Top State Stories 2/9
MA: Sluggish vaccine rollout tests Massachusetts governor
Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s well-honed reputation for managerial prowess is now facing its biggest test: mounting criticism of Massachusetts’s rollout of life-saving coronavirus vaccines.
GA: Georgia opens investigation into Trump phone calls
The Georgia secretary of state’s office opened an investigation into former President Donald Trump’s phone calls to state election officials in which he sought help to overturn the results of the election after President Joe Biden’s narrow victory was certified twice.
SD: Judge strikes down South Dakota marijuana plan
A county judge ruled that a voter-approved amendment to the South Dakota Constitution ending marijuana prohibition in the state shouldn’t go forward. An appeal to the state Supreme Court is expected.
NY: New York tracing app captures few cases
More than 1.3 million New Yorkers have downloaded the state COVID Alert NY app to assist with contact tracing efforts, but the phone application launched in October accounts for less than 1% of the reported positive cases in the state.
NJ: New Jersey to resume in-person voting for spring elections
New Jersey will be returning to in-person voting for the first slate of elections in 2021, in one of the first signs that a slow return to normalcy may be approaching.
OR: Oregon Democrats push for foreclosure moratorium
Oregon House Democrats are trying to reinstate a moratorium on foreclosures. The bill would give homeowners and small landlords protection from foreclosures until Sept. 1, and the moratorium would be retroactive to Dec. 31.
WA: Older immigrants and refugees in Washington state face vaccine challenges
Older immigrants and refugees in Washington continue to face challenges in accessing the vaccine, from language barriers to a lack of transportation and technology. Their experiences reflect concerns about inequities around the rollout.
HI: Hawaii lawmakers consider creating state lottery
The Hawaii Senate will consider a bill that could set up a state lottery. The legislation would allow the lottery to begin in January 2022 and create a state lottery commission.
MS: Mississippi Walmarts prepare to give vaccine
Mississippi will offer COVID-19 vaccinations at 31 Walmart stores. The locations were selected to fill some of the gaps in vaccine coverage.
ND: North Dakota legislature could meet annually
The North Dakota legislature has held its regular sessions every other year since statehood, but backers of a bipartisan bill say it’s time to change that.
NE: Nebraska may use grant program to expand rural broadband
Nebraska could spend up to million a year to expand high-speed internet service in rural areas under a proposal backed by a diverse alliance of farm, business and school groups and championed by Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts.
AL:Alabama university removes Wallace name
The University of Alabama at Birmingham has removed the name of four-term governor and presidential candidate George C. Wallace from a campus building over his support of racial segregation.
MN: Pandemic highlights need for broadband in Minnesota
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, children in parts of Minnesota without high-speed internet have struggled to log on to remote classes, while businesses and employees who lack broadband have strained to connect to customers and co-workers.
DE: Delaware to waive state taxes on unemployment benefits
Delaware Gov. John Carney, a Democrat, signed a bill waiving state taxes on unemployment benefits paid during the pandemic. But those benefits still have to be reported for federal taxes.
MO: Missouri legislature approves M for struggling residents
Following quick action in the House, the Missouri Senate voted unanimously to send proceeds of the federal CARES Act to a program that will help renters and landlords hit by the pandemic. The program also will help with utility payments for jobless residents.
TN: Tennessee governor calls for increased spending
Tennessee’s year of tumult ended with a bombing in Nashville. But the governor cast a vision for new opportunities in 2021 in a state flush with cash despite dire economic predictions.
MI: Judge dismisses case against Michigan hair stylists
A Lansing judge dismissed charges against six hair stylists accused of violating Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus emergency orders during a May protest at the state Capitol. The stylists still face state licensing complaints.
MD: Maryland asks residents to register in multiple places for vaccine
Maryland residents who qualify for COVID-19 immunizations should register multiple times, and with multiple providers, for vaccination appointments while supply remains limited, the state’s acting health secretary said. Appointments remain scarce.
ME: Former Maine governor gearing up for challenge
The next election for Maine governor is nearly two years away, but the race is already taking shape. All signs point to a match between incumbent Democrat Janet Mills and former Republican Gov. Paul LePage.
VT: Vermont promises equal access to vaccine
Vermont officials have vowed to ensure that people of color in the state have equal access to the COVID-19 vaccine. But they don’t all agree on when and how those efforts should occur.
PA: Pennsylvania gaming post pads lawmaker pensions
In Harrisburg circles, a seat on Pennsylvania’s Gaming Control Board of Commissioners is sometimes referred to as a golden parachute for lawmakers, because it pays more, which in turn can help to significantly boost future pension earnings.
CA: California bullet train project will seek .1B as costs grow
The California bullet train authority will seek a .1-billion appropriation to complete construction in the Central Valley, as costs and schedules continue to grow.
NH: New Hampshire ban on political clothing at the polls up for debate
New Hampshire voters aren’t allowed to wear clothing or accessories advocating for or against a candidate, political party or measure on the ballot. One Republican lawmaker is trying to change that.
ID: Idaho bill would decriminalize prescription pot
An Idaho House bill would allow prescriptions for medical cannabis. Idaho is estimated to get about million in revenue from sales and excise taxes if the bill passes.
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