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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/24

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/24

OH: Ohio creates program to cut racial disparities in maternal and infant mortality

cleveland.com

The Ohio Department of Medicaid launched Comprehensive Maternal Care, a community-based, statewide program aimed at improving the health and well-being of moms, infants and families, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine announced. Although only 13.2% of Ohio women are Black, 34% of the maternal deaths in the nine-year span were of Black women.

OR: Oregon launches free legal help line for people seeking abortions

opb.org

The Oregon Department of Justice and various law firms in the state announced a hotline that will provide advice for people seeking access to abortions. The Oregon Reproductive Rights Hotline will offer free guidance for people who need medical treatment and may not be familiar with Oregon’s laws.

CT: Connecticut governor proposes major gun legislation package 

courant.com 

With political momentum from his reelection victory, Connecticut Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont proposed a major package of gun control legislation that includes banning the open carry of guns in public places and eliminating bulk purchasing of handguns. Although Connecticut has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, Lamont and supporters said it is not enough. 

UT: Utah state school board opposes voucher bill in surprising vote

sltrib.com

In a significant move, the Utah school board voted to stand against the voucher bill currently rushing through the state legislature that would allow students to use public funding to attend private schools.

NJ: Mail-in ballots in New Jersey may soon include prepaid postage

nj.com

New Jersey lawmakers have begun advancing a pair of bipartisan proposals that would requires all applications to receive mail-in ballots and the ballots themselves to include prepaid postage in the Garden State, with the state government covering the costs.

PA: Pennsylvania law doesn’t require governor to disclose who paid for inaugural festivities

post-gazette.com

The refusal thus far of Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro to disclose who paid for his glitzy inaugural bash has exposed a gap in state law that lets governors in Pennsylvania escape the kind of transparency that is sometimes required elsewhere. States like Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey have laws that require disclosure of donors who give over $200 to inaugural celebrations.

MD: Biden proposes rail tunnel to solve Maryland bottleneck woes

baltimoresun.com

President Joe Biden will return to Maryland to tout federal funding to replace the roughly 150-year-old Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel, a project the administration says will address the largest bottleneck for rail commuters between Washington, D.C., and New Jersey.

MN: Minnesota, seen as abortion haven, still funds anti-abortion ‘crisis pregnancy centers’

mprnews.org

Since 2005, Minnesota has given over $3 million in taxpayer money every grant cycle to 25 “crisis pregnancy centers,” which are non-medical anti-abortion organizations, under the “positive alternatives grant,” a program created by former GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty. With Democrats now in charge, Gov. Tim Walz says he’s ready to end the program, citing misinformation.

NY: New York Republicans partially support Democratic governor’s bail overhaul package

timesunion.com

New York Republicans this week offered, at least in part, their support for Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposal to provide more discretion to judges when they are determining whether to set bail for someone accused of a “serious crime.”

CO: Has Colorado’s housing problem outgrown local control? A statewide plan takes shape.

denverpost.com

As Colorado lawmakers reconvene with housing top of mind, state leaders and a constellation of groups urging them on hope to wrest some control of development from cities and counties, risking clashes with local officials in a bid to spur denser and more affordable growth.

CA: Caltrans wants millions more dollars to clear thousands of California homeless encampments

sacbee.com

The California Department of Transportation says it is struggling to keep up with the number of homeless encampments popping up on its properties and is seeking millions of dollars to help clear them.

WA: Washington state lawmakers take aim at parking enforcement for vehicle dwellers

seattletimes.com

A Washington work group wants to prevent vehicles that are lived in from being towed and increase the chances that homeless people in the state can recover vehicles and belongings that are towed. The recommendations, which the state’s Senate Housing Committee heard last week, come more than a year after a state Supreme Court ruling that carved out certain property rights for people living out of vehicles that have been impounded.

TX: Texas Senate leader unveils committee assignments with one Democratic chair

texastribune.org

Texas Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced Senate committee assignments, keeping his key lieutenants in leadership positions. And despite pressure from conservative GOP activists to ban members of the minority party from leading committees, which is customary in Texas, Patrick reappointed Democratic state Sen. John Whitmire to chair the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

FL: Florida governor wants legislature to allocate an additional $200M for teacher pay 

miamiherald.com 

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis announced an education plan that, if approved by state lawmakers, would increase teacher salaries, change how teacher unions operate and revamp how teacher compensation packages would be negotiated in the state. 

MI: Michigan fireworks law being revisited to prevent local disturbances

mlive.com

Democrats in the Michigan Senate are aiming to tighten the state’s fireworks law following complaints of disturbances in local communities. The proposal would decrease the number of days Michigan residents are able to discharge fireworks from 12 or 13 days down to 8 or 9, with even stricter regulations that could potentially go into effect in highly populated areas.

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