What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/28
NY: New York’s highest court throws out Democrats’ redistricting map
The New York State Court of Appeals said Democrats violated the state constitution and ignored the will of the voters when they took it upon themselves to draw new congressional and state Senate districts. The judges ordered a court-appointed expert to draw replacements.
OH: Ohio Supreme Court says state can’t extend prison sentences without asking courts
The Ohio Supreme Court struck a blow against a law that allows the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to extend incarcerated individuals’ prison sentences without asking the courts. The court sent 21 cases to lower courts for review.
CO: Colorado voters reject marijuana tax hike, 2 other statewide ballot measures
Colorado voters defeated a proposed increase to the state’s retail marijuana sales tax that would have helped fund out-of-school learning efforts. Voters also defeated measures that called for a reduction in property tax assessment rates and a requirement for all state spending to go through the legislature.
CA: Parts of Southern California could face full outdoor watering ban by September
The Metropolitan Water District said that the unprecedented decision to reduce outdoor watering to one day a week for about 6 million Southern Californians could be followed by even stricter actions in September if conditions don’t improve, including a total ban in some areas.
NJ: Secretive New Jersey golf club unlawfully banned women from playing, owning houses, state charges
New Jersey filed a civil rights complaint against the Pine Valley Golf Club, alleging “a pattern of gender-based discrimination” by the historically male-dominated club in its membership, its public accommodations, its employment and restricted housing opportunities to live on the course offered only to members.
LA: New push to ban spanking in Louisiana public schools clears House committee
A renewed bid to ban paddling and other forms of corporal punishment in Louisiana public schools won approval without objection from the House Education Committee. A similar bill failed to pass last year.
NE: Avian flu concerns claim another 2.1M Nebraska birds
Another 2.1 million hens are being euthanized at a Nebraska commercial poultry operation because of avian flu. The seventh confirmed case brings to 4.8 million the number of domestic birds euthanized in the state.
MS: Amid vetoes, Mississippi governor lets pay raises for elected officials pass
Mississippi Republican Gov. Tate Reeves has allowed large pay raises for statewide elected officials—including the governor—to pass into law without his signature amid his vetoing a handful of other measures.
DE: Delaware cancels poultry shows at state fair because of avian flu concerns
Delaware’s Department of Agriculture and State Epidemiologist Office looked at the level of avian influenza across the country this week and the risk it poses to the poultry in Delaware. They decided along with state fair officials that the risk is too high to hold poultry shows during the fair’s week-long run in July.
HI: State settles historic litigation over Hawaiian homesteads for $328M
A 23-year legal battle between the state and Native Hawaiians waiting for homestead land leases is over. Attorneys representing both sides of the landmark class-action litigation agreed to a $328 million settlement. Described as historic, the agreement comes after more than one-third of the plaintiffs, most of whom are seniors, died while waiting for a resolution.
ME: Lawmakers approve $2M to expand climate education in Maine schools
Lawmakers have approved more than $2 million in funding that would support climate education in Maine's public schools. The Climate Education Bill would establish a three-year pilot program to provide professional development funding for teachers to study climate education and bring it back to their classrooms.
CT: Connecticut governor, Democrats agree to new state budget with tax cuts
After months of hearings, deliberations and negotiations, Connecticut Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont and top Democrats announced a deal for a new $24.2 billion state budget that would cut taxes for parents, drivers, residential property owners, retirees and car owners. The overall tax-cut package would be about $500 million that both Lamont and legislators have been pushing in an election year.
MO: Missouri faces more lawsuits over lack of redistricting map
With the state’s Republican-led legislature still deadlocked on redistricting, Missouri now faces lawsuits in both federal and state court asking the judiciary to intervene and order a new U.S. House map before this summer’s primary election.
IL: Illinois governor signs measures aimed at easing ongoing teacher shortage
Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Illinois is on a “trajectory to overcome” a shortage of qualified teachers that will be further spurred with measures to increase the pool of substitutes and remove barriers for new and returning educators that he signed into law.
TN: Tennessee GOP lawmaker sparks ire with amendment to school library book bill
A last-minute amendment to give a politically appointed textbook commission final approval over books in Tennessee school libraries sparked a Capitol protest and heated debate in the legislature. The measure broadly requires that materials be "appropriate" for age and maturity levels of students, giving the panel wide-ranging authority over what is allowed.
OR: Oregon court overturns $1.1B verdict against state over management of forests
The Oregon Court of Appeals erased a $1.1. billion verdict against the state over its management of state forests, determining the Department of Forestry and its policy-setting board are not obligated to maximize timber harvests.