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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/23

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/23

TX: Texas health providers suspend gender-confirming care for teens in response to GOP efforts

texastribune.org

Hospitals across Texas have started restricting critical treatment as health care providers fear legal consequences and worry they could lose their medical licenses. Meanwhile, teenagers already are leaving the state to get care or avoiding it altogether.

AZ: Arizona Senate committee OKs bill to ban mail voting, return to 1950s-era elections

azcentral.com

A Republican bill that would ban most mail voting and require hand counts of all elections in Arizona, among other extreme measures, passed on a party-line vote. With the backing of Trump supporters and election conspiracy theorists, state GOP Rep. John Fillmore introduced his plan last month, having previously said he wanted to take voting back to 1958.

TN: Tennessee Senate passes critical race theory, 'divisive concepts' bill aimed at colleges

tennessean.com

The Tennessee bill would give college students and staff at state universities the ability to sue the schools for discriminating against them for not accepting "divisive concepts." The legislation defines "divisive concepts" along the same lines as a bill passed last year, which banned public K-12 schools from teaching critical race theory.

UT: Utah GOP governor vetoes transgender athlete ban; faces override

sltrib.com

Utah Republican Gov. Spencer Cox vetoed a bill that would prevent transgender girls from participating in school sports that match their gender identities, noting that out of the nearly 75,000 athletes participating in Utah school sports, there’s one transgender girl. Legislative leaders announced their plan to meet for an override session.

OK: Oklahoma House passes bill that would be a near total ban on abortions

kfor.com

The bill, which would be the strictest anti-abortion law in the United States if passed, calls for a near total ban on abortions in Oklahoma. It would prohibit physicians from performing abortions at any point in a pregnancy, unless it is necessary to save the pregnant woman’s life. Like a recent Texas law, the bill also would allow private citizens to sue any doctors who perform abortions.

IL: Illinois governor vowed to overhaul child welfare system, but some say it’s in worse shape than ever 

chicagotribune.com

Illinois Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker promised to “overhaul” the state’s broken child welfare system. But despite pouring at least an additional $100 million into the state’s child welfare agency each year—and proposing an increase of $250 million this year—the agency remains understaffed and is still failing to get youth into the right places quickly, advocates say. 

SD: South Dakota eliminates local fees for gun carry permits

apnews.com

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, signed a bill to wipe away state and county fees for concealed firearm permits. Noem wanted to remove state fees as well, but lawmakers removed that part of the bill.

OH: Ohio bill on child sexual abuse prevention instruction gets held up in committee

cleveland.com

An Ohio bill that would require public schools to provide age-appropriate child sexual abuse prevention instruction has been held up in a Senate committee. A conservative Christian public policy group is pushing for changes that would emphasize abstinence before marriage, discourage transgender students from gender-confirming care and ban simulating sexual acts and demonstrating contraception use during the lessons.

NJ, NY: COVID cases expected to rise as BA.2 variant is now dominant strain in New Jersey, New York

northjersey.com

COVID-19's BA.2 variant has become the dominant strain in New Jersey and New York, but key metrics including cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to decline, data shows. BA.2 continues to spread quickly in the region, far outpacing the rate nationally.

IN: Indiana GOP governor faces pushback over trans sports veto

indystar.com

Fellow Republicans began calling on the Indiana General Assembly to override Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb's veto of a ban on transgender girls in girls school sports.

MS: Lawmakers pass largest teacher pay raise in Mississippi history

mississippitoday.org

The Mississippi House passed the largest teacher pay raise in state history. The legislation goes to Republican Gov. Tate Reeves, who has indicated he will sign it into law.

MO: Penalty for assisting abortion in case of ectopic pregnancy removed from Missouri House measure 

stltoday.com

Following an outpouring of outrage, a plan to outlaw abortions in the case of life-threatening ectopic pregnancies was removed from a Missouri House bill. 

DE: Delaware Democrats submit weaker police transparency bill

delawareonline.com

Delaware lawmakers' latest legislative proposal aimed at police transparency would keep past complaints and disciplinary findings against officers a secret. The new legislation significantly curtails a bill proposed last year that sought to open virtually all police complaints and findings, both historically and moving forward, which failed after criticism from law enforcement.

MN: Minnesota legislators consider $1,000 fine on unruly youth sports attendees

startribune.com

Minnesota legislators have decided that sideline scofflaws have gotten out of hand at youth sporting events, and they are considering a fine of up to $1,000 to discourage bad behavior from parents and other fans. The bill is aimed at deterring disruptions and protecting sports officials such as referees, as well as coaches and players.

WA: Washington marijuana shops see more armed robberies

seattletimes.com

In recent months, Washington retail marijuana store owners, industry leaders and politicians have said armed robberies at pot shops have increased, endangering employees. The industry has been shut out of traditional banking services such as accepting credit cards since marijuana is still illegal federally.

MI: Michigan Senate OKs plan to ban red light cameras

freep.com

The Michigan Senate overwhelmingly approved a measure to nix issuing tickets and other enforcement measures derived from cameras mounted at traffic lights. The bill to ban red light cameras passed by a 28-10 margin, with many Democrats joining most Republicans in supporting the measure.

PA: Pennsylvania tipped workers in line for raise

pennlive.com

A Pennsylvania regulatory commission gave a green light to change how tipped workers in the state are paid, handing Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf leverage in his efforts to raise the state’s minimum wage.

MA: Boston mayor urges Massachusetts school board to keep hands off city schools

bostonglobe.com

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, a Democrat, urged the state board of education not to take control of Boston Public Schools, saying her administration was searching for a new superintendent and was committed to improving school quality.  

FL: Florida teachers will get pay raises July 1 

miamiherald.com

Florida will set aside millions of dollars to boost the pay of thousands of teachers, including veteran educators, as part of a multi-year effort. The increases will benefit teachers in more than a dozen school districts trying to bring the minimum base salary for teachers to $47,500—a top priority for GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis for the last three years.  

AK: Governor announces official split of Alaska health and social services department

alaskapublic.org

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services will be split into two departments in July, GOP Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced. Under the change, there will be a Department of Health that will continue to do most of the work of the current department, such as overseeing the Medicaid program. The other new department will oversee foster care, juvenile justice, Alaska Pioneer Homes and the Alaska Psychiatric Institute.

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