By: - March 4, 2020 12:00 am

CA: Battling coronavirus, California distributes millions of facemasks to health care providers

California announced that it is going to start distributing millions of N95 face masks that had been stockpiled in emergency reserves to health care providers. The move is considered a key step is getting needed equipment to hospitals, which are already under strain as possible coronavirus cases increase.

VA: Virginia governor signs bill banning ‘conversion therapy’

Virginia is set to become the first state in the South to ban conversion therapy on minors. Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, signed a bill outlawing the practice, which seeks to change a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation. The bill bars such efforts by medical professionals but doesn’t apply to pastoral counseling.

OR: Oregon may spend M monthly on coronavirus response, governor says

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, said the state could spend as much as million to million per month in state and federal money to battle coronavirus, and requested that federal officials help backfill as much of those expenses as possible.

IN: Indiana lawmakers pass measure on surprise medical bills

Under a measure that passed both houses of the Indiana General Assembly, providers would not be able to send an insured patient an out-of-network bill that exceeds the in-network coverage rate unless the person first agreed to it at least five days in advance of receiving the medical care.

UT: To fight coronavirus, the Utah Capitol declares a ‘handshake-free zone’

Signs placed around the Utah capitol complex declared public spaces to be “a handshake-free zone.” And Republican House Speaker Brad Wilson took time during morning debate to urge lawmakers to stay away if they or their interns are feeling under the weather.

 MS: Bills stall in Mississippi welfare embezzlement case

The early February arrests of the former executive director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services and five others on charges of fraud and embezzlement of public funds shocked legislators. But none of the bills filed as a response to the scandal have yet moved out of committee.

MD: Bill would allow Maryland governor to declare emergency over Baltimore crime

Under a proposal from the Maryland Senate’s top-ranking Republican, the governor could declare a state of emergency in Baltimore or any other city or county when the homicide rate reaches three per 100,000 residents in a month. The governor would then be authorized to appoint “special prosecutors” to handle criminal cases and to send in state police and other law enforcement officers.

CT: Connecticut governor backs narrow sports betting bill

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, a Democrat, has voiced support for a bill that would let tribal casinos, off-track betting sites and CT Lottery locations operate the industry. Lamont has said that while he “would like a global agreement” around sports betting, he viewed a simpler approach as more practical.

AL: Alabama governor signs bill blocking occupational tax

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, has signed a bill requiring cities to get legislative approval for new occupational taxes, blocking a 1% tax passed by the Montgomery City Council in February. Democrats opposed the legislation, saying it undermined the authority of local officials.

NE: Nebraska lawmakers advance bill requiring lessons on Holocaust, slavery

Nebraska students would be taught about the Holocaust, slavery and “racial massacres” under an amendment adopted by state lawmakers. Currently, the state has a requirement to provide multicultural education to K-12 students.

ID: Idaho House passes bill to ban public funding for abortion providers

The Idaho House has passed a bill aimed at defunding abortion providers. Rep. Bryan Zollinger, a Republican, said the bill could reduce abortions as providers choose to accept state funding rather than perform abortions. 

AK: Alaska permanent fund loses .8B as coronavirus fears hit markets

The Alaska Permanent Fund lost .8 billion, or about 3% of its value, during a coronavirus-driven stock market slump. Public officials downplayed the impact of the dip, and markets rebounded somewhat. But the virus also has led to a slump in the price of crude oil, which state legislators say is a cause for concern.

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Stateline staff
Stateline staff

Stateline’s team of veteran journalists combines original reporting with a roundup of the latest news from sources around the country.