Top State Stories 3/1

By: - March 1, 2021 12:00 am

NY: New York governor responds to sexual harassment allegations

New York Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo sought to stem the growing political fallout over fresh allegations of sexual harassment, acknowledging that he may have made inappropriate remarks that could “have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation” to a young female aide during private meetings last spring.

US: Across the country, GOP state lawmakers help spread COVID-19 misinformation

In their own comments or by inviting skeptics to testify at legislative hearings, some GOP state lawmakers are using their platforms to promote false information about the virus, the steps needed to limit its spread and the vaccines that will pull the nation out of the pandemic.

NJ: New Jersey makes free community college program permanent

A program that offers thousands of low- and moderate-income students in New Jersey the opportunity to get a tuition-free education at the state’s community colleges is now permanent under a law signed by Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy.

MO: Missouri women earned 78% of men’s salary in 2019

Full-time working women in Missouri earned 78% of what their male counterparts did in 2019—the lowest the state’s ratio has been since 2015. Missouri’s women’s-to-men’s earnings ratio dropped 2.7 percentage points from 2018, and advocates worry the COVID-19 pandemic could further negatively affect women’s compensation.

AR: Defendants, victims in Arkansas left waiting for justice in pandemic

Jury trials have essentially been on hold for almost a year by order of the Arkansas Supreme Court. Defendants can’t get their day in court, victims can’t get justice, and lawyers and judges see cases stacking up.

NC: North Carolina governor vetoes school reopening bill; override vote set

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, vetoed a bill that would have required the state’s K-12 public school districts to offer in-person learning again, after nearly a year of remote learning for some students. The General Assembly is already planning to override it.

OK: 10 death row inmates in Oklahoma could get new trials

As many as 10 death row inmates in Oklahoma, more than one-fifth of the state’s prisoners condemned to die, could escape execution because of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling concerning criminal jurisdiction in Indian Country.

VA: Virginia legislature votes to legalize marijuana

Virginia is on the path to legalizing recreational marijuana under a regulated market by 2024, under contentious legislation that cleared the legislature, and which Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, has pledged to sign.

CA: Californians speak more than 200 languages, complicating public health efforts

With over 200 languages and dialects spoken across the state, California is one of the most linguistically diverse regions in the world and home to nearly 11 million foreign-born immigrants. But nearly a year into the pandemic, that distinction continues to complicate attempts by state officials to disseminate critical health information to all Californians.

MA: Public health experts criticize Massachusetts’ reopening

As Massachusetts Republican Gov. Charlie Baker eases more pandemic restrictions on restaurants and other businesses, public health experts warn that the moves could backfire, upending the state’s progress against COVID-19 and prompting a new surge in cases.

VT: Vermont is vaccinating people from other states

Vermont is vaccinating some out-of-staters, but some state health officials don’t see this as a problem. So far, 94,949 people have been vaccinated in Vermont, and about 6%—almost 6,400—are nonresidents, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.

GA: Georgia Senate approves bill to instruct drivers how to interact with police

Less than a year after Rayshard Brooks was killed by an Atlanta police officer who questioned him for being asleep and intoxicated in his car, the Georgia Senate backed legislation to require drivers to learn how best to interact with law enforcement. 

TN: A slate of election bills could transform voting in Tennessee

A year ago marked the start of what would become a fraught year in Tennessee over how voting should be conducted. Now, as lawmakers push ahead with the General Assembly’s legislative session, both Democratic and Republican state legislators have proposed dozens of changes to Tennessee’s voting laws.

MT: Montana House gives initial approval to bills limiting power of governor, local officials in pandemic

Mostly along party lines, with Republican support and Democratic opposition, the Montana House gave initial approval to two bills that would change the power of local health officials and the governor to respond to a pandemic.

NE: Nebraska will centralize its COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Nebraska Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts said that officials are working on a plan to migrate all vaccine registration and tracking to the state’s website within the next month. 

MD: Maryland releases plan to hit 50% greenhouse gas reduction by 2030

The Maryland Department of the Environment has released its long-awaited roadmap outlining what the state would need to do to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 50% from 2006 levels by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions by 2045.

OR: Oregon’s relief fund for Black residents provided help for thousands despite legal challenges

Oregon’s relief fund for Black residents has been entangled in a legal battle since October, a fight that ultimately led the state to suspend grants. The fund’s organizers hail the program as a success despite the legal challenge because it provided relief to thousands who may have been unable to access that support through conventional programs.

MS: Mississippi voter ID law could be struck down by anti-medical marijuana ruling

Mississippi’s voter identification requirement could be at risk if the state Supreme Court strikes down the medical marijuana initiative approved by voters in November. The same process employed to put medical marijuana on the ballot was used in 2011 to enact a mandate that Mississippi voters must have a government-issued photo identification to vote.

DC: District of Columbia mayor proposes marijuana sales bill 

District of Columbia Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser announced legislation that would legalize recreational marijuana dispensaries in the nation’s capital, the latest effort by Bowser and lawmakers to raise tax revenue and offer a business boost to low-income communities of color disproportionately impacted by pot criminalization. 

SC: South Carolina lifts restaurant restrictions

South Carolina’s restaurants will be allowed to serve alcohol after 11 p.m. this week after Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, lifted restrictions. McMaster also lifted a rule that prevented events from having more than 250 people in attendance unless the Department of Commerce granted an exemption. 

NH: New Hampshire has resumed universal contact tracing for new COVID-19 cases, officials say

After scaling back contact tracing efforts last November amid surging cases, New Hampshire’s Department of Health and Human Services says it has resumed investigating all new COVID-19 infections. 

SD: South Dakota governor wants more youth to hunt, fish for free

South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem signed a bill to allow more people under the age of 18 to fish, hunt and trap—no license or fee required, regardless of resident or non-resident status.

WY: Tuition reimbursement bill would expand school choice in Wyoming

School choice expansion could become one of the lasting legacies of the COVID-19 pandemic in Wyoming. A House bill would reimburse parents for tuition and other education expenses if they choose to enroll their children in private or home school education instead of their local public school.

IL: Just 50 miles from Lake Michigan, groundwater is running out for Illinois towns 

In northeastern Illinois, more water has been drained from the aquifers than is replenished, causing water levels to drop to depths where costs and complications may render wells inoperable. Some cities have given up on deep aquifers and decided to tap into Lake Michigan water provided by Chicago. 

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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.