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.
This week's State of the Week is ... Virginia!
Virginia Republicans began this week with two bills very much alive—one that would change the legal definition of "person" to include fertilized eggs and another requiring women seeking abortions to receive a sonogram 24 hours beforehand. But a national outcry around the ultrasound measure—focusing on what would generally be a very invasive "transvaginal" sonogram—eventually prompted socially conservative Governor Bob McDonnell to back away from the bill. He's already taking heat for the move. While the personhood measure did not receive as much attention, opponents successfully raised a series of key questions, including whether the bill would interfere with access to birth control or in vitro fertilization. Ultimately the state Senate opted rerefer the bill back to committee and carry it over for the year—basically killing it for 2012. And while pro-choicers can point to victories in Virginia, a similar bill is making progress in Idaho's legislature and Texas just began implementing the version state lawmakers passed last year.
- This was supposed to be the year Arizona, already a right-to-work state, put a death blow to public employee unions. But the effort has stalled—and may have stalled out.
- Only a few weeks ago, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels signed a right to work bill into law, making his state the first in the Rust Belt to adopt the anti-union legislation. Now union members are asking a federal court to enforcement.
- The Missouri House is considering a bill that would drastically change the state's education system. The omnibus bill would create a limited voucher program and eliminate teacher tenure, as well as expand charter schools. However the bill would also bring more money to the state's poor schools as well as accountability for charter schools.
- Gay marriage will officially be on the ballot in Maine this fall. Voters rejected a similar referendum in 2009, but advocates argue attitudes have changed since then.
- As if Governor Sam Brownback's anti-poor tax plan wasn't enough, Kansas House Republicans offered another budget proposal that would not only cut taxes for the wealthy but increase the tax burden for those making less than $25,000. Nice.