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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/21

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/21

HI: Hawaii lawmakers propose hiking minimum wage to $18

staradvertiser.com

The Hawaii Senate has introduced its version of a bill to raise the state’s $10.10 an hour minimum wage—starting with an initial jump to $12 per hour beginning Oct. 1. The measure would then increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour on Jan. 1, 2024, and then to $18 an hour on Jan. 1, 2026. It would be the highest minimum wage in the country.

TX: US Supreme Court denies Texas abortion providers’ request to move case

dallasnews.com

The U.S. Supreme Court denied Texas abortion providers’ request to return their case, which challenges a new abortion statute, back to federal district court from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The law, enacted on Sept. 1, bans abortions after approximately six weeks.

CA: Teens could get vaccinated against parents’ wishes under proposed California law

sacbee.com

Currently, California children over 12 can get HPV and hepatitis B vaccines without parents’ permission, but that rule does not extend to other vaccines.

FL: Florida GOP bill would further shield names of dark money donors 

tampabay.com 

Florida Republicans are pushing state legislation that would enact broad new layers of secrecy around nonprofit organizations’ corporate and individual donors, a move that would allow some political groups to shield sources of funding from local and state government scrutiny. 

NY: New York City mayor to take paycheck in cryptocurrency

nytimes.com

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, has made arrangements with Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange, to convert his first paycheck to Bitcoin and Ethereum. The paycheck initially has to be issued in government-backed securities, according to law.

UT: Utah Democrat rebukes COVID-positive lawmakers who ignore isolation, mask guidelines

sltrib.com

A Democratic Utah senator blasted lawmakers who test positive for COVID-19 and show up to work at the Capitol without isolating for five days or wearing masks. The criticism comes after Senate President Stuart Adams, a Republican, tested positive twice for COVID-19 on the first day of the legislative session, despite saying he had tested negative for the virus earlier in the day.

WI: Wisconsin Assembly speaker disciplines GOP lawmaker who claims Trump won state

jsonline.com

The Republican leader of the Wisconsin Assembly placed sanctions on one of his members who has for more than a year falsely claimed former President Donald Trump won the 2020 election in Wisconsin and has proposed legislation to pull back Wisconsin's electoral votes, which is impossible.

MN: Governor pitches checks for 2.7M Minnesota households

startribune.com

More than 2.7 million Minnesota households would get checks of $175 or $350 from the state under a spending plan Democratic Gov. Tim Walz debuted, which also would channel money to frontline workers and caregivers. The governor also wants to repay the state's unemployment insurance debt.

AZ: Budget proposal for Arizona prisons hits record high despite lowest population in a decade

azcentral.com

Despite Arizona having the lowest prison population in a decade, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey’s fiscal 2023 budget proposal requests more money for the Department of Corrections than ever before.

ME: Maine shattered its annual record for overdose deaths in 2021

pressherald.com

An estimated 636 people died from a drug overdoses in 2021—a new record for Maine and a 23% increase from the record set in 2020. The rise in deaths stems from fentanyl being laced into other drugs without the users’ knowledge, along with increased isolation and other challenges stemming from the pandemic, researchers told lawmakers this week.

NJ: Environmentalists take New Jersey governor to court to speed up efforts to combat climate change

northjersey.com

A coalition of environmental groups is taking New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy's administration to court over what the coalition contends is a lack of real advances to reduce greenhouse gas emissions despite years of promise. 

KS, MO: Kansas City-area schools are closing rather than going remote amid COVID

kansascity.com

Several Kansas City-area districts are canceling classes rather than offering remote instruction, as both Missouri and Kansas placed restrictions on remote learning for this school year. Breaking the rules could mean risking state funding.

TN: Dozens of Tennessee school districts close due to COVID-related staff shortages

tennessean.com

New state rules prevent entire districts in Tennessee from shifting to virtual learning, even as schools across the country pivot to remote learning to deal with rising numbers of staff shortages brought on by the pandemic. Even some of Tennessee’s largest school districts are struggling to find substitute teachers in the wake of large numbers of teacher absences. 

WV: West Virginia legislature swiftly advancing bill to give lawmakers final say on education curricula

wvgazettemail.com

The proposed constitutional amendment that would give the West Virginia legislature, not the state Board of Education, the final say over all state school board policies, is back after almost passing last year. Those policies include what students are required to learn in social studies, English and other subjects; student discipline regulations; charter school regulations and much more.

AL: Alabama lawmakers advance spending plan for pandemic funds

apnews.com

Alabama legislative budget committees advanced plans to spend more than half of the state’s available $772 million in pandemic relief funds for broadband expansion and water and sewer projects.

MS: Mississippi House passes equal pay with bipartisan vote

mississippitoday.org

With a bipartisan vote, the Mississippi House passed an equal pay bill, which would provide state legal recourse for employees paid less for the same work based on sex. Mississippi is the last state in the nation without an equal pay provision in state law. 

DE: Delaware lawmakers move to shorten nurse assistant certification amid COVID surge

delawareonline.com

Delaware will streamline the training to become a certified nursing assistant to relieve understaffed hospitals and long-term care facilities in the wake of the latest COVID-19 surge. Lawmakers approved legislation giving the Department of Health and Social Services discretion over how long training and orientation should take for certified nursing assistants.

MO: Missouri Republicans float proposals to stop nursing homes, hospitals from restricting visitors 

stltoday.com 

Hospitals and nursing homes in Missouri would lose some of their ability to restrict visitors during a pandemic under legislation being considered in the legislature.

AR: Companies oppose Arkansas ban on gender-transition treatment for minors

arkansasonline.com

A dozen companies and industry groups signed on to a friend-of-the-court brief against Arkansas’ effort to overturn a court ruling blocking its ban on gender-transition treatment for minors. The 2021 measure prohibits doctors from providing gender-affirming hormones and surgical procedures to transgender young people.

NM: New Mexico lawmakers introduce bill that would repeal tax on social security benefits

krqe.com

A New Mexico House bill, which has bipartisan support and the support of the governor, would repeal the existing tax on social security benefits. New Mexico is one of 13 states to tax those benefits.

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