NJ: New Jersey COVID-19 restrictions will force bars, restaurants to close early
New Jersey bars and restaurants will have to close inside by 10 p.m. and youth interstate sports will be canceled under new restrictions announced by Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy to curb rising cases of COVID-19. Industry officials said restaurants are a scapegoat and not the source of virus spread.
GA: Citing no evidence, Georgia’s US senators demand state elections head resign
Georgia’s two U.S. senators called on the state’s top elections official, a fellow Republican, to resign in a shocking attempt to appease President Donald Trump and his supporters ahead of Jan. 5 runoffs for likely control of the U.S. Senate.
WA: Seattle wants Washington state lawmakers to limit power of police unions
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, a Democrat, is urging Washington state lawmakers to reduce the power of outside arbitrators to overturn police discipline. Bu even some of the state’s most progressive legislators are skeptical, citing fears of the larger labor world, which is fiercely protective of the right to arbitration.
WI: Wisconsin ballot clerks asked for help. Lawmakers didn’t act.
The false speculation that President-elect Joe Biden’s overnight surge in Wisconsin was the result of mass voter fraud caused drama and headaches that could have been headed off years ago, local election clerks say, if state lawmakers had listened to their requests for flexibility in counting absentee ballots.
OK: Oklahoma health officials balk at mandating masks
As a record surge of new COVID-19 infections continues to spread across Oklahoma, the state’s leading health official said he believes a mask mandate is not the answer, arguing it’s not enforceable and would cause some to rebel and not wear a mask.
DE: Early state mandates curbed virus in Delaware
The study by Delaware public health officials and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the state’s stay-at-home order, mask mandate and contact tracing contributed to an 82% reduction in COVID-19 incidence, an 88% reduction in hospitalizations and a 100% reduction in mortality in late April through June.
MA: Massachusetts legislature plans vote on expanding abortion access
The Massachusetts House, anticipating the possibility that a newly conservative U.S. Supreme Court could threaten abortion rights, plans to take up a measure this week that would remove barriers to abortion access, Democratic House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said.
LA: Louisiana considers easing voting permanently
Some Louisiana officials are considering making it permanently easier to vote before Election Day. The pandemic introduced hundreds of thousands of new voters to early and mail voting.
ME: Maine’s pandemic voting procedures likely will stay
“The drop boxes are here to stay,” said Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, a Democrat. He expects legislation will be proposed to codify some of the changes that helped improve voting access and turnout during the pandemic.
NE: Nebraska governor institutes additional measures to fight COVID-19
Nebraska Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts announced renewed restrictions aimed at trying to slow the coronavirus spread while continuing to reject calls or suggestions that he institute a mask mandate.
OR: Logging company seeks restraining order to block Oregon fund helping Black residents
An eastern Oregon logging company wants to block the state’s new, million coronavirus relief fund for Black Oregonians and businesses from using race to allocate money until the courts resolve its legal challenge.
MS: Attorneys defend Mississippi’s marijuana initiative process<
Mississippi’s top legal officer says the state Supreme Court should dismiss a mayor’s “woefully untimely” lawsuit questioning the legitimacy of the medical marijuana initiative that state voters approved by a wide margin last week. The initiative’s sponsors are making the same argument.
NH: With GOP sweep of statehouse, New Hampshire Democrats assess what happened
While Democrats won every federal race on the New Hampshire ballot last week, Republicans were the big winners on the state level. That includes gaining new majorities in the state House of Representatives, state Senate and the Executive Council.
IA: Iowa schools weigh requesting switch to online learning as COVID-19 surges
As new cases of COVID-19 and county positivity rates in Iowa have soared, a half-dozen schools and districts have received state waivers to hold all classes remotely for two weeks.
MD: Maryland schools roll back in-person learning plans
With coronavirus cases rising swiftly in Maryland, the prospect that schools will reopen their doors to thousands more students later this month seemed to be dimming as school systems reconsidered their plans.
MN: Minnesota scrambles to find substitute teachers
As COVID-19 cases rise outside Minnesota school buildings, more school staff are ending up ill or quarantined because they or a family member spent time with someone who tested positive, usually at gatherings unrelated to school. And increasingly, districts are unable to find substitutes to fill in behind absent teachers.
NV: Nevada church again asks US Supreme Court for COVID-19 cap review
Unsuccessful in an earlier bid for an emergency injunction, a Nevada church is asking the U.S. Supreme Court again to consider its challenge of coronavirus restrictions on religious gatherings as a test case for others brought by churches across the country arguing their First Amendment rights are being violated.
UT: Doctors implore Utahns to follow rules set by new COVID-19 state of emergency
With Utah’s hospitals maxing out both bed space and options to recruit more physicians and nurses, doctors said the state’s new mask order and gathering restrictions could not wait another day.
MI: Michigan rolls out COVID-19 contact alert app
The free state-sponsored app will notify anyone who has been within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes in the past 10 days of any other Michigan app user who tests positive for COVID-19. It does not share names.
NM: Meat processor sues New Mexico over shutdown order
A meat processor sued New Mexico after health officials closed its plant for two weeks because of a coronavirus outbreak. The company said it will lose millions of pounds of meat.
VT: Vermont’s long-term unemployed running out of benefits
Vermont’s unemployment insurance trust fund is in good shape, said Labor Commissioner Michael Harrington. But things are not looking good for the small number of Vermonters coming up on a full year of benefits, which is when they expire. The state is unequipped to extend those benefits, Harrington said.
VA: Virginia registrar office employees positive for COVID-19
Three employees of the Richmond, Virginia, office responsible for overseeing elections have tested positive for COVID-19. A fourth person — a staffer on Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney’s reelection campaign — also tested positive after interacting with an employee of the registrar’s office.
NY: Recreational marijuana ‘ripe’ for New York budget talks
New York was on track to pass recreational cannabis this year, but the effort stalled as the coronavirus pandemic struck. With the state projecting a multibillion-dollar deficit for years to come, in part due to the pandemic, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo is eyeing pot sales as an opportunity for new revenue.
HI: Hawaii governor to defer .85B in health fund payments
Hawaii Gov. David Ige, a Democrat, intends to defer .85 billion in scheduled payments to the fund that provides health benefits to public workers and retirees as part of his plan to cope with the colossal state budget shortfall. It also calls for borrowing as much as million from the federal government and imposing furlough days on public employees.
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