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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/2

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/2

FL: Florida protected doctors from paying for their mistakes, then handed taxpayers the tab

miamiherald.com

Florida lawmakers stripped parents of the right to sue over births gone catastrophically wrong, created a no-fault program funded by fees paid by doctors and hospitals to cover those claims, and made hundreds of millions investing those funds in markets, accumulating $1.5 billion in assets, the Miami Herald found. Then they offloaded much of the costs of care onto taxpayers. 

KS: Patient influx from other states increases Kansas abortions

apnews.com

The number of abortions performed in Kansas increased by 9.1% last year, largely because more women traveled from other states to terminate pregnancies than in 2019. Much of that increase likely occurred because Republican governors in Oklahoma and Texas sought to ban most abortions last spring.

NY: Will New York’s vaccine pass catch on?

nytimes.com

State officials are hoping New York State’s Excelsior Pass, the nation’s first and only government-issued vaccine passport, can help New Yorkers feel confident about the safety of businesses and jump-start the state economy. But for that to happen, they will need more people and businesses to start using it.

MO: Missouri Supreme Court tosses sweeping ‘paycheck protection’ law

kansascity.com

The Missouri Supreme Court struck down a 2018 law that imposed major restrictions on public sector labor unions, including a “paycheck protection” provision that required unions to get members’ approval each year before deducting dues and other fees from their paychecks.

ND: North Dakota COVID-19 antibody efforts fizzle; tests costing millions expire

bismarcktribune.com

North Dakota spent $3.68 million on antibody tests last year. Of the 163,000 antibody tests left, 130,000 expired this week. The state Health Department planned for a full-time health officer to develop a plan for the tests, but the role remained vacant.

LA: Louisiana senators refuse to limit police officer immunity

apnews.com

A proposal to place new limits on police officers’ broad immunity from civil lawsuits was rejected by Louisiana state senators, stalling a key recommendation from a task force created to suggest policy changes addressing police misconduct.

WI: Wisconsin governor could veto the entire state budget

jsonline.com

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers left open the possibility of vetoing the entire state budget after action by GOP lawmakers last week left Wisconsin at risk of losing $1.5 billion in federal aid for schools. The Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee allocated $128 million in new state funds for K-12 schools in the budget, far below a spending threshold set under the American Rescue Plan Act.

IA, NV, NH: Nevada lawmakers try to leapfrog Iowa, New Hampshire in presidential nominating process

desmoinesregister.com

Lawmakers in Nevada are angling to jump to the front of the presidential nominating calendar, passing a bill this week that seeks to place the state's contest ahead of both Iowa's caucuses and New Hampshire's primaries.

CO: Colorado Supreme Court tells lawmakers to stay out of the redistricting process

coloradosun.com

The Colorado Supreme Court rejected an effort by the General Assembly to make changes to this year’s legislative and congressional redistricting process, ruling that it would be unconstitutional for lawmakers to get involved in a process that voters have removed them from. 

DE: More Delaware state employees made over $200K in 2020

delawareonline.com

Fifty-one Delaware state employees made more than $200,000 in 2020, nearly double the number of people who made that sum the year before. The plethora of high earners is due in part to the pandemic demanding more hours of top health officials and Black Lives Matter protests prompting police to clock in an unrivaled amount of overtime.

MT: Voting, legal advocates challenge Montana campaign finance law

montanafreepress.org

The Montana law requires judges to recuse themselves from cases involving an attorney who contributed $91 or more to their campaign within the previous six years, including attorneys who donated to a third party that supported or opposed a judge’s candidacy, a common occurrence.

MN: Fence around Minnesota Capitol comes down

startribune.com

The 8-feet-tall chain-link fence that has encircled the Minnesota Capitol since the unrest after George Floyd's killing a year ago is starting to come down as state leaders prepare to reopen the "the People's House" to the people.

NC: North Carolina Senate approves $1,500 ‘signing bonus’ for unemployed people

newsobserver.com

The higher-than-usual unemployment benefits of the past year have gotten people into a habit of not working, North Carolina Republican politicians argued as they pitched two different plans to pay unemployed people to go find a job.

OR: Oregon opens applications for final round of rent assistance

oregonlive.com

Oregon landlords whose tenants have fallen behind on rent during the coronavirus pandemic will have one more chance this month to apply for relief from the state. Oregon Housing and Community Services opened applications for a final round of funding through its $150 million Landlord Compensation Fund.

AR: Renter protections will start in Arkansas this fall

arkansasonline.com

Under a new Arkansas law, tenants can move out without penalty and claim their security deposits if landlords don't provide a sanitary sewage system, among other requirements. But housing and tenants' rights advocates say the law lacks teeth.

FL: Florida governor signs transgender sports ban 

orlandosentinel.com

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a ban on transgender girls competing in girls and women’s sports. Advocates say the law prevents an unfair advantage in competitions, but critics slam it as being discriminatory and unnecessary.

AL: An Alabama city council endorses $6.8M in bonuses for city employees

al.com

Birmingham, Alabama, Mayor Randall Woodfin introduced a proposal to pay 3,500 city employees a one-time payment of either $5,000 for full-time workers or $2,500 for part-time ones using funds from the American Rescue Act. The city council in Birmingham, Alabama approved the supplement.

WA: Two Washington utilities opt out of power shut-offs to prevent wildfires

seattletimes.com

Two Washington electric utilities buffeted by serious power line fires during last September’s windstorms have opted not to develop plans for public safety power shut-offs that could be used to prevent the ignition of such blazes. Instead, they’re planning measures such as surveillance to spot hazard trees, pole replacement and maintenance to keep branches off lines.

KY: Lawmaker wants to limit discussion of systemic racism in Kentucky classrooms

courier-journal.com

Amid a national groundswell against critical race theory in schools, a Kentucky GOP lawmaker has pre-filed a bill to limit conversations around systemic racism in classrooms.

PA: Philadelphia election officials reject undated mail ballots

inquirer.com

Philadelphia election officials reversed course and rejected undated mail ballots, hours after Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration said ballots must be signed and dated to count. Top Republican legislators have threatened the two Democratic Philadelphia city commissioners with impeachment if they moved forward to count the undated ballots.

WV: West Virginia tax collections in May come in above projections

wvgazettemail.com

A combination of tax day moving from April to May, and more than $1.2 billion of $1,400 federal stimulus checks churning the state economy, helped West Virginia tax collections for May come in $152.4 million above projections.

MI: Michigan lifts all outdoor restrictions

freep.com

Michigan rolled back a huge portion of its existing COVID-19 health and safety orders. The new rules apply to personal and public gatherings, restaurants, athletics and more.

NJ: NJ hits deadline for police cams, but implementation lags

apnews.com

Police departments in New Jersey reached a deadline for all officers on patrol to begin wearing body cameras, although many departments across the state still have not implemented the technology. Over 480 departments had applied for and been approved for about $58 million in grants to buy cameras.

 

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