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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/8

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/8

CA: California massacre shows rising dangers of handguns converted into automatic weapons

latimes.com

As state and federal authorities continue to piece together how so many people were killed and wounded in the shooting in downtown Sacramento, California, their attention has turned to a small culprit: A gun accessory that quickly and cheaply turns many handguns into weapons capable of spraying dozens of rounds with a single pull of the trigger.

AL: Alabama Senate passes ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, transgender bathroom restrictions

al.com

The Alabama Senate passed its own version of Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law after a surprise amendment to a transgender bathroom bill. In addition to instructional limits, the bill would require students to use school bathrooms and locker rooms that match the sex on their birth certificate.

VA: Virginia governor promotes recycling but discards program to ban plastics

washingtonpost.com

Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin issued an executive order laying out a recycling plan for state agencies but drew criticism from environmental groups for something he discarded: an order by former Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam that required state agencies to give up single-use plastics by the end of 2025.

FL: Florida manatee feeding plan ends; starvation still an issue 

apnews.com

The unprecedented, experimental program to feed starving manatees in Florida is ending, but the greater issue is the polluted water that causes the marine mammals to run out of their natural seagrass forage. 

MI: Michigan attorney general cites own abortion, says office won't defend state in lawsuit

freep.com

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel will not defend the state in a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood of Michigan, saying she agrees with the suit's assertion that a 1931 state law that bans most abortions in the state is unconstitutional.

OR: Oregon on alert as bird flu cases continue to rise

opb.org

Oregon officials expect avian flu cases to rise later this year as a dangerous strain of the virus spreads across the country.

AK: Alaska lawmakers consider $2,600 payment per resident in 2022, but proposals differ in details

alaskapublic.org

The Alaska House opened debate on the state’s annual operating budget by repeatedly voting in favor of $2,600 payments to eligible residents this year. The payments would be a combination of a one-time $1,300 energy rebate and a Permanent Fund dividend of about that size.

CT: Connecticut governor tests positive for COVID 

courant.com

Connecticut Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont, the state’s leading official in the two-year battle against the coronavirus pandemic, has tested positive. He said he will quarantine at home for five days. 

PA: Pennsylvania COVID hospitalizations decline precipitously

post-gazette.com

As new coronavirus infections across Pennsylvania plummeted from record levels in early January, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 dropped more than 67% percent from the beginning of March to the end of the month, according to new data from the state Department of Health.

NY: New York governor, legislature agree on $220 billion budget

timesunion.com

New York Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that she and state legislative leaders have resolved the remaining issues that pushed the state budget a week past its deadline. The plan will amount to $220 billion in spending—fueled by federal post-pandemic aid and designed to help the state move beyond the two-year health crisis.

MA: Massachusetts will close one of its oldest prisons

wbur.org

One of Massachusetts' oldest prisons will no longer house prisoners. The Department of Correction said it will shutter MCI-Cedar Junction at Walpole within two years, citing a reduced incarceration rate and high maintenance costs.

MT: Montana troopers have already intercepted more fentanyl this year than in 2021

billingsgazette.com

The Montana Highway Patrol has already intercepted more fentanyl this year than last year, according to the state Department of Justice. Through mid-March, troopers had seized 12,079 fentanyl pills, which is three times the 2021 total of 3,800 tablets.

IA: Iowa cities reviewing concerns over panhandling restrictions

iowacapitaldispatch.com

Four Iowa cities say they are reviewing concerns with the legality of ordinances that restrict panhandling. The ACLU of Iowa says such ordinances are unconstitutional because they wrongly shut down the free speech of people who are soliciting financial assistance from members of the public.

DC: DC mayor tests positive for coronavirus

washingtonpost.com

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Democrat, said she had tested positive for coronavirus and is experiencing mild symptoms. Bowser, 49, is fully vaccinated and boosted.

SC: South Carolina bills to limit abortion, bar race-centric schooling fail to meet critical deadline

postandcourier.com

Legislation that would bar race-centric lessons in South Carolina schools and further limit abortions are likely doomed for the year. The highly partisan bills are among proposals that did not meet the legislature’s deadline for clearing at least one chamber, which opponents count as success.

VT: Governor signs bill allowing Vermonters to amend their birth certificates to reflect gender identity

vtdigger.org

Vermonters who wish to amend the gender identity listed on their birth certificate will now be able to do so more easily, thanks to a new law signed by Republican Gov. Phil Scott.

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