Top State Stories 8/21
CA: Uber, Lyft won’t leave California after court gives them time to fight new law
Uber and Lyft pulled back from their warning that they would suspend their services in California by Friday morning after an appeals court gave the companies a legal reprieve allowing them more time to figure out how to comply with a new state labor law.
GA: Georgia schools fear teacher shortages, push to loosen quarantine rules
Georgia teachers exposed to the coronavirus but not showing symptoms would be allowed to remain in their classrooms instead of quarantining if they are placed in a special category of workers being pushed by school leaders.
NY: New York expands mail-in voting amid virus fears
Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill allowing New York voters to request an absentee ballot if they cannot show up at a polling location because of the risk of contracting or spreading an illness, effectively permitting the state’s more than 12 million registered voters to vote by mail.
UT: Utah governor declares a new state of emergency after lawmakers refuse
After the Utah legislature refused to extend an expiring state of emergency, GOP Gov. Gary Herbert said he will issue a new emergency declaration himself. That is needed to allow dealing quickly with issues arising from COVID-19, he said, and to avoid the possibility of losing hundreds of millions of dollars of federal emergency relief.
MA: Flu shot mandate for Massachusetts students leaves many questions unanswered
Massachusetts’ new first-in-the-nation rule mandating flu vaccines for students under age 30 is drawing nearly as many questions as plaudits from health and education leaders who said the initiative will help curtail illnesses, but they’re uncertain how it will operate or be enforced.
OR: Oregon liability protections in limbo as governor mulls third special legislative session
Oregon lawmakers did not address coronavirus liability protections for businesses, schools, hospitals and other organizations during a special session on Aug. 10. Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, has not said whether she will summon lawmakers for a third session, or, if she does, when it might take place.
UT: Utah lawmakers approve new coronavirus aid, elections changes in special session
The Utah legislature convened to pass a slate of bills related to the ongoing pandemic, including approving new coronavirus aid measures. Another bill lawmakers approved allows counties to offer outdoor and in-person voting as well as drive-thru options, plus drop box and mail-in balloting for the Nov. 3 election.
TX: In shift, Texas begins publishing some data on coronavirus cases at child care centers
The Texas state health agency will start regularly posting names and locations of all child care centers that have reported positive COVID-19 cases, after refusing to publicly release that information last month.
LA: Louisiana universities will start reporting positive COVID-19 cases on campus
Louisiana’s college and university campuses have decided to start publicly reporting positive COVID-19 cases by campus each week, after working with Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration on how to best disclose infection numbers to try to track outbreaks. Initially, higher education system leaders had refused, arguing that such information could be misleading.
CO: Black, Hispanic Coloradans are disproportionately hospitalized for COVID-19, data shows
About 10% of people hospitalized for the new coronavirus were Black — roughly twice their 4.6% share of Colorado’s population, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. About 38% of patients were Hispanic, while 22% of all Colorado residents are.
HI: Hawaii principals left to trust their gut on reopening schools
For weeks the Hawaii Department of Health has failed to provide written guidelines around bringing students back into the classroom — or closing schools — in the time of COVID-19. The situation has given school principals a monumental task as classes resume this week across Hawaii’s 257 public schools.
SD: South Dakota officials: Some who went to huge Sturgis rally have COVID-19
South Dakota health officials warned that a number of people who attended the 10-day Sturgis Motorcycle Rally this month, including some who came from out of state, have come down with COVID-19.
MD: Maryland will deploy 270 drop boxes to help collect ballots
Voters in Maryland will have the option of dropping their ballots off at hundreds of drop boxes rather than mailing them in or casting them in person, the state’s elections board said. At least 270 drop boxes will be sent out across the state ahead of the fall general election, up from 75 during the primary election.
MO: Suit alleges Missouri laws ‘burden the right to vote’ with confusing rules, deadlines
Three St. Louis-area voters and a national nonprofit that advocates for women are seeking to overturn multiple Missouri election laws they contend create an undue burden on voters trying to safely cast ballots during the COVID-19 pandemic.
WI: State decides to keep Kanye West off Wisconsin ballot
The state Elections Commission voted to keep rapper Kanye West off Wisconsin’s presidential ballot in November — rebuffing supporters of President Donald Trump who have been pushing West’s spoiler campaign. On a 5-1 vote, the bipartisan commission ruled that West’s team failed to file its nomination by the deadline.
MT: Kanye West fails to qualify for Montana presidential ballot
Only 3,972 signatures out of nearly 8,800 turned in were deemed valid, Montana officials said. Kayne West needed 5,000 to qualify as an independent candidate.
SC: South Carolina governor tells cabinet officials not to seek more money
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, directed his cabinet members to wait on making any additional budget requests and start drafting contingency plans in case of possible budget cuts next year because of the ongoing financial toll of COVID-19.
RI: Bill would put halt on evictions in Rhode Island
State lawmakers are poised to introduce legislation that would impose a moratorium on evictions and mortgage foreclosures in Rhode Island during the state of emergency declared due to the pandemic.
IN: Lawsuit dropped over Indiana abortion ultrasound mandate
Planned Parenthood has decided to drop its federal lawsuit challenging an Indiana law that will require women to undergo an ultrasound at least 18 hours before having an abortion. The law was passed by the Republican-dominated legislature in 2016 but had been blocked since a federal judge’s ruling in 2017.
OH: Ohio pro teams hope to be allowed more fans than governor order
If there’s a sporting event held in Ohio, a limited number of spectators will be permitted. The question going forward is what that might look like at various levels across the state — from middle-school football games to professional soccer games.
NM: Census a challenge for rural New Mexico
Small and dwindling cities in New Mexico offer a window into what’s at stake if what’s deserved isn’t delivered. That includes funds for hundreds of programs that benefit children, families, businesses and communities.
AZ: Arizona State Fair 2020 canceled due to COVID-19
The 2020 Arizona State Fair has been postponed to October 2021, according to the fair’s website. Some portions of the fair will go virtual, including the livestock show and a video game competition.
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