Top State Stories 3/4
CA: Is it finally safe for California to reopen? It’s happening despite lingering risks.
As daily coronavirus cases plunge, California is barreling toward what would be its widest reopening of businesses, schools and public spaces since the horrific surge of the fall and winter. But even with cases falling and vaccine distribution efforts slowly gaining steam, there are questions about whether the state is moving too fast.
CO: Colorado nursing homes with high coronavirus death rates were cited for poor infection control
All but one of the 23 nursing homes in Colorado where 20 or more residents died from COVID-19 were cited for infection-control problems in the past year, the Colorado Sun has found.
MD: Maryland vaccine data shows racial disparities
Maryland counties with higher percentages of White residents were more likely to have higher percentages of the population who had received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, whereas counties with higher percentages of residents who identified as Black or Hispanic were more likely to have lower percentages of the population who had received a first dose.
KS: Kansas Senate passes bill requiring in-person K-12 classes
The Kansas Senate approved a proposal from its top Republican to require the state’s public school districts to offer in-person classes to all students by March 26. Some Democrats argued that the bill is an attack on local control of public K-12 schools.
AZ: Arizona governor orders schools to reopen
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, has ordered that all schools must return to in-person learning this month, saying “students need to be back in the classroom.” Ducey’s executive order provides exceptions for middle and high schools in counties that have high COVID-19 transmission.
NY: New York governor is ‘embarrassed’ about sexual harassment claims but says he will not resign
In his first public appearance since the allegations surfaced, New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he is “embarrassed” but will not resign. He has faced mounting calls for his resignation as he weathers the dual political scandals of the alleged sexual harassment and his administration’s handling of COVID-19 in nursing homes.
OK: Oklahoma House passes bill to limit abortion providers to OB/GYNs
The Oklahoma House of Representatives’ Republican majority took another swing at restricting abortion access, with a measure that would limit providers to board-certified obstetricians and gynecologists. The bill ostensibly would protect women undergoing the procedure, but its sponsor readily admitted that her bill’s primary objective is to make abortions harder to get.
AR: Arkansas governor signs ‘stand your ground’ bill into law
Arkansas GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed into law a measure easing the state’s restrictions on the use of deadly force in self-defense, but urged conservatives who pushed for the legislation to pass a hate crimes proposal they’ve so far resisted.
TN: Governor’s bill to allow Tennesseans to carry guns without permits advances in legislature
A controversial bill that would allow Tennesseans to carry guns without permits is advancing in both chambers of the legislature, even as law enforcement leaders continue to speak out against the measure.
OR: Oregon schools have spent the bulk of federal aid so far on virtual learning
Since the start of the pandemic, the federal government has earmarked nearly million in emergency funds for Oregon schools. About million of that sum has arrived in Oregon so far, helping schools across the state purchase laptops, internet hotspots and program licenses to set up the virtual learning programs that have dominated the Oregon classroom experience over the past year.
WI: Wisconsin governor suggests schools could start next year early
Wisconsin schools could start the next school year early to help students catch up from an all but certain academic slide after learning virtually for months, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers suggested this week. He also said that the decision to resume in-person instruction should be left up to local school officials.
NM: New Mexico offers relief checks
Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a million relief bill aimed at hard-hit New Mexico essential workers and restaurants. Included are tax rebates for workers making less than an hour.
UT: Utah legislature puts historic M into housing, homelessness
The Utah legislature will put an additional million toward housing and homelessness this year—the bulk of which will be spent on preserving existing units of housing affordable for low-income individuals.
NJ: New Jersey extends ban on utilities shutting off power, gas, water
As the state continues to cope with the coronavirus pandemic one year after the first reported case, New Jersey has again extended its moratorium on utility shutoffs through June 30, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy announced. The moratorium was set to expire March 15.
VT: Vermont National Guard will administer vaccines
The Vermont National Guard will begin administering vaccines through March 13, offering a boost to the state’s vaccination efforts and adding another option for residents, in addition to other vaccine clinics offered around the state.
SC: South Carolina bill banning trans girls from high school women’s sports advances
A bill that would effectively ban transgender girls from participating in high school and middle school women’s sports took its first steps forward in the South Carolina House.
IN: Indiana expands virus vaccine eligibility to people 50 and older
Indiana officials have opened up COVID-19 vaccination eligibility to all residents 50 and older. Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb said the state would stick with its plan to expand vaccine eligibility by age even though President Joe Biden called this week for states to make vaccinating teachers a priority.
NE: Nebraska will vaccinate people ages 50-64 and younger folks with high-risk conditions
When local health departments in Nebraska move into the next phase of vaccination, they will put 90% of COVID-19 vaccines into the arms of people ages 50-64 and give up to 10% to people with high-risk medical conditions.
MI: Michigan vaccine eligibility will soon drop to people as young as 50
Starting next week, Michigan residents 50 and older with health conditions will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine, and two weeks later anyone that age can get an appointment.
MA: Move to vaccinate Massachusetts teachers intensifies competition for limited shots
Republican Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker bowed to federal pressure and made about 400,000 teachers, school staffers and child care workers eligible to book COVID-19 shots at Massachusetts vaccination sites on March 11.
OH: Ohio Senate passes proposal to eliminate nuclear bailout
Ohio lawmakers unanimously passed a proposal to eliminate a controversial billion bailout for nuclear plants—with the apparent blessing of the company that owns them.
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