Top State Stories 1/26
CA: California governor cancels COVID-19 stay-at-home orders
California officials lifted regional coronavirus stay-at-home orders across the state, a change that could allow restaurants and businesses in many counties to reopen outdoor dining and other services.
AR: Drive-thru COVID-19 vaccinators in Arkansas get creative
In Arkansas and around the country, health care workers have had to get creative during the pandemic, placing temporary hospital beds in unusual places and performing drive-thru testing in empty parking lots.
US: States eye allowing concealed carry of guns without a permit
Republican lawmakers in several states want to loosen gun restrictions by allowing people to carry concealed firearms without having a permit, continuing a trend that gun control advocates call dangerous. Fifteen states already allow concealed carry without a permit, and lawmakers in nine others have proposed allowing or expanding the practice.
NJ: New Jersey plans to tackle high death rates among Black mothers, babies
Tammy Snyder Murphy, the first lady of New Jersey, hopes to correct some racial health disparities in maternal care with an ambitious new plan. It aims to tackle issues of housing, education, criminal justice, food availability and other areas of racial inequity that shape women’s health before pregnancy.
MN: Minnesota governor’s school plan focuses on racial equity
Minnesota faces a .3 billion budget deficit, but Democratic Gov. Tim Walz is still aiming for a hefty spending increase for schools.
MO: Missouri House set to debate hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of rental assistance
The Missouri House is set to debate approving hundreds of millions of dollars in emergency aid for struggling renters and landlords. Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, proposed the spending earlier this month, but House leaders were forced to suspend legislative action last week amid multiple COVID-19 cases among lawmakers.
MD: Early COVID-19 vaccine rollout data in Maryland shows racial disparity
Only about 16% of the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine administered in Maryland for which race data is available have gone to African Americans, and 4.6% have gone to Latinos. Those groups represent 31% and 11% of the population, respectively.
CO: Teachers and child care workers will be Colorado’s first essential workers to receive COVID-19 vaccinations
Colorado teachers and child care workers will be the first essential workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 after most people over 70 have received their shots, the head of the state’s vaccine distribution efforts announced. Discussions are ongoing about priorities in the essential worker groups.
ME: Maine governor proposes taxing PPP funds
Under a budget proposal from Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, Maine businesses would have to pay state income taxes on forgivable federal Paycheck Protection Program loans that are not taxed by the federal government. Mills’ administration told the legislature that Maine’s government could be facing a more than million revenue shortfall.
NH: Despite limited supply, New Hampshire says property-owning nonresidents can get COVID-19 vaccines
Anyone who owns land in New Hampshire, which includes second homeowners or out-of-state landlords who reside elsewhere, need only provide proof of property ownership to get vaccinated in New Hampshire, despite the lack of doses currently available for full-time residents.
NE: Nebraska won’t redirect COVID-19 vaccinations from rural areas
Nebraska Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts defended Nebraska’s approach to distributing coronavirus vaccines, saying the state won’t redirect doses away from rural areas that are outpacing Omaha and Lincoln with vaccinations.
OK: Oklahoma pauses COVID-19 vaccine distribution to CVS, Walgreens
Oklahoma health officials have stopped sending a portion of the state’s COVID-19 vaccines to pharmacies contracted to administer doses to some of the state’s most vulnerable residents. Keith Reed, Oklahoma’s deputy commissioner of health, said this is a temporary pause to allow CVS Health and Walgreens to catch up on the doses set aside for residents and staff in long-term care facilities.
FL: Florida used only half its COVID-19 vaccine doses
Florida has used only half of its COVID-19 vaccines from the federal government, said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki after criticism from Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on the Biden administration’s distribution plan.
MA: Massachusetts governor approves COVID-19 vaccinations for residents 65 and over, citing glut of unused doses
The move comes as state officials acknowledge that while large clusters of Massachusetts residents who are not yet eligible are clamoring for vaccines, hundreds of thousands of doses are sitting on freezer shelves in hospitals and the warehouses of pharmacies serving older adult care sites.
MT: Montana coronavirus liability bill opens door to end mask mandate
A bill that would protect businesses and health care providers from coronavirus-related lawsuits is advancing quickly through the Montana legislature, after the state’s Republican governor said the measure was necessary to remove a statewide mask mandate put in place by his Democratic predecessor.
PA: Thousands of drug, alcohol recovery homes in Pennsylvania operate without state oversight
Drug and alcohol recovery homes in Pennsylvania—estimated to number in the thousands—continue to operate without state oversight. The state’s Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs missed a June 2020 deadline to launch a certification or licensing process for the facilities.
TX: Supreme Court rules against Texas on abortion
The high court vacated two rulings that sided with Texas GOP officials arguing that Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s March 2020 executive order prohibited abortion under all but a few narrow circumstances in an attempt to preserve medical resources for COVID-19 patients.
SD: New South Dakota bill would ban abortions based on Down syndrome diagnosis
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, has introduced a bill that would ban abortions based on a diagnosis of Down syndrome.
CT: Connecticut lawmakers renew effort to regulate faith-based crisis pregnancy centers
The Connecticut legislature’s public health committee said it will revisit legislation prohibiting limited services pregnancy centers—those that do not offer referrals for abortions or emergency contraception—from providing false or misleading information regarding pregnancy-related services.
AK: Advocates worry about the future of Alaska’s foster care
Tribal organizations, advocates for foster children and the largest state workers’ union are all voicing concerns about Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s plans to split Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services into two. Among many other impacts, the move would put the state’s foster care system in a new department.
VA: Virginia prepares to remove the Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond
A fence enclosing the circle around the Lee Monument in Richmond was installed as part of the Virginia Department of General Services’ plan to remove the statue. It is unclear how long the fence, or the statue, will remain erect.
WA: Homegrown pot could become legal in Washington state
More than eight years after Washington voters legalized recreational cannabis, some state lawmakers say it’s past time to let people grow their own pot at home. A bipartisan group of legislators is proposing a bill that would let adults 21 and over grow cannabis plants at home for recreational use.
ND: North Dakota Senate greenlights blaze pink bill for hunting
North Dakota’s Senate approved a bill adding another option to big game hunters’ color palette. The Senate measure would add fluorescent pink as an option, as well as allow a camouflage pattern of up to 50%. Big game hunters currently must wear at least 400 square inches of blaze orange.
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