What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/16
US: Rural Americans keep waiting for internet
The U.S. government has spent billions of dollars on programs to upgrade internet speeds in rural areas, but many residents are still stuck with service that isn’t fast enough to do video calls or stream movies. Many communities have been targeted for broadband upgrades at least twice already, but flaws in the programs’ design have left residents wanting, the Wall Street Journal found.
SD: South Dakota's sole clinic halts abortion operations
Abortion services have stopped, at least temporarily, at South Dakota's sole Planned Parenthood clinic while the organization waits for the U.S. Supreme Court to decide the fate of Roe v. Wade.
WA: Washington state sees increase in gun sales ahead of state restrictions
Washington gun shops are reporting record sales in the weeks leading up to the state’s ban on firearm magazines with more than 10 rounds. The uptick in sales comes as recent mass shootings—including the massacre at an Uvalde, Texas, school and the racist shooting in Buffalo, New York—have renewed calls for more gun restrictions.
MS: New death penalty law sets Mississippi apart with more leeway in methods of execution
Mississippi's Department of Corrections will have more flexibility in choosing execution methods, including firing squads or the electric chair, when Mississippi's new death penalty law takes effect July 1.
CO: Federal officials ignore Colorado governor’s plea to stop capturing wild horses
Federal officials will begin capturing hundreds of mustangs roaming in far northwestern Colorado this week, dismissing a request from Democratic Gov. Jared Polis to halt roundups while the state and U.S. Bureau of Land Management find a “more humane” option for managing wild horses.
WI: Judge calls for discipline of Wisconsin GOP election probe leader after 'misogynistic' comments
Former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman could face discipline from state officials after he berated a county judge and a female attorney in a court hearing while refusing to answer their questions. The judge also ordered Gableman to be fined $2,000 per day until he proves that he has produced records related to his taxpayer-funded review of the 2020 election.
MN: To tackle maternal health disparities, one Minnesota insurer looks to doula care
A free, four-day doula training is organized by Everyday Miracles, a nonprofit based in Minneapolis that helps Minnesota clients connect with doulas. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, the state's largest nonprofit health insurer, pays for the program. The training is aimed at recruiting more doulas of color.
OK: Tax cuts totaling $500M approved by Oklahoma House
Sales and income tax reductions totaling around $500 million passed out of the Oklahoma House but might not get a hearing in the Senate. Meeting in special session, the House passed a series of measures offering variations on two themes—eliminating the state sales tax on groceries and reducing the state's income tax rates.
NC: North Carolina House may not vote soon on bill banning LGBTQ instruction in K-3 classrooms
A bill restricting LGBTQ instruction in elementary schools might not be taken up by the North Carolina House in the remaining few weeks of the legislative session, GOP Speaker Tim Moore said. Republicans won’t rush to pass the bill if they don’t have enough Democratic support to circumvent a likely veto from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, and as of now, they don’t, he said.
SC: South Carolina lawmakers pass historic spending plan headlined by $1B rebate, income tax cuts
A $1 billion tax rebate for South Carolina residents included in the state budget that could provide up to $800 for some income taxpayers is headed to the governor’s desk for official approval.
OH: Ohio court to decide whether mental health service providers should be liable for patient's suicide
The Ohio Supreme Court will decide whether those providing mental health services are immune from lawsuits if their patients kill or harm themselves. The case stems from southwest Ohio, where a woman filed a lawsuit after her 30-year-old son killed himself at a county jail. He had been arrested for not complying with mental health treatment, a condition of his probation.
NV: Election skeptic wins GOP race for Nevada secretary of state
A former state lawmaker who has been repeating the false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump won the Republican nomination for Nevada secretary of state, the office that oversees elections in the perennial presidential battleground.
CA: US Supreme Court limits California labor law that allows private suits against employers
In a victory for California employers, the U.S. Supreme Court sharply limited a state labor law that has authorized private lawsuits on behalf of groups of workers, even if they had agreed to resolve their disputes through individual arbitration.
AR: Court hears arguments on Arkansas trans youth treatment ban
An attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union urged a federal appeals court to continue blocking Arkansas' ban on gender-confirming treatments or surgery for children, saying reinstating the restriction would create uncertainty for families. Arkansas was the first state to enact such a ban, which also prohibits doctors from referring youths elsewhere for such medical care.
NJ: New Jersey residents would get bigger property tax rebates under plan announced by governor, top Dems
More than two million New Jersey homeowners and renters would see more property tax relief in the coming year—a total of $2 billion—under an updated plan Gov. Phil Murphy and his fellow Democrats who lead the state legislature unveiled as they appeared a step closer to striking a deal on a state budget for the new fiscal year.
NE: Nebraska governor, wife test positive for COVID
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican, and his wife have tested positive for COVID-19. Ricketts said both he and his wife, Susanne Shore, have "very minor symptoms” and will self-isolate in accordance with federal guidelines.
MT: Montana governor overseas amid state’s flooding crisis
The office of GOP Gov. Greg Gianforte has refused to say where he is as historic floods ravage southern Montana. A spokesperson has said only that Gianforte left the country last week on a “long-scheduled personal trip” with his wife, Susan Gianforte. But the office has declined to say what country Gianforte is visiting or when the governor will be back in Montana.