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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/25

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/25

FL: Florida governor signs ‘Big Tech’ bill outlining new speech rules for Twitter, Facebook

miamiherald.com

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation that aims to crack down on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Amazon out of concern that they are conspiring against conservatives and their free speech. DeSantis touted the legislation as the first of its kind in the nation.

CA: California’s highest-in-the-nation gas taxes are rising, but promised repairs lag

latimes.com

Four years after the legislature boosted the gas tax in order to fix California’s crumbling roads and bridges, the state has spent billions and made some progress with repairs, but officials now say the funding is sufficient only to complete less than half of the work needed.

WA: Washington lawmakers pass police accountability, equity bills

seattletimes.com

A year after George Floyd’s murder, Washington has a dozen new laws intended to reshape policing and to hold officers more accountable for misconduct. Those laws include a ban on no-knock warrants, chokeholds and neck restraints, and a requirement that officers intervene when witnessing excessive force by their peers.

NY: New York City will scrap remote schooling next fall

nytimes.com

New York City will no longer have a remote schooling option come fall, Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio said, a major step toward fully reopening the nation’s largest school system and a crucial marker in the city’s economic recovery after more than a year of disruptions caused by the pandemic.

MN: Minnesota, federal agencies will help Minneapolis deal with surge in violence

startribune.com

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said the city has asked Minnesota and federal agencies for assistance, citing the city's shortage of officers, in an effort to temper violence that killed four people this weekend alone. The increase has tested the commitment of city leaders who unanimously promised to transform policing and public safety in the wake of George Floyd's death.

NV: Public health insurance option bill clears Nevada Senate 

thenevadaindependent.com

A bill that would establish a state-managed public health insurance option cleared its first major legislative hurdle, passing the Nevada Senate on a party-line vote. The legislation now heads to the Assembly.

UT: Worsening drought could lead to water-use restrictions in Utah

sltrib.com

As the grip of drought tightens around the West, Utahns are being urged to use less water and be extra careful to avoid triggering wildfires in the foothills and mountains, which will soon be ripe for ignition. Republican Gov. Spencer Cox has warned that water restrictions could get implemented by the harder hit water districts.

AK: Biden signs bill allowing cruise ships back into Alaska

alaskapublic.org

President Joe Biden signed a bill that will allow cruise ships to return to southeast Alaska this summer. The bill gives Alaska-bound cruise ships, nearly all of which are foreign-flagged and have foreign crew, a temporary pass from the Passenger Vessel Safety Act.

OR: Oregon lawmakers of color notch notable wins

oregonlive.com

The groundswell of public support to tackle longstanding inequities that flowed from widespread racial justice protests spurred Oregon lawmakers to step up the pace and sweep of policy and spending initiatives to begin to right historic wrongs. This year, the 12-member Black, Indigenous and People of Color caucus, all Democrats, took on a more visible role from the start by laying out an agenda of more than 40 proposals, with police regulation and accountability bills at the top of the list. 

DE: Ghost gun bill passes Delaware House without Republican support

delawarepublic.org

The Delaware bill would criminalize owning a firearm without a serial number. Most of those kinds of guns are made with a 3D printer, and can be invisible to metal detectors. 

MT: Lawmakers tackle Montana’s dire shortage of mental health providers

montanafreepress.org

Lawmakers this year proposed half a dozen bills that would address Montana’s mental health provider workforce shortage, largely by revising licensure requirements for psychologists, social workers and licensed addiction counselors. The Republican-sponsored bills consistently garnered unanimous support among lawmakers, a rare trend in a session plagued by polarization. 

IA: Iowa governor signs $100M bill to expand broadband access

thegazette.com

A large share of the $100 million will be used for grants to improve or extend broadband connectivity in rural Iowa, but broadband “deserts” in urban areas likely will benefit from what’s being described as the “largest single, one-time expenditure on a project in Iowa history.” GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds said the new law is “opening doors to new opportunities for communities large and small.”

NC: North Carolina governor announces $51M in COVID school aid

newsobserver.com

North Carolina’s Democratic governor said he’ll use $44 million to create two new programs to help students attend and complete college, $5 million to help expand mental health services in the University of North Carolina system and $2.4 million for “equity-funded initiatives” to support K-12 and higher-education students. 

TX: Dog bills unite Texas Democrats and Republicans

houstonchronicle.com

A bill that would ban the use of heavy chains to tether dogs, another requiring animal control and shelters to scan lost dogs for microchips and yet another to give tax breaks to pet rescue facilities have passed the Texas House and Senate and are heading to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, a dog owner, for final approval.

AZ: Arizona audit: Recount of Maricopa County election restarts at coliseum

azcentral.com

Ballot counting has resumed at Veterans Memorial Coliseum after a hiatus due to high school graduation ceremonies. Before the pause, the effort had made it through about 500,000 of the 2.1 million ballots cast by Maricopa County voters. The counters now have about six weeks to finish the rest before their lease expires at the end of June.

AL: Alabama governor signs bill prohibiting vaccine passports for entry to government buildings

al.com

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, signed legislation that bans states or local government entities from requiring people to receive an immunization or show a document of immunization to enter a government building.

OH: Ohio Vax-a-Million drawing announces odds: 1 in 2.7 million

cleveland.com

The odds of winning $1 million in the inaugural Ohio-Vax-a-Million drawing are 1 in 2,758,470, now that registration for the first of five drawings has been completed.

ME: Maine legislative committee endorses proposal to decriminalize prostitution

mainepublic.org

The legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted to recommend a measure that would decriminalize prostitution in Maine. The panel voted 6-to-3 for an amended bill that would abolish criminal penalties for first-time offenders but allow criminal penalties for repeat offenders.

MI: Michigan governor eases COVID workplace rules

freep.com

Fully vaccinated workers can work without masks and without social distancing requirements and remote working is no longer required whenever possible, effective immediately, said Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat.

NJ: New Jersey will ease COVID restrictions

nj.com

New Jersey restaurants, retail stores, gyms, churches and other businesses will no longer be required to keep 6 feet between patrons or groups to protect against the coronavirus starting Friday—the same day the state will stop requiring people to wear masks at indoor public places in most circumstances, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy announced.

CO: Colorado Supreme Court rules school districts can raise property taxes without voter approval

coloradosun.com

Under a bill that’s headed to Democratic Gov. Jared Polis’ desk, the Colorado legislature may permit school districts to incrementally raise property taxes in coming years without the normally required voter approval, the state Supreme Court ruled.

 

 

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