WI: Mailing of absentee ballots should be halted, top Wisconsin court says
The Wisconsin Supreme Court told election officials that absentee ballots should not be mailed for now while the court determines whether the Green Party’s presidential ticket should be added. The 4-3 order fell along ideological lines, with the conservatives in the majority and the liberals in dissent.
OR: Oregon has never seen so much uncontained fire at once
Oregon has never before had as much uncontained wildfire burning at once, Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, said. Wildfires affecting tens of thousands of Oregonians have burned nearly 900,000 acres, or nearly twice the yearly average over the past 10 years, in just the past week.
MI: Michigan essential workers to get free college
About 625,000 essential workers in Michigan who put in time during the height of the COVID-19 lockdown and don’t have a degree are eligible for free college under a plan detailed by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The free college is currently limited to community colleges.
AZ: Feds cited 1 in 4 Arizona nursing homes during pandemic
Government inspectors since April have cited more 1 in 4 Arizona nursing homes for errors that could spread COVID-19. Of the 43 nursing homes cited, 26 had been cited for infection control errors prior to the pandemic.
TX: Court rejects Texas effort to expand vote by mail
The Texas Democratic Party had challenged the state’s age restrictions on voting by mail, arguing they violated the 26th Amendment. A three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Texas can keep its strict eligibility rules.
GA: New election rule sets standards for Georgia absentee ballot counting
The State Election Board passed a rule Tuesday that sets thresholds for how scanners count absentee ballots in Georgia, discarding votes that fill in less than 10% of an oval. The rule means that votes marked as check marks or Xs outside ovals won’t necessarily be recorded.
VT: Republicans sue over Vermont mail-in voting
A group of five Vermonters, that includes one current and a former Republican state lawmaker, has filed a federal lawsuit against Secretary of State Jim Condos, a Democrat, alleging that his office’s plan to send ballots to all active voters for the general election will result in widespread voter fraud and violate Vermonter’s right to vote.
NY: Groups ask New York governor for prepaid absentee ballot postage
Dozens of voting and civil rights advocacy groups sent letters this week to New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo urging him to issue an executive order so that voters won’t have to pay for the postage needed to mail absentee ballots in November’s general election.
VA: Virginia revenue flat in August, up M for fiscal year
Virginia tax revenue was down slightly in August, .6 million less than the same month a year ago, but the state is about million ahead of the revised revenue forecast that Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam issued last month.
CO: Scammers go after nearly B in Colorado unemployment benefits
More than three out of four claims made for unemployment assistance under a program for self-employed workers and independent contractors since July 18 were found to be fraudulent, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment said.
NV: Trump still plans Nevada visit despite COVID-19 rules
Republicans planned a protest Thursday night in support of their First Amendment rights as President Donald Trump moves forward with plans to campaign in Nevada this weekend despite the state’s 50-person cap on public gatherings.
WA: Washington’s food insecurity crisis likely to get worse
Food insecurity around Washington is at historically high levels, state officials and food providers said, and they expect the crisis to continue for months to come.
HI: Hawaii’s Health Department has spent just a fraction of its federal COVID-19 grants
State records show the Hawaii Department of Health has spent just a fraction of its federal grant money for COVID-19 detection and prevention, prompting calls from lawmakers for the department to act faster to strengthen the state’s pandemic response.
MD: Maryland to spend .5M on new type of rapid test
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan said Maryland would be the first in a 10-state compact to buy large batches of a new kind of rapid coronavirus test for use in nursing homes, prisons and possibly college dorms and other places prone to outbreaks. The purchase would be paid for with a grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
MS: Mississippi governor may ease some restrictions, but not mask requirement
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, said he does not expect to rescind the state’s mask requirement soon. He did say it’s possible some restrictions will be eased, like the number of people who can gather in outdoor groups.
NM: Drop in revenue will hurt New Mexico
Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham urged the federal government to help states like New Mexico cope with plummeting revenue and additional costs during the pandemic. The drop threatens state services including child welfare, health care services, education and small-business support.
CT: Without state mandate, Connecticut school districts face tough decisions on whether to close
Without a state mandate on when to shut down schools due to COVID-19, more than a dozen Connecticut districts have already been faced with a thorny decision: Do coronavirus cases automatically warrant closing school doors — and if so, for how long?
FL: Florida bars to reopen
Florida bars may reopen Monday at half capacity. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis also endorsed extending the executive order allowing restaurants to offer alcohol to go.
LA: New Orleans to remain in Phase 2, as rest of Louisiana moves into Phase 3
Despite Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ decision to move Louisiana into phase three of reopening from COVID-19 restrictions, New Orleans will remain in phase two so that public schools can begin to reopen classrooms next week, Democratic Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced.
DE: Delaware wants rodeo attendees to test for COVID-19
The Delaware Division of Public Health is asking anyone who attended a weekend rodeo event to get a COVID-19 test. Democratic Gov. John Carney criticized the event, where people were photographed in close proximity without masks.
UT: Utah leaders want to keep COVID-19 death rates below 1%
Utah leaders rolled out a new COVID-19 plan that rests on two major goals: Keeping the state’s case fatality rate below 1% and holding the unemployment rate below 4.5%.
IN: Indiana court denies challenge to religious objection limits
An Indiana appeals court rejected an appeal from conservative religious groups that have unsuccessfully challenged limits on the state’s religious objections law, which prohibits any government actions that “substantially burden” a person or organization’s ability to follow religious beliefs.
ME: Feds to pay Maine lobster fishers M to offset trade war losses
Maine lobster fishermen are about to get a million federal bailout to offset the impact of the United States-China trade war. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the creation of a million seafood trade relief program that will pay licensed fishermen a species-specific amount for every pound landed in 2019.
KY: Death threat, profanity led a Kentucky health agency to stop COVID-19 Facebook updates
Kentucky’s public health officials face a new demand: correcting the record for people spreading misinformation about the coronavirus.
MA: Massachusetts doubles size of public space grant program to M, extends outdoor dining season
Massachusetts’ Shared Streets and Spaces Grant Program was established in June to hand out payments of between ,000 and ,000 to help cities and towns quickly build improvements.
OH: Ohio governor’s pick for health chief withdraws hours after announcement
The Ohio governor’s office said in a news release Thursday night that the candidate Republican Gov. Mike DeWine had tapped to be the next director of the Department of Health has withdrawn from consideration, hours after DeWine announced her selection. Dr. Joan Duwve cited unspecified personal reasons for her decision.
NJ: New Jersey governor signs bill making Juneteenth a state holiday
New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy noted that several states acknowledge Juneteenth but few have made it a state holiday. The holiday, June 19, will allow for state employees to be off from work.
GA: Unofficial Georgia Senate panel studying systemic inequality
After the GOP lieutenant governor, Geoff Duncan, opted not to appoint a panel to study systemic inequality in Georgia’s laws, including racial discrimination in how laws are applied, the Republican senator who introduced the idea assembled a group of lawmakers, corporate executives and activists to do the work.
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