Stateline | NY Makes Its Own Hand Sanitizer, Tribe Gets Recognition and More


New York | Fighting Coronavirus Price Gougers

The prices of hand sanitizer, face masks and disinfectant wipes spiked in early March right along with demand for those and other anti-coronavirus items. New York state officials countered with “New York State Clean”—their own hand sanitizer. Made by state prisoners, it’s being distributed to schools, prisons and government agencies across the state that have struggled to get increasingly scarce and costly brand-name products on the open market. In announcing the germ-fighting goo, which is not yet available to the public, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) had a message for unscrupulous retailers: “If you continue the price gouging, we will introduce our product, which is superior to your product.”

Florida Senate President Bill Galvano

Colorado | Untangling Racial Hair Discrimination

Colorado is the fifth state to enact a law prohibiting discrimination in education, employment, housing and public accommodations based on racial or ethnic hairstyles. The CROWN Act, as it’s known, covers hair texture, hair type, protective hairstyles and headwraps. Sponsored by Representatives Leslie Herod (D) and Janet Buckner (D) and Senator Rhonda Fields (D), the measure follows nationally publicized incidents of hair discrimination, including that of a New Jersey high school wrestler who was forced to cut off his dreadlocks to compete. California, New Jersey, New York and Virginia have passed similar legislation. CROWN stands for “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.”

Guam | Part-Time Senators?

A pending measure would change the Guam legislature to a part-time body. The island territory’s unicameral legislature consists of 15 senators, who serve two-year terms. The bill, introduced by Senator James Moylan (R), would replace senatorial salaries and benefits with $100 stipends per day spent in session, which would be limited to 60 days total, convening in January and again in June, according to the Guam Daily Post. The savings could be more than $850,000 through a two-year term, supporters say. Critics would prefer to let voters decide through a referendum. If the law passes, Guam would have the nation’s fifth part-time legislature.

Montana | Acknowledgment of Tribe, After Decades

The Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians, based in Montana but without a reservation, became the 574th federally recognized tribe in the United States late last year. Federal recognition, which the tribe had been seeking since the 1930s, will give Little Shell members access to health care and social services, High Country News reports. It also delivered a long-sought sense of validity. “I felt like, without recognition, I wasn’t somebody,” said 93-year-old Theresa Juraskovich, the tribe’s oldest living member. “Today, I feel like I’m valued.”

Maryland | Vape Loophole Closed

Maryland is the first state to ban all flavors of disposable electronic cigarettes except tobacco and menthol, The Hill reports. The move closes a loophole in the recent federal e-cigarette ban, which prohibited cartridge-based fruit and mint flavors but exempted disposable devices, which are cheaper than refillable cartridges and increasingly popular with teenagers. The ban was initiated by Maryland’s comptroller, Peter Franchot, but pending legislation in the General Assembly would go still further, banning any tobacco product, including vaping materials, that gives off an odor other than tobacco.

Love, American Style | We’re Making Fewer Trips to the Altar, Divorce Court

The nation’s marriage and divorce rates both fell in the last 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau reports, citing figures from its most recent American Community Survey. The annual rates of 17.9 new marriages and 10.5 new divorces for every 1,000 women ages 15 or older in 2008 dropped to 16.6 and 7.7, respectively, in 2018. The bureau notes, however, that the rates vary widely by state. Utah had the nation’s highest marriage rate in 2018 (23.1), while Puerto Rico had the lowest divorce rate that year (4.2). Apparently, the fewer of us who do tie the knot are more likely to keep it tied.

—Kevin Frazzini
Kevin Frazzini is the senior editor of State Legislatures magazine.

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