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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/5

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/5

PA: Pennsylvania to move clemency process online

pennlive.com

The Pennsylvania Board of Pardons is poised to roll out an online system for clemency applications this year, potentially relieving a bottleneck from an antiquated paper-based system that can leave applicants—those convicted of a crime seeking a pardon or commutation—in limbo for years.

AL: Alabama lawmakers consider bill to make secret vehicle compartments illegal

al.com

Alabama legislators are considering a bill that would make it illegal to create secret compartments in vehicles to hide drugs, weapons and even people from law enforcement officers.

CO: Colorado governor signs law guaranteeing right to abortion

denverpost.com

Getting an abortion without government interference is now guaranteed in Colorado after Democratic Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill enshrining that right in state law. Under the law, Coloradans will be able to get an abortion in the state, regardless of whether the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

GA: Georgia legislature passes bill empowering state police detectives to investigate elections

ajc.com

The Georgia General Assembly approved a bill giving the Georgia Bureau of Investigation stronger police powers over elections, authorizing the statewide agency to launch investigations into allegations of fraud. 

MD: Maryland governor signs congressional maps, ending monthslong dispute

baltimoresun.com

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, ending a legal and legislative tussle with Democrats, signed a map of Maryland’s congressional districts.

NV: Report sought by Nevada governor recommends reducing prison population in health crises

thenevadaindependent.com

An independent report commissioned by Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak and Nevada legislative leaders has recommended an action that advocacy groups long supported but was never implemented—that the state should deliberately reduce its prison population to address current and future pandemics.

TN: Tennessee advancing bill banning abortion pills by mail

apnews.com

Tennessee Republicans are advancing legislation that would strictly regulate the dispensing of abortion pills, including imposing harsh penalties on doctors who violate the rules.

LA: Senate passes bill to position Louisiana for $200M in orphaned oil well grants

lailluminator.com

The Louisiana Senate approved a bill that would give the state Department of Natural Resources more flexibility in how much it can spend to plug and restore abandoned or orphaned oil and gas wells in a given fiscal year. 

WA: Tribal leaders say Washington state is ignoring treaty rights

crosscut.com

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department said its investigation of two Tulalip Tribe members for alleged shellfish trafficking was proper and didn’t violate tribal sovereignty, and that larger concerns about hostility toward treaty rights are unfounded. Still, treaty rights organizations, tribes and others are pressing state leaders to address their concerns.

NY: New York governor’s husband could benefit from new Buffalo stadium

timesunion.com

New York Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul's recent announcement that funding for a new Buffalo Bills stadium included $418 million secured from the Seneca Nation brought immediate rebuke from the nation's president, who cast it as a "sweetheart deal" for the company that employs Hochul's husband. Hochul's office denies there is a conflict of interest.

OR: Mixed results for Oregon's pioneering drug decriminalization

apnews.com

Oregon voters approved a ballot measure in 2020 to decriminalize hard drugs after being told it was a way to establish and fund addiction recovery centers that would offer people aid instead of incarceration. Yet in the first year after the approach took effect in February 2021, only 1% of people who received citations for possessing controlled substances asked for help via a new hotline.

MS: Mississippi lawmakers near finish line on spending unprecedented state, federal funds

mississippitoday.org

Mississippi legislators worked late to fund state government at an unprecedented level and also to spend the bulk of $1.8 billion in federal pandemic stimulus Congress provided to the state.

AR: Arkansas surplus grows as governor floats further relief

apnews.com

Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson floated the possibility of additional relief for taxpayers because of high gas prices and inflation as the state’s surplus for the fiscal year approached $500 million.

DC: DC Council to consider bill that targets marijuana ‘gifting’ stores

washingtonpost.com

The Washington, D.C., Council will consider allowing anyone age 21 or older to obtain medical marijuana. The proposal aims to prop up medical marijuana businesses and tamp down on so-called gifting businesses, in which entrepreneurs get around the congressional prohibition on selling recreational marijuana in D.C. by giving a free “gift” of the drug with a purchase of some other item.

AK: Overhaul of Alaska alcohol laws makes progress in legislature

alaskapublic.org

For more than 10 years, lawmakers have been considering a massive overhaul of Alaska’s laws governing the sale of alcohol in the state. People who’ve been watching the annual battle over a revision of the state’s alcohol laws see signs of progress this year.

IL: Illinois to use $17M in federal COVID aid to fund Freedom Schools 

chicagotribune.com

Illinois plans to use $17 million in federal coronavirus relief money to fund Freedom Schools, a literacy and cultural enrichment program rooted in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, as part of an effort to close the achievement gap for struggling students.  

ME: Maine lawmakers approve plan for tax credits to expand child care

apnews.com

Maine lawmakers are closing in on final approval of a proposal to provide tax credits to help grow child care providers in the state.

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