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Governor's Spotlight: Transgender Sports Measures, Election Police, Teacher Shortages & More

April 29, 2022

More GOP Govs Sign Transgender Sports Measures

Two more Republican governors, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed measures last week intended to prevent transgender girls or women from participating in sports that align with their gender identity.

The measure Lee signed, HB 1895, requires the state education commissioner to withhold a portion of state education finance funding from school districts that allow transgender athletes to participate in school-sponsored athletics. The measure is a follow-up to a bill Lee signed last year that requires athletes to prove that their sex matches that listed on their original birth certificate.

Volunteer State lawmakers are also rushing through two more anti-transgender measures: HB 2633, which would allow teachers to ignore a student’s preferred pronouns, and SB 2153, which would extend the ban on transgender athletes through college.

Lee is expected to sign both.

A similar ban failed to get through the Georgia legislature, but Senate Republicans ushered through a measure that instead allows the Georgia High School Association to impose such a ban if it so chooses, tacking it onto HB 1084, a bill that primarily bans the teaching of “divisive concepts” on race. Kemp signed that measure on Thursday.  

Kemp also signed SB 226, which gives parents a path for getting books banned from school libraries, and HB 1178, which grants parents the fundamental right to “direct the upbringing and education of their minor children.”

 A transgender athlete ban also failed in Kansas, where Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed SB 160, which would have imposed the prohibition for student-athletes from grade school through college. The Senate overrode Kelly’s veto, but a similar override effort failed in the House. (KANSAS CITY STAR, ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, ASSOCIATED PRESS, WICHITA EAGLE) 

FL Gov Signs Bill to Create Election Police

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has signed legislation to create a special police unit to ferret out voter fraud and other election crimes. In addition to creating an Office of Election Crimes and Security within the Florida Department of State, SB 524 also increases penalties for violations of election laws, mandates closer attention to voting rolls, and requires the DOS to make more recommendations for strengthening voter ID requirements. (JURIST, ORLANDO SENTINEL) 

IL Gov Signs Teacher Shortage Bill Package

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed a quartet of bills aimed at easing the Prairie State’s teaching shortage. The measures include: HB 4226, which lowers the fee for reinstating a lapsed teaching license from $500 to $50; SB 3907, which shifts the number of days a short-term substitute can teach in a row from five to 15; HB 4798, which removes a requirement that substitute teachers have a bachelor's degree in favor of mandating that subs have 90 credit hours of college education; and SB 3988, which lowers the minimum age for paraprofessionals from 19 to 18 years old. Education officials say the state currently has more than 2,000 unfilled teaching positions. (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, STATE JOURNAL-REGISTER [SPRINGFIELD]) 

CO Gov Signs Universal Pre-K Bill

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) signed legislation that ensures all Centennial State four-year-olds will be able to attend preschool at no cost to their families. Under HB 1295, children will receive 10 hours a week of tuition-free preschool in public school classrooms or private settings, such as child care centers, churches, or homes licensed to provide preschool, with funding coming from the state’s existing preschool program and proceeds of a voter-approved nicotine tax Colorado voters approved in 2020. (CHALKBEAT COLORADO) 

ME Gov Signs Affordable Housing Bills

Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed a pair of bills aimed at easing the Pine Tree State’s housing stock shortage. The measures Mills endorsed include HB 1489, which requires all municipalities to allow two housing units, such as a duplex or accessory dwelling unit, on any lot previously zoned for a single-family home, and SB 90, which extends from 2025 until 2030 a historical preservation tax credit for developers who convert existing buildings into affordable housing units. (WMTW [PORTLAND]) 

CT Gov, Lawmakers Reach Budget Deal

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) and Constitution State legislative leaders announced a deal for a new $24.2 billion state budget that includes approximately $500 million in tax cuts for parents, drivers, residential property owners, retirees, and car owners. The deal extends the suspension of the state’s 25-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax through Dec. 1, which the state implemented in April. Lamont said the extension will save drivers another $150 million through year’s end. Other key elements include a $250 child tax credit, an increase in the state property tax credit and a subsequent elimination of eligibility requirements, which previously made the credit available only to those aged 65 or older or with dependents. (HARTFORD COURANT)

 OK Gov Bars Nonbinary Birth Certificates

Oklahoma Gov. Brad Stitt (R) signed SB 1100, legislation making the Sooner State the first to explicitly bar the use of nonbinary gender markers on state birth certificates. Stitt had previously banned the certificates via executive order, but that directive is being challenged in court. (NBC NEWS)

 --Compiled by RICH EHISEN

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