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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/23

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/23

NJ: New Jersey students could get 4 years of free college under state budget plan

nj.com

New Jersey students from families that earn less than $65,000 a year could be eligible for up to four years of free college tuition under a state budget deal struck between Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy and the state legislature.

LA: Louisiana governor vetoes transgender sports bill, calls it 'solution in search of a problem'

theadvocate.com

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, vetoed a bill that would have prohibited transgender student athletes from participating on women’s and girls sports teams.

TX: Texas legislature will reconvene for special session on voting, bail bills 

houstonchronicle.com

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is expected during a July 8 special session to revive a controversial voting restrictions bill that died last month after House Democrats staged a dramatic walkout. Abbott has also said he plans to bring back a bail bill that will make it harder for individuals accused of violent or sexual crimes to be released from jail without cash payments.

CT: Connecticut governor signs marijuana bill 

courant.com

Connecticut Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont signed a bill legalizing the use, sale and cultivation of marijuana for recreational use, calling the measure “a model for the rest of the nation.” Possession will be legal July 1; retail sales could begin by the end of 2022.

WI: Wisconsin governor signs bill banning chokeholds while GOP scales back use-of-force bill

jsonline.com

Wisconsin Republican lawmakers scaled back legislation addressing use of force by law enforcement officers just hours after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers signed legislation limiting chokeholds and other policing bills that he said didn't go far enough.

MO: Missouri governor calls for Medicaid special session, includes birth control, Planned Parenthood fight 

kansascity.com

Republican Gov. Mike Parson is calling Missouri lawmakers back to the capitol to renew a critical tax for the Medicaid program, and as a concession to the far-right Republicans, pass legislation restricting state health payments for certain forms of birth control and to abortion facilities.

MS: Mississippi incorrectly paid out $118M in unemployment benefits during the pandemic

clarionledger.com

The Mississippi State Auditor’s Office reported that the state’s unemployment agency received an overwhelming number of unemployment claims that resulted in almost $118 million in unemployment benefits going to people who never lost their jobs, people who were incarcerated, and in some cases people whose identities were stolen.

ID: Most Idaho nursing home workers are not fully vaccinated against COVID 

ktvb.com

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says 47.5% of Idaho nursing home workers were fully vaccinated by May 30.

IA: Iowa court blocks 24-hour waiting period for abortions

iowacapitaldispatch.com

A Johnson County, Iowa, district judge has found unconstitutional a state law enacted in 2020 that requires a mandatory 24-hour waiting period and a second clinic appointment for people seeking abortions.

MI: Michigan governor reopens state

freep.com

Michigan took its biggest step toward returning to normal, as most COVID-19 restrictions were lifted and the state reopened to full capacity. "Today is an exciting, happy, joyful moment," Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said.

OR: Oregon lawmakers approve bill that would establish 60-day eviction delay for tenants

oregonlive.com

Oregon tenants still struggling to pay their rent because of the coronavirus pandemic may soon be temporarily protected from eviction once they apply for rent assistance. The Oregon Senate voted 26-3 to approve legislation that would protect residential renters from eviction for 60 days if they apply for rent assistance and notify their landlords.

CO: Colorado governor signs domestic violence bills into law

denverpost.com

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, signed three bills into law aimed at helping victims of domestic violence, including the sixth and final gun bill of this year’s legislative session, which attempts to strengthen compliance of a 2013 law to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers

VT: Vermont will stop offering pandemic-related hotel vouchers to unhoused

apnews.com

On July 1, Vermont is ending its pandemic-related emergency housing in hotels and motels for some of the unhoused population because the program is not sustainable, hotel capacity is shrinking and it was never meant to be a permanent solution, said Human Services Secretary Mike Smith.

AK: Alaska governor’s new lawsuit escalates budget feud with legislators

alaskapublic.org

Alaska Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy has said he won’t sign the budget passed by the state legislature. But despite Dunleavy’s refusal to sign the document, his attorney general filed a lawsuit against the legislature—saying that if the governor signs the budget bill and lawmakers keep paying legislative employees before the measure takes effect, it would be illegal.

RI: Rhode Island Senate approves marijuana legalization measure

apnews.com

The Rhode Island Senate approved a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana use for adults, marking the first time either chamber of the state legislature has voted on a cannabis legalization bill.

NH: New Hampshire Medicaid advocates push to restore dental benefits to state program

wmur.com

Medicaid adult dental benefits are no longer in the New Hampshire budget, but there appears to be bipartisan support to fund a program that advocates contend will ultimately save taxpayer dollars.

OH: Ohio governor says Senate broadband proposal would be 'devastating'

dispatch.com

A proposal that would prevent many local governments from providing high-speed internet access would be "devastating" to Ohio's efforts to provide access to every Ohioan, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine said.

FL: Florida governor signs into law bill overhauling safety net for families with brain-damaged babies

miamiherald.com

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed legislation overhauling the controversial Florida program that provides lifelong care for children born with catastrophic brain damage, approving the most far-reaching changes in the program’s 33-year history.

WA: Major Washington county weighs ranked-choice voting

seattletimes.com

Washington's most populous county is weighing a new voting system. Metropolitan King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay introduced legislation last week seeking to amend the county charter to allow ranked-choice voting for county positions.

KS: Kansas kids need summer school but enrollment is low 

kansaspublicradio.org

A record number of Kansas kids plan to attend summer school. But even more schoolchildren who need to catch up won’t go. Many students, families and teachers say they need a break after a crazy year of pandemic starts and stops.

UT: Salt Lake City declares fireworks ban, but some wonder if it can do so under Utah law

sltrib.com

It’s not entirely clear whether Utah law allows cities to outright ban fireworks. Public safety code blocks cities, counties and towns from prohibiting explosives around the July Fourth and July 24 holidays, except “in certain areas with hazardous environmental conditions.”

 

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