'In God We Trust' Now Mandatory Display in These Public Schools



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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Texas secretary of state job still open ... New voting machines picked in Georgia ... Pushback from Baltimore after the president's tweets.

School districts in Kentucky and South Dakota are outfitting schools with “In God We Trust” signs in advance of the first day of school in order to comply with new mandates by their state legislatures. In Kentucky, some districts are still working out the details of the kind of plaques, artwork or signs they will display, while others have already mounted signage. One regional PTA official in that state, Penny Christian, said she believed the mandate violated the U.S. Constitution’s separation of church and state, but didn’t plan to challenge the law. "I am a Christian, I just don't believe that the school is the venue where my daughter learns anything about Christianity or a religion, unless it's in a historical context," she said. State Rep. Brandon Reed, a Kentucky Republican and one sponsor of the bill, noted the law had bipartisan support. “I’m enormously proud of this legislation, which passed with support from both Republicans and Democrats and sends a message that our national motto is nothing to be ashamed of," he said. In South Dakota, the Rapid City school district stenciled the phrase on buildings, the least expensive option. It cost $2,800 to stencil 23 schools. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that state has had a requirement that “In God We Trust” be prominently displayed in each school for 17 years.  [WKYT; Lexington Herald-Leader; Rapid City Journal]

NO SECRETARY OF STATE | Texas has been without a secretary of state for 63 days. David Whitley, the previous secretary, who oversees state elections, resigned during the legislative session. He had been criticized for improperly handling a review of the voter rolls. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has not yet named a replacement. [Texas Tribune]

ASSAULT WEAPON BAN | A proposed constitutional amendment that would allow Florida voters to outlaw assault weapons in the state is “too vague” to go on the ballot, the state attorney general argues. “The amendment would ban the possession of virtually every semi-automatic long gun,” Attorney General Ashley Moody wrote in a filing before the state Supreme Court. [Miami Herald]

VOTING MACHINES | Georgia is moving ahead with a $107 million contract to replace the state’s much-criticized voting machines with a new system that includes paper balloting. During the 2018 election, which included a hotly contested governor’s race, there were complaints about lost votes and votes getting switched to other candidates. While the new system will need to be in place by the March presidential primary, a federal judge is considering forcing the state to using paper ballots for municipal elections this fall. [Georgia Public Broadcasting; Atlanta Journal Constitution]

BALTIMORE FALLOUT | Officials in Baltimore and Maryland continued to blast President Trump Monday, days after he first began tweeting on Saturday about U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D) and his majority-black district as “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.” Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who does not support Trump and previously mulled a primary challenge agains the president in 2020, was criticized over the weekend for not coming out more strongly against the president’s statements. In a radio interview Monday, Hogan said Trump’s comments were “outrageous and inappropriate,” while adding “people are completely fed up with kind of nonsense. Why are we not focused on solving the problems and getting to work?” Johnny Olszewski Jr., the county executive in neighboring Baltimore County, noted that the county once had to threaten the real estate company owned by Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, over code violations. (A spokesman said the company invest a lot of money in the properties.) Baltimore Mayor Jack Young said instead of issuing tweets, the president should send federal resources to the city. "I mean, if you want to help us, help us. Don't talk about it, send the resources we need to rebuild America,” he said. On Monday morning, Trump doubled down on his tweets, saying the city couldn’t be improved with “King Elijah and that crew” in charge. “When the leaders of Baltimore want to see the City rise again, I am in a very beautiful oval shaped office waiting for your call!,” he tweeted. [Baltimore Sun; CNN]

Laura Maggi is Managing Editor of Route Fifty.

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