Top State Stories 2/12
FL: Florida governor opposes travel restrictions
Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis railed against possible domestic travel restrictions that could be imposed by the federal government amid concerns about coronavirus mutations. Florida has reported the most known cases of the B.1.1.7 strain of the coronavirus of any state.
TX: Texas ad blitz combats ‘vaccine hesitancy’
Ads developed by the Texas Department of Health Services, released in the past week, are the first in a .3 million public awareness campaign to assuage fears about COVID-19 vaccines. Local governments and advocacy groups in Texas are also targeting skeptical communities.
HI: Law enforcers’ lack of cooperation doomed Hawaii homeless program
A state-funded program intended to steer homeless people in Hawaii from the criminal justice system failed after a two-year pilot. The Honolulu Police Department and prosecutor’s office never got on board with the program.
VT: Vermont considers cap on child care costs
A Vermont bill to ensure no family pays more than 10% of its income on child care has broad support, with nearly two-thirds of House lawmakers sponsoring it. The state’s Department for Children and Families is concerned about the potential cost.
ME: Maine allowed ski patrol to get vaccinated
Maine allowed ski patrol members to get COVID-19 vaccines last week before reversing course. Those who have gotten first doses will be allowed to get their second shots.
AL: US Supreme Court ruling delays Alabama execution
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld an Alabama inmate’s right to have a spiritual advisor at his execution, delaying a lethal injection. Willie B. Smith III was sentenced to death in a 1991 murder case.
CA: Affluent California schools reopen faster
School districts in Southern California’s wealthier, Whiter communities are more likely to be moving full steam ahead to reopen elementary schools and to have plans in place to welcome students back as soon as permitted—within as little as two weeks if coronavirus infection rates continue to decline.
ND: North Dakota House targets transgender athletes
North Dakota’s House of Representatives passed a bill supporters say preserves fairness in girls’ sports. Opponents say it discriminates against transgender student athletes.
MI: Michigan governor’s budget would boost education
Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proposed a .1 billion budget that would increase funding for K-12 student spending, post-secondary tuition programs, bridge repairs and public health.
VA: Virginia court rules Democrats can gather online election signatures
Democratic candidates for the Virginia House of Delegates will be allowed to gather signatures online and by mail this year to get their names on the ballot. The court agreement came after Democratic candidates sued the Department of Elections.
NC: North Carolina lawmakers call for schools to open
The North Carolina House and Senate have passed bills requiring K-12 public schools to offer in-person instruction. After reconciliation, the bill goes to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who will likely veto it.
KS: Kansas nursing homes begin slow return to normal
As Kansas health officials finish the first round of vaccinations, long-term care facilities are cautiously easing visitor restrictions put in place to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
NY: New York eases quarantine rules for vaccinated people
New Yorkers who are fully vaccinated will no longer have to quarantine after exposure to the coronavirus. The change reflects new federal guidance.
LA: Louisiana declares rain emergency
Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency as heavy rainfall swept across Louisiana and residents braced for potential wintry conditions through the Mardi Gras weekend.
OK: Oklahoma medical groups sue over Medicaid outsourcing
Several medical provider associations are asking the Oklahoma Supreme Court to halt Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt’s plan to outsource care for most of the state’s Medicaid recipients.
NJ: New Jersey Supreme Court won’t release inmates
The New Jersey Supreme Court denied a request to free 1,100 inmates awaiting trial, whose cases have stalled during the pandemic due to a ban on new jury trials. The court kicked the issue back to the state’s lower court judges, who can weigh individual cases.
NM: New Mexico considers broadband plan
Lawmakers in New Mexico are considering a proposal to expand high-speed internet access throughout the state by creating a new broadband office. About a quarter of New Mexico students don’t have home internet access.
NV: Nevada lifts gathering limits
Nevada will begin relaxing restrictions on public gatherings and businesses. If infections keep dropping, local authorities will take over management from the state on May 1.
GA: Georgia lawmakers approve state employee bonuses
The Georgia House and Senate gave final approval to a midyear budget that would provide ,000 bonuses to most state employees. The bonuses are for 57,000 employees making less than ,000 a year, and teachers will get similar bonuses.
MS: Mississippi considers sales tax on marijuana
The Mississippi Senate is debating a bill that would set a 7% sales tax on medical marijuana. Mississippi residents voted by a wide margin in November to adopt a constitutional amendment that authorizes medical marijuana in the state.
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