CA: California short on prison fire crews amid pandemic
As California enters another dangerous fire season, the COVID-19 pandemic has depleted the ranks of inmate fire crews that are a key component of the state’s efforts to battle out-of-control wildfires.
NY: New York City cleared for Phase 3, but with no indoor dining
Normally indoor dining, with distancing restrictions, would be part of a Phase 3 reopening in New York state. But state officials have determined that because New York City was the early epicenter of the U.S. pandemic, it is too risky to allow people to possibly crowd into restaurants and bars there.
TX: South Texas hospitals filling up
All beds are full in 10 of 12 hospitals in the Rio Grande Valley, on the U.S.-Mexico border, with new patients being sent elsewhere. The number of hospitalizations has tripled in the area over the last two weeks, and the state is sending supplies and workers to help overwhelmed hospitals.
KS: Kansas governor criticizes GOP official’s cartoon comparing mask order to Holocaust
The cartoon, which shows Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly wearing a Star of David mask as people are loaded into a cattle car, was posted on the Facebook page of a newspaper owned by a Kansas Republican county chairman.
IA: Indigenous activists demand removal of Iowa monuments, restructuring of historical narrative
The monuments being scrutinized at the Iowa Capitol commemorate early explorers and pioneers such as Italian navigator Christopher Columbus, who has been criticized by many for violence against Indigenous peoples.
CO: Pandemic gives Colorado governor unprecedented power
Democratic Gov. Jared Polis has issued more than 100 executive orders and led what at many points has been Colorado’s only fully functioning branch of government: The court system has dramatically scaled back proceedings, and the legislature has largely been in recess since mid-March.
TN: Tennessee officials given authority to implement mask requirements after governor signs order
Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee granted authority to mayors in 89 counties to issue their own face mask mandates as COVID-19 cases rise statewide.
KY: ‘Best left to individuals.’ Judge blocks Kentucky governor’s restrictions on day cares, racetracks.
A Kentucky Circuit judge issued a temporary restraining order on Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s executive orders limiting attendance at racetracks and class sizes at day cares.
MA: More of Massachusetts is reopening with Phase 3, but its economy might soon have to retreat a bit.
The Massachusetts economy is taking another step forward as casinos, gyms and movie theaters prepare to open, but some business leaders fear that the surge of coronavirus infections across the country could disrupt the state’s fragile recovery.
NM, TX: Some Texas, New Mexico police balk at enforcing mask orders
Despite executive orders requiring residents in Texas and New Mexico to wear facial coverings in public, some local law enforcement leaders said they won’t enforce it. Some expressed political opposition and others said the orders don’t give them enough authority to enforce the rules.
WA: Chokeholds, tear gas, policing changes top agenda for Washington legislature
Washington state lawmakers plan to pursue a broad range of policing changes the next time they meet, including possibly limiting police use of tear gas and chokeholds. Many lawmakers said the need to change policing is so dire that it will be a leading topic if the legislature meets in an emergency session this year.
HI: Hawaii legislature announces vaping ban, policing change
A pair of Hawaii Senate committees have given preliminary approval for a statewide ban on vaping, which will be considered when the legislature returns July 10. Lawmakers also are set to consider a bill that would make police disciplinary records public.
WI: Wisconsin business groups raise concerns about what info state might release about COVID-19 cases
Officials with the state health department are processing what they say are “hundreds” of public records requests for information about COVID-19 cases at Wisconsin businesses, prompting concern among some of the state’s largest business organizations over how much information the department will release.
MN: County attorneys in Greater Minnesota are divided over letting the AG prosecute police
Several county attorneys in Greater Minnesota expressed deep reservations over relinquishing their powers, while some worried the prosecutors could be swayed by partisan winds — or make decisions that clash with local views on criminal justice issues.
VT: Vermont Democrats knock governor for no masking order
The top contenders for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in August are criticizing Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, for his reluctance to mandate face coverings in public spaces, even as almost every other governor in the Northeast has come around to the idea.
NJ: New Jersey governor warns of out-of-state reinfections spike
Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said New Jersey is starting to see small spikes in COVID-19 reinfection from those returning from out-of-state travel, as the number of those testing positive for the coronavirus grew by 398 in the state.
MO: Missouri to spend M in pandemic funds to boost internet access
Missouri officials are tapping into federal emergency stimulus funds in the latest bid to boost internet access across the state.
NC: North Carolina legislative leader says votes are there to override governor’s veto of gun bill
North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore said the GOP legislature has enough votes to override one of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes and pass a law allowing guns in private schools where people meet for worship.
SC: South Carolina sets COVID-19 record
The surge of coronavirus cases continues with more than 1,800 people testing positive for the virus, South Carolina’s health agency reported, a number that set a new record for cases discovered in a day.
NH: Advocates ask New Hampshire to direct more COVID-19 relief aid to communities of color
A group of Black, Latino and immigrant businessowners and community advocates is calling on Republican Gov. Chris Sununu and New Hampshire lawmakers to direct more COVID-19 relief money to minority communities.
ME: Office doors reopening in Maine, but just a crack
Until there’s a vaccine for COVID-19, the Maine office environment as it existed prior to March is not coming back.
CT: Thousands of Connecticut students did not have access to a device or reliable WiFi during school closures
A new survey released by the Connecticut Department of Education shows that 29,000 students did not have access to reliable WiFi and 50,000 did not have access to a device when schools were closed during the pandemic. The issue was even greater in urban districts.
IN: Fraud suspected for jump in Indiana jobless claims
Indiana officials suspect fraud might be to blame for the state’s number of initial unemployment filings more than doubling in recent weeks. Federal officials have warned criminals are seizing on the surge in job losses to steal unemployment benefits while state agencies have been overwhelmed by claims.
NE: Medical marijuana backers turn in 60,000 more signatures than needed on Nebraska ballot petition
Nebraskans who have worked on a long-running campaign to get medical cannabis on the November ballot turned in more than 182,000 signatures.
AL: Alabama cities left to go it alone as governor urges, but doesn’t require masks
Republican Gov. Kay Ivey did urge Alabamians to wear masks to slow the state’s rising infection numbers. She even wore one herself to a news conference. Yet she would not create a statewide masking requirement because “people are not following the restrictions.”
GA: Tracking convictions for Georgia’s hate-crimes law could be difficult
Gaps in data collection and reporting nationwide make it difficult to know how often hate crimes result in a prosecution or conviction in Georgia.
LA: When Louisiana schools reopen, will students be required to wear masks? And how will that work?
Wearing masks is a key strategy in Louisiana’s effort to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus when long-closed schools reopen in a few weeks for the 2020-21 school year, but the “strong recommendation” is prompting many questions with few easy answers.
MS: Mississippi could drop Jim Crow-era statewide voting process
Mississippi just ditched its Confederate-themed state flag. Later this year, the state’s voters will decide whether to dump a statewide election process that dates to the Jim Crow era.
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