What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/20
OK: Oklahoma lawmakers pass nation's most restrictive abortion law
Oklahoma is poised to implement the strictest anti-abortion law in the nation after state lawmakers gave final passage to a Texas-style ban that begins at conception. Nearly all abortions would be prohibited under the legislation that would take effect immediately upon Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt's expected signature.
US: Census miscounted the population of 14 states, review shows
The pandemic, hurricanes and political attitudes might have contributed to an undercount in six states, mostly in the South. The census likely overcounted in eight others. The conclusions come from a survey of 161,000 housing units conducted after the census was completed, a standard procedure.
NV: Nevada governor lifts COVID state of emergency
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, announced the end of the state of emergency, meeting a deadline he set earlier this month and joining at least six other states where similar orders are also expiring. The proclamation cites declining COVID-19 cases since February and substantial reductions in hospitalizations.
CT: Connecticut schools soon will be required to teach climate change
Connecticut schools soon will be required to teach climate change as a part of the science curriculum, a move state legislators and advocates say will mean changes at a small percentage of schools that aren’t yet bringing the subject to the classroom.
WA: Washington food banks test innovations as food insecurity grows
The ongoing supply chain crisis, food price inflation and rising fuel costs are putting pressure on Washington state’s food bank system. Food banks are moving away from the traditional model of offering grocery bags full of donated staples and focusing more on culturally relevant foods for ethnic communities and more fresh produce.
OH: Ohio Supreme Court upholds law slashing state funding for cities collecting traffic-camera fines
The Ohio Supreme Court unanimously upheld a 2019 state law setting financial disincentives for local governments in Ohio to use cameras to catch and fine motorists for driving infractions. The law reduces state funding to a municipality by the amount of money it bills in traffic-camera fines.
OR: Oregon's predicted 2024 kicker rebate grows to $3B
Oregon’s state economists delivered another astonishing revenue forecast, with surging tax revenues now predicted to deliver a record kicker rebate of $3 billion to taxpayers in 2024. Oregon’s unique kicker rebate is triggered when tax revenues for a biennium come in more than 2% above economists’ forecast; the state must return the above-forecast amount to taxpayers.
MI: Michigan legislature's new $2.5B plan reduces income tax, creates $500 child tax credit
A sizable cut to the personal income tax rate along with new savings for families, older adults, disabled people and others are among the key components of a sweeping new plan with a roughly $2.5 billion price tag over the next two financial years unveiled in the Michigan legislature.
HI: Investigation shows Hawaii prison officials tried to cover up errors leading up to a death
The Hawaii internal affairs report claimed staff had been trained in suicide prevention policies, and a guard made the required cell checks. Neither was true, and an inmate died.
NM: New Mexico lawmakers clash over Capitol firearms ban
Top Republicans in the New Mexico House notified legislative leaders that their staff members no longer will abide by a policy banning firearms inside the Capitol. In a letter, the three highest-ranking House Republicans cited abortion-rights protests in other parts of the country, and said any staff member working for their caucus who has a license to carry a concealed firearm will do so “if they feel their personal safety is threatened.”
MD: Maryland's blue crab population at all-time low
An annual survey of the Chesapeake Bay has found the blue crabs known as Maryland’s signature shellfish at their lowest population level since scientists began tracking the beleaguered species more than 30 years ago. The finding is expected to set off discussions about whether to tighten restrictions on crab harvests.
GA: Turnout booms in Georgia primary, led by resurgent Republicans
In Georgia’s first post-Trump primary election, unprecedented waves of voters have already swept into polling places—most of them Republicans. Early voting turnout is nearly three times as high as the last midterm primary in 2018.
TX: Law to crack down on lobbyists ensnares two former Texas House members
A 2019 law aimed at cracking down on the revolving door of lobbyists at the Texas Capitol is ensnaring two recent legislators and prompting state ethics regulators to address potential loopholes. The law says former members of the legislature cannot engage in activities that require them to register as a lobbyist if they have made a political contribution using campaign funds in the past two years.
VA: Virginia governor’s office report finds ‘alarming’ trends in K-12 performance
Virginia’s K-12 school performance is backsliding due to reduced expectations for students and schools and a lack of transparency, resulting in widening achievement gaps, according to a critical new assessment from Virginia’s superintendent of public instruction. Democrats accused the administration of selectively choosing data and failing to provide context with the numbers.
ME: Maine removes LGBTQ teaching video assailed in Republican ad
The Maine Department of Education removed from its website a video containing an LGBTQ lesson plan for kindergarten students that was the subject of a Republican ad targeting Democratic Gov. Janet Mills.