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State Roundup: Voting Rights Expansions and Mental Health Days for Students
April 2, 2021

Each month we highlight 10 positive developments that emerged from state legislatures. You can view and share a version of this roundup on Twitter.

Tennessee Recognizes Doulas

Tennessee passed Rep. London Lamar’s bill recognizing doulas as “vital childbirth team members.” 

Rep. Lamar hopes the bill will help lead TN to designate doulas as health professionals and require private insurance and Medicaid to cover their services. 

Massachusetts Goes All In On Environmental Protection 

Massachusetts enacted a sweeping climate change law that will require the state to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, codify environmental justice protections, prioritize solar power for low-income housing, and more. 

Maine’s Landmark Racial Impact Law

Maine enacted a law requiring that all state legislation be assessed for its potential impact on people of color. 

State Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross, the first Black person to serve a leadership role in the Maine legislature, sponsored the law. 

Colorado Moves To Expand Multilingual Ballots

 A new Colorado bill sponsored by State Rep. Yadira Caraveo will require more counties to provide multilingual voter ballots and establish a hotline with translators by the 2022 election. 

Voting Restoration in Washington

Washington state passed a bill that will automatically restore voting rights to people who have completed a prison sentence. 

Governor Jay Inslee is expected to sign. 

Maryland Supports Libraries

Maryland became the first state to guarantee that libraries can license e-books “on reasonable terms.”

Mental Health Days for Arizona’s Students

The Arizona legislature passed State Rep. Sean Bowie’s bill, which clarifies that “mental health days” count as excused absences in K-12 schools.

LGBTQ Seniors in New Jersey Have New Protections

New Jersey enacted an LGBTQI+ Senior Bill of Rights, which will bar long-term care facilities from discriminating based on sexuality, gender, or HIV status.

A Voting Rights Act for Virginia

Virginia is poised to become the first state to enact its own version of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013.

The bill was drafted by two Black women lawmakers—Delegate Cia Price and Delegate Jennifer McClellan.

Historic Session in New Mexico

New Mexico’s legislature closed out its session by passing progressive bills that will protect abortion rights, guarantee paid sick leave for employees at private companies, and end qualified immunity for police.

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