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News From The States

Evening Wrap

Your daily analysis of trending topics in state government. The snark is nonpartisan.

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Sorry but WHAT

 The theme of today’s newsletter was obvious to me from the moment I opened my laptop this morning and laid eyes on the headlines.

“I’m sorry, they’re doing what?” I said. 

No one answered me, because I work from home and my pets can’t talk. But that's OK. Once you read it, you’ll understand.

Take it down a notch

 We are 252 days out from the 2024 election, but the election drama is already out in full force.

Ugly and unfair, got it

Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters on Thursday urged members of the public to refrain from “rushing to opinion” or “passing judgment” until police conclude an investigation into the death of a 16-year-old nonbinary student, the Oklahoma Voice reported. Until then, just thoughts and prayers, please.

JK I'm always panicking

The election matters, of course, but maybe not as definitively as you might expect. Trump could lose and disappear from public life forever, and we’d still spend the next decade grappling with the aftershocks of his ascent. There is no kill switch. There is only triage.

A perpetual unraveling

Six years and one week ago, 14 teenagers were killed in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. On Tuesday, parents of two of the victims stood in Utah State Capitol with a warning: It could just as easily happen here.

Let's celebrate anyway

K-12 education is, in general, the second largest expense for states, behind public welfare, according to the Urban Institute, averaging about 21% of the budget. Add in higher education, at almost 10%, and education becomes the single most expensive thing states do.

Happy Car and Mattress Sale Day!

Speaking of presidents, perhaps you’ve heard that we’re picking one this year? Not like we’re picking a NEW president, of course. Mostly it’s shaping up to be a warmed-up leftovers election, choosing between one guy who is president now and the other guy who was president once before.

What did you know?

Since at least the Watergate Era, the main question politicians don’t like to have to answer is “What did you know?” Followed closely in unpopularity by “And when did you know it?”

In our unstable era

In the same vein: Roe v. Wade was settled precedent, until it wasn’t. And returning the issue “to the states” did not end the abortion war — it just diffused it into a thousand smaller battles. (One in three women of reproductive age now reside in states where abortion is illegal. Fourteen states ban the procedure entirely, and seven more impose restrictions that would have been unconstitutional under Roe.) We’re still in the same trenches. There are just more of them now.

A long bewildering journey

U.S. House Republicans on Tuesday impeached Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas by a single vote, obliterating yet another political precedent in service of partisan posturing that solves nothing and helps no one other than Donald Trump. Three Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the measure, which marks the first-ever impeachment of a sitting cabinet secretary, our D.C. bureau reported.

Literary devices

Last week, Oregon state Sen. Lew Frederick introduced a seemingly innocuous bill: A proposal to prevent school districts from banning textbooks or library materials solely because they depict people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, individuals with disabilities or any other group protected from discrimination. The bill does not change the procurement process for reading materials or restrict parents’ ability to monitor what their children read; it also offers no punitive measures for violations, most of which are already covered under existing state law. Mostly, it just acknowledges a host of books that already sit on library shelves in schools across the state, Frederick said.

Presumably Usher-less thoughts

Typically, the stumbles are rooted in good intentions. Since the end of December, college students across the country have struggled to access federal financial aid forms as the U.S. Department of Education enacts changes designed, somewhat ironically, to simplify the process and expand eligibility. The glitches have affected every part of the aid process, forcing colleges to delay submission deadlines and making it impossible for millions of students to apply for funds at all.