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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/27 – The Pew Charitable Trusts

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Lawyers for Texas and the Justice Department sparred at the U.S. Supreme Court over the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy that keeps asylum-seeking migrants outside the United States. Texas and Missouri have twice stymied President Joe Biden’s attempts to scrap that policy, asserting that doing so would allow tens of thousands of people with “meritless immigration claims” into the country.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ battle with The Walt Disney Co. could involve breaking a promise Florida made to bondholders, opening the door to lawsuits from investors and complicating the GOP’s push to punish what they call a “woke” corporation. DeSantis signed legislation last week to abolish in 2023 a special improvement district that effectively allows Disney to self-govern its properties. 
A two-thirds majority of the Kansas Senate voted to override Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto on a bill banning transgender students from girls sports as well as a bill ensuring parents can view and challenge classroom content. However, the state House may not have enough votes to do the same. 
A pair of Nevada judges struck what appeared to be fatal blows to proposed GOP-backed voting initiatives, invalidating efforts to roll back the Democrat-backed universal vote by mail law passed in 2021 and a measure implementing voter identification requirements.
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association reversed its position regarding athletes wearing hair beads after a firestorm erupted inside Section II track circles on the subject. Board officers voted unanimously in favor of putting a moratorium on enforcing a rule prohibiting hair adornments until the organization’s governing body can meet to discuss the matter further.
The Tennessee legislature approved a bill that would preempt local governments from taking action that would prohibit fossil fuel development or expansion. The bill, which Republican Gov. Bill Lee is expected to sign, does not define what a prohibitive action is—and energy experts said it could allow fossil fuel companies to intimidate local governments with lawsuits to fast-track construction.
California’s auditor outlined what the state should do to combat bias and misconduct among cops and prison guards—starting with a clearer definition of the word “bias.”
The State Election Board has issued subpoenas to find out whether there’s substance behind accusations of a ballot collection scheme in the 2020 election in Georgia.
A Louisiana House committee approved occupational licensing changes designed to help previously incarcerated individuals and improve the licensing process.
This past session the Mississippi legislature gave $10 million to K-12 private schools even though the state constitution appears to be one of the few in the nation to prohibit the practice of providing public money to private schools.
A last-minute push by state lawmakers has succeeded in securing money that would be used to hire Maine’s first public defenders. Maine lawmakers want to spend nearly $966,000 to establish a “rural public defender unit” to travel to courts across the state and provide direct legal representation to defendants who cannot afford to hire their own lawyer.
While other states that legalized adult-use marijuana have created systems by which prior marijuana convictions are automatically cleared, attorneys say Montana’s method is unnecessarily cumbersome, which means few people are actually pursuing expungement.  
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, is expected to sign a bill that would require most gas stations to begin offering 15% ethanol blended fuel, known as E15, in 2026. The final version of the proposal includes a waiver for Iowa’s smallest gas stations, and state grants to help upgrade infrastructure to support E15.
Arizona may become the fourth state to oversee how power companies dispose of toxic coal ash under a bill Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, signed into law. The bill allows the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to develop a program to regulate the waste, taking control away from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, a Republican, is extending the taxpayer-funded contract of the former state Supreme Court justice leading a review of the 2020 election—a decision announced a day after former President Donald Trump sought to intimidate Vos by threatening a successful primary challenge if the review did not continue. 
Upcoming changes to Washington state laws on language access in K-12 public schools will raise the standards for school families who need interpretation. The new law, signed by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee last month, aims to set criteria for interpretation for families at schools so they can better advocate for their children’s needs.
The U.S. Interior Department has issued a decision to limit roughly half the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska to oil and gas leasing, rolling back a Trump-era policy criticized by conservationists that would have vastly expanded lands available for potential development. The plan would prevent oil and gas development in areas considered important for sensitive bird populations and the Teshekpuk and Western Arctic caribou herds. 
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