Top State Stories 12/23

By: - December 23, 2020 12:00 am


US: States and cities impose their most severe lockdowns since the spring

States and major cities across the country have imposed the most extensive restrictions on business and social gatherings since widespread lockdowns during the spring, in hopes of preventing another wave of COVID-19 cases over the winter holidays.

FL: Florida to vaccinate seniors before workers

Elderly Floridians will be next in line to get vaccinated, before essential workers and younger people with underlying health conditions, cementing the state’s position in a shifting public health policy debate.

US: Homeless Americans less affected by coronavirus than feared; states with hotel shelters help

Tests conducted in places like Seattle and Los Angeles have turned up relatively low rates of infection among homeless populations. Experts say that among the reasons for the better-than-expected outcomes are programs in California and New York, the states with the largest homeless populations, to provide thousands of hotel rooms for the most vulnerable homeless people. Hotel rooms are also made available for people experiencing homelessness who exhibit symptoms or come into close contact with those who are infected.

CA: Black woman appointed California Secretary of State

California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom selected Black Democratic Assemblywoman Shirley Weber to serve as the state’s next secretary of state, replacing Alex Padilla. Padilla was selected to replace Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in the U.S. Senate. Padilla becomes the first Latino senator from California.

NM: New Mexico offers home coronavirus tests

New Mexico residents can now order self-administered COVID-19 tests that will yield results in 24 to 48 hours. The free tests are available to residents regardless of symptoms or contacts.

OR: Oregon governor says teachers should be next in line for vaccine

Oregon’s teachers, school staff and other education-related workers should be next in line, after health care staff and senior care residents and workers, to get the coronavirus vaccine, Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, said. Brown’s statement comes as tens of thousands of vaccine doses arrive in Oregon and tens of thousands more are expected in coming days.

SC: South Carolina governor tests positive for COVID-19

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, has tested positive for COVID-19, and despite mild symptoms will undergo an antibody treatment to keep those symptoms from worsening, his office said.

MA, NH, NJ: Massachusetts tells Supreme Court to reject New Hampshire lawsuit over cross-border tax collections

The attorney general of Massachusetts is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to decline a petition filed by New Hampshire over cross-border income tax collections during the pandemic. In October, New Hampshire filed a lawsuit alleging a temporary tax regulation enacted by its neighboring state violated New Hampshire’s sovereignty. But New Jersey, eyeing a prize of as much as .2 billion in tax revenue in a similar dispute with New York, wants the high court to take the case.

PA: In reversal, Pennsylvania Supreme Court says police can’t search cars without a warrant

Police can no longer search cars without a warrant unless there is both probable cause that a crime occurred and emergency circumstances that require immediate action, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled. That’s a reversal for the court, which in 2014 cleared the way for warrantless searches.

MN: Minnesota care providers question vaccine distribution in state

A leader of a Minnesota clinic said the state’s vaccination plan resembles a “trickle-down” model that perpetuates long-standing health inequities in the state.

IA: Moderna COVID-19 shots arrive in Iowa


Iowa has begun receiving thousands of doses of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine, and pharmacy teams will start vaccinating residents and staff of long-term care facilities next week as planned, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds said.

 ME: Maine’s largest cannabis company sues to allow out-of-state medical buyers

Maine’s largest cannabis company has asked the U.S. District Court in Maine to strike down the residency requirement in Maine’s medical marijuana law, making the same constitutional argument it used to successfully open the state’s recreational market to out-of-state investors earlier this year.

AK: Alaska governor splits health, social services into two agencies

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, a Republican, is splitting the state’s health department in two. Dunleavy and the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services commissioner said the department, at 3,500 employees, is too big, too unwieldy and needs a sharpened focus to better serve Alaskans. 

WY: Wyoming governor announces grant program for nonprofits


Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon, a Republican, unveiled a new program that would provide grant funding to nonprofit organizations that have provided public assistance or seen a decline in donations during the coronavirus pandemic. 

VT: Vermont will not join transportation and climate initiative, for now

Vermont has declined for now to join the Transportation and Climate Initiative, a regional effort to cut carbon emissions over the next decade. Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C., are the only jurisdictions that have signed on to the new program so far.

