Top State Stories 3/9
US: 12 Republican-led states sue Biden over climate change order
Twelve Republican-led states sued President Joe Biden over his first executive order addressing climate change, alleging he lacked the constitutional authority to implement new rules about greenhouse gases. The federal lawsuit is led by Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt of Missouri.
IN: Lawyers ask US Supreme Court to consider challenge to Indiana’s vote-by-mail election laws
Lawyers representing a voting advocacy group and a dozen other plaintiffs submitted a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court requesting that it consider a legal challenge they brought against the state that challenged Indiana’s election laws over who has the right to vote by mail.
NY: New York City high schools will reopen in 2 weeks
The 488 public schools in New York City will reopen March 22, though most students will continue learning from home. High schools in other large districts may not reopen for months.
MD: Maryland governor proposes ,000 bonuses for state workers
The bonuses, which would go to all Maryland state employees, would cost the state .1 million. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan said the state has the money on hand due to budgetary belt-tightening early in the pandemic.
WI: Wisconsin company will provide drone-powered internet service to rural students
A Wisconsin startup will be part of a state-funded pilot program that will test the use of drones to expand internet connectivity into rural areas. The drones will be fitted with cellphone towers, allowing students throughout the sprawling Northwoods district to go online.
IA: Iowa governor signs law shortening early and Election Day voting periods
Four months after Iowans voted in record numbers, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed legislation cutting the state’s early voting period and closing the polls an hour earlier on Election Day. Every Republican present for debate in the House and Senate voted for the legislation, while every Democrat voted against it.
NM: New Mexico is ready to open schools
New Mexico schools will open for in-person learning by April 5, including sports and extracurricular activities. Meals may be served outdoors or in classrooms to maintain social distancing.
WA: Washington state bill that would limit evictions advances
Washington state representatives approved a bill that would require landlords to provide a valid reason for ending certain leases with tenants. Supporters say the proposal would cut down on arbitrary or biased lease terminations, which can lead to eviction.
CT: Connecticut bill would tax digital ads, raising as much as M a year
Connecticut lawmakers grappling with looming budget shortfalls are looking to reach into the deep pockets of the tech industry. A bill moving through the legislature would institute a new tax on digital advertising revenue from industry giants such as Facebook, Amazon and Google.
OR: Oregon leaders plan to dole out M for summer school, summer child care
Democratic Gov. Kate Brown and the leaders of the Oregon House and Senate said they plan to allocate million in state funds and million from the federal government to fund summer programming. State leaders said they will emphasize getting the money to school districts and programs that will cater to Black and Indigenous children and teens, and other students and preschoolers of color.
MO: Legal bills from Missouri’s medical marijuana program are expected to linger into next year
Missouri health officials expect to spend at least .4 million fighting legal challenges to the state’s medical marijuana program. That means less money from the proceeds of the program will be going to veterans, spurring questions from lawmakers.
OK: ‘Vast majority’ of Oklahomans are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines
Oklahomans in Phase 3 of the state’s vaccination plan—which includes essential workers, teachers, staff and students in educational settings outside pre-K through 12th grade—are being added to the list of those allowed to sign up for a vaccine. That adds over 2 million people to the list of those eligible, state health officials estimate.
NJ: Cyberattack hits a New Jersey employee portal containing sensitive data
Hackers targeted the accounts of about 200 state employees in a cyberattack on a New Jersey government portal that holds sensitive personal and financial data such as Social Security numbers, birthdays and pension information, according to state and union officials.
TX: Texas lawmakers tackle power outage issues
Pending bipartisan bills in Texas would require weatherproofing for electric power generators and natural gas infrastructure. The bills follow days-long testimony from power suppliers and regulators.
HI: Highly transmissible COVID-19 variant appears in Hawaii
Hawaii health officials have detected another highly transmissible variant of COVID-19 originally found in South Africa in an Oahu resident with no travel history. An undisclosed number of household contacts have also tested positive for the virus—and are assumed to have the same variant.
PA: A Pennsylvania county went from bust to boom times with natural gas. Now, it’s nearly broke.
Nearly 10 years and more than 1,000 natural gas wells later, one Pennsylvania county appears to be no better off financially than where it started, having spent .2 million in impact fees without setting aside money to plan for the day the work would inevitably slow.
AR: Arkansas Senate OKs ultrasound requirement for abortions
The Arkansas Senate approved legislation that would require a woman undergoing an abortion to first view an ultrasound, the latest restriction advancing in a state considering banning the procedure altogether. The majority-Republican Senate voted 29-6 in favor of the measure, sending it to the majority-GOP House.
ID: Idaho farmers are one step closer to growing hemp legally
Idaho legislators are close to lifting the state’s ban on growing hemp. In a 44-26 vote, House members approved a bill that would authorize the production, processing, transportation and research of hemp in the state.
NE: Nebraska governor announces ‘Meat on the Menu Day’ in response to Colorado’s ‘MeatOUT Day’
Nebraska Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts is going toe-to-toe—or perhaps it’s fork-to-fork—with Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, over eating meat. Ricketts announced that he had designated March 20 as “Meat on the Menu Day” in Nebraska, after Polis designated March 20 as “MeatOUT Day,” on which people are encouraged to adopt a vegan diet.
MA: In surprise move, Massachusetts governor sets high insurance payments for vaccinations
Massachusetts medical providers get a fee of at least for giving two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines to anyone covered by MassHealth or private insurance. The administration has not set rates for the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
NC: North Carolina transgender students will get to choose their names on records
Supporter of transgender students are praising a change that will see North Carolina public schools switch from showing the legal name of students to their chosen name on most state records. The state Department of Public Instruction notified school districts that it’s updating the PowerSchool student information system to display a “preferred name.”
SC: South Carolina governor backs bill to give state more power over election procedures
Despite South Carolina reporting no widespread voting problems in November, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster urged the legislature to pass legislation that would expand the State Election Commission board and give the agency broader power over county offices.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.