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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/24

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/24

ID: Idaho governor signs law allowing families to sue abortion providers, despite misgivings

idahostatesman.com

Idaho Gov. Brad Little, a Republican, signed a bill that will allow families to sue abortion providers. Little said he worries the bill is both unconstitutional and creates “unintended consequences” that affect sexual assault survivors. He urged lawmakers to fix parts of the bill, which was modeled after a Texas law passed last year.

WA: Washington governor signs new firearms regulations into law

seattletimes.com

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, signed a trio of bills into law that restrict firearms, including a new limit on the amount of ammunition in magazines, setting up an expected court challenge by foes of tighter regulations. The other two laws limit weapons at government meetings and election spaces, and tighten prohibitions on the assembly of untraceable “ghost” guns.

ME: Maine Senate approves college debt relief for first-time homebuyers

pressherald.com

The Maine Senate voted 20-13 in favor of a program that would forgive up to $40,000 in student loan debt for some first-time home buyers. The $10 million Maine Smart Buy program from MaineHousing would be available to income-qualified, first-time buyers who agree to live in the home for at least five years.

WI: US Supreme Court throws out Wisconsin's redistricting legislative maps

jsonline.com

The U.S. Supreme Court threw out Wisconsin's legislative maps, less than three weeks after a narrowly divided state Supreme Court put them in place. The ruling leaves uncertain what maps will be used for the fall elections for the state Senate and Assembly. The Wisconsin high court will now have to revisit the case to decide where to put the lines.

MI: Michigan election officials in the dark on key procedures ahead of 2022 elections

freep.com

Michigan clerks are still in the dark on possible changes to key election procedures heading into this year's consequential statewide contests, as Republican lawmakers and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, continue to fight over proposed policy adjustments.

OK: Oklahoma Republicans advance near-total abortion ban modeled off Texas law

oklahoman.com

The legislation advanced by the Oklahoma House is even more restrictive than the law adopted in Texas: It would block nearly all abortions because it starts immediately after conception rather than around six weeks into a pregnancy.

AK: Alaska plans unprecedented by-mail election in first step to replace House member

adn.com

Alaskans will pick a temporary replacement for the late U.S. Rep. Don Young, a Republican, in special elections on June 11 and Aug. 16. In an unprecedented move, the June 11 primary will take place mostly by mail, with ballots sent automatically to all Alaska voters registered at least 30 days before the election.

SD: South Dakota prisons need a $500M makeover, report finds

argusleader.com

South Dakota's criminal corrections system needs more than a half-billion dollars worth of new buildings and upgrades in the coming years, according to a report from a consultant hired by the state.

CT: Connecticut House votes to cut gasoline tax by 25 cents per gallon 

courant.com

With the state budget surplus hitting record-breaking levels, the Connecticut House voted unanimously to cut gasoline taxes—and talked about reducing more taxes in the future. 

VT: Vermont code of ethics bill unanimously passes state Senate

apnews.com

The Vermont Senate unanimously passed a bill to create a state code of ethics for elected and appointed officials, legislators and all state employees. Most other states already have similar codes.

AZ: Ban on COVID vaccine mandate for Arizona kids advances

azcapitoltimes.com

Arizona lawmakers are moving to permanently bar health officials from requiring students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend public schools. The party-line vote by the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services came even though parents already can opt out of any of the vaccines that are now listed as required for students. 

MA: Massachusetts House speaker wants to tackle child care costs ‘right away’

bostonglobe.com

Massachusetts House Speaker Ronald Mariano, a Democrat, indicated that lawmakers could begin tackling the exorbitant costs of child care in the state “right away,” if in a more limited fashion than advocates have sought.

NY: New York governor’s ethics overhaul faltering; new plan pushed

timesunion.com

Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposal in January to abolish and replace New York's troubled ethics enforcement body was broached in a private caucus meeting of Assembly Democrats. But Democrats weren’t buying; they are looking at other ideas.

OR: Omicron subvariant is in Oregon, but a surge is not necessarily on the horizon

oregonlive.com

The omicron subvariant fueling COVID-19 surges in Europe has been found in the wastewater of at least four Oregon communities. The findings from early March don’t guarantee a surge in cases, but they could underscore the potential benefits—and shortcomings—of a state-funded wastewater testing system billed as a way to reliably know the state of the pandemic.

TX: Legislature required to take up redistricting again in 2023, Texas AG’s office says

dallasnews.com

Texas lawmakers are bound by state law to open a fresh round of redistricting in 2023, Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office asserted in a state Supreme Court hearing. The assertion came from an appellate attorney with Paxton’s office during a hearing related to multiple lawsuits challenging district maps approved during a special session last year. 

MO: Effort to help Ukraine advances in Missouri House 

stltoday.com

Missouri governments and businesses would have to suspend contracts with Russia under a proposed state law moving through the legislature. 

Health Worker Shortage Russian Cyber Threats
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