What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/21
NY: New York governor says masks must stay on mass transit despite federal ruling
New York Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul said masks are still required on public transportation despite a federal judge’s ruling earlier this week that the federal government cannot require masks on airplanes or other mass transit.
TN: Tennessee governor, legislators clash over ‘truth in sentencing’ bill
Republicans in the Tennessee legislature moved forward with a bill that would lengthen some criminal sentences over the objections of advocates, conservative groups and Republican Gov. Bill Lee. The so-called truth in sentencing bill would require that incarcerated individuals serve 100% of their sentences for a swath of violent felonies.
FL: Florida pulls out of CDC survey of students
On the heels of a new state law critics dubbed “Don’t Say Gay,” the Florida Department of Education has quietly dropped out of a 31-year-old federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey of students that includes questions on mental well-being, suicidal thoughts, sexual orientation and gender identity.
OH: Ohio Army National Guard sends military equipment to Ukraine
Ohio's National Guard is giving an undisclosed number of tanks to Ukraine following a request from the U.S. Department of Defense.
CA: California bill would end coroner investigations of lost pregnancies
A bill that would abolish the requirement that coroners investigate stillbirths passed a California Assembly committee, while hundreds of anti-abortion activists protested the proposed change on the Capitol steps.
MT: Montana lawmakers reject GOP effort to investigate ‘election integrity’
An effort to call a special session of the Montana legislature via lawmaker poll failed to gain majority support. The proposed session, requested by 10 Republican members—including several who have questioned the 2020 election results—would have focused on whether to create a special legislative committee to investigate election security in Montana.
SC: Bill to curtail South Carolina abortions by expanding birth control access advances again
A bill making it easier and cheaper for women to access birth control is advancing in the South Carolina House, with backers saying if legislators want to curtail abortions they should help women prevent unwanted pregnancies.
WI: Wisconsin governor releases state’s 1st clean energy plan
Wisconsin’s first Clean Energy Plan is meant to serve as a blueprint for meeting Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ goal of carbon-free electricity generation by 2050 and helping meet the state’s commitment to cutting half of all greenhouse gas emissions by the end of this decade.
MN: Minnesota legislators tangle with tech giants over social media content for kids
Minnesota's divided legislature is coming together on bills to tamp down on tech companies’ influence this year, including a nation-leading ban on social media platforms using algorithms to target user-generated content to children under 18.
MO: Missouri Senate backs plan for security grants to religious organizations
Religious not-for-profits would be able to tap state funds for security upgrades under a plan that cleared the Missouri Senate.
WA: Washington state lessens emphasis on COVID case counting
Because the increase in confirmed COVID-19 infections hasn’t yet translated to an increase in severe illness or deaths—and omicron’s infectious subvariant, BA.2, appears to be fairly mild—keeping track of individual cases is becoming less important to Washington state.
NC: Medical marijuana is about to be openly sold in North Carolina, but in only 1 place
That’s because an independent, sovereign government is nestled in the mountains of Western North Carolina: the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. And they recently legalized medical marijuana, with sales expected to start less than a year from now.
ME: Maine governor signs $1.2B budget that includes $850 relief checks
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills signed a $1.2 billion supplemental budget that includes the distribution of $850 checks to most Maine residents.
WV: West Virginia medical cannabis sign-ups lag
Despite offering a one-stop sign-up experience, in which patients could be examined remotely and certified for a card, the West Virginia Office of Medical Cannabis had little to show for two days of in-person events. Only 20 or so people signed up on each of the days.
MI: Michigan governor calls for bailout of nuclear plant
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, is looking to tap a newly created federal nuclear power plant bailout fund to keep Palisades Nuclear Plant open.