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Governor's Spotlight: Truck Backlog, Anti-Abortion, Anti-Transgender Bills, Redistricting & More

April 15, 2022

TX Growers Irate at Gov Over Massive Truck Backlog

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is drawing intense criticism from Lone Star State agricultural interests over an ongoing backlog of commercial trucks at the U.S.-Mexico border caused by his order that each truck coming from Mexico undergo an intensive safety inspection.

Truckers said that passing through the checkpoints at Juárez and El Paso normally takes around three hours; that time has grown to over 10 hours since Abbott ordered troopers from the state Department of Public Safety to begin the inspections. Texas growers say the delays are costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars, costs that will be passed along to consumers.

“As a Texas business, we were really confused and disappointed by this decision by Gov. Abbott, in a state that touts itself as business-friendly,” said Bret Erickson, senior vice president of business affairs for Little Bear Produce, a Texas-based grower-packer-shipper that farms 6,000 acres in Texas and supplements its inventory with Mexican-grown produce. “This was a direct hit to Texas businesses, businesses that are already facing increasing costs in fuel, fertilizer, labor, and packaging.”

Mexican officials say the delays are costing growers on their side of the border $8 million a day.

Abbott blamed the inspections on President Joe Biden for “not securing our border” and rescinding Title 42, which takes place in May. Abbott did not explain how commercial truck safety inspections relates to immigration policies. He did say on Wednesday he was lifting the inspection order at the Laredo-Colombia Solidarity International Bridge after he had reached an agreement with Nuevo León Governor Samuel García to establish checkpoints and patrols to prevent unauthorized border crossings from Mexico into Texas. (EL PASO TIMES, WASHINGTON POST, CNN)

MD Gov Signs Off on $1.2B Measure for Orioles, Ravens

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) signed a pair of bills last week that collectively will allow the Maryland Stadium Authority to borrow up to $1.2 billion for upgrades to the decades-old structures being used by the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens and MLB’s Baltimore Orioles.

The Authority has previously been limited to carrying no more than $235 million in bond debt. The new measure raises that to $600 million for each of the stadium sites. He signed a separate measure to support $400 million in development around FedEx Field in North Englewood, the home of the NFL’s Washington Commanders.

Hogan also endorsed a bill granting another $200 million in public money for improving minor league baseball parks around the Old Line State and $10 million for efforts to attract events like the Major League Baseball All-Star game or World Cup soccer events. (BALTIMORE SUN, WTOP, WBAL)

VA Gov Acts on Over 800 Bills

Virginia Gov. Glen Youngkin (R) took action on 841 bills, signing 700 into law, vetoing 25, and returning 116 to lawmakers with requested amendments. Youngkin said most of the amendments are technical corrections, but some notable exceptions include a measure (SB 591) that limits the sale of smokable hemp and bans edibles in the shape of animals, fruit or people and minor changes to a bill (SB 741) that allows law enforcement limited use of facial recognition technology.

Youngkin also signed into law three amendments to the Old Dominion’s data privacy law. The amendments add a new exemption to the VCDPA’s right to delete, redirect penalties, expenses and attorney fees recovered enforcing the VCDPA from the Consumer Privacy Fund into a different fund and modify the VCDPA’s definition of nonprofit.  (WASHINGTON POST, JD SUPRA, MJ BIZ DAILY, WAVY [RICHMOND])

OK, FL Govs Signs Strict Anti-Abortion Laws

Oklahoma Gov. Brad Stitt (R) signed a measure that makes it a felony to perform an abortion, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The measure, SB 612, exempts only those abortions done to save the life of the mother. It is scheduled to take effect 90 days after the legislative session ends in May, but it is expected to face legal challenges long before then. The signing came days before Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed HB 5, which bars abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy.  (ASSOCIATED PRESS, CNN, REUTERS)

FL Lawmakers Punt Redistricting to Gov

In a move, some Democratic leaders called “a shameless abdication of their responsibilities as an elected body,” Florida’s Republican legislative leaders said they would allow Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) to redraw the Sunshine State’s Congressional maps. The move comes two weeks after the governor vetoed the maps lawmakers devised and called them back into session to come up with maps he approves of. (MIAMI HERALD)

UT Gov Signs Health Care Workforce Bill

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) signed a measure (HB 295) aimed at keeping more aspiring physicians in the Beehive State after they finish medical school by funding more medical residencies statewide. (KSL-TV [SALT LAKE CITY])

KY Gov Vetoes Lawyers with Guns Bill

Citing a request from a coalition of police and judicial organizations, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) vetoed a bill (HB 690) that would have allowed lawyers to carry guns in Bluegrass State courtrooms. The bill was one of only two of Beshear’s 24 vetoes lawmakers did not override last Thursday. Bills they overrode include: SB 83, a bill that bans transgender students from competing on girls’ sports teams and HB 3, which imposes a ban on abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy.  (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, LOUISVILLE COURIER-JOURNAL)

AL Gov Signs Anti-Transgender Bills

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed a bill (SB 184) on April 8th that makes it a felony for anyone to prescribe puberty blockers or hormones to transgender youth. Violators would face up to 10 years in prison. Ivey also signed HB 322, which forces transgender children to use bathrooms of their birth sex and bans discussions of “sexual orientation or gender identity" in kindergarten through fifth grade that is “not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate.” Opponents have vowed to sue to block the law. (MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER)

NJ Gov Orders Review of Sex Ed Standards

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) ordered state education officials to conduct a review of materials used in sex education curriculum to “provide further clarification on what age-appropriate guidelines look like for our students.” Murphy was responding to an uproar over the recent circulation of sample resources educators could use to follow the standards. The samples drew outrage from Republicans and conservative media, who say the materials are too graphic. Murphy noted that the materials were merely a demonstration and won’t specifically be part of the district’s curriculum, saying they “are being “intentionally misrepresented by some politicians seeking to divide and score political points.” (NJ.COM)

MA Gov Signs Sibling Adoption Measure

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) signed a bill (SB 2616) that allows adults in the Bay State to formally adopt their younger siblings. Previous policy allowed them to obtain only guardianship. (FALL RIVER REPORTER)

--Compiled By RICH EHISEN

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