What We're Reading: Top State Stories 2/3
PA: Pennsylvania Supreme Court will decide redistricting maps
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court took control of a redistricting lawsuit and will now decide how the state’s congressional districts will be drawn for the next decade. Negotiations between the governor and state legislature had broken down.
HI: Months after its completion, Hawaii’s $160M psychiatric facility sits empty
Nearly a year after construction was completed on Hawaii’s $160 million high-security psychiatric facility, the building remains empty―despite high need. The state Health Department acknowledges it’s struggling to get its newest high-tech mental health facility open for patients.
GA: Georgia Republican lawmakers push for parental bill of rights for schools
Georgia parents would have the right to inspect all the books, quizzes and other material used in their children’s public schools, under legislation backed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.
AK: Alaska House cancels floor session after 'large portion' of members exposed to COVID
Leaders of the Alaska House canceled a regular floor session due to concerns about COVID-19. House Speaker Louise Stutes, a Republican, said in a statement that a “large portion” of representatives were exposed to COVID-19 over the prior 24 hours.
NM: New Mexico’s indigenous language speakers could get teacher salaries
The New Mexico legislature advanced a bill that would increase the minimum salaries of some fluent Indigenous language speakers who teach the languages to children in schools but are not state certified teachers.
TN: In a first, Tennessee Senate expels a senator
For the first time, the Tennessee Senate voted to expel a senator, stripping Democratic Sen. Katrina Robinson of her elected position following her federal conviction on federal wire fraud charges. A jury found Robinson, who maintains her innocence, guilty of four charges related to less than $3,500.
OR: Oregon Health Authority adopts rules indefinitely requiring masks in schools
The Oregon Health Authority has adopted permanent rules requiring masks in school settings, replacing a temporary requirement that was set to expire. Masks will remain required in school settings until the rules are repealed.
AL: Alabama education savings account ‘Parent’s Choice’ bill advances
The Alabama Senate Education Policy Committee advanced a bill that would create an Education Savings Account, which would give parents access to an amount equal to 100% of the state’s education funding for a public school student.
IA: Iowa lawmakers push bills offering parents more say over school matters
Iowa senators gave initial approval to three major education proposals to create a state-funded program to send students to private schools, codify what lawmakers called a “Parent Bill of Rights” and set a growth rate for state supplemental aid.
ME: Bill could give Maine an advantage in new space race
A bipartisan bill would create the Maine Space Port Corp. The public-private partnership would be charged with building launch sites, data networks and the support operations for sending small satellites into space, and for developing new products based on the data collected.
OH: Ohio judge again blocks bill that would force burial or cremation of fetus remains after abortions
An Ohio judge temporarily blocked for the second time enforcement of a 2020 bill that would have required fetal remains from surgical abortions to be cremated or buried and clinics to notify women that they can choose the location of the disposition. Clinic workers who don’t follow the law would be punished with a first-degree penalty.
SD: South Dakota Republican leaders reject governor's abortion proposal
Republican leaders in the South Dakota House have dashed Republican Gov. Kristi Noem's hopes of getting a Texas-style law, which bans abortions after about six weeks, passed this year. Lawmakers said passing Noem's bill could jeopardize their long-term goal of seeing all abortions banned.
MT: Three-fourths of Montana’s return-to-work bonuses went unclaimed
Montana GOP Gov. Greg Gianforte’s Return to Work bonus program, announced last year as he scaled back expanded pandemic unemployment benefits, ultimately paid about one-fourth as many bonuses as the state initially funded, according to a new post-program report from the state Department of Labor and Industry.
MS: Bill would help Mississippi welfare recipients create savings accounts
A bill pending in the Mississippi Senate would provide a $2-to-$1 match for welfare recipients to help them create savings accounts.
AZ: Republicans in Arizona Senate unite behind new election bill
Senate Republicans in Arizona have united behind an election-focused bill that calls for the state auditor general to conduct audits of how county elections offices do their work. The bill also proposes tighter controls around voter registration and the publication online of ballot images, among other changes.
IL: Illinois governor proposes nearly $1B in temporary tax relief
Illinois Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker delivered a $45.4 billion reelection year state spending plan that would include one year of relief from the local sales tax on groceries and a scheduled inflationary bump in gasoline taxes as well as an expanded property tax benefit to homeowners.
KS: Kansas legislators again push for school choice
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. That appears to be the motto for conservative legislators interested in widening the menu of school choice options in Kansas after falling short in 2021, despite continued opposition from public school districts and their allies.
WV: West Virginia Senate passes civil revenge porn bill
A bill to allow victims of revenge porn to seek compensation from their abusers unanimously passed the West Virginia Senate. The bill would establish civil remedies for victims of the unauthorized disclosure of intimate images or video when the subject had reasonable expectation of privacy. The action already is subject to criminal prosecution.
TX: Texas set to receive $343M in federal effort to plug orphan wells
Texas is poised to receive more than $343 million—a larger amount than any other state—as the Biden administration begins doling out federal funding to clean up abandoned oil and gas wells. The White House says the $4.7 billion program will create thousands of jobs while addressing a growing environmental threat.