Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/30

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/30

FL: Florida legislature passes bill targeting voting by mail, drop boxes

tampabay.com

Florida lawmakers approved along party lines a bill that would make a multitude of changes to the state’s elections laws, including a ban on possessing multiple mail ballots and restrictions on the use of ballot drop boxes. But the changes in the bill now heading to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk are far less dramatic than what Republicans were proposing over the last month.

MT: Research into Montana’s deaths of despair reveals hard pandemic numbers

mtpr.org

Research into nearly 200,000 Montana death records from the past two decades has put hard numbers to anecdotes about suicides and drug- and alcohol-related deaths during the pandemic. The report shows that death rates significantly increased in 2020 in communities categorized as "Graying America," "Native American Lands" and "Working Class Country."

NH: New Hampshire Senate passes bill that would make secret police list public

apnews.com

New Hampshire’s secret list of roughly 270 police officers with credibility issues would be made public under a bill passed by the state Senate. The so-called Laurie list tracks officers whose credibility may be called into question during a trial because of something in their personnel records.

AZ: Arizona legislature passes bill that would make sweeping changes to civil forfeiture law

azcentral.com

The bill headed to the desk of Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey would make it more difficult for the government to keep seized property without a criminal conviction. If passed into law, the bill would require the government to return the property to its owner within 10 business days unless it met certain conditions, such as the property was being held as evidence or was illegal for the owner to possess.

TX: Texas enabled the worst carbon monoxide poisoning catastrophe in recent US history

texastribune.org

Over the past two decades, most states have implemented laws or regulations requiring carbon monoxide alarms in private residences, often on the heels of high-profile deaths or mass poisonings during storms. But in Texas, where top lawmakers often promote personal responsibility over state mandates, efforts to pass similar carbon monoxide requirements have repeatedly failed.

OR: Oregon House approves gun bill after lengthy debate

oregonlive.com

The Oregon House approved a bill that would require gun owners to secure their weapons when not in use, either by placing them in a locked container or by using a trigger lock. The measure would also require people whose guns are stolen to promptly report the theft to law enforcement and would allow schools, colleges, the state capitol and the Portland airport to ban weapons, even those carried by people with a concealed handgun license.

ND: Major North Dakota election bill clears legislature

bismarcktribune.com

The North Dakota legislature passed voting legislation that sets a 30-minute limit on casting a ballot, includes technology additions such as QR codes, and helps people with disabilities vote. Gov. Doug Burgum, a Republican, has three legislative days to sign or reject the bill.

CO: Dark money group spends record amounts lobbying against Colorado public option bill

coloradosun.com

Over a nine-month period, a national nonprofit working against Colorado Democrats’ bill seeking to drive down health care costs has spent nearly $560,000 to oppose the measure. Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, funded by hospitals, insurers and other business interests, could be the top single-year lobbying spender ever in Colorado. 

UT: Thousands of Utah’s COVID vaccine doses are unclaimed

sltrib.com

Demand for coronavirus vaccines has dropped sharply in recent weeks, with thousands of appointments in Utah left unfilled. As of April 28, 39.9% of Utahns had received at least one dose and 28.3% had been fully vaccinated. 

WY: Wyoming’s hospitality industry can’t find workers

cowboystatedaily.com

While Wyoming’s hospitality industry is gearing up for what promises to be a busy summer tourism season, restaurants and hotels are finding themselves very short on workers. The problem is especially dire in northwestern Wyoming, where a lack of housing is leaving employers understaffed.

IA: Bill that would expand Iowa’s charter schools is sent to governor

cbs2iowa.com

The bill would allow private, independent groups to apply to create new charter schools through the Iowa Department of Education. Charter approval is usually done through local school boards, which will still be an option if the bill becomes law. 

ID: Idaho governor signs race theory bill but questions ‘anecdotes and innuendo’ behind it

idahoednews.org

Idaho GOP Gov. Brad Little signed into law a bill that bars schools from teaching that one identity group is superior, which Republican lawmakers have attributed to critical race theory and liberal indoctrination. Little questioned the legislature’s narrative of “widespread, systemic indoctrination in Idaho classrooms” that fueled the bill and said the legislative process has sent “the wrong message.”

VA: Minimum wage earners in Virginia get a raise Saturday

wtop.com

Unlike neighboring Washington, D.C., and Maryland, which have both raised their individual minimum wages, Virginia has been using the federally-mandated wage of $7.25 per hour. That will rise to $9.50 per hour.

NC: A North Carolina Republican reported his party’s plans to gerrymander. Then he backtracked.

newsobserver.com

The former North Carolina GOP executive director reported this week that his party would gerrymander the state’s new congressional districts to create a 10-4 Republican advantage for the U.S. House of Representatives later this year.

OK: Oklahoma governor will decide on bill that would ban teaching of critical race theory

oklahoman.com

The Oklahoma House passed legislation that would prohibit public schools and universities from teaching critical race theory, which examines the way race and racism touch aspects of American history, politics and culture.

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