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State Legislature

The campaigns for U.S. Senate and governor have gotten the most attention leading up to Tuesday’s primary in Alabama. But other contested races are on the ballot. Four Republicans and one Democrat are on the primary ballot to succeed GOP incumbent John Merrill as Alabama’s top elections officer, secretary of state. A runoff is possible on the Republican side. The ballot also includes statewide races for attorney general, state auditor and an Alabama Supreme Court seat. Voters also will decide a constitutional amendment to fund work on state parks and historical sites.

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For some female incumbents running for reelection in Congress this year, holding their seats comes with a new challenge. Because of redistricting, some of those congressional districts will be tougher to win. It’s too early to know how many female representatives were hurt by the once-a-decade process because maps haven’t been finalized in several states. But in states with new district boundaries set, the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University found more than a dozen women who are running in significantly tougher territory. This comes as female representatives make up about 28% of the 435 House members.

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Legislation proposed by Florida lawmakers for an upcoming special session to reform the state’s property insurance market would create a $2 billion reinsurance fund for insurers to get insurance that insulates them from risk. Four bills filed late Friday in the state House and Senate would also allow homeowners with roofs 15 years or older to get an inspection of their condition before insurers deny them coverage. If an inspection shows that a roof has at least five years of life remaining, insurers can’t refuse to issue a policy only based on the roof’s age under the proposed legislation.

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Democrats in New York will face new challenges from Republicans and be drawn into interparty battles under new redistricting maps released late Friday. A rural judge approved the maps that will set political district boundaries in New York over the next decade and give Democrats less of an edge in their quest for control of the U.S. House than they originally hoped. But they set up battles between Democrats like U.S. Reps. Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, and an open battle for the 10th Congressional District. The maps produced by an outside expert are more favorable to Republicans and more competitive than the previous maps drawn by the Democratically-controlled state Legislature.

Several of Georgia's statewide officials are battling to keep their offices in down-ballot primary elections being decided Tuesday. State Attorney General Chris Carr and Insurance Commissioner John King both face fellow Republicans endorsed by former President Donald Trump. Trump is also backing one of four Republicans in the open race for lieutenant governor. Meanwhile, Republican state school Superintendent Richard Woods is being opposed by his predecessor, John Barge.

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Alabama’s Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby is a bitter high-dollar fight between three candidates. U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks who won _ and then lost _ former President Donald Trump’s backing in the race on Tuesday faces Katie Boyd Britt, the former leader of Business Council of Alabama and Shelby’s former chief of staff; and Mike Durant, the owner of an aerospace company but who is better known as the helicopter pilot whose capture during a U.S. military mission in Somalia was chronicled in the “Black Hawk Down” book and subsequent movie.

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Pennsylvania’s Republican primary for an open U.S. Senate seat is too close to call and is likely headed for a statewide recount to decide the winner of the contest between heart surgeon-turned-TV celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz and former hedge fund CEO David McCormick. A recount would mean that the outcome of the race might not be known until June 8, the deadline for counties to report their results to the state. The race is close enough to trigger Pennsylvania’s automatic recount law, with the separation between the candidates inside the law’s 0.5% margin. The Associated Press will not declare a winner in the race until the likely recount is complete.

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A state lawmaker in Oregon is calling for a formal investigation into a ballot-printing fiasco that will delay results from Tuesday's primary by weeks in the state's third-largest county, with a key U.S. House race hanging in the balance. The call from Democratic Rep. Janelle Bynum comes amid mounting pressure on Clackamas County Elections Clerk Sherry Hall, who has overseen elections in the suburban county south of Portland for nearly 20 years. As many as 60,000 ballots are unreadable by vote-counting machines because of blurry barcodes and the voter's intent must be transferred by hand to a new ballot in each instance.

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Common ground on several budget bills remains elusive as Minnesota lawmakers rapidly approach the end of the legislative session. Democratic House Speaker Melissa Hortman said Friday that tax committee chairs have made “fantastic progress” on a tax relief bill. But sticking points between committee chairs in most other areas — including health and human services, education and public safety — have forced leadership to get involved. Targets for how to divide up the state’s $9.25 billion budget surplus include $4 billion for tax relief, $4 billion in spending and another $4 billion to be left in reserve.

