What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/19
FL: Florida frets over rejected math textbooks as local school officials await details
Days after rejecting dozens of math textbooks for including what the state Department of Education claimed were “indoctrinating concepts,” Florida officials continued to refuse requests for examples. The material is “proprietary,” Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a news conference.
US: US Supreme Court rejects Northeastern states' argument against cap on tax liability
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a challenge from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland to the 2017 tax law that capped federal tax deductions for state and local taxes. The lawsuit had previously been dismissed by lower courts. It argued that the Republican-led tax law unfairly singled out high-tax states in which Democrats predominate.
GA: Georgia governor defends comments about minority voter registration in court
In videotaped testimony, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, explained his past concerns about Democrats’ minority voter turnout efforts, saying during a federal voting rights trial that he wanted Republicans to replicate those efforts.
TX: Texas taxpayer benefit from billions spent on border security is unclear: report
Since 2005, Texas Govs. Rick Perry and Greg Abbott, both Republicans, have launched a multitude of widely publicized and costly border initiatives, which usually kicked off during their reelection campaigns or while they were considering bids for higher office.
KY: Kentucky judge temporarily blocks measure that limits governor’s ability to challenge laws
Among a series of bills passed by the Republican-dominated Kentucky General Assembly this year limiting the governor’s powers was one that barred him from using public funds to challenge the constitutionality of any bill the legislature passes. A judge blocked the measure temporarily.
WI: Union asks court to revisit decision over fake GOP electors from Wisconsin
A union is asking a judge to throw out a finding that Republicans didn’t violate election laws when they claimed to be Wisconsin’s presidential electors after Democrat Joe Biden won the state.
WV: West Virginia settles for $99M with Johnson & Johnson subsidiary
West Virginia reached a $99 million settlement with Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. The deal came during the trial in which the state claimed the pharmaceutical companies used deceptive marketing practices that led to the overprescription and overdistribution of prescription opioids, causing the state’s substance use disorder epidemic.
NJ: School start time should be left up to local districts, say critics of New Jersey legislation
New Jersey legislation that proposes a state-wide later school start time would not be ideal for all, say some educators who are advocating for the decision to be left up to local districts.
MI: Michigan governor’s administration awards bid to union ally despite higher cost
Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration awarded an $8 million training grant to one of her staunchest union allies, despite the fact a different agency offered to provide lengthier training to more workers for the same price, with greater emphasis on underserved groups such as minorities.
NE, CO: Nebraska governor signs water bills
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican, signed bills to start work on a seven-mile-long recreational lake between Omaha and Lincoln and a canal to draw water from the South Platte River in Colorado, which Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, has said will never be built.
WA: As war in Ukraine threatens global wheat supply, Washington farmers ‘pray for rain’ and good harvest
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sent global food prices soaring, but Washington wheat farmers aren’t celebrating. Some farmers are worried about the threat of a global food crisis as the war threatens to cut the supply of wheat and other crops from Ukraine and Russia.
AL: Plaintiffs challenging Alabama’s ban on transgender medicine plan new case
Plaintiffs in lawsuits challenging Alabama’s law criminalizing medical treatment for transgender youth plan to file a new lawsuit after withdrawing two actions.
LA: Louisiana House panel advances budget
A Louisiana House panel advanced a proposed state operating budget that includes $148 million for pay raises for teachers and school support staff and $104 million for increases for higher education, but strips a proposed $100-per-month increase in state supplemental pay for local police and firefighters.
MS: Mississippi to award new forgivable loan programs for health-related degrees for 1st time since 2015
After years of budget woes, members of the Mississippi Post-Secondary Board expressed surprise that the state legislature had fully funded Mississippi’s college financial aid programs this session. This means that for the first time since 2015, the Office of Student Financial Aid will be able to award nine forgivable loan programs mainly targeting nursing and other health-related professions.