Thursday, July 20, 2023

How our LawAtlas data relate to US current events  

Our team regularly tracks the use of our data and we have seen correlations between the data that seem to be most popular and current events.  

As of July 1, 2023, our top five most viewed datasets on for the first half of the year were  

These topics have been widely discussed and debated in the news this year. 

State Preemption Laws 

Our State Preemption Laws data examine 15 domains that impact the social determinants of health including: Ban the Box, firearms, mandatory inclusionary zoning, municipal broadband, mandatory paid leave, rent control, full disclosure tax requirements, general revenue limits, general expenditure limits, property tax limits, tax assessment limits, tax levy limits, transgender rights, local law enforcement budgets, and race and racism in school curriculum. Our data can be used to understand how state governments are using preemption to limit cities, counties, and other lower-level municipalities from legislating across a broad array of issues.  

Our partners at the National League of Cities are hosting a webinar on July 19 discussing the barriers to expanding municipal broadband.  

The discourse surrounding firearms, transgender rights, and race and racism in school curriculum have been particularly loud in national media. Both sides of the aisle have focused on creating more restrictions and protections for each of these domains.  

Our data specifically explores key elements of transgender rights, including adding new protected classes, inclusive school curriculum, gender-affirming care, single-sex spaces, participation in sports for transgender athletes, and interference with parental rights as determined by states related to health or mental health.  

While there have been many discussions on transgender rights, there are also many on how schools can and cannot teach race and racism in the classroom. Seven states impose penalties for discussing race and racism, with Arizona and New Hampshire naming specific penalties for teachers.

State Abortion Laws 

We just passed the one-year anniversary of the US Supreme Court decision upending the limited constitutional protection of abortion afforded by Roe v. Wade. Now, the legal status of abortion varies even more drastically across the nation, compromising equitable access to this essential health care. While some states have moved to ban abortion outright, others have enacted measures attempting to protect and expand access. 

Our suite of data capture 16 domains of abortion regulations and protections from December 1, 2018, through November 1, 2022. Some of the key domains include abortion bans, abortion provider qualifications, abortion reporting requirements, statutory and constitutional right to abortion, and medication abortion requirements.  

There are even more resources across our sites that can support our understanding of the legal status of reproductive rights in the United States.

State Fair Housing Protections 

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development recently announced it made $29.5 million in noncompetitive funding available to HUD’s state and local fair housing enforcement agencies across the country under the Fair Housing Assistance Program.  

The federal Fair Housing Act, passed as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, prohibits discrimination in housing-related transactions for individuals who are members of a protected class — these include race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. Forty-nine states and D.C. have adopted their own fair housing laws to expand upon these federal protections, such as prohibiting discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or source of income. These laws regulate which protected classes are included, the types of discriminatory actions that are prohibited, and when discrimination is exempt under the law. 

Our LawAtlas dataset identifies and displays key features of state fair housing laws in effect from August 1, 2017 to August 1, 2019. 

Our data are helpful in understanding the context of discussion surrounding each of these topics. Understanding the progression of these laws over time can help lawmakers and policymakers determine new measures to provide a healthier, more equitable public health landscape.  

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