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North Carolina advocacy groups and voters have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to avoid hearing arguments on the role of state courts in reviewing congressional redistricting maps created by state legislatures. Their attorneys and those representing North Carolina government filed legal briefs Friday in a case involving the U.S. House map that was just used in the state for primary elections this week. The Supreme Court in March refused to block the map's use this year, but some justices signaled they were interested in formally discussing the broader questions of a clause in the Constitution. Republican legislative leaders already petitioned the court to take the case.

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Summer Lee has won a five-way Democratic primary for a Pittsburgh-based U.S. House seat. That makes her the favorite in the heavily Democratic district to win the fall general election and become the first Black woman elected to Congress from Pennsylvania. Friday was the fourth day of counting ballots after Tuesday’s primary in the closely contested race for the open seat. Lee is a second-term state House member, lawyer and former labor organizer. Lee beat out second-place Steve Irwin, who was endorsed by the Allegheny County Democratic Party and backed by prominent Democrats from the county. Lee will face Republican nominee Mike Doyle in the fall general election.

Voters in southern Minnesota will choose candidates in a special primary next week. It's the first step in the process for filling the seat of Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn, who died of cancer in February. The GOP candidates on Tuesday's ballot include Hagedorn’s widow, Jennifer Carnahan, a former chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota. Other candidates include state Rep. Jeremy Munson and former state Rep. Brad Finstad. On the Democratic side, the endorsed candidate is former Hormel Foods CEO Jeffrey Ettinger. The winners will face each other in a special election Aug. 9 to fill out the rest of Hagedorn's term.

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Florida lawmakers are returning to the Capitol next week for a special legislative session aimed at addressing problems in the state’s turbulent property insurance market, a persistent and multifaceted crisis in a region vulnerable to damaging hurricanes. It is still unclear exactly how the GOP-controlled statehouse plans to handle the issue legislatively ahead of the weeklong session that begins Monday. In his proclamation formally calling lawmakers back to Tallahassee, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis highlighted several issues that have contributed to rising insurance rates in the state, including high rates of insurance litigation that drive up premiums and massive underwriting losses for insurance companies that have resulted in insolvency or canceled policies, among other things.

Oklahoma is only days from enacting the toughest U.S. state ban on abortion and providers are preparing to stop terminating pregnancies. Meanwhile, questions remained Friday about how the law’s limited exceptions would be enforced. The law allows abortions to save a pregnant patient’s life “in a medical emergency” and in cases of rape, sexual assault or incest that have been reported to law enforcement. It doesn’t spell out who decides what is considered a medical emergency, and the rape and incest exception won’t help victims who don’t report the crimes. Abortion providers said they are likely to be cautious and are planning to refer some patients to states like Colorado or Kansas.

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State Rep. Andrea Salinas has won the Democratic primary in Oregon’s new 6th U.S. House district. Salinas, who has maintained her lead as more ballots have been counted from Tuesday’s primary, would be Oregon’s first Hispanic congresswoman if elected in November. She was endorsed by Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a standard-bearer for the party’s progressive wing. Earlier this week Democratic candidate Carrick Flynn had said he was conceding to Salinas. On the Republican side Mike Erickson, a Lake Oswego businessman, has advanced to the November election in the 6th. Money poured into the Democratic race for a newly created District seat that featured Flynn, a relatively unknown political newcomer backed by a cryptocurrency kingpin and Salinas.

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Michigan’s short-term budget outlook is even rosier, after economists revised projected tax revenues upward by a combined $5 billion over two years. The new estimates released Friday will be used by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Republican-led Legislature to finalize the next state spending plan. Both sides want to cut taxes but differ over how to do it. Revenues in the school aid and general funds for the current fiscal year are $3 billion higher than was forecast in January. For the 2022-23 budget year, they are up $2 billion from the estimate four months ago.

