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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/23

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/23

PA: Pennsylvania legislature comes to complete halt

inquirer.com

The Pennsylvania General Assembly has stopped working. The state Senate recessed last week until Feb. 27. The House has no plans to return, hasn’t set rules or even set committee chairs as both parties struggle for power in a razor-thin majority. Instead, the new House speaker will lead a “listening tour” around the state.

US: National abortion legislation stalls, leaving issue to states this year

wsj.com

A push by the White House and Democratic lawmakers who support abortion rights to renew protections for the procedure is expected to stall in Congress along with Republicans’ efforts to further limit abortion access. That will leave the issue largely determined by states, as the Supreme Court intended when it overturned Roe v. Wade in June.

TX: Texas bill would bar land purchases by citizens and foreign entities from 4 countries

texastribune.org

The bill would ban citizens and foreign entities from China, Iran, North Korea and Russia from buying Texas land. The bill also would prohibit the purchase or acquisition of property by a “governmental entity” of the four countries; by a company headquartered in the four countries; and by a company “directly or indirectly controlled” by a government of the four countries.

IL: Illinois poised to require paid leave for workers

chicagotribune.com 

Paid time off would be a mandatory benefit for Illinois workers under a bill on Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker’s desk that represents the latest high-profile measure passed by the Democratic General Assembly to expand workers’ rights. Pritzker has said he plans to sign the measure, which would make Illinois one of more than a dozen states with paid-leave policies. 

MI: As egg prices soar, some Michiganders decide to raise their own chickens

freep.com

Some Michiganders are tired of waiting for egg prices to drop. At least one municipality is considering changing its ordinance to allow residents to keep food-producing pets, including chickens and bees.

MA: Outgoing Massachusetts governor tapped 170 to state boards and commissions

bostonglobe.com

In the weeks before he left Beacon Hill, former Maryland Republican Gov. Charlie Baker installed nearly 170 people on state boards and commissions, moves that could extend the Republican’s influence for years even as his Democratic successor seeks to make her imprint on the state’s bureaucracy. Many of the positions are unpaid.

NY: Half a million New Yorkers may get relief for unpaid utility bills

timesunion.com

More than a half-million New York households and businesses, regardless of their incomes, will get a pass on unpaid utility bills as part of a COVID-19 relief package dating to 2020 and approved earlier this week by the state Public Service Commission.

NE: Nebraska state employees get biggest raise in 35 years

omaha.com

More than 8,000 Nebraska state employees would see the highest salary increases in more than 35 years under a tentative two-year contract agreement negotiated through their union.

MD: Maryland Democratic governor unveils first state budget

marylandmatters.org

Maryland Democratic Gov. Wes Moore unveiled his first state budget, a $63.1 billion spending plan that includes increases for education and transportation programs, no new taxes and legislative initiatives intended to create a more “competitive and equitable economy” in the state.

IN: Indiana an unlikely hotbed of political drama

politico.com

A potential Republican Senate primary matchup between Indiana Rep. Jim Banks — a staunch conservative who’s often focused on social issues — and former two-term Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels has party operatives and officials bracing for an epic ideological battle.

TN: Tennessee cuts HIV program with Planned Parenthood ties

apnews.com 

Top Tennessee health officials attempted to oust Planned Parenthood from a program designed to prevent and treat HIV before eventually deciding to forgo federal funding for the program, despite warnings that doing so will have a devastating impact on marginalized communities, documents show.

MN: Minnesota eviction filings soared in 2022 and continue into new year

startribune.com

In 2022, 18,855 evictions were filed in Minnesota courts, the first step in the process, compared with 15,457 in 2019. But to the surprise of many, eviction filings remained higher than pre-pandemic levels throughout the last six months of 2022, leaping again in December and showing no signs of letting up in January — a time of year when filings usually drop.

CA: LAPD ban of ‘thin blue line’ flags is latest salvo in culture war

latimes.com

Along with banning the flag from station lobbies, the Los Angeles Police Department order includes patches on uniforms and bumper stickers on police vehicles. The police chief said the flag’s original meaning of support for police had been overshadowed when it began appearing at rallies for the Proud Boys and other far-right extremist groups. Violators could face discipline.

WA: Washington lawmakers start remake of drug possession laws

seattletimes.com

Two proposals emerged to update how Washington state law deals with possession of illicit drugs, a quandary since the Washington Supreme Court struck down the state’s drug possession statute as unconstitutional in early 2021. While the two bills differ, both would make drug possession a gross misdemeanor, a step up from its current misdemeanor status, and would involve more formal nudges to get people who are charged with drug possession into treatment.

LA: Louisiana insurance commissioner makes case for special session on homeowner’s policy crisis

lailluminator.com 

Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon met resistance from legislators as he pitched them on a February special session to fund an insurance incentive program meant to keep homeowners’ costs under control. Louisiana has seen several insurance companies go under or leave the state, and the collapse of the market is dumping more homeowners’ policies on the state’s insurer of last resort and driving up housing costs.

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