US: College town economies suffer as students avoid bars, tailgating
Some college students have defiantly held frat parties and congregated in bars, but many are obeying the rules. The coronavirus pandemic, which emptied hundreds of U.S. colleges in March, still weighs on local economies as fall semesters sputter to a start, with stay-in-dorm orders and bans on gatherings.
NY: Enforcement of New York’s plastic bag ban to resume next month
New York state’s enforcement of the ban, which took effect in March, quickly met obstacles as the coronavirus pandemic stoked fear of reusable bags carrying bacteria or viruses, and plastic bag makers sued to stop the measure. Enforcement will begin Oct. 19.
PA: Pennsylvania counties spend millions to prevent an election nightmare by counting votes faster
Pennsylvania counties are spending millions of dollars to prepare for a huge volume of ballots and prevent a long, drawn-out vote-counting process. Unlike some states, Pennsylvania officials aren’t legally allowed to start counting ballots until polls open on Nov. 3.
TX: Texans with disabilities are eligible for mail-in voting, but people must decide for themselves if they qualify
Disability rights activists say they’re worried the confusion may deter at-risk Texans from voting or cause them to needlessly put their health at risk to show up in person at the polls despite being eligible for mail-in voting.
ME: Maine steps up pandemic enforcement after wedding ‘super spreader’ event
Maine public health authorities have stepped up enforcement of pandemic-related business regulations, sanctioning more establishments for ignoring requirements on face coverings, social distancing and other prevention methods. The rush of citations comes in the aftermath of a wedding in the Millinocket area in early August that created a “super spreader” event linked to almost 180 COVID-19 cases and eight deaths.
NJ: New Jersey adopts one of the nation’s toughest environmental justice laws
Companies looking to build a power plant or factory that would produce significant pollution in a low-income or minority New Jersey community will face more scrutiny after Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed one of the country’s most stringent environmental justice bills into law.
MO: Missouri biker fest draws tens of thousands despite ‘super spreader’ concerns
An estimated 125,000 people came to Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks over the past week to attend an annual biker festival that was held despite concerns the event could turn into a “super spreader” amid the coronavirus pandemic. Photos circulated online showed many maskless partygoers crowding bars and concert venues during one of the largest motorcycle rallies in the Midwest.
IN: Indiana plans to borrow m for jobless benefits
A flood of unemployment claims related to the coronavirus pandemic has caused Indiana officials to seek as much as million in loans from the federal government. The borrowing is needed because the state’s unemployment fund had about million at the end of August, down from nearly billion before joblessness exploded in March.
WA: Latino groups call on Washington state to send aid in aftermath of wildfires
Latino farmworkers and civil and labor rights groups are calling on Washington officials to immediately send food aid and provide housing for families who’ve lost their homes to the state’s wildfires. It’s unclear how many families have been affected, the organizations said, partly because the state hasn’t yet assessed the extent of destruction to farm labor cabins — where pickers and other farmworkers live.
MA: Air quality and ventilation issues trip up school openings across Massachusetts
Boston, Massachusetts, schools with inadequate ventilation and broken windows have been well-known for years, but city and school officials have been slow to respond. Now, that neglect has become a major hurdle in reopening schools amid a pandemic in which airborne spread of the novel coronavirus is a major concern.
MD: Maryland commission to tackle history of lynchings
The Maryland Lynching Truth and Reconciliation Commission is expected to begin taking oral histories and collecting documents in the coming months as part of an intensive, three-year study of Maryland’s 42 known racial terror lynchings, which were often by hanging and committed by perpetrators who were never held accountable.
VA: Virginia Commonwealth University board votes to remove confederate names from campus
The board of visitors for Virginia Commonwealth University voted unanimously to remove from its campus 16 building names, plaques and other symbols that honor supporters of the Confederacy, the latest step in this year’s purge of Confederate symbols in the city and across the country. VCU President Michael Rao endorsed the move.
SC: Wearing masks in South Carolina capitol required, but some skirt rule
Anyone who enters a state government building in South Carolina is required to wear a mask. But inside the state’s top government building, lawmakers and members of the public flouted the rule last week, their noses and mouths visible in plain air.
