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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/29

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/29

IA: Iowa Senate passes bill that would put limits on some diversity training

desmoinesregister.com

The Iowa bill defines several concepts that would be banned in mandatory diversity trainings, including: that the U.S. or state of Iowa is fundamentally or systemically racist or sexist, "that an individual, by virtue of the individual's race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously," and that anyone should "feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress" because of their race or sex.

CO: Colorado’s major public universities will require COVID-19 vaccines

denverpost.com

Colorado’s major public universities will require that their students, faculty and staff receive COVID-19 vaccinations before beginning the 2021 fall semester. Colorado state law long has mandated college students be vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella, with exemptions possible due to religion and medical conditions.

MS: Tap water could be linked to dangerous lead levels in Jackson, Mississippi’s kids

southerlymag.org

An analysis of Mississippi State Department of Health data showed that children with dangerous levels of lead in their bodies live in the Blackest and most under-resourced parts of Jackson, the state’s capital. This is the first known effort to map neighborhood-level risks of lead exposure in Mississippi children.

WA: Child care and early learning advocates in Washington celebrate legislative wins

seattletimes.com

Funded at more than $400 million over the next two years, a new law, the Fair Start Act, will require Washington to expand access to early learning and child care programs. The act will almost double the current number of state-funded preschool slots by 2026.

NC: North Carolina lawmakers opt to keep century-old law against adultery

newsobserver.com

North Carolinians can still sue a person who has an affair with their spouse, after a handful of lawmakers killed a bill that would have repealed a state law at least a century old.

NY: Aides to New York governor spent months hiding nursing home death toll

nytimes.com

The effort by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office to obscure the pandemic death toll in New York nursing homes was far greater than previously known, with aides repeatedly overruling state health officials over a span of at least five months, according to interviews and newly unearthed documents.

AL: Bill aims to expand Alabama students’ rights to challenge school suspensions

al.com

The Alabama Senate passed a bill that would grant more rights to public school students regarding suspension or expulsion hearings. The bill would allow students and parents to present a defense, witnesses and evidence in hearings for alleged misconduct. The bill also says that school officials cannot suspend students for truancy and tardiness or suspend students in pre-kindergarten through 5th grade unless they endanger the physical safety of others.

CT: Governor signs bill eliminating Connecticut’s religious exemption for mandatory school vaccinations

courant.com

Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont signed legislation that would end Connecticut’s religious exemption for mandatory school vaccinations beginning in the 2022 school year. Under the bill, only students who obtain a medical exemption would be permitted to attend public or private school in the state without vaccines. 

FL: Florida lawmakers eye changes to property insurance in wake of soaring rates

tampabay.com

In a scramble to slow the state’s soaring homeowners’ insurance rates, the Florida House approved a bill that would reduce the time to file a property insurance claim from three years to two years and stop contractors and public adjusters from soliciting homeowners to file a claim. 

MO: Urban farms in food deserts could get tax credits under Missouri legislature proposal 

stltoday.com

Residents could receive tax credits for establishing farms in some urban areas, under a proposal that won initial approval in the Missouri House. The legislation was attached to a bill allowing certain low-income Missourians to receive vouchers to use at farmers markets.

WI: Wisconsin governor signs bill requiring education on Holocaust, genocides

jsonline.com

The law requires Wisconsin schools to include curricula about the Holocaust and other genocides at least once in grades 5-8 and at least once again in grades 9-12. The requirement applies to public schools, charter schools and private schools that accept state-funded vouchers. 

MN: Minnesota will send 40% of COVID-19 vaccine doses to hard-hit communities

startribune.com

Over the next four weeks, Minnesota health officials will allocate 40% of COVID-19 vaccine doses to communities that have been hit hardest by the pandemic, many of them home to Black, Indigenous, Hispanic and other groups. Using a formula developed by federal health officials to measure social and medical vulnerabilities, the doses will be targeted to the top 25% of ZIP codes that have the highest scores. 

DE: Delaware panel advances bill that would expand minority teachers’ access to student loan debt relief

delawarepublic.org

Currently, the Delaware loan repayment program is open to teachers working in high-needs schools or in high-need subject areas, such as language, STEM and special education. The bill, approved by the Senate Education Committee, would create a third category of qualified teachers: people from a minority racial or ethnic background. 

OR: Oregon tree removal effort draws allegations of mismanagement

oregonlive.com

As the hazardous tree-removal program overseen by the Oregon Department of Transportation goes into high gear after last fall’s devastating wildfires, many of Oregon’s most scenic and beloved areas are being transformed into post-apocalyptic stretches of roadside clear cuts, gargantuan log piles and slash.

MT: Montana legislature passes marijuana legalization

helenair.com

Montana’s home-grow provision would allow two plants per person, or four plants per household. Recreational sales would be taxed at 20% and the tax on medical marijuana would remain at 4%. Tribes wouldn’t be able to sell marijuana on Montana's reservations, but each tribal government would be allotted a marijuana business license to operate a dispensary within 150 miles of reservation boundaries. 

OK: Oklahoma governor signs bill that would ban abortion if SCOTUS overrules Roe v. Wade

oklahoman.com

Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a law that would immediately outlaw abortion in Oklahoma if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the 1973 case that legalized the procedure.

SC: South Carolina bill would bar anyone from getting married before age 18

postandcourier.com

No one under 18 could legally marry in South Carolina, under legislation advancing in the state Senate, two years after lawmakers set 16 as the minimum age.

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