What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/15
SC: South Carolina women who get abortions could face the death penalty under proposed bill
The South Carolina Pre-Natal Equal Protection Act, which has 16 co-sponsors, would “afford equal protection of the laws to all preborn children from the moment of fertilization,” and reclassify any act that ends a pregnancy as “willful prenatal homicide.” An abortion could be punished like any murder, leading to sentences of 30 years in prison up to the death penalty.
NM: Bill to expand voting rights heads to New Mexico’s governor
The bill would require ballot drop boxes in every New Mexico county, restore the right to vote for someone convicted of a felony once released from a correctional facility and enact the Native American Voting Rights Act, which includes measures to expand early voting opportunities, boost resources and change precinct boundaries. Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is expected to sign the legislation.
MI: Michigan Senate Democrats pass bills repealing right-to-work law
Democratic lawmakers in the Michigan Senate passed legislation to repeal the state’s right-to-work law. Critics say the law has led to stagnant wages and weakened protections for workers in the state. Michigan could become the first in nearly 60 years to repeal its law.
OK: Oklahoma House bid to ban physical punishment of students with disabilities fails
An effort to outlaw the use of corporal punishment on students with disabilities narrowly failed in the Oklahoma House. It would have prohibited school staff from using corporal punishment, defined as hitting, paddling, spanking, slapping or any other physical force used as a means of discipline, on any student with a disability.
OH: Ohio sues Norfolk Southern over East Palestine train derailment
Ohio is suing Norfolk Southern Railway after one of its trains derailed in East Palestine with toxic chemicals on board, Republican Attorney General Dave Yost announced. The 58-count lawsuit filed in federal court is the strongest rebuke of Norfolk Southern since a train spilled hazardous materials into the air, water and soil in February, rattling the small village of 4,700 along the Ohio-Pennsylvania border.
NY: New York Senate proposes minimum wage hike higher than governor’s
A minimum wage hike that goes beyond New York Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposal to combat paycheck stagnation has been included in the state Senate’s budget — a signal that it might be an important bargaining tool as final budget negotiations begin in earnest.
OR: White, male state workers in Oregon out-earn workers of color and women
Across Oregon, White and male state employees out-earn workers of color and women, and raises given in 2019 and 2022 under a new “pay equity” law widened rather than narrowed the racial pay gap.
MD: Maryland legislature nears passage of bill to send abortion constitutional amendment to voters
With overwhelming support thus far in the House and Senate, passage of a measure to create an abortion rights referendum in Maryland appears very likely. Democratic Gov. Wes Moore supports the measure, but his approval is not necessary.
KS: Kansas lawmakers could get an overdue raise
The Kansas legislature is taking steps that could lead to a long-awaited pay raise for lawmakers — but only after a new, independent body favors it. For at least two decades, the pay for Kansas legislators has remained near $22,000 a year, plus generous pensions.
MT: Political parties differ on how to tackle Montana workforce housing shortage
A proposal from Montana Democrats would establish a trust fund that would subsidize affordable housing development for lower income people in the state.Another bill, from GOP lawmakers, would take a different approach to the workforce housing issue by providing incentives to businesses to provide housing for employees.
IA: Iowa Senate passes higher penalties for stalkers who use GPS to track victims
The Iowa Senate unanimously passed legislation that would raise criminal penalties on people convicted of stalking using a technological device such as a phone.
NV: Proposal to limit background checks on tenants resurfaces after former Nevada governor’s veto
Several formerly incarcerated people — telling Nevada lawmakers that either overpriced housing or rejection of their rental applications were major roadblocks to their reintegration into society — are backing a bill to rein in landlords running background checks on prospective tenants.
GA: Bill to limit treatment for transgender youth passes Georgia House panel
A measure to prohibit medical professionals from giving transgender children certain hormones or surgical treatment passed a Georgia House panel on a party-line vote.
MN: Minnesota Senate passes bill for universal school breakfast and lunch
Minnesota schools are poised to offer free lunches and breakfasts to all students under a bill passed by the state Senate. The bill now heads back to the House, where a version already has passed but must be taken up again because its language was amended.
WI: Wisconsin Assembly approves bill to require police officers in schools experiencing high crime
Wisconsin Assembly lawmakers passed legislation that would require police officers to be stationed in public schools experiencing high numbers of reported crimes. The bill is supported by the Milwaukee and statewide police unions and opposed by Milwaukee Public Schools, the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin, Disability Rights Wisconsin and groups representing school psychologists and social workers.