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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/19

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/19

FL: Florida governor’s surprise congressional map would hurt Black, Hispanic voting power, experts say 

orlandosentinel.com 

In a surprise move, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has inserted himself into congressional redistricting by releasing his own map that experts said would dilute minority voting power and likely give Republicans an 18-10 advantage in Florida seats. 

MI: Fake GOP electors committed crimes, Michigan attorney general says
freep.com

freep.com
There’s no question a troop of faux GOP electors violated the law when they signed on to phony documents and tried to barge into the Michigan Capitol in an effort to fraudulently award the state’s electoral votes to former President Donald Trump, says Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel.

TN: Tennessee redistricting split dilutes vote of Black communities, critics say

tennessean.com

The Black population in Tennessee’s potential new 5th Congressional District would plummet as the Republican supermajority in the legislature seeks to cleave one of the state’s most diverse counties and parcel the remains into more rural, White conservative strongholds.

NJ: New Jersey needle exchange programs will expand under new law

nj.com

More needle exchange programs designed to help drug users avoid disease and seek treatment will be allowed to open across New Jersey with the state health department’s approval, under a bill Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law. Such programs are proven to reduce the spread of HIV.

MO: Missouri lawmaker seeks to create crime of ‘malicious prosecution of a journalist’ 

stltoday.com 

A Missouri Democratic legislator wants to create the crime of “malicious prosecution of a journalist,” a felony punishable by up to four years in prison. He said he was inspired to file the legislation after Republican Gov. Mike Parson announced a criminal investigation in October into the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 

NM: New Mexico governor outlines top priorities to start 2022 session

krqe.com

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, proposed tax cuts and raises, starting with a 7% pay bump for teachers. Other proposals include raising salaries for state workers, pouring more money into schools, funding programs to hire and keep police officers and a sales tax cut.

MN: Minnesota governor proposes $2.7B infrastructure package

startribune.com

Democratic Gov. Tim Walz laid out a $2.7 billion construction funding plan that he said will help ease a backlog of maintenance needs across the state while preparing Minnesota for the future. It caps months of travel across the state to examine needs ranging from sewer system improvements to university building repairs.

IL: New Illinois law allows donation of unused medication 

chicagotribune.com 

A new law in Illinois will let individuals and institutions, such as long-term care facilities, donate unused medication for other patients to use. But some warn that it could take some time to get the program off the ground, especially given the latest COVID-19 surge, and that many logistical challenges remain. 

OH: Ohio doing more this year to warn unemployment fraud victims ahead of tax season

cleveland.com

Last January, many Ohioans found out they were victims of unemployment fraud when they unexpectedly received a tax form in the mail for benefits they never asked for or received. A year later, Ohio’s unemployment system has been working to make sure state residents aren’t surprised like that again.

IA: Iowa lawmakers revive effort to monitor public assistance

iowacapitaldispatch.com

A proposal to change the ways the state monitors the eligibility of Iowans on public assistance is back after a similar idea failed to pass last year. This time, lawmakers have split the complex legislation into eight parts.

AL: Alabama governor calls special session for $772M in federal COVID funds

al.com

Republican Gov. Kay Ivey called a special session to decide how Alabama should spend $772 million in federal pandemic relief funds. A draft bill would allocate the money to broadband, water and sewer infrastructure projects as well as to hospitals, nursing homes and health care services.

MA: Massachusetts legislature moves bill to allocate $55M to COVID needs

bostonglobe.com

The Massachusetts legislature is moving forward with a bill to change this year’s primary election date to Sept. 6 and allocate $55 million for COVID-19 needs, including testing and high-quality masks, as the state battles a surge of cases driven by the omicron variant.

CO: Victims of package theft would get tax credit under new Colorado bill

denverpost.com

A Colorado lawmaker who said he is a repeat victim of porch piracy has proposed a new tax credit to help people pay for lockboxes and other anti-theft items. Democratic Rep. Alex Valdez’s bill would let individuals write up to $75 off their taxes for the next three years.

KS: Kansas moves to end contact tracing

kansascity.com

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment will end contact tracing efforts by the end of the month. Top health and education officials have also told school districts they can take a 30-day break from contact tracing as omicron courses through buildings and forces some districts to cancel class.

DC: DC measure would require schools to tell parents about COVID cases within 24 hours

washingtonpost.com

Washington, D.C., public schools would be required to notify parents within 24 hours if any student in their child’s classroom tests positive for the coronavirus, under new legislation passed by the D.C. Council. Some parents, teachers and staff have complained about incomplete and delayed notifications.

WA: Washington lawmakers want to ramp up recycling
seattletimes.com

seattletimes.com
A state Senate bill that seeks to improve Washington’s waste and recycling systems will be one of the top priorities of environmentalists for the 2022 legislative session. The bill includes provisions that would shift the burden of curbside recycling costs from consumers to packaging producers.

DE: Delaware plans to distribute 125K masks to teachers, older students

delawareonline.com

Democratic Gov. John Carney announced that Delaware will provide 125,000 KN95 masks to teachers and students in sixth grade and older. It will be a one-time distribution, officials said, and will be provided to Delaware’s child care centers, as well as public, private and parochial schools.

VA: Virginia Senate Democrats push back on GOP proposals aimed at tightening voting laws

washingtonpost.com

A handful of Republican bills aimed at tightening voting restrictions died in a meeting of a Virginia Senate committee controlled by Democrats, who hailed the outcome as a show of blue power in a largely red Richmond.

TX: Texas says supply chain issues have limited the number of voter registration forms it can give out

texastribune.com

The Texas secretary of state’s office says it has been forced to limit the number of forms it gives out to no more than 2,000 per request, which has affected groups that help people register to vote.

AZ: Arizona Republicans propose dozens of bills to change voting, elections following 2020 audit

azcentral.com

Republican lawmakers in Arizona have introduced more than two dozen bills that aim to make significant changes in the state's voting system. Several appear to stem directly from conspiracies that followed the November 2020 election on issues like ballot paper, ballot drop boxes and alleged sinister acts by election workers.

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