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Governors Spotlight: Transgender Sports Bans, Threats Against Healthcare Workers, Eviction Moratoriums & More

April 01, 2022

GOP Govs Split on Transgender Sports Ban

A quartet of GOP governors has taken decidedly different tacks of late in addressing bills that bar transgender athletes from competing in school sports teams that align with their gender identity.

In late March, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb each vetoed such measures in their states, becoming the first – and so far, only - Republican governors to do so. Both cited the likelihood of lawsuits in their veto messages, but both governors also questioned the moral necessity of the measures.

In his lengthy veto message for HB 11, Cox said he had been “heartened and encouraged to see legislators sitting down with LGBTQ advocates to work on a compromise that would both protect women’s sports and allow some participation for our most marginalized transgendered youth,” and had hoped Utah would be the first state to devise such a compromise.

He further noted that out of 75,000 K-12 students participating in sports in Utah, only four are transgender.

“Four kids who aren’t dominating or winning trophies or taking scholarships. Four kids who are just trying to find some friends and feel like they are a part of something. Four kids trying to get through each day,” he wrote. “Rarely has so much fear and anger been directed at so few.”

Holcomb’s veto letter said the measure (HB 1041) “implies that the goals of consistency and fairness in competitive female sports are not currently being met,” but that “After a thorough review, I find no evidence to support either claim even if I support the overall goal.”

Their views were not shared by their GOP colleagues. The Utah legislature almost immediately overrode Cox’s veto, while the Indiana legislature is widely expected to do the same with Holcomb’s veto.

Meanwhile, last week two more Republican governors – Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey - each signed measures (SB 2 in Oklahoma and SB 1165 in Arizona) that bar transgender students from competing in girls’ sports.

Their states now join Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia in imposing such bans.

Ducey also signed SB 1138, which restricts gender-affirming care for trans and nonbinary minors. (NEW YORK TIMES, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, UTAH GOVERNOR’S OFFICE, ARIZONA GOVERNOR’S OFFICE, REUTERS, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT)

UT, WI Govs Sign Off on Penalties for Violence, Threats Against Health Care Workers

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) and Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) signed bills last month upping penalties for those who threaten or commit acts of violence against health care workers.

Wisconsin law already makes threatening or committing battery against an emergency health care worker a Class H felony in the state, punishable by up to six years in state prison and/or a maximum fine of $10,000. The bill Evers signed (AB 960) extends that law to include threats or violence “in response to an action taken by the healthcare provider in his or her official capacity, or in response to something that happened at the health care facility.”

The law also extends to any healthcare provider, a staff member of a healthcare facility, or a family member of a healthcare provider or staff.

The signing came a day after Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) signed HB 32, which also broadens the current statute that protects emergency workers to include all health care professionals. Violators face up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Similar bills have been introduced this year in Michigan, Kansas, Oregon, New Jersey, and Maryland. (STATE NET, FIERCE HEALTHCARE, BECKER’S HOSPITAL REVIEW)

Suit Filed to Block FL ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB 1557, the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill that forbids instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. DeSantis said the bill “will make sure parents can send their kids to school to get an education, not an indoctrination,” while critics contend it is unconstitutional. To that end, a coalition of LGBTQ groups, parents and students filed a lawsuit last Thursday seeking to block the law, which is set to go into effect on July 1. (GUARDIAN, MIAMI HERALD)

CA Extends Eviction Moratorium

Acting California Gov. Eleni Kounalakis (D) signed AB 2179, which extends the Golden State eviction moratorium through June 30 for those impacted residents who have applied for assistance by March 31. In doing so, Kounalakis became the first woman in state history to sign a bill into law.

“I am deeply humbled to take this action and to be part of history today as the first woman in state history to sign legislation into law,” she said. “I remain more determined than ever to ensure that while I may be the first to do so, I will certainly not be the last.” (CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR’S OFFICE)

NY Gov Goes Deep with Public Funds for New Bills Stadium

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) proposed using $850 million in public funds to help the owners of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills build a new stadium in Orchard Park. Under the proposal, the state would pony up $600 million while Erie County would contribute the remaining $250 million. The team’s ownership – the billionaire Pegula family – would contribute the remaining $550 million the facility is expected to cost, most of which would come from a forgivable loan from the NFL. The Pegulas would also be responsible for any cost overruns.

The proposal drew strong criticism from economists and others, who say there is no proof to uphold Hochul’s contention that the stadium will produce enough revenue to pay for itself. They also decried the inclusion of the funding in the state budget proposal just days before it was due to be submitted to lawmakers on April 1. (ROUTE FIFTY, CITY & STATE [NEW YORK, ESPN, BUFFALO NEWS, NBC SPORTS)

MS GOV SIGNS OFF ON TEACHER PAY HIKE

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) signed HB 530, which authorizes the largest pay hike for Magnolia State teachers in a generation. Under the bill, teachers will receive an average annual pay bump of $5,100. (PBS)

 --Compiled by RICH EHISEN

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