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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/18

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/18

WA: Washington prohibits Texas-style abortion lawsuits

apnews.com

A Washington state measure that prohibits legal action against people seeking an abortion and those who aid them was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, in a move designed to rebut recent actions by conservative states.

MD: Maryland gas tax suspension takes effect

baltimoresun.com

A monthlong suspension of Maryland's 36-cent fuel tax is becoming law, among the first such measures in the country.

NM: US House panel launches probe of New Mexico 2020 election audit

apnews.com

A congressional oversight committee said it has opened an investigation into a partisan audit of the 2020 election results that is taking place in New Mexico and was authorized by a Republican-led county commission.

MN: Minnesota governor proposes bigger rebate checks as surplus grows

startribune.com

Democratic Gov. Tim Walz called for spending more of Minnesota's record-breaking projected budget surplus on public health, a financial boost for some retirees and bigger tax rebate checks for millions of Minnesotans. State leaders found out last month that they had an estimated surplus of nearly $9.3 billion.

US: Treasury shifts $377M among states as pandemic housing aid dries up

nytimes.com

The Biden administration pulled back the aid from states and counties with unspent funds and diverted it to four states pressing for more: California, Illinois, New Jersey and New York.

TX: Texas appeals court sides with schools in fight over whether districts can require masks

dallasnews.com

A new Texas appeals court decision sided with school districts in the ongoing battle over mask mandates. The decision came after 19 school districts—including Dallas, Lancaster, DeSoto and Fort Worth—sued the state last year over the governor’s ban on mandating face coverings in schools.

CA: Proposal would give California taxpayers $400 rebates to defray gas costs

latimes.com

A group of Democratic state lawmakers called for sending a $400 rebate to every California taxpayer to help soften the blow of the recent surge in gasoline prices.

OH: Ohio governor wants redistricting mapmakers to collaborate on bipartisan plan

cleveland.com

The morning after the Ohio Supreme Court threw out a third Republican-backed legislative redistricting plan, Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, suggested having Democratic and GOP mapmakers “work together” on a fourth map.

IN: Indiana tops nation for dirty waterways

indystar.com

Indiana tops the list of states with the most dirty waterways, according to a new report that found nearly 25,000 miles of Hoosier rivers and streams are too polluted for recreation and swimming.

DE: University of Delaware hopes to help with nursing shortage

delawarepublic.org

The University of Delaware seeks to graduate more nurses ready to address an ongoing nursing shortage exacerbated by the pandemic. The university asked state lawmakers for an additional $7.3 million in funding to help boost its nursing program and create a pipeline to the profession.

MS: Mississippi Senate OKs pay raise for teachers; House to vote

apnews.com

Mississippi teachers would receive their largest pay raise in years under a bill that the state Senate passed. The bill would provide an average increase of about $5,100—a jump of more than 10% over teachers’ current pay.

AK: Alaska House committee proposes funding schools a year ahead using money from rising oil prices

alaskapublic.org

The Alaska House Finance Committee plans to spend some of the extra state money from high oil prices on funding public education a year ahead of time. The committee updated its version of the budget, with $1.2 billion committed to public schools beyond what it already planned.

KS: Kansas Senate advances legislative map that would maintain GOP supermajority

kansascity.com

The Kansas Senate approved redrawn district lines that appear to retain Republicans’ existing supermajority in the chamber despite complaints that the process was moving too quickly.

UT: Utah leaders debate relief at the gas pump

deseret.com

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican, and legislative leaders are considering ways to give Utahns relief at the gas pump. One option, pausing the state’s 31.9 cents per gallon fuel tax, is complicated given constitutional restrictions on shifting funds within the state budget.

CO: Colorado lawmakers take a first step to protect sex workers

denverpost.com

A Colorado bill proposes to grant sex workers immunity from prostitution charges when reporting any of about two dozen serious crimes, including human trafficking, murder, manslaughter, assault, false imprisonment and stalking. The House Judiciary Committee advanced the bill unanimously. 

CT: Connecticut legislators asked to update student-athlete compensation law 

apnews.com

A Connecticut legislative committee advanced a bill that would update last year’s state law that allows student-athletes to be compensated for their name and likeness in marketing deals. The bill would allow them to use their state college or university’s logo, mascot or other institutional marks when they’re pitching products such as sports drinks and apparel. 

IA: Proposed Iowa bottle bill would allow retailers to refuse container returns

iowacapitaldispatch.com

Iowa grocery stores and other retailers would be allowed to opt out of taking back bottle and can returns and repaying deposits in 2023 under the latest version of a bill making its way through the Iowa Senate. Republicans on the Senate Ways and Means Committee moved the bill, with all Democrats on the panel voting no.

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