We’ve been covering what happens in state legislatures for a long time now. One of the most refreshing parts of the beat is that state legislatures tend to be less partisan than Congress, where party labels mean everything. One of the most depressing parts is that Washington’s partisanship seems to be filtering down into the states, more and more.
So let’s take a moment to appreciate Connecticut, where lawmakers adjourned what has been hailed as a feel-good session.
“This was probably the most amenable session,” state Sen. Eric Berthel (R), who represents the most conservative district in a very liberal state, told the Associated Press. He was one of a large group of Republicans who voted with Democrats to pass the state budget.
House Speaker Matt Ritter (R) contrasted the good vibes with partisan rancor that’s broken out in Oregon, where the state Senate hasn’t been able to meet for six weeks in the midst of a Republican walk-out.
“We sent a message that there’s a way to do it and we’re going to do it again next year,” Ritter told colleagues as session closed Tuesday.
Of course, everything is easier when legislatures get to deal with massive budget surpluses, rather than crushing debts. So the good times may not always win out. But credit to Democrats and Republicans in Connecticut, and happy sine die.
Here are nine other things you might have missed in the states this week:
TECHNOLOGY: Lawmakers in Illinois, Minnesota, Texas and Washington have approved bills this year cracking down on deepfake videos, often pornographic in nature or used to try to influence elections. The bills vary widely, but some allow victims to sue for damages, and others require creators to include disclosure statements on their videos. More than two dozen bills related to so-called synthetic media were introduced in legislatures in nine states this year. (Pluribus News)
An Ohio Senate committee has approved legislation to create a new criminal charge of using a device or app to track a person without their consent. At least 26 other states and the District of Columbia have passed bills relating to AirTags and other tracking devices. (Cleveland Plain Dealer) The Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a similar bill. (Pennsylvania Capital-Star)
ENVIRONMENT: Virginia’s Air Pollution Control Board voted Wednesday to leave the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a consortium of Northeastern states that use quarterly auctions to sell carbon dioxide allowances. The exit fulfills a key campaign promise Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) made two years ago, though environmental groups protested that the move would increase emissions and costs for consumers. (Pluribus News)
REDISTRICTING: The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a challenge to Alabama’s congressional district lines, ordering the state to create a second district with a substantial Black population. The 5-4 decision, authored by Chief Justice John Roberts and joined by conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh and the three liberal justices, found the state likely violated the Voting Rights Act by drawing only one Black-majority seat and six white-majority seats. (AL.com)
Hard to overstate the political earthquake on this one: The decision could lead to redrawn U.S. House maps in Louisiana, Georgia, North Carolina and potentially other Southern states. Read smart takes on the decision from David Wasserman, SCOTUSblog and Rick Hasen.
RIGHT TO REPAIR: Michigan’s House Agriculture Committee heard testimony over legislation that would require agricultural equipment makers to provide diagnostics, maintenance documents, tools and parts available to owners and independent repair shops. The right-to-repair legislation has bipartisan sponsors in the House and Senate. (Bridge MI) At least 16 states have introduced right-to-repair legislation this year.
LGBTQ RIGHTS: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has signed legislation banning gender-affirming care for minors, making Texas the 18th state to do so. The ban extends to puberty blockers and hormone therapies, and those who are currently on such treatments will be “weaned off,” the bill says. (Texas Tribune) Alaska’s education department is moving to ban transgender students from sports leagues that conform to their gender identity. (Anchorage Daily News)
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) has signed legislation banning gender-affirming care for minors and preventing transgender girls and women from participating on female sports teams. The care bill also bans Medicaid from covering gender-affirming care for adults. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said Thursday he will veto a package of bills banning gender-affirming care and school discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity. Republicans hold veto-proof majorities in both chambers of the legislature. (Baton Rouge Advocate, Associated Press)
GUN POLITICS: Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) has signed legislation banning the manufacture, possession or sale of unserialized firearms or firearm parts, known as ghost guns. (Colorado Sun) Hawaii Gov. Josh Green (D) has signed legislation banning guns from “sensitive locations,” including state buildings, public transportation and businesses that serve alcohol. He signed a bill requiring schools to conduct active shooter drills. (Hawaii News Now)
Illinois lawmakers have approved a bill expanding and extending a probation program for first-time offenders charged with illegally possessing a firearm. The bill passed with bipartisan support, as some Republicans worry the state’s strict gun laws could ensnare otherwise law-abiding residents. (Chicago Tribune)
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) signed legislation extending the state’s assault weapons ban, banning open carry of firearms and barring the possession of so-called ghost guns. The bill also extends safe-storage laws to all firearm owners. (Hartford Courant)
PRIVACY: Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) has signed legislation shielding personal information of some elected officials, judges and law enforcement officers from being released in public records. The bill also creates a legal offense of “doxing” — disseminating personal or identifying data online with malicious intent. (Yellowhammer News)
Colorado Gov. Polis has signed legislation allowing elected officials to ban people from their private social media pages, a first-of-its-kind law certain to be challenged in court. (Denver Post)
HEALTH CARE: Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen (R) has signed legislation capping the out-of-pocket costs of prescription insulin at $35 per month. Nebraska becomes the 24th state, plus Washington, D.C., to cap insulin costs. (KLKN)
POLITICS: Busy week for current and former governors running for president: Former Vice President Mike Pence (R) filed papers to run on Monday, ahead of a planned Wednesday kickoff. (Associated Press) Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) launched his bid Tuesday at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire. (Associated Press)
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) released a video previewing his Wednesday entrance into the race. (Twitter) New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) is a no go. Writing in The Washington Post, Sununu said the path to winning was clear, but that it is more important for him to stop former President Donald Trump from winning the nomination.
Former state Sen. Mike Johnston (D) won election to become Denver’s next mayor, replacing three-term incumbent Michael Hancock. Johnston bested former Chamber of Commerce CEO Kelly Brough in a battle between two moderates who emerged from the 16-candidate field in the April primary. (Denver Post)
The executive director of the Nevada Commission on Ethics has recommended a $1.7 million ethics penalty, and possible censure, for Gov. Joe Lombardo (R) for wearing his badge and uniform as Clark County Sheriff in campaign photos and social media posts during his campaign last year. Lombardo’s attorneys say there is no state law barring a sheriff from wearing a badge and uniform in campaign materials. (Associated Press)
No, this is not a repeat: Hawaii Gov. Josh Green (D) has come to the aid of another traffic accident victim, this time a man on Kauai who was ejected from the bed of a pickup truck. Green assessed the man for a concussion before paramedics arrived. (Honolulu Star-Advertiser)
Green helped a victim of a rollover accident on Hawaii Island in May, and on Memorial Day he came to the aid of a woman suffering an apparent seizure. Basically, if you’re in medical trouble in Hawaii, the governor is going to save you.