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Some state lawmakers are targeting Trump for not releasing his tax returns. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Lawmakers in at least 25 states have introduced bills that would require presidential candidates to release their tax returns to appear on the 2020 ballot in that state — a clear swipe at President Trump, the only modern president who's refused to release his personal tax returns.

Why it matters: In theory, Trump could be blocked from the ballot in any state where the new requirement became law. But not a single state has enacted it so far, and the governors of California and New Jersey have vetoed it after it passed both state chambers. It's more interesting as a way for state Democrats to troll Trump than as an actual re-election threat.

Where it stands: Rhode Island is the latest state to pass this measure through its state Senate, according to the Providence Journal, and Maryland's state Senate passed a bill in May. Both will now move to their states' House of Delegates for consideration.

One big problem: It might not be constitutional for a state to require presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to get ballot access. The U.S. Supreme Court has previously ruled that neither states nor the federal government can create additional qualifications for congressional representatives or senators, per AP, and various legal experts anticipate that would extend to presidential candidates.

Battle lines: Rhode Island Democratic state legislators argue that “tax returns provide essential information about candidates’ conflicts of interest." Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who vetoed his state's bill, called it a "transparent political stunt."

  • California Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown questioned its constitutionality and said the measure "sets a ‘slippery slope’ precedent" for what individuals states could require of candidates."
  • Michael McConnell, a professor at Stanford Law School, told AP there’s a "tax law problem, because federal law guarantees the confidentiality of tax returns," and he anticipates "that law would pre-empt any state law requiring someone to divulge their returns.”

Flashback: This move is similar to the "birther bill" Republicans in Arizona passed in 2011 that tried to require candidates at all levels to provide proof they were born in the U.S. It was eventually vetoed by the governor at the time.

The bottom line: It is unlikely this legislation will pass in any states — the likeliest would be Hawaii. And none of the states that Trump won in 2016 have a Democratic-controlled state legislature, so he could just pass on being in the ballot in those blue states even if they did approve it.

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Go deeper

Biden pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 52% by 2030

U.S. President Joe Biden seen in the Oval Office on April 15. (Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)

The Biden administration is moving to address global warming by setting a new, economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 50% to 52% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Why it matters: The new, non-binding target is about twice as ambitious as the previous U.S. target of a 26% to 28% cut by 2025, which was set during the Obama administration. White House officials described the goal as ambitious but achievable during a call with reporters Tuesday night.

Health care workers feel stress, burnout more than a year into the pandemic

Photo: Steve Pfost/Newsday RM via Getty Images

More than a year into the coronavirus pandemic, some 3 in 10 health care professionals say they've considered leaving the profession, citing burnout and stress, a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll out Thursday indicates.

Why it matters: Studies throughout the pandemic have indicated rising rates of depression and trauma among health care workers, group that is no longer seeing the same public displays of gratitude as during the onset of the pandemic.

Russia announces end to massive troop buildup near Ukraine

Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (L) with President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Russia's defense minister said Thursday that massive military exercises near the border with Ukraine had been completed, and that he had ordered troops to return to their permanent bases by May 1, according to state media.

Why it matters: Tens of thousands of troops and heavy military equipment had been moved to the border of eastern Ukraine and the annexed territory of Crimea over the last month, sparking fears of a potential Russian invasion.