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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/26

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/26

CA: California preps to be a haven for abortion rights

calmatters.org

California abortion rights groups, providers and Democratic lawmakers are all getting ready for a potential influx of out-of-state women. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to dramatically scale back, or even end, the constitutional right to abortion.

TN: Tennessee governor signs transgender athlete penalty bill

apnews.com

Under the bill signed by Republican Gov. Bill Lee, the Tennessee Department of Education will withhold a portion of state funds from local school districts that fail “to determine a student’s gender” for participation in middle or high school sports. The measure does not specify exactly how much money should be withheld by the state.

FL: Florida governor signs election police bill into law 

orlandosentinel.com

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law creating a statewide voter fraud force to respond to allegations of illegal election activity reported by citizens, despite the state’s successful management of the 2020 election and no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the state.  

WI: Rising tax revenues generate big budget surplus for Wisconsin

wpr.org

Wisconsin is expected to end its current two-year budget with a $3.8 billion surplus. “We’re in the best shape we’ve been in fiscally in more than a half century," said Department of Revenue Secretary Peter Barca.

MT: Montana nonprofit will convert oil field homes into affordable options

montanafreepress.org

The median home price in Missoula County, Montana, has climbed to a new high of $510,000. Community nonprofits are turning modular homes that were once intended for workers in the Bakken oil fields into permanently affordable housing.

MO: Bills stall to close Missouri loophole allowing abusers to keep guns 

kansascity.com

After passing a law six years ago allowing convicted domestic abusers to carry firearms, Missouri lawmakers have stalled again on legislation that would close the loophole. 

NY: New York state, counties cut gas taxes

timesunion.com

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, suspended the state’s 16-cent-per-gallon tax June 1, which takes some of the sting out of gas prices that have risen above $4 per gallon. At least 11 counties so far have agreed to limit their local sales taxes on gasoline as well.

AL: Half of Alabama’s new teachers leave classroom within 3 years, report says

al.com

More than half of Alabama’s first-time teachers leave the classroom before the end of three years, according to a new report from the Alabama Commission on the Evaluation of Services, creating a “churning turnover” that is costly and increasingly difficult for some districts to improve.

LA: Louisiana House advances bills to ban vaccine mandates in schools, cities, Constitution

theadvertiser.com

Louisiana lawmakers are advancing bills to remove a COVID-19 vaccine from schools' shot requirements, bar governments from requiring proof of any vaccine to enter events or businesses and enshrine in the state Constitution the right for anyone to refuse a jab.

MS: Black voter strength diluted in Mississippi Supreme Court districts, federal lawsuit claims

mississippitoday.org

Black Mississippians and multiple voting rights groups filed a federal lawsuit claiming the state's three Supreme Court districts, which have not been redrawn in more than 35 years, dilute Black voter strength.

ME: Maine governor asks tribes, lawmakers to delay sovereignty bill

apnews.com

Maine Democratic Gov. Janet Mills asked tribal chiefs and legislative leaders in a letter made public to delay their effort to amend a 1980 land settlement deal that gave the state some governmental power over tribes. Mills said the far-reaching proposal to expand Wabanki sovereignty could be a setback in tribal relations with her administration.

WA: Washington is offering more college aid than ever

seattletimes.com

Washington’s colleges, higher education advocates and lawmakers are striving to get more students to college in the face of steep enrollment losses during the pandemic and a weak college culture to begin with—especially among men.

OR: Oregon ends summer steelhead hatchery

apnews.com

Wildlife officials in Oregon have voted to end a summer steelhead hatchery program after severe declines in the number of wild steelhead returning from the Pacific Ocean each summer, agency officials and environmentalists said. The 4-3 vote by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission transitions the agency to a “wild fish only” management plan in an attempt to help the genetically distinct wild summer steelhead bounce back.

AK: Alaska sees largest April wildfire in a quarter century

alaskapublic.org

The largest April wildfire in Alaska in a quarter century is burning near the community of Kwethluk on dry tundra along the lower Kuskokwim River. The Alaska Division of Forestry’s most recent estimate put the fire’s size at 9,693 acres.

MN: Native women work to break the cycle of poverty, prison in Minnesota

mprnews.org

American Indian women make up less than 1% of Minnesota’s overall population but are 20% of the state's incarcerated females. While many of the crimes that lead to jail or prison time are relatively small-time offenses, the consequences of incarcerating Native women are enormous and cascading: children separated from mothers, metastasizing family poverty, financial and psychological costs that linger for generations. 

NM: New Mexico governor makes emergency declaration for multiple wildfires

apnews.com

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, has signed emergency declarations as 20 wildfires continued to burn in nearly half of the state’s drought-stricken 33 counties.

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