TX: Governor limits Texas counties to one absentee ballot drop-off location, bolstering GOP efforts to restrict voting
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation directing Texas counties to designate just one location for ballot drop-offs and allowing political parties to install poll watchers to observe the process.
CA: California adds COVID-19 equity requirement. It could trip up counties’ reopenings
California’s larger counties will not be permitted to reopen their economies further unless they reduce coronavirus infections in the hardest hit places where the poor, Black people, Latinos and Pacific Islanders live.
CO: Colorado governor to mass-pardon thousands of marijuana convictions
Democratic Colorado Gov. Jared Polis plans to mass-pardon 2,732 convictions of low-level marijuana possession through an executive order, after signing a bill earlier this year that gave him that authority. Polis’ pardon will only apply to convictions in state courts through 2012 of up to 1 ounce for recreational use.
NM: New Mexico hospitalizations up 30%
The number of coronavirus patients in New Mexico hospitals has climbed 30% over the last week, a sign of the increased spread of the disease. Hospitalizations are trending up in every part of the state.
AZ: All Arizona counties meet benchmarks for reopening gyms, movie theaters, other businesses
The Arizona Department of Health Services said the milestone reflected the “continuing decline of COVID-19’s community spread across Arizona.” To reopen, businesses have to submit an online attestation stating they are following public health protocols and guidelines including occupancy limits, a mask requirement and steps to prevent groups from congregating.
ID: Idaho governor again keeps state in Stage 4
With the average daily coronavirus caseload going up and hospital numbers painting an unpleasant picture, Idaho Gov. Brad Little, a Republican, announced that the state will remain in Stage 4 of the state’s pandemic reopening plan — the eighth time the state has fallen short of advancing.
NV: Nevada attorney general threatens prosecution for voter intimidation
Democratic Attorney General Aaron Ford says he is ready to prosecute anyone attempting voter intimidation in Nevada after President Donald Trump’s call during the debate this week to have his supporters “go into the polls and watch very carefully.” Nevada law since 1960 has prohibited voter intimidation with violations punishable by a Category E felony.
PA: Pennsylvania House lawmaker tests positive for COVID-19, delaying legislation on election, rent relief
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives canceled its voting session Thursday after a Republican lawmaker tested positive for the coronavirus, delaying a crucial vote to extend a rent relief program that has just expired.
LA: Louisiana Senate OKs bill to reduce governor’s role in emergency election planning
Voting largely along party lines, the Louisiana Senate approved a bill sold as a way to streamline the bitterly partisan way of setting up elections in an emergency that opponents said would remove the governor’s power to veto the plan.
CA: California governor vetoes bill that would have further protected journalists covering protests
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that would have further protected journalists covering demonstrations from physical or verbal obstruction by a law enforcement officer. He said the bill was worded too broadly and could allow “white nationalists, extreme anarchists or other fringe groups with an online presence” to be protected.
PA: How Pennsylvania state troopers seize big money from drivers, many of whom are never charged
Since 2017, Pennsylvania State Police has seized $608,000 in cash from drivers in the south-central region of the state, much of which was taken from people who were never charged with a crime, The Appeal and Spotlight PA have found.
DE: GOP US Senate candidate thanks Proud Boys for rally security
A Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Delaware thanked the Proud Boys, a far-right group with a history of violent confrontations, for providing security at a rally. Lauren Witzke’s tweet came a day after President Donald Trump was asked to condemn white supremacist groups.
WY: Health department takes over Wyoming children’s insurance program
The Wyoming Department of Health will begin running a program to provide Medicaid to low-income children, which will save the state and federal government more than $10 million.
SD: South Dakota reports record cases, deaths, recoveries from COVID-19
South Dakota recorded 13 new deaths and 747 newly infected people with the coronavirus, records for both categories.
VA: Some Virginia counties can resume jury trials
The Virginia Supreme Court authorized circuit courts in parts of Virginia to resume criminal jury trials immediately, as long as both courts adhere to strict plans they devised to ensure the safety of all participants during the ongoing pandemic.
OK: Tenants and landlords agree that Oklahoma needs eviction reforms
With COVID-19 threatening to make Oklahoma’s already-high eviction rate jump even higher, tenant and landlord advocates both urged legislators to reform the state’s eviction laws.
