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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 2/18

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 2/18

FL: Florida poised to ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy 

orlandosentinel.com

Florida lawmakers are on the verge of banning most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with a bill that prompted five hours of emotionally charged debate and a protest. The Florida House voted 78-39 for the significant limit on abortion, with no exceptions for rape or incest. The Senate could send the measure to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk as early as next week. 

CA: California offers cautious blueprint forward as COVID wanes, mask orders ease

latimes.com

California state officials released a pandemic plan that gives an overview of how authorities will manage potential new surges, warning that while the omicron surge is fading, the state must be prepared for the emergence of new variants and seasonal increases in coronavirus transmission.

MN: Minnesota House panel advances bill to limit no-knock warrants

mprnews.org

No-knock warrants have been under increased scrutiny in Minnesota since the fatal police shooting of Amir Locke earlier this month in Minneapolis. The House committee debated the bill as mourners attended Locke’s funeral.

AR: Federal judge dismisses Arkansas redistricting lawsuit

arkansasonline.com

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit arguing that Arkansas' new state House districts violate federal civil rights law by diluting the power of Black voters. The judge ruled that only federal officials can challenge the maps under the Voting Rights Act and gave the U.S. attorney general five days to intervene in the case.

DC: Judge says DC failed to provide education to older students with disabilities in jail

washingtonpost.com

A federal judge has found the District of Columbia in contempt of court for failing to provide adequate special education to students with disabilities in jail. The judge required the city to have a “remote-learning system fully operational” by March 15 and to submit individualized plans to make up for missed special-education hours over the past five months.

AL: Alabama House passes bill to allow food trucks to sell alcohol

al.com

The Alabama bill would allow food trucks to apply for permits to sell alcoholic beverages in designated “entertainment districts” or areas where patrons are permitted to have open containers of alcohol. The entertainment districts must be in cities with a population of at least 300,000.

IL: 9 GOP lawmakers kicked off Illinois House floor for refusing to wear masks 

chicagotribune.com  

Nine Republican legislators were ejected from the Illinois House floor for refusing to wear masks in compliance with House rules. As the unmasked lawmakers packed up and left the chamber, a slew of other GOP representatives followed them out.

NV: Nevada’s most populous county to buy new machines to count mail-in ballots

apnews.com

The Clark County Commission, which serves the Las Vegas area, has agreed to spend nearly $1 million to buy four high-speed counting machines to tabulate mail-in ballots for the upcoming primary and general elections in Nevada. The move comes after the legislature made permanent last summer a law that automatically sends mail ballots to every active registered voter.

WI: Wisconsin COVID app popular, but close contact use unclear

madison.com

More than a year after Wisconsin launched a mobile app to alert people of exposure to COVID-19, many residents have signed up, but it’s not clear how many close contacts of those testing positive have been notified. 

TX: Partisan tactic by Texas GOP lieutenant governor delays thousands of mail-in ballot requests

texastribune.org

Thousands of applications for mail-in ballots submitted by Texas voters have been delayed—and some voters may ultimately not receive ballots—because Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's campaign instructed eligible voters to send absentee ballot requests to the Texas secretary of state’s office instead of their local elections offices, where the applications are supposed to be sent. 

WA: Washington mask mandate for schools, businesses to end March 21

seattletimes.com

Washington state’s COVID-19 mask requirements will lift March 21 for schools, child care facilities, grocery stores, bars, gyms and a host of other indoor establishments, Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee announced. Masking will still be necessary after March 21 in health care facilities, dental offices, long-term care facilities, prisons and on public transit and school buses.

AZ: New bill would require independent investigations into Arizona police shootings, use of force

azcentral.com

Supporters of a proposed bill that would require Arizona police agencies to independently investigate each other’s use-of-force incidents say it would be a step toward rebuilding trust in police. Critics say it misses the mark in addressing concerns some Arizona residents have raised about police.

MI: Final Michigan county rescinds its school mask mandate

mlive.com

The last countywide school masking mandate in Michigan has been rescinded. Wayne County, the most populous in the state, canceled its August emergency health order.

OK: Oklahoma names Guard members who refuse vaccination after judge denied bid for anonymity

tulsaworld.com

Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor, a Republican, named 10 members of the Oklahoma Air National Guard who refuse to be vaccinated for COVID-19 as he filed an amended lawsuit challenging a federal vaccine mandate. The judge said public interest overrode privacy concerns in the matter and that the requests for anonymity did not meet standards set out in previous cases.

NC: North Carolina governor calls for schools, cities to lift mask mandates

newsobserver.com

Citing the state’s improved vaccination rate and COVID-19’s declining virulence, North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper encouraged municipalities and school boards “to end their mask mandates.”

 

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