Top State Stories 4/28
US: Lower-than-expected state population totals stoke concerns about the 2020 census
A day after the government released the first results from the 2020 census, some states and civic organizations were reeling from unexpected results and wondering if the differences between projections and actual data might indicate problems with the count. Among the surprises were lower-than-expected population counts in Texas, Florida and Arizona, which led to those states ending up with fewer U.S. House representatives than projected.
CT: Bill that would eliminate Connecticut’s religious exemption for school vaccinations clears Senate
After nine hours of debate, the state Senate gave final legislative approval to a measure that would end Connecticut’s religious exemption for mandatory school vaccinations. Under the bill, only students who obtain a medical exemption would be permitted to attend public or private school in the state without a vaccine.
MT: Montana lawmakers pass bill that would ban vaccine requirements
Montana lawmakers have passed a bill that would bar government agencies and private businesses from denying goods, services and employment to people who have not been vaccinated for a range of communicable diseases. Lawmakers received assurances from the governor’s office that the law won’t impact hospitals, but hospitals aren’t so certain.
AZ: Arizona governor signs sweeping anti-abortion bill into law
Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed a law making it a crime to perform abortions based on genetic conditions. Medical providers who terminate pregnancies based solely on conditions such as Down syndrome or cystic fibrosis could face prison time under the measure, unless the abortion involves a condition that is considered lethal.
CA: Facebook, Google, other corporate giants flooded California governor with record M in charity donations in 2020
Facebook, Google and Blue Shield of California are among the companies that contributed a staggering million to government causes on Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s behalf last year, unprecedented levels of spending that are raising concerns about the influence large corporations are amassing in Sacramento.
IL: Illinois governor signs bill that seeks to address racial disparities in health care
A wide-ranging measure signed into law by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker—part of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ sweeping social justice agenda—could put hospital closures on hold until the pandemic ends. It also will permit health workers to use sick days to care for a parent and make implicit bias training a continuing education requirement for health care professionals.
OH: Governor will end quarantine rules for vaccinated Ohioans
Vaccinated Ohioans no longer will have to quarantine after being exposed to someone with COVID-19, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine announced. DeWine specifically identified Ohio high school students 16 and older as a group that will be affected by the change, since federal vaccine eligibility applies to them.
MO: Missouri Senate moves to boost oversight of health departments
The Missouri Senate moved a step closer to approving legislation that would give local elected officials oversight of public health orders. The proposal would require health officials to get approval from city councils or county government boards before extending emergency health restrictions beyond a 30-day window.
AK: Alaska officials say kids under 16 are on the cusp of vaccine eligibility
As the current school year comes to a close, Alaska health officials anticipate children aged 12 to 15 will become eligible for COVID-19 vaccines long before school starts again in the fall. Health officials see vaccinating children as a step toward achieving herd immunity.
AL: 24,000 Alabama health care workers have contracted COVID-19 during the pandemic
The Alabama Department of Public Health said nearly 24,000 health care workers contracted COVID-19 during the pandemic, many of whom worked in hospitals, clinics and nursing homes. An investigation by Kaiser Health News and The Guardian found 80 health care workers in Alabama died from COVID-19.
MS: Mississippi is one of just three states to lose population since 2010
Preliminary data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 count showed that Mississippi’s resident population stands at 2.9 million people, a decline of about 6,000 people since 2010. This is the first population decrease in 60 years for the state. Illinois and West Virginia also saw declines.
WY: Data breach exposed health information of 1 in 4 Wyomingites
A data breach at the Wyoming Department of Health exposed the COVID-19, influenza and blood alcohol test data of more than a quarter of Wyomingites, the department announced. The breach occurred when an employee erroneously uploaded files containing that data to the public code-hosting platform GitHub.
KS: Kansas governor vetoes most bills in 17 years
The weeks ahead will bring high-stakes fights over whether Kansas GOP lawmakers can override Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s vetoes and enact changes to taxes, public school curricula and transgender rights. Democrats and Kelly allies cast her vetoes as a necessary check on a legislature that has moved further to the right this year and focused more intently on cultural issues.
ID: Bill that would allow killing of up to 90% of Idaho’s wolves heads to governor
The agriculture industry-backed bill would allow Idaho to hire private contractors to cut the wolf population from about 1,500 to 150. It also would allow the use of night vision equipment to kill wolves as well as hunting from snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles.
SC: Death penalty could soon resume after South Carolina panel OKs electric chair, firing squads
After extensive delays due to the state’s inability to obtain lethal injection drugs, death penalty executions could soon resume in South Carolina after a state House panel approved a bill that would let prison officials use the electric chair or a firing squad instead.
TX: Texas agriculture commissioner alleges aid to farmers of color discriminates against White farmers
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller is suing the federal government, claiming that the Biden administration’s COVID-19 relief plan discriminates against White farmers and ranchers. The conservative Republican and rancher is suing in his capacity as a private citizen and not on behalf of the state.
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