NJ: New Jersey launches app that alerts residents to possible exposure to COVID-19
New Jersey has joined a number of neighboring states in launching a free smartphone app to alert people if they’ve potentially been exposed to the coronavirus. It’s called COVID Alert NJ, and anyone 18 or older who lives, works or attends college in the Garden State can download it from Google Play or Apple.
NY: New York launches phone app that flags COVID-19 exposure
If people using the New York app spend 10 minutes within six feet of each other, their phones swap random codes to remember the contact. If one of the app users tests positive for the virus within the next few days, the app sends the other person an alert.
NJ: Concerns over New Jersey virtual jury selection suspend criminal trial
One of the first two jury trials in New Jersey since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has been suspended over concerns about the virtual jury selection plan the state put in place over the summer.
MD: Maryland allows child care centers to expand capacity
The Maryland State Department of Education announced it will allow child care centers to operate at the capacity for which they are licensed, easing restrictions previously meant to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus to support the state’s economic recovery.
WI: Wisconsin business lobby seeks COVID-19 confidentiality
Wisconsin’s largest business lobby asked a judge to block the state health department from releasing the names of businesses linked to COVID-19 cases. It argued the records are protected by patient confidentiality laws.
MI: Michigan extends unemployment benefits
Michigan residents who have been out of work during the pandemic are now eligible for an additional 20 weeks of benefits, for a total of up to 59 weeks. Extended benefits kicked in when the state’s jobless rate stayed higher than 8% for three consecutive months.
NC: 3 North Carolina colleges plan in-person spring semester despite sending students home this fall
North Carolina State University, UNC-Chapel Hill and East Carolina University each saw coronavirus cases spike on campus this semester and abruptly moved classes online and forced students out of dorms. But despite reporting more than 1,000 COVID-19 cases each this fall, all three schools are preparing to bring students back to campus again this spring.
MD: Maryland to allow indoor visits at nursing homes
Maryland nursing homes that have limited visitors to outdoor meetings now will be able to offer indoor visits if the facility hasn’t had any new cases in 14 days and isn’t testing for a possible outbreak.
SC: Republican South Carolina governor tells hate groups to stay out
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, said there’s no room in the state for hate groups. The governor, answering a question about the first presidential debate, told reporters he did not hear President Donald Trump say the extremist group “Proud Boys” should “stand back and stand by.” But he said his state is “not interested in groups motivated by hate.”
CT: Connecticut has issued dozens of fines for COVID-19 travel advisory violations
Connecticut has imposed 42 fines for violations of the state’s coronavirus travel advisory totaling $44,800 — with more than half of those travelers coming from North Carolina and Florida — according to data from the office of Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont.
RI: 32-hour shifts becoming more common among corrections officers in Rhode Island
Corrections officers in Rhode Island are working more marathon 32-hour shifts, leading to safety concerns at the state’s prison and contributing to overtime costs that stand apart from other law enforcement agencies in the state.
WA: Washington sees fewer jobless claims<
New claims for unemployment benefits in Washington fell last week to 17,734, the lowest number since the second week of March. Earlier in the week, employers in Washington learned they’ll be seeing a smaller than expected tax increase next year to help fill a financial hole left by the pandemic.
VT: Several Vermont school districts consider nixing contracts with police
Many say officers in Vermont schools are assuming a disciplinary role, and students would be better served by social and mental health services.
OR: Oregon Health Authority says don’t trick or treat this year
The Oregon Health Authority announced that it is recommending Oregonians avoid “traditional door-to-door trick or treating and ‘Trunk or Treat’” events this year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agrees: Trick or treating is a high-risk activity.
HI: Hawaii is seeing a boom in military-backed mortgages
Since the pandemic began, veterans and service members have been utilizing Department of Veterans Affairs home loans at historically high rates, with Honolulu, Hawaii, seeing a 206% increase in VA loans.
MS: Mississippi lawmakers return to Capitol
Mississippi lawmakers returned to the Capitol to discuss coronavirus relief funding and possibly other legislation. They look to reallocate tens of millions of dollars in CARES Act funding that hasn’t been spent.
NH: 1 month in, New Hampshire’s hybrid school models get mixed reviews
Many schools in New Hampshire have already been experimenting with the hybrid system for a month, with varying degrees of success.
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