Top State Stories 1/19

By: - January 19, 2021 12:00 am

US: Heavily fortified statehouses see small protests

Small groups of right-wing protesters—some of them armed—gathered outside heavily fortified statehouses around the country Sunday, outnumbered by National Guard troops and police brought in to prevent a repeat of the violence that erupted at the U.S. Capitol. There were no reports of any clashes.

TX: Some Texas regions have run out of ICU beds

Hospitals in the Abilene, Bryan-College Station and Laredo areas of Texas have run out of intensive care unit beds. State health officials are greatly concerned about high numbers of hospitalized people throughout Texas.

MI: Michigan GOP replaces election certifier

The Michigan Republican who withstood partisan pressure and voted to certify the results of the Nov. 3 election in the state was not nominated for another term on the Board of State Canvassers.

ID: Idaho state senator seeks to ban psychoactive drugs

While other states warm up to legalizing recreational marijuana use, Idaho senators are considering a new way to ban psychoactive drugs—by putting it in the state’s constitution. State Sen. C. Scott Grow, a Republican, introduced a constitutional amendment that would put the prohibition in the Idaho Constitution instead of just making it law code, which would make it more difficult to legalize psychoactive drugs in the future.

NH: New Hampshire hunters killed a record number of black bears in 2020

Hunters killed 1,183 bears in 2020, marking a new state record. That’s a 12% increase from New Hampshire’s previous record. The Fish and Game’s bear project leader said several factors, including the pandemic and a drought, played a role.

WV: West Virginia sets pace on COVID-19 vaccine rollout

West Virginia has emerged as an unlikely success in the nation’s otherwise chaotic coronavirus vaccine rollout, largely because of the state’s decision to reject a federal partnership with CVS and Walgreens and instead enlist mom-and-pop pharmacies to vaccinate residents. More shots have gone into people’s arms per capita across West Virginia than in any other state, with at least 7.5% of the population receiving the first of two shots, according to federal data.

FL: Florida prisons plagued by short-staffing

Florida isn’t spending enough to cover the increase in prisoners from added penalties and mandatory minimum sentences that lawmakers approved more than 20 years ago. The Department of Corrections is the state’s largest agency and budget item.

NJ: New Jersey’s COVID-19 vaccine plan appears ripe for cheating

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s move to immediately expand eligibility to more than 4 million more New Jerseyans—those 65 and older, those with a chronic illness and smokers—may have made the system much more susceptible to cheating. Like other states, New Jersey’s vaccination program is running almost entirely on an honor system. No documentation is required to prove you belong to one of the many groups deemed eligible.

CO: Colorado will not require IDs for COVID-19 vaccinations

Colorado’s public health department sent notices to hundreds of providers directing them not to require government IDs or other documentation for people getting inoculated against the coronavirus. The directive aims to ensure noncitizens and others who might not have an ID are included in the vaccination drive.

NV: Reno judges, staff jump the line for COVID-19 vaccines in Nevada

City officials in Reno have criticized the Municipal Court staff after learning they may have secured vaccinations for some city personnel and their families ahead of the schedule outlined by Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, and the Washoe County Health District.

SC: South Carolina officials say there’s not enough coronavirus vaccine

Days after South Carolina opened access to COVID-19 vaccines to older adults at least 70-years-old, state health officials say some providers are having to push appointments back because they won’t have vaccines to give. South Carolina’s top public health official said the allotment of COVID-19 vaccine doses the state is receiving from the federal government is simply “not sufficient.”

CA: Fight against COVID-19 hits wall of defiance, suspicion in rural California

Among the biggest obstacles for health officials in Northern California: overcoming widespread skepticism that the virus is a serious threat in far-flung towns, fear that the new vaccine is unsafe and open rebellion against health orders. The pushback in rural parts of California is emblematic of the challenge in many parts of the United States, particularly outside more liberal urban centers.

KS: COVID-19 fuels quick push for Kansas anti-abortion rights measure

Opponents of abortion rights are moving with unusual speed to put a proposed amendment to the state constitution on the ballot, fearing a COVID-19 outbreak could thwart them if they delay action even for a few weeks.

CT: Some Connecticut teachers were signed up for coronavirus vaccines ahead of schedule

Hundreds of Connecticut teachers who were not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine have been cleared to go ahead and sign up amid confusion over how the next phase of the state’s vaccination program is rolling out. 

IN: Indiana’s push to increase the minimum wage again hits snags

A renewed call by Democrats to increase Indiana’s minimum wage isn’t winning over Republicans who control the Statehouse, with Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb saying his goal is to prepare workers for advancing beyond low-paying jobs. 

IL: Illinois cannabis revenue money meant to help minority businesses remains unspent

Despite promises that cannabis legalization in Illinois would fund more minority business participation and neighborhood improvements, the state has yet to spend million collected for those purposes. 

NY: Older New Yorkers might be frozen out of COVID-19 vaccination plans

Tensions over New York’s distribution of coronavirus vaccines bubbled up again over the weekend after county leaders were instructed to use their recently activated vaccination sites only to administer doses to certain “essential workers,” including police officers, firefighters, teachers, college professors and grocery employees.

MD: Maryland to provide financial help to entertainment venues

Maryland is doling out million in coronavirus relief to about 90 entertainment venues in the state. The venues, which include movie theaters, theater companies and concert halls, will receive between ,600 and ,000.

AR: Arkansas stylists, salon owners push for vaccine priority

Workers in the service industry such as hairdressers, staff at nail salons and massage therapists are not included in the Arkansas Department of Health’s tiered vaccine plans. While many of the workers agree that their jobs aren’t considered “essential”, they’re hoping for some priority since they’re put at risk every day.

WA: Washington governor sets goal of 45,000 COVID-19 vaccinations a day

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, announced a public-private partnership he said would speed up the process by creating new COVID-19 vaccination sites, mobilizing thousands of workers and making everyone 65 and over immediately eligible. Washington’s vaccination rollout has been slow and confusing, with a big gap between the number of vaccines distributed to vaccination sites and the number reported administered.

MN: Test program expands COVID-19 vaccinations in Minnesota

The announcement of the expansion comes as nearly 200,000 Minnesotans have received their first doses of the two-dose COVID-19 vaccines.


Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

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.