State of the States - Apr'22
Forty states have finished redrawing their congressional maps (excluding the six states with only one congressional district), with the most recent being Florida — although controversy still swirls around the maps. Four states are left in the redistricting process: Kansas, Missouri, New Hampshire and New York. In other headlines, there have been various developments in education, voting, medical cannabis, and environmental laws. Jump into the latest legislation news to stay up-to-date!
Voting rights groups are suing Florida over the new congressional maps that favor Republicans and eliminate two districts that help elect Black lawmakers. The maps were submitted by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and approved by the Republican-controlled state legislature. On April 22, the redistricting plan was signed into law.
On April 5, Georgia’s General Assembly approved a $30.2 billion spending plan for the coming year. State legislatures also signed off on cutting state income taxes and raising lawmaker pensions.
A state court on April 25 rejected a newly drawn congressional map as an unconstitutional gerrymander. The 29th Judicial District Court said that Republicans state legislators had created “intentional and effective” partisan and racial gerrymanders.
Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed a charter school funding bill on April 7, sending it back to the Republican-dominated legislature. Beshear said House Bill 9 would pull needed funds away from public schools and that its proposed funding mechanism may also be unconstitutional.
The Republican-controlled state legislature voted to override Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’s veto of the congressional map passed by the legislature in February. The new map will preserve the current partisan split of five strongly Republican seats and one solidly Democratic, majority-Black seat.
On April 4, Gov. Larry Hogan signed into law a new congressional map from the General Assembly. Democrats had enacted a different map in December, but a state judge threw it out on March 25 for extreme gerrymandering.
Missouri lawmakers from both parties agree that court intervention is needed to break the ongoing stalemate in the congressional redistricting process. Two lawsuits have been filed over the General Assembly’s inability to redraw the state’s eight congressional districts.
House Republicans proposed a new congressional map on April 25. Shortly after, Gov. Chris Sununu released a statement saying that it still won’t get his approval because the map isn’t competitive enough.
A proposal to improve Maine’s utilities is back on track with a compromise bill working its way through the state Legislature. Under the proposal, utility companies would be required to regularly demonstrate that they meet basic standards and state regulators will be given more authority.
On April 26, the New York Court of Appeals heard oral arguments over the congressional redistricting map previously enacted by the legislature and thrown out by a lower court judge on April 21.
The North Carolina General Assembly returns to session on May 18, among the pending topics is medical cannabis legalization, which recent polls show strong voter support. Lawmakers will also make a decision on what to do with hemp and CBD products when current laws expire.
On April 14, the Ohio Supreme Court ordered the Ohio Redistricting Commission to submit new maps by the morning of May 6. A federal three-judge panel has said it will step in on May 28 if new maps aren’t approved.
State of the States Summary
Although we’re getting closer to finishing the redistricting process, there’s still a ways to go. Kansas, Missouri, New Hampshire and New York are up in the air because of partisanship conflict, despite impending primary elections and court pressure. In addition to redistricting turmoil, hot-button issues in education, voting, and cannabis legalization are keeping state legislatures busy.
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