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Federal officials have accused a company that runs a Virginia facility breeding dogs for research of violating animal welfare law and recently seized at least 145 beagles found to be in acute distress. That's according to a lawsuit the government filed Thursday against Envigo RMS. The facility in Cumberland County has been under increasing scrutiny for months, drawing concerns from animal rights groups, members of Congress and Virginia lawmakers. Repeated federal inspections since Envigo acquired the facility in 2019 have found dozens of violations. A spokesman said the company was working on a statement and would have a response Friday.

Georgia's senior congressman is facing his toughest challenge from Republicans in more than a decade. Rep. Sanford Bishop has represented southwest Georgia's 2nd Congressional District for three decades. Now he's the battleground state's only Democratic and Black House member outside metro Atlanta. Six Republicans are running in the May 24 primary hoping to emerge as Bishop's challenger. Half of them have raised competitive six-figure sums for the race. Bishop won his last campaign with 59% of the vote in 2020. But Republican lawmakers last year redrew his district to dilute the influence of Black voters. Bishop is downplaying partisanship and highlighting his success in bringing federal funds to the district as a member of the House Appropriations Committee.

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The Alaska Legislature in the waning hours of a four-month session has approved a state spending package. The budget includes payments to residents of about $3,200 this year after a vote that would have boosted the payout to about $3,850 narrowly failed in the House. The approved amount would be among the largest paid to residents. The debate over the payments came as state officials forecast higher-than-expected revenues, spurred by high oil prices. But Alaskans are being hurt economically by high costs of fuel, food and other goods. The House and Senate ended the regular session early Thursday morning, minutes after midnight.

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Both Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Republican-led Legislature are proposing new plans to cut taxes but remain at odds over the scope and immediacy of any relief. The Democratic governor called for a one-time $500 rebate for “working families,” adding to her earlier proposals to gradually repeal a tax on retirement income and fully restore a credit for lower-wage earners. Republican lawmakers quickly passed sweeping legislation Thursday that would permanently reduce the state income tax and include other tax cuts. Whitmer is likely to veto it, contending it is fiscally irresponsible.

Legislation to establish a state-run marijuana industry in Delaware has again failed to clear the state House. The Democrat-controlled chamber voted 23-15 on Thursday to approve the bill, which fell two votes short of the required supermajority. The proposal requires a three-fifths majority because it creates a new tax, consisting of a 15% levy on retail marijuana sales. Thursday’s vote came two months after a similar measure failed in the House on a 23-14 vote. It also came just hours after Democratic Gov. John Carney’s office received a companion bill that legalizes possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults for recreational use.  Carney has said he opposes legalization, without which a state-run pot industry is a moot issue.

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Abortion providers in Oklahoma say they will no longer provide the service in the state after the governor signs the latest anti-abortion measure heading to his desk. The bill passed Thursday is part of an aggressive push in Republican-led states across the country to scale back abortion rights. The bill would prohibit all abortions, except to save the life of a pregnant woman or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest that has been reported to law enforcement. It now heads to Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, who is expected to sign it.

The Oklahoma Legislature has approved a bill requiring public school students to use only the bathroom of the sex listed on their birth certificate. The bill passed the state Senate Thursday on 38-7 vote, then cleared the House by a 69-14 margin. It now goes to Gov. Kevin Stitt, who is expected to sign the legislation. Supporters said the bill is about common sense and calls for separate multi-use bathrooms. Opponents argued that it targets transgender students who want to use bathrooms where they feel comfortable. The bill was proposed after Stillwater Public Schools declined to change a policy allowing students to use the bathroom that agrees with their gender identity.

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An effort to ban “conversion therapy” for LGBTQ youth has won a majority in the Republican-controlled Minnesota Senate. But it didn't get enough votes on a procedural maneuver to advance. With little advance warning, Democratic Sen. Scott Dibble, of Minneapolis, tried Thursday to pull his bill out of a committee, where it has languished for two years without a hearing, and tee it up for a Senate floor vote. The vote was 34-31 but was short of the 41 votes needed under Senate rules. Dibble says he's encouraged that supporters have shown there are enough votes to pass a ban. Conversion therapy is a scientifically discredited practice of using therapy to “convert” LGBTQ people to heterosexuality or traditional gender expectations.

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