VA: Applications for Virginia redistricting commission skew white, male

A week from the Dec. 28 deadline to apply, citizen applicants for Virginia’s new Redistricting Commission are skewing white, male, older and comparatively well-off.

NC: North Carolina website tracks how many people got vaccinated in each county

North Carolinians can now track how many people in their county have been vaccinated against the coronavirus on the state Department of Health and Human Services website. The vaccinations dashboard includes a color-coded map showing roughly the number of residents in each county who have been vaccinated and their demographic breakdown.

ND: With drop in coronavirus cases, North Dakota bars can resume normal hours

Republican Gov. Doug Burgum signed an amended executive order that paved the way for bars and restaurants in North Dakota to return to regular hours of operation on Tuesday, as the active numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have declined in the state. 

NE: Nebraska proposes M new prison to fight crowding

Nebraska’s corrections department will propose to lawmakers a new, million prison to reduce chronic overcrowding that’s likely to get worse, the agency’s director said.


AL: Alabama House of Representatives appoints first Black chief clerk since Reconstruction

Alabama House of Representatives Clerk Jeff Woodard announced today the appointment of Natalyn Williams as chief clerk, making her the first Black person since at least Reconstruction to hold the position overseeing the entire House staff.

OK: Oklahoma House Republicans urge congressional delegation to fight Electoral College result

Twenty-four Republican members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives said they want the state’s congressional delegation to object when Electoral College votes are counted on Jan. 6. Their letter implies that some states did not hold “free, fair and constitutional elections”—a claim made by some supporters of President Donald Trump, but that no court or election official has found to be the case.

 MO: Pandemic forces changes upon tech-averse Missouri Senate

The pandemic is forcing Missouri’s tradition-bound Senate to make changes to how it will operate in 2021. With lawmakers set to be sworn in on Jan. 6, the Senate is installing an audio monitoring system in its committee hearing rooms so employees, lobbyists and the public can listen to debate in their homes or offices.

TX: Texas limits on coronavirus restrictions take a toll

Texas state data shows that in the regions with the worst COVID-19 outbreaks, including El Paso, Amarillo and Lubbock, the state’s limited restrictions have done little to ease an overburdened health care system.

MI: Michigan home explosions tied to pot processing

The string of statewide explosions and fires in Michigan erupted when home marijuana processors used butane to refine cannabis. Under state law the process is illegal in residential areas.

LA: Louisiana extends coronavirus restrictions

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, has extended the state’s current coronavirus restrictions for another three weeks. Hospitalizations and other metrics are still high.

WA: Washington officials voice concerns as state Capitol becomes site of political clashes

With triggers pulled this month at two different political clashes in Olympia, wounding at least one person, Washington’s state Capitol has become one of the latest emblems of America’s frayed social fabric. That escalation has also helped lead to a rift between some of Olympia’s community leaders and state officials, who have kept approaches to the Capitol closed with signs, concrete barriers and parked vehicles.

ID: Two Idaho health care workers recovering after allergic reaction to vaccine

Two health care workers in Idaho had severe allergic reactions shortly after receiving the coronavirus vaccine. One person has since recovered fully, while the other was in stable condition at a hospital and is expected to be discharged.

HI: Hawaii governor’s budget would wipe out the jobs of 149 state workers

Hawaii Democratic Gov. David Ige’s new two-year budget proposal would eliminate the jobs of 149 state employees and may also involve some tax increases. But Ige expressed hope that the new Congressional pandemic relief bill will provide money to help with the state budget crisis, and may allow for a delay in the state public worker furloughs that are scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.

MS: Record-breaking COVID-19 deaths reported in Mississippi

Mississippi reported its highest-ever number of COVID-19 deaths in a single day, 79, shattering the previous record of 67 on Aug. 25. “These are people who didn’t have to die,” said state health officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs.

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Stateline staff
Stateline staff

Stateline’s team of veteran journalists combines original reporting with a roundup of the latest news from sources around the country.