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Governors Spotlight: Abortion Rights, School Threat Assessment, Mental Health Bills & More

August 05, 2022

Murphy Signs Suite of NJ Election Bills

Saying they “will make democracy more accessible, more transparent and stronger in our state,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed a package of seven bills into law last month intended to strengthen the Garden State’s elections system.

The measures Murphy signed include a bill that allows for the counting of mail-in ballots prior to Election Day and another intended to rid voting rolls of deceased people by requiring local health officers to send the names of every adult who dies in their town to their county voter registration office during the two months preceding a primary or general election.

Other measures signed include those that require ballot privacy sleeves at polling places and end the automatic sending of mail-in ballots to those who don’t vote by mail in four consecutive elections, starting in 2020. (CENTRAL JERSEY, NEW JERSEY MONITOR, NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR’S OFFICE)

NJ Gov Signs School Threat Assessment, Student Debt, Outdoor Dining Bills

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed AB 4075, a bill that requires Garden State school districts to develop threat assessment teams to identify students who could be a threat to school safety in advance of the 2023-24 school year. The law applies to all public and charter schools.

The teams, which will consist of teachers, administrators, and a liaison to law enforcement, are intended to help identify and intervene with students who could be leaning toward violent or harmful acts. The students’ identities are to be kept confidential.

Murphy also signed AB 1695, a bill that requires the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (OSHE) and Department of Labor (DOL) to establish performance quality standards for career-oriented programs of study offered by postsecondary institutions that consider the ratio of tuition and fees charged to students in the program compared to the anticipated earnings of workers employed in the specific occupation for which the program prepares students.

The governor said the bill “will guard students against unreasonable student loan debt that they simply cannot repay with the typical wages in the career for which they studied.”

Murphy has also signed SB 2364, a bill that extends for two years a pandemic measure that temporarily allows restaurants, bars, distilleries, and breweries to serve patrons outside in private areas, on sidewalks, and in other municipally-designated outdoor areas. The law, which was set to expire in November, will now extend to Nov. 30th 2024. (NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR’S OFFICE, INSIDER NJ)

CA Gov Endorses $1.65 Billion TV and Film Tax Credit

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced his support for legislation currently working its way through the legislature that would extend the Golden State’s film and television tax credit through 2030.

The measure (SB 485) would provide approximately $330 million annually - about $1.65 billion overall – in financial support for content creators. Newsom, who some observers feel could be setting the stage for a possible presidential run in 2024, framed the bill as another reason for a major industry to come to or remain in California.

“As other states roll back peoples’ rights, California will continue protecting fundamental freedoms for all and welcome businesses that stand up for their employees,” said Newsom in a statement. “Extending this program will help ensure California’s world-renowned entertainment industry continues to drive economic growth with good jobs and a diverse, inclusive workforce.”

The bill passed unanimously in the Senate and is now in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. (LOS ANGELES TIMES, VARIETY)

SD Ethics Board Extends Investigation into Governor

A state ethics board voted to extend its investigation into allegations that Gov. Kristi Noem (R) used a state-owned airplane for her own political gain and misused her position as governor to interfere in her daughter’s efforts to receive a real estate appraiser license. The three-person panel voted unanimously to extend the investigation another 60 days. (ARGUS LEADER [SIOUX FALLS])

OR Gov Issues Equity in State Procurement Order

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) issued Executive Order 22-15, which directs state agencies to take steps over the next several years to ensure greater equity in state procurement and contracting.

“Despite previous work to promote diversity and inclusion in state procurement practices, there continues to be gaps and barriers for businesses owned by people of color, women, and veterans, as well as emerging small businesses,” the governor said in a statement.

The order, among several things, requires state agencies to consider equity in all aspects of procurement and contracting, to be proactive in outreach and engagement, and to better train staff in those processes. (OREGON GOVERNOR’S OFFICE)

MA Gov Signs Sweeping Abortion Rights Bill

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) signed HB 5090, a wide-ranging bill that codifies aspects of an earlier executive order protecting Bay State abortion providers from legal actions taken against them by other states. If such action is taken against them by another state, the new law gives providers the power to countersue.

The law further provides pharmacists with a statewide standing order allowing them to dispense emergency contraception, requires college and university health centers to provide students with abortion medication, and codifies the right of any resident to access gender-affirming care. (BOSTON GLOBE, MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR’S OFFICE). 

DE Gov Signs Mental Health Bills

Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) signed a trio of mental health bills: HB 300, which will establish a mental health services unit for middle schools; HB 301, which implements statewide mental health education programs for K-12 schools; and HB 303, which requires health insurers to cover an annual behavioral health wellness check. (WDEL [WILMINGTON])

--Compiled by RICH EHISEN

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