What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/29
AR: Arkansas governor to stick with Medicaid expansion despite adverse ruling on work requirement
Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he has urged Trump administration officials to appeal a federal judge's order blocking Arkansas's first-in-the-nation Medicaid work requirement.
WA: Washington state poised to raise age for buying tobacco and vaping products
The legal age for buying tobacco and vaping products in Washington state will rise to 21 next year, after the Senate handily approved a measure targeting addiction and the rising popularity of tobacco products among teens. The bill passed the state House earlier this year and now goes to Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature.
AK: Alaska’s governor wants to give more cash to residents — and cut public services
Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy is traveling across Alaska this week to sell residents on his plan for deep budget cuts, including three constitutional amendments that would curb future government growth and require majority approval by voters on any new statewide taxes, cuts that are necessary to continue funding the state’s oil dividends paid to each resident, he says.
ID: A federal court ruling shook up Idaho Senate’s hearing on Medicaid
A federal court’s ruling on Medicaid work requirements in other states threw Idaho lawmakers for a loop — coming in the middle of a hearing on that very topic. As a result, an Idaho Senate committee rejected a House bill that would have implemented work requirements there.
NJ: Whistleblower alleges company lied about leaving New Jersey to get tax incentives
The company, a major tax preparation firm, received a $2.8 million state incentive grant when it threatened to leave the state and take jobs out of New Jersey. A former top executive of the firm said the threat to leave the state was a lie. Her testimony kicked off the start of a series of public hearings by a governor’s task force into the state’s highly controversial tax incentives program.
VT: Vermont legislature looks at two paths to protecting abortion rights
The Vermont Senate is starting the arduous process of adding the right to have an abortion — broadly contained in a right to "personal reproductive autonomy" — to the state constitution. Meanwhile, the House has sent to the Senate a bill that would create a law that recognized abortion rights in state law.
NH: New Hampshire Senate approves anti-discrimination in schools bill
Advocates for transgender students said while New Jersey’s 2018 anti-discrimination law protects them against bias in housing, employment and public accommodation, the state’s new civil rights unit in the attorney general’s office does not have the power to bring a cause of action on bias complaints in schools.
CO: Red flag bill clears Colorado Senate
The Colorado Senate has passed a so-called red flag gun bill, moving the measure within a step of Democratic Gov. Jared Polis’ desk, where he’s expected to sign it into law. The bill would allow judges to order the temporary seizure of firearms from people deemed a significant risk to themselves or others. No Republicans voted “yes” on the legislation.
IA: Iowa House overwhelmingly passes felon voting rights constitutional amendment
The Iowa House overwhelmingly passed a proposed constitutional amendment that would restore voting rights for felons who have completed their sentences, a major step forward for one of Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds' key priorities.
NM: New Mexico blocks right-to-work ordinances
New Mexico is prohibiting local governments from enacting right-to-work ordinances that prevent employees from being required to join a union or pay union fees. Ordinances have been approved by several counties in New Mexico that prevent employees from being required to join a union or pay related fees. Union leaders contend the local ordinances created confusion and undermined the labor groups.
NY: Plastic bags to be banned in New York state
New York state lawmakers have agreed to impose a statewide ban on most types of single-use plastic bags from retail sales. The ban would forbid stores to provide customers with single-use plastic bags, which are nonbiodegradable and have been blamed for everything from causing gruesome wildlife deaths to thwarting recycling efforts.
MA: Massachusetts lawmakers pass gay conversion therapy ban
The legislation, approved by both the House and the Senate, would bar health care providers in Massachusetts from attempting or advertising to change the “sexual orientation and gender identity” of any patient younger than 18. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker says he is inclined to support it.
MD: Maryland General Assembly overrides governor's vetoes of $15 minimum wage
Maryland’s General Assembly took swift action to override Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill that will gradually increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour. The override of the minimum wage bill was never in question and came by wide margins: 96-43 in the House of Delegates, followed by a 32-15 vote in the Senate. It takes 29 votes to override in the Senate and 85 in the House.
GA: Georgia House, Senate approve record budget with raises
The Georgia House and Senate gave final approval to a record $27.5 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year, including raises for more than 200,000 teachers and state workers. Teachers will get a $3,000 pay raise, while tens of thousands of state and University System of Georgia employees will see 2 percent increases.
HI: Hawaii lawmakers approve $16B budget for fiscal 2020, 2021
Hawaii state House and Senate legislators approved a two-year operating budget calling for hundreds of millions of dollars for state employee retirement and health benefits and other monies to address major disasters, fight invasive species and maintain highways. The budget approval comes about a month earlier than usual in the legislative session.