Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Voter ID law put on hold in North Carolina … New Mexico will import prescriptions from Canada … Trump pardons former Illinois governor.
An Alabama lawmaker has filed a bill that would require men to get vasectomies at their own expense at age 50 or after the birth of their third biological child, whichever comes first. Democratic state Rep. Rolanda Hollis said the bill is a direct response to an abortion ban that was signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, in 2019. That law made it a felony for doctors to perfecorm abortions in all cases except when a mother’s life is in danger, which Hollis said was an “outrageous overstep.” That law has been blocked by a federal judge pending a legal challenge. “Year after year the majority party continues to introduce new legislation that tries to dictate a woman's body and her reproductive rights … Just as I would turn to my doctor over my state legislator to make recommendations when deciding whether or not to have a surgery … it is my doctor with whom I … should consult when it comes to making the incredibly difficult decisions related to my personal reproductive rights," she said. The proposal has drawn criticism from national politicians like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican. "Yikes. A government big enough to give you everything is big enough to take everything … literally!" he tweeted. Hollis has countered that her bill is “pro-life” because it would reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and, therefore, the number of abortions. Hollis’ bill isn’t the first time a legislator has brought up vasectomies during the abortion debate. When the abortion ban was under consideration in the state legislature, state Sen. Vivian Davis Figures, a Democrat, tried to add an amendment that would make it a felony for doctors to perform vasectomies. That amendment failed. [ABC News; USA TODAY; AL.com]
VOTER ID | A voter ID law in North Carolina was temporarily blocked by the state’s appellate court after a three-judge panel raised concerns that the law had a racially discriminatory intent. A federal court had already blocked the law through the 2020 primary elections and the new ruling could mean that voters won’t have to use an ID to vote in the November general election either. The voter ID law was written after voters in 2018 passed a constitutional amendment requiring an ID to vote. The judges, however, wrote that the way the legislature wrote the law seems to specifically target African Americans. “This is especially true where the Amendment itself allows for exceptions to any voter-ID law, yet the evidence shows the General Assembly specifically left out types of IDs that African Americans disproportionately lack. Such a choice speaks more of an intention to target African American voters rather than a desire to comply with the newly created Amendment in a fair and balanced manner,” the judges wrote. State House Speaker Tim Moore, a Republican, said that the legislature will continue to push for a voter ID law. “North Carolinians know that General Assembly leaders will continue to fight on their behalf for a commonsense voter ID law that they chose to put in our state constitution, and we will not be deterred by judicial attempts to suppress the people’s voice in the democratic process,” Moore said. [Raleigh News & Observer]
PRESCRIPTIONS | The New Mexico state legislature passed a bill that will allow the state government to import wholesale prescription medications from Canada with the goal of lowering drug costs. The passage of the bill makes the state the fifth to move to develop a prescription importation system, behind Vermont, Maine, Colorado, and Florida. In order to implement a wholesale importation system, states need to apply for federal approval. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, said she will sign the legislation. “There's not a single one of us who isn't touched by a family member who can't afford their medications,” the governor said. [KOB; Las Cruces Sun News]
GOVERNOR COMMUTATION | President Trump commuted the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who in 2010 was convicted on corruption charges for attempting to sell the Senate seat left vacant by Barack Obama’s rise to the presidency. Blagojevich had been in prison since 2012 serving a 14-year prison sentence that would make him eligible for release in 2024. “He served eight years in jail, a long time. He seems like a very nice person, don’t know him,” Trump said. On Wednesday, the former Democratic governor described himself as a "Trumpocrat" to reporters outside his house and defended himself. “I’m returning home today from a long exile a freed political prisoner,” he said. “I want to say again to the people of Illinois who twice elected me governor: I didn’t let you down. I would have let you down if I gave into this. But resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.” Blagojevich was a contestant on Trump's reality show "The Celebrity Apprentice” after he was removed from the governorship in 2010. At the time, Trump said he “felt badly” that he had to fire him on the show. The president also pardoned former New York police commissioner Bernard Kerik, who had pleaded guilty to tax fraud and lying to the government. [NPR; New York Times]
HPV VACCINE | A bill proposed in the Illinois House would require sixth grade students to receive the vaccine for HPV, the most common sexually transmitted disease. Though symptoms are usually mild warts, if they appear at all, some serious complications include cervical cancer. The bill would require students at any public, private, or parochial school to get the vaccination before entering the sixth grade. [Week.com]
Emma Coleman is the assistant editor for Route Fifty.