports teams that conform with their gender identity. Proponents of the law argue it would protect cisgender female athletes from unfair competition from transgender girls, though an Associated Press survey earlier this year found few cases of that occurring.

MS: Some Mississippi community colleges are making their summer classes free

mississippitoday.org

Three community colleges in Mississippi used federal stimulus funds from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) to cover summer tuition and other expenses for students. Mississippi colleges and universities received almost $150 million in HEERF funding for emergency financial aid grants and pandemic-related institutional expenses.

ND: North Dakota lawmakers aim to sever state university ties with Planned Parenthood

bismarcktribune.com

The majority-Republican North Dakota legislature approved a measure that would cut by 2.5% the operating budget of any institution, including North Dakota State University, that enters into a contract with “a person that performs or promotes the performance of an abortion.” A school official who signs such a contract would face up to 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine.

MT: Montana gains 2nd seat in U.S. House

krtv.com

In 2023, Montana will once again have two members in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Montana had two U.S. House members between 1913 and 1993. Now Montana will become the first state in U.S. history that had two seats in the House, lost one, and then got it back. 

IA: Iowa lawmakers consider ban on vaccine passports

thegazette.com

Iowa governments would be barred from issuing COVID-19 vaccine passports, and businesses and venues open to the public could face penalties if they require immunization proof, under a bill that legislators are slated to take up this week.

OR: Oregon's voting system could become less restrictive

oregonlive.com

This year in Salem, Democratic lawmakers have served up a wide array of ideas to make Oregon’s famously easy-to-use voting system more accessible. More than a half dozen voting-related bills remain in play with the potential to become law.

MI: Michigan will lose another congressional seat

freep.com

For the fifth consecutive census, Michigan will lose a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Michigan’s population has increased 2% since 2010, but that rate lagged other states in the Midwest.

AK: Alaska governor shares vaccines with Canada

apnews.com

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, a Republican, has offered COVID-19 vaccines to residents of the small British Columbia town of Stewart, with hopes it could lead the Canadian government to ease restrictions between Stewart and the tiny Alaska border community of Hyder a couple miles away.

DE: As Delaware stores find 'loophole' in plastic bag ban, officials consider crackdown

delawareonline.com

After banning thin plastic shopping bags at the start of this year, Delaware lawmakers have pledged to create more restrictions after stores have started to use thicker plastic bags instead of paper or cloth bags as intended. 

DC: D.C.’s explosive growth continued over the past decade

washingtonpost.com

Since 2010, Washington, D.C.’s population has grown 14.6%—nearly double the national rate—jumping from about 602,000 to 689,545, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau. The population tally is significantly smaller than recent Census Bureau estimates, but still nearly triple the growth recorded the previous decade.

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