Each Friday—well at least most Fridays—I'm going to sum up the big news happening in states around the country. To make it more interesting, I'm naming a State of the Week where the biggest news came from. See something that's missing? Tell me: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @RaRapoport.
And this week's State of the Week is ... California
Gay Rights Galore
This weekend, gay rights advocates have two big victories to celebrate. In California, the Ninth Circuit Court threw out the same-sex marraige ban that California voters passed in 2008, known as Prop 8. As Garrett Epps explained, the decision was very specific to California, explaining that once a state grants a right, it cannot take that right away arbitrarily. The case will now likely go to the Supreme Court, where Epps says all eyes will be on Justice Anthony Kennedy. In the meantime, same-sex couples in Washington state are a step closer to being able to marry. A bill recognizing same-sex marriage passed through the state Senate last week, then passed the state House on Wednesday. Governor Christine Gregoire has pledged to sign it into law next week.
And You Thought Wisconsin Got Exciting
This week is the one-year anniversary of the widespread protests in Wisconsin prompted when Governor Scott Walker pushed to dismantle collective-bargaining rights for public employees. To mark the occasion, Arizona and South Dakota are both considering legislation that would cripple public employee unions in the states. Arizona's proposals would take things even further than the Wisconsin law. One bill which includes firefighters and policemen in its restrictions on bargaining. Another makes it more onerous for unions to automatically deduct dues from paychecks of its members. Interestingly, neither state has much of a union movement to begin with. Both states already have right-to-work laws, which prohibit mandatory unions and ban collecting dues from non-union members.
- The ongoing redistricting saga in Texas took another turn Friday when the federal panel of judges handling interim maps told lawyers on all sides they must keep trying to negotiate if there's any hope of an April primary. In other news, the Lone Star State has already spent $1.4 million on legal fees for redistricting legal fights.
- In Louisiana, Governor Bobby Jindal has proposed a budget that would get rid of more than 6,000 positions, shut down two prisons, and sell one correctional facility to a private company.
- Florida lawmakers are considering a new law that would ban food stamp recipients from using the benefits to buy cookies, cakes, and other sweets.