This week was Election Day in various states across the country. A few states, New Jersey and Virginia, held their state legislative elections this week which saw Democrats perform better than some anticipated, highlighted by Virginia Democrats taking back control of the House of Delegates. Incumbent governors in Kentucky and Mississippi were re-elected, while voters in Ohio and Maine cast ballots on referendum questions related to abortion, cannabis, and right-to-repair. Meanwhile, a Pennsylvania House Democrat won a local election, setting up the potential for another gridlock in the legislature when his eventual resignation will bring the balance of the House back to 101-101.
Arizona’s voting rights trial continued this week, with witnesses arguing that the state’s new voter registration laws (HB 2492 and HB 2243) will disproportionately harm Latinos, who make up over 33 percent of the state’s population.
A new law signed by Governor Gavin Newsom (D), protects against balance billing for ground ambulances. For those enrolled in state-regulated commercial health plans, the law limits how much a non-network ambulance operator can charge patients. The new law also prohibits operators from reporting to a credit rating agency for at least 12 months after the initial bill. Likewise, it places a cap on costs for uninsured patients saying that they cannot be charged a rate higher than Medi-Cal or Medicare.
Florida senators are discussing potential legislation for next session that would allow students aged 16 to test for high school equivalency degrees. If passed, the law would allow students to obtain their GED and enter the workforce, with parental approval.
Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones (R) announced a Red Tape Rollback Initiative, aiming to reduce barriers for small business owners and workers who require professional licenses to work in various jobs. Under Jones’ plan, the definition of “small businesses” would increase from 100 to 300 employees, which could lead to more businesses being able to take advantage of various incentives like tax relief and loan guarantees.
The Question 4 right-to-repair ballot measure overwhelmingly won voter support this week. Question 4 asked voters if they wanted auto manufacturers to allow vehicle owners and their independent mechanics to have access to their vehicle’s diagnostic system. This follows three other states that have enacted new right-to-repair laws this year, including California, Minnesota, and Colorado.
Various bills heard this week by a legislative committee would ban the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits in pet shops. Supporters argued that animals raised in out of state “puppy mills” are raised in poor conditions, leading to health and behavioral issues. However, opponents have argued the proposed law could hurt retailers who are working with responsible breeders.
Lawmakers introduced a package of bills to legalize assisted suicide. Known as “Dignity with Death,” the legislation would allow terminally ill patients to request and use medication to help them die peacefully.
Ohio voters passed two ballot referendums, one guaranteeing a constitutional right to abortion, with the other legalizing cannabis. Regarding cannabis, Gov. MikeDeWine (R), a critic of the cannabis legalization ballot measure, came out after the results came in to say he accepted the results of the election but urged lawmakers to make changes to the law before it goes into effect in December.
House Democrats’ majority is again in jeopardy after state Rep. JohnGalloway (D) won his election for Magisterial District Judge. When Galloway takes his new position, his resignation will prompt another special election and put the House back at a 101-101 tie between Democrats and Republicans.
State lawmakers this week looked at the impact of federal education funding on Tennessee classrooms. This comes on the heels of the Speaker of the House and Lt. Governor creating a group to look into rejecting $1 billion in federal funding.
In Texas’ fourth special session, lawmakers are discussing HB 4, which would make unauthorized entry into Texas from a foreign country a state crime. The bill would allow a judge or county magistrate to order the unauthorized individual to return to a “port of entry”, after all identifying information is obtained and cross-referenced with state and federal databases.
Democrats won big in Virginia on Tuesday, retaining control of the Senate and taking back control of the House of Delegates, rebuking Gov. GlennYoungkin’s (R) attempt to give Republicans a trifecta in state government.
Democratic U.S. Senator JoeManchin announced this week he would not seek re-election next year, giving the GOP a potential pick-up opportunity in a state that former President DonaldTrump won by massive margins in 2020. Current Gov. JimJustice (R) is currently slated to face off against U.S. Rep. AlexMooney (R) in the primary.