ICYMI: Top stories of the week

Each week, we bring you a collection of the most viewed stories from The Daily Brew, condensed. Here are the top stories from the week of March 27-March 31.

Utah governor signs bill adopting new state flag, veto referendum filed against it

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) signed Senate Bill 31 (SB 31), establishing a new state flag, on March 21. The new flag will become official on March 9, 2024.

The current state flag, adopted in 1911, will be called the historic state flag.

Voters, however, might have the chance to weigh in.

On March 6, after the Legislature approved SB 31, a campaign called the 2023 Utah Flag Referendum filed a veto referendum against the bill. The campaign has until April 12 to submit 134,298 valid signatures. 

Utah is the latest state to attempt a flag redesign. In 2020, Mississippi voters approved a statewide measure adopting a new state flag with 73% of the vote.

The five states that redesigned their flags before Mississippi are:

Louisiana – 2006

Georgia – 2003

South Dakota – 1992

Nevada – 1991

Florida – 1985

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In five states, the state superintendent of schools is included in the gubernatorial line of succession 

On March 16, the Indiana Senate voted to refer a constitutional amendment to the November 2024 ballot that would remove the superintendent of public instruction from the gubernatorial line of succession.

The superintendent of public instruction is sixth—and last—in Indiana’s gubernatorial line of succession, following the secretary of state, the state auditor, the state treasurer, the speaker of the House of Representatives, and the president pro tem of the State Senate. 

Five states include the superintendent of schools in the gubernatorial line of succession:Arizona (fourth in line), North Carolina (sixth), Oklahoma (seventh) , Washington (sixth), and of course, Indiana.

Here’s who comes first in the gubernatorial line of succession across the country:

  • In the 45 states with a lieutenant governor, that individual is the first in the line of succession. That includes West Virginia and Tennessee, where the state Senate presidents serve as lieutenant governor ex officio.
  • In Maine and New Hampshire, the president of the state senate is first in line to succeed the governor. 
  • In Arizona, Oregon, and Wyoming, the secretary of state is first in line to succeed the governor.

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Florida expands education savings account (ESA) program

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill on March 27 expanding the state’s Family Empowerment Scholarship program. The expanded program will provide all K-12 students not attending public schools with around $7,500 for educational expenses outside of the public school system, including private school tuition, tutoring, and homeschooling expenses. 

The Family Empowerment Scholarship was created in 2014 and provides eligible students—such as those with disabilities or from low-income families—with funding to defray private school tuition or tutoring costs.

Florida is the fourth state in 2023 to expand its existing ESA program to cover all students. Utah, Iowa, and Arkansas did so as well. Arizona and West Virginia expanded their ESA programs to all students in 2022.

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