This week in State Legislation

Read up on what's been happening in state legislatures around the country this week. We give you all the news; the good and the bad, the happy and the sad... as well as the just plain puzzling.

Arizona - Reproductive Rights

New laws in Arizona pose a huge threat to reproductive rights, especially in three cities. Under two new laws passed earlier this year, nurse practitioners are no longer allowed to perform medical abortions; only doctors can administer the drug that induces abortions. But in Yuma, Prescott, and Flagstaff, the abortion clinics that provide medical abortions are only staffed by nurses. Planned Parenthood also predicts that these stricter requirements for medical abortions will significantly hinder the process for women in other cities, because they'll now have to wait until a doctor is free. Talk about a slap in the face to nurses in Arizona. Fortunately, these laws won't be enforced until after a hearing scheduled for August 22.

Louisiana - Reproductive Rights (it never ends)

Louisiana was also struck with new anti-choice legislation this week. Gov. Bobby Jindal signed a bill requiring abortion clinics to put up signs with information about women's "options." Signs around the facilities will remind women that there are organizations that will help them during and after their pregnancy, as well as letting them know that adoptive parents are usually willing to pay medical costs. And Jindal compared this law to the Miranda rights given to criminals! Comparing women seeking abortions to criminals? Not a good look for the governor. I think a better comparison would be likening those accusatory signs to guilt-tripping, government propaganda.

New Hampshire - Environment

Gov. John Lynch wants to keep New Hampshire on the path to reducing carbon emissions! He vetoed a bill that would have taken the state out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a pact in which participating states are committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. Interestingly enough, last week we wrote about a similar situation in New Jersey, where Gov. Christie wanted out of the RGGI, but legislators drafted a bill saying they wanted to stick with it. That's the way the cookie crumbles in states with divided governments.

Arizona (again) - Health Care

Tomorrow, July 8, Arizona's Medicaid cuts go into effect. This means adults living in poverty, who do not have children, will be denied health insurance. But childless adults who are already recieving Medicaid insurance will not be effected; the law only effects new applicants to the program. So if you're reading this and you live in Arizona, you only have a few more hours to try to get coverage!

Rhode Island - Voting Rights

Rhode Island jumped on the bandwagon of voter identification requirements. But what's baffling is that in this state, it was Democratic legislators who led the effort. And Governor. Lincoln Chafee, an independent, signed off on it. These laws requiring voters to show an official ID before they can vote have been sweeping the country lately, but in every other state, it's been Republican legislators pushing for these discriminatory laws. I'm a little embarassed for Rhode Island democrats... and very confused.

Maryland - Workers' Rights

The Maryland chapter of the AFSCME will soon begin collecting dues from ALL the workers it represents, not just card-carrying members of the union. Unions have to represent and serve all workers that could potentially join the union, not just the workers who choose to join. The AFSCME says that the revenue generated from the non-member dues will help the union provide better services for all workers. Some workers aren't happy with this; they don't want the union to take $10-$14 out of their bi-weekly paycheck. Maybe their opposition will spur a movement for a "Right to Work" law in Maryland. But don't be fooled by those.