Top State Stories 1/20
GA: Georgians fear a debacle when 2nd COVID-19 vaccine shots come due
Older Georgia adults lucky enough to get first doses of a coronavirus vaccine say trying to book appointments for the required booster shots has been nightmarish. It’s not clear whether Georgia will have enough doses on hand to administer second shots while still meeting the overwhelming demand for first shots.
NY: New York lawmakers say the eviction moratorium is being disregarded
New York senators have asked the state Office of Court Administration to issue additional guidance on the eviction moratorium for local courts as lawmakers receive multiple reports of judges disregarding the law and other regulations on the books.
FL: Some Florida frontline workers reject coronavirus vaccines
Large numbers of South Florida hospital workers, firefighters and paramedics who were offered early vaccinations for COVID-19 declined. That trend is a big problem now and will continue to be an issue in the future, experts said.
OR: Oregon GOP condemns impeachment, aligns with conspiracy theories
The Oregon Republican Party issued a statement condemning the 10 Republican members of Congress who voted to impeach President Donald Trump and aligning itself with conspiracy theories about the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. The set of resolutions passed by the executive committee called the insurrection a “false flag operation” designed to discredit Trump, though there is no evidence of that.
NE: Nebraska’s essential workers worry they won’t get vaccines anytime soon
Nebraska health officials cautioned that it will take about four months to work through the now-expanded list of people who are next in line for COVID-19 inoculations.
KY: The Kentucky governor vetoed 5 bills limiting his power. Republicans will likely override him.
Democratic Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed five pieces of legislation that attempted to limit his executive powers, saying they would “significantly hamper the important steps” he has taken to slow the spread of COVID-19.
NJ: New Jersey struggles to vaccinate homeless people
COVID-19 vaccine logistics are tough as it is, but inoculating transient people living in New Jersey homeless shelters or on the street adds more layers of complication. State officials said they would help community groups build trust about the vaccines among the homeless throughout the state.
TX: Texas boots Planned Parenthood from Medicaid
The state’s health commission gave Planned Parenthood’s Texas Medicaid patients until Feb. 3 to find new doctors. Low-income patients have few options because of the state’s low payment rates.
ID: Idaho senators were potentially exposed to COVID-19 2 weeks into the legislative session
Idaho senators received notice that they may have been exposed to COVID-19 after an employee tested positive for the virus over the weekend. Gov. Brad Little, a Republican, and Democratic lawmakers in December urged Republican leadership in the legislature to postpone this year’s session or make it virtual due to the COVID-19 risks.
HI: Hawaii’s battered state budget will dominate the next legislature
Faced with an unprecedented plunge in state tax collections during the pandemic, Hawaii Gov. David Ige, a Democrat, crafted a proposed spending plan for the next two years that was packed with painful cuts. Government leaders remain hopeful that President-elect Joe Biden may provide relief, but the state budget is still expected to overshadow almost every issue the legislature takes up.
MO: Missouri Senate launches new bid to make it harder to sue over COVID-19
Three months after Republican Gov. Mike Parson failed to convince Missouri lawmakers to shield businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits, the GOP-controlled Senate began debating the controversial issue in one of its first acts of the new legislative session.
WA: A new Washington state proposal could raise gas taxes and fees by up to per gallon
Washington state drivers could wind up paying per gallon for fuel taxes if lawmakers approve an 18-cent gas tax boost and carbon fees proposed by state House Democrats. The billion, 16-year program would invest more in maintenance than previous statewide packages did.
IA: Anti-abortion rights constitutional amendment advances through Iowa House subcommittee
An anti-abortion rights amendment to the Iowa Constitution is back under discussion in the state’s legislature as House Republicans again try to pass the measure after it failed last year. The measure advanced through a House subcommittee, with Republicans in favor and the panel’s Democrat opposed.
AR: Arkansas Senate passes ‘stand-your-ground’ bill
Controversial legislation to eliminate a person’s duty to retreat safely from Arkansas’ self-defense laws passed the state Senate by a wide majority. The so-called stand-your-ground bill passed by a vote of 27 to 7, with the support of most of the chamber’s Republicans and one Democrat.
TN: Tennessee governor pushes for all schools to return in-person
Republican Gov. Bill Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly have a narrow focus this week: quickly passing bills aimed at helping schools navigate the coronavirus pandemic and allowing them to prepare for the next academic year following 10 months of significant learning disruptions.
CA: California gave far less COVID-19 relief cash to smaller communities, audit finds
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s finance department may have shortchanged some California communities in distributing federal COVID-19 relief funds, according to a state audit that criticized both the implementation and outcome of a process that was supposed to fairly divvy up the money on a per-person basis.
VA: Virginia Senate panel backs increasing vehicle registration fees to boost police salaries
The Virginia State Police won the first round of its annual push for money to boost pay and correct salary inequities that it blames for an escalating exodus of troopers from the law enforcement agency’s ranks. The Senate Finance Committee voted 12-3 for legislation to tack a fee on vehicle registrations to generate almost million a year for a new public safety trust fund to boost trooper salaries.
CT: Pedestrian deaths on Connecticut roads increased from 2019 to 2020
Despite a pandemic-driven reduction in overall traffic last year, pedestrian deaths in Connecticut have continued their deadly climb. According to a preliminary count by the state Department of Transportation, 65 pedestrians died on Connecticut roads last year, an increase of six over 2019.
WI: Wisconsin Republicans demand immediate start to wolf hunt
Republican lawmakers want the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to implement a wolf hunt immediately and not wait until fall. The lawmakers said wolves need to be hunted now before President-elect Joe Biden’s administration puts them back on the federal endangered species list.
MN: Minnesota’s youngest students head back to school
Many elementary schools around Minnesota brought the youngest elementary students back, with more to follow in the coming weeks. The reopening of so many schools is a major shift for the state, where schools’ decisions about moving among distance, hybrid and in-person learning have been primarily based on how much the coronavirus is spreading in local communities.
MA: The coronavirus variant has officially arrived in Massachusetts
The new coronavirus variant has officially arrived in Massachusetts, public health officials said. The news raised fears that the state, which saw infections surge in the fall, could face even more illnesses and deaths in the months ahead.
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