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Governors Spotlight: Homelessness, Step Therapy, Abortion Rights & More

November 04, 2022 (4 min read)

CA Gov Blocks $1B in State Funds to Cities Not Doing Enough to End Homelessness

Saying “Californians demand accountability and results, not settling for the status quo,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) blocked $1 billion in state funding to cities and counties he says are not doing enough to address homelessness in their communities.

Newsom said he will withhold the funds until he has met with local leaders later this month to work out a statewide approach to the issue.

Over the last three years California has set aside more than $2 billion for flexible homeless spending by local agencies. But starting this year, cities and counties were required to submit action plans as a condition of receiving the funding. But Newsom said last week those plans would collectively reduce homelessness by just 2 percent, a total he called “unacceptable.”

“At this pace, it would take decades to significantly curb homelessness in California,” he said in a statement. “Everyone has to do better — cities, counties, and the state included. (CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR’S OFFICE, SACRAMENTO BEE, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE)

MA Gov Signs MA ‘Step Therapy’ Bill

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) signed HB 4929, a bill that limits the use of so-called “step therapy,” a process that requires patients to accept using cheaper drugs in their recovery before being allowed to access more expensive medications. Under the new law, health insurance providers must approve or deny step therapy exemption requests within three business days, or 24 hours in an emergency. Patients will be eligible for the “stepped-up” medications under several scenarios: if the cheaper meds would cause them harm; if the cheaper meds have failed to improve their condition, if the treatment would be ineffective or if they are already stable using their preferred medication. (AXIOS, STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICES [BOSTON])

WA Gov Pushes for Homelessness Reduction, Abortion Shield Law

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) revealed part of an impending proposal to lawmakers to reduce homelessness in the Evergreen State. Tenets included in the governor’s plan include speeding up the permitting process for housing construction, increasing housing in transit corridors, requiring a certain percentage of affordable housing units in new housing developments, and increasing tiny home construction.

Inslee also revealed details of a proposed law to protect Washington abortion providers and patients from out-of-state legal actions. The governor and lawmakers also announced two other abortion-related measures: one to indemnify Washington-based corporations helping employees in other states get abortions and another that would block hospital and health care organization mergers that would limit abortion services. (KOMO [SEATTLE], SEATTLE TIMES)

MS Gov Calls Economic Development Special Session

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) called a special session for last week to address what he called the “biggest economic development project in MS history.” Tate did not offer details, but Mississippi Today reported that the $2.5 billion project involves the major expansion of an aluminum or steel company already located in or near Columbus. Lawmakers will also be asked to endorse contributing between $150 million and $160 million in incentives to help with the construction of the plant. (MISSISSIPPI TODAY, WLBY [JACKSON])

MI Gov Says Abortion Rights Key to Stealing Businesses from OH

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) said Wolverine State voters endorsing a ballot measure next week would allow her to immediately start “stealing headquarters” from neighboring Ohio and other states that have restricted or banned the procedure.

“I’m going to be working to draw investment into Michigan once we lock women’s rights into law,” Whitmer told Politico. “We have the best workforce, low cost of living, high quality of life and women can make decisions about their bodies. That’s the story I want to be able to tell.”

Whitmer said workers will be inclined to leave the state if it enacts similarly harsh abortion restrictions. Voters on Election Day will weigh in on Proposal 3, which would establish a constitutional right to reproductive care, such as abortion, contraception and postpartum care, and invalidate a now-blocked 1931 state law punishing abortion providers with up to four years in prison or $5,000 fines. (BRIDGE MICHIGAN, POLITICO)

CO Gov Issues $40 Billion Budget Proposal

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) issued a $40.6 billion proposal heavily focused on public safety and affordable housing. Polis, who has pledged to make the Centennial State one of the 10 safest in the country, increased public safety spending by $42 million, including $12.6 million to create an auto theft task force and 10 additional prosecutors to address those crimes. He also pitched $15 million to go toward affordable public-private housing development, a $705 million increase in K-12 education spending and $2.2 billion rainy day fund. (COLORADO GOVERNOR’S OFFICE, COLORADO SUN, AXIOS)

PA Gov Signs Dozens of Bills

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) signed 66 bills and vetoed one, covering a wide range of issues, from legalizing fentanyl test strips for personal use (HB 1393) to a package of tax credits intended to promote the Keystone State as a site for one of the hydrogen energy hubs being funded with federal subsidies. Other measures Wolf signed include those to allow for driverless testing and use of autonomous vehicles on public roads, the divestment from Russian companies sanctioned by the U.S. government, and allowing the suspension of vehicle registrations for toll scofflaws. Wolf’s lone veto came against SB 736, which sought to have passenger cars added to the state’s definition of farm vehicles. (PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR’S OFFICE, ABC27 [HARRISBURG], FOX43 [HARRISBURG])

-- Compiled by RICH EHISEN


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