State of the States - Jul'22
While every state now has a new congressional map set for the 2022 midterm elections, Alabama and Louisiana are being challenged in the courts as illegal gerrymanders. Numerous legislation developments continue in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Other issues happening in state legislatures around the country include voting rights, gun control, budgets, school vouchers, and more. See our round-up of government affairs updates to stay informed!
The Brennen Center for Justice filed an amicus brief in Merrill v. Milligan, alleging that Alabama’s congressional maps dilute voting power and representation of Black voters in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear the case later this fall.
Planned Parenthood Arizona said in a legal filing that the courts need to “harmonize” the state's two different abortion laws. After the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, Attorney General Mark Brnovich reinstated an almost complete ban from over a century ago. In March, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law a law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Arkansas supporters submitted signatures as they seek to legalize recreational marijuana and scale back casino gambling. The recreational marijuana proposal allows people 21 and up to possess up to one ounce of cannabis. The proposed amendment for gambling restrictions looks to withdraw Pope County as one of the counties where a casino is allowed, repealing part of the state’s 2018 casino gambling amendment.
Leaders of Indiana’s Republican-controlled Senate proposed banning abortion with limited exceptions amid controversy over a 10-year-old rape victim who came to the state from Ohio to end her pregnancy. The proposal will be discussed during a special legislative session scheduled to begin July 25. The Indiana proposal would allow exceptions to the ban in cases of rape, incest, or to protect the mother’s life.
Following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, court battles over abortion laws continue in Louisiana. Currently, an abortion clinic is challenging the state ban on abortions. Redistricting The U.S. Supreme Court placed a temporary hold on a Louisiana lower court's order for the creation of a second majority Black congressional district until the high court rules next term in Alabama’s new congressional map.
Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court upholds new mail-in voting law, the VOTES Act. State legislature Republicans argue that this law violates the state constitution. This act makes “no excuse” mail-in ballots and early voting permanent in order to increase ballot access for voters with disabilities, service members overseas, and incarcerated individuals.
Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the last piece of a $76 billion state budget into law and vetoed money that Republicans used toward anti-abortion causes. Whitmer's vetoes largely focused on anti-abortion items and totaled about $20 million in spending cuts.
Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a Mississippi abortion clinic, ended a lawsuit seeking to block the state from enforcing a law that bans most abortions. Rob McDuff, a Mississippi Center for Justice attorney representing the clinic says, “If the clinic is not in a position to reopen in Mississippi, it no longer has a basis to pursue this case in the courts.”
Gun control will be on Oregon’s ballot in November to determine whether people wanting to purchase a gun will first have to qualify for a permit. This measure would require a permit to purchase any gun and ban large capacity magazines over 10 rounds — with an exception for current owners, law enforcement, and the military.
Judge Joanna Tabit ruled against the Hope Scholarship voucher program, stating that it is a violation of the state’s constitutional mandate to provide “a thorough and efficient system of free schools.” This bill was originally signed by Republican Gov. Jim Justice last year so families could apply for state funding to support private school tuition.
Wisconsin’s conservative Supreme Court made a ruling that prevents a governor from replacing the previous governor’s appointees without Senate confirmation. Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul says, “What this (ruling) is doing is allowing the Legislature to not represent the people of Wisconsin, to expand its authority and control an executive branch agency.”
State of the States Summary
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear separate challenges against Alabama and Louisiana for alleged gerrymandering that dilutes the voting power and representation of Black voters. Following the high court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Republican-controlled state legislatures are placing stricter abortion bans, sowing debate and even confusion over conflicting laws. For instance, Indiana’s restrictions proposal amid a political firestorm and Arizona’s two different abortion laws.
In Massachusetts, the VOTES Act was upheld by the state Supreme Court, which makes mail-in ballots and early voting permanent. Recreational marijuana makes progress in Arkansas as supporters get enough signatures for a proposal that legalizes recreational marijuana for adults 21 and up. West Virginia’s voucher program is deemed unconstitutional in the courts, and Wisconsin’s Supreme Court rules that a governor can’t replace their predecessor’s appointee without Senate confirmation.
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