What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/7
TN: Tennessee bans public schools from teaching critical race theory amid national debate
Republicans in the Tennessee House made the legislation a last-minute priority, introducing provisions that ban schools from instructing students that one race bears responsibility for the past actions against another, that the United States is fundamentally racist or that a person is inherently privileged or oppressive due to their race.
NC: Cherokee Council legalizes medical marijuana on tribal land in North Carolina
The tribal council for the Cherokee in western North Carolina voted to legalize medical marijuana on tribal lands. The tribal land will be the first area in the state allowing legal possession of pot.
MS: Mississippi native Brett Favre hasn’t returned welfare funds as promised a year ago
Brett Favre, a Hall of Fame NFL quarterback, promised a year ago to pay back $600,000 in welfare money after he received $1.1 million from a Mississippi nonprofit that allegedly embezzled more than $2 million in welfare money from a federally funded anti-poverty initiative. He hasn’t.
UT: Transgender Utahns can list their gender identity on state records
The Utah Supreme Court has ruled that two transgender Utahns can list the sex with which they identify on their driver’s licenses and other state records—and that the judge who declined their initial request based his decision on “a legal mistake.” The decision should ensure that transgender Utahns, no matter where they live in the state, will be able to ask a district court judge to add their correct gender to driver’s licenses and birth certificates.
AK: As lumber prices climb, Alaskans increasingly mill their own wood
The price of lumber has more than doubled over the past year, and that’s why Alaskans are getting crafty: buying, or even building, their own sawmills. Even with the shipping costs of a mill, many Alaskans are convinced milling their own lumber is more affordable than buying it.
NY: New York governor signs workplace protections bill
New York Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law a bill that creates permanent precautions that New York businesses must follow to guard against the spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19.
OK: New law gives Oklahoma's legislature a role in federal stimulus spending
A new law gives the Oklahoma legislature some say in how state agencies, boards and commissions spend federal stimulus funds. The legislation comes after state lawmakers expressed angst last year about Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt's office being in charge of directing how the state would spend $1.26 billion in coronavirus relief funds.
SC: South Carolina could join 45 other states that allow gun owners to carry openly in public
Gun owners permitted to carry concealed weapons in the state of South Carolina could soon join residents in 45 other states who can carry their hand guns openly in public—a proposal that has frustrated gun-control advocates, doctors and top law enforcement leaders but was a resounding win for many Republican lawmakers.
RI: Rhode Island lawmakers consider widening access to certain parts of state shoreline
Rhode Island House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi, a Democrat, is floating the possibility of commissioning a study on access to the state’s shore, a hot-button topic. The House and Senate are considering legislation that would decriminalize trespassing along a 10-foot swath of the Rhode Island coast, a move supporters say would clarify—not to mention expand—where people can access the shore.
OH: Ohio bill would allow ballot drop boxes only at county boards of elections
A newly introduced voting overhaul bill in the Ohio House would allow absentee ballot drop boxes only at one place in each county and shorten the period during which the ballots are accepted.
WI: Wisconsin communities take steps to combat increased flooding from climate change
Many municipalities across the state are combating more frequent flooding as Wisconsin's climate shifts to year-round warm air temperatures. Some are focusing on repairing damage done to the wetlands that used to easily absorb hours of rain, while others are making sure rivers flow the way they should.
OR: COVID outbreaks at Oregon businesses, older adult care facilities rise
The number of COVID-19 outbreaks in Oregon workplaces and older adult and congregate living settings continues to rise. The Oregon Health Authority's weekly report shows 42 active COVID-19 outbreaks in older adult and congregate living settings and 77 active workplace outbreaks.
KS: Kansas House approves medical marijuana in historic vote
The Kansas House has passed a bill that would establish a medical marijuana program after the legislature’s first ever floor vote on the issue. Though the measure is unlikely to become law this year, cannabis advocates said they were pleased with the progress.
WY: Wyoming governor will reopen 9 rest stops
Nine Wyoming rest stops that were closed last year due to budget cuts will reopen later this month, Republican Gov. Mark Gordon's office announced. Gordon authorized funding to reopen the nine rest stops ahead of the Memorial Day Weekend holiday.
AL: Alabama House approves medical marijuana bill
The Alabama House passed a bill that would create a medical marijuana program and authorize the use of medical cannabis for conditions such as cancer, chronic pain and depression. If approved by the Senate, the bill will head to Republican Gov. Kay Ivey’s desk.
LA: Louisiana announces digital vaccine passport effort
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, announced a voluntary digital license application that makes it easier to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination status.
ND: National car shortage affects North Dakota dealerships
North Dakota car dealership employees said a low demand for automobiles at the start of the pandemic has resulted in a car shortage.
FL: Florida governor signs voting bill before pro-Trump audience
During a nationally televised event hosted by a fan club for former President Donald Trump, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law contentious and wide-ranging changes to the state’s voting system, including provisions targeting voting by mail and limiting the use of ballot drop boxes.
MO: Republican lawmakers want oversight over how Missouri cities spend federal stimulus money
Missouri Republicans are pushing to add an additional layer of oversight into how cities and counties spend millions of dollars in federal pandemic relief money. The House Budget Committee approved legislation that would create a committee that would seek to prevent waste, abuse and fraud of federal stimulus dollars.