OR: Oregon warns wildfire insurance payouts will be a long process
Oregon says people who lost homes or suffered other damage from the wildfires that erupted across the state this month should contact their insurance companies immediately to begin their claims. But they should be prepared for a long process as they work to get their payouts and start to rebuild.
ID: Some Idaho cities and counties refusing federal aid for tax relief
In August, Idaho Gov. Brad Little, a Republican, made local governments an offer — in exchange for a promise not to increase property taxes, the state would use some of the .25 billion it received in coronavirus relief to cover their public safety budgets. Now some local governments are opting out, saying the money carries too many risks that they fear could result in a bill down the road for taxpayers larger than what they would save today.
HI: Hawaii businesses claimed by COVID-19 could total 1,000
According to one analysis, Hawaii had the second-highest rate among states for permanent business closures from March 1 to July 10, a number that suggests that more than 1,000 Hawaii businesses may have already folded. Another survey found that about 25,000 business owners believed their business would not survive the coronavirus crisis even with a return in tourism starting Oct. 1.
MS: Mississippi state fair set to go on with COVID-19 rules
Mississippi is planning to go ahead with its annual state fair in early October with new rules to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. New cases of COVID-19 have declined in the state in recent weeks, and officials said they have been working hard to design a fair that will keep attendees safe, despite the risk of the virus spreading in large crowds.
TX: Appeals court sides with Harris County clerk over Texas attorney general in mail ballot lawsuit
Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office told the Texas Supreme Court that it intended to seek a review of a Houston-based appeals court ruling denying his attempt to block Harris County officials from sending mail ballot applications to the county’s 2.4 million registered voters.
LA: After mail-in ballots expanded in Louisiana, secretary of state worries about disinformation
In his first detailed statement about a recent federal trial court’s ruling expanding access to absentee mail ballots for the Nov. 3 election, Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, a Republican, said in a statement that while disappointed, he is concerned with disinformation. He did not say if he planned to appeal the trial court’s decision to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
VT: Vermont bars can reopen counters and hotels may fill 100% capacity, governor announces
Vermont bars and restaurants with counter seating will be allowed to serve customers, under new guidelines announced by Republican Gov. Phil Scott, and lodging facilities can open to 100% capacity. Bars will be required to maintain a six-foot separation between customers and have barriers in place between servers and customers.
CO: Colorado’s economic recovery is ahead of schedule
Sales tax and income tax collections in Colorado were stronger in recent months than previously projected, according to economists for the state legislature and governor’s office, and state budget writers may have significantly more money to spend this year than they feared at the onset of the pandemic.
NV: Nevada tourism has long path to recovery
Casinos and other businesses have been reopening, but it’s anyone’s guess how long it will take for tourism — Las Vegas, Nevada’s financial livelihood — to fully recover from the shutdowns.
AZ: Arizona State University to shorten semester
The coronavirus pandemic is prompting Arizona State University to shorten its fall semester by a week, with any instruction during the one remaining week after the Nov. 26-27 Thanksgiving break conducted virtually.
WY: CDC eviction moratorium may protect most Wyoming households
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moratorium requires tenants to make their best efforts to pay as much of their monthly costs as possible, but a Wyoming program could help. The state legislature in May authorized the Wyoming Community Development Authority to spend up to million in federal virus relief on rent and mortgage assistance for households whose income has been affected by COVID-19.
DE: Delaware issues first batch of extra unemployment benefits
The Delaware Department of Labor disbursed its first batch of additional unemployment funding, sending to around 27,000 claimants who qualified for the add-on provided by disaster relief funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Lost Wages Assistance.
WI: Wisconsin official pushed out over unemployment backlog
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, has effectively fired the leader of the state’s workforce development agency, which has struggled for months to clear a massive backlog of unemployment claims. Department of Workforce Development Secretary Caleb Frostman left his job after Evers asked for his resignation.
NM: Internet woes, fewer meetings hamper New Mexico lawmakers
This year, New Mexico legislators have scheduled fewer committee meetings than normal and have held most virtually. They say both of those developments have made it more difficult to get their legislative work done ahead of next year’s session.
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