Top State Stories 5/13
MO: Missouri lawmakers pass bill that would limit local health orders, ban vaccine passports
The Missouri House and Senate gave final approval to a measure that aims to rein in local public health orders and ban vaccine passports. It now heads to Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s desk.
FL: Florida governor signs landmark sea level rise bills into law
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed two laws that legislators say will leave Florida better prepared for future flooding and sea level rise. The bills will—among other things—invest hundreds of millions of state dollars in flooding infrastructure projects.
OH: Ohio lottery offers M prizes to encourage vaccination
Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine announced that the state would give five people $1 million each in return for having gotten a COVID-19 vaccination as part of a weekly lottery program. The lottery, whose legality could raise questions, will be paid for by federal coronavirus relief funds.
CO: Colorado bill would mandate domestic abusers report firearm inventory
The Colorado House has passed a measure that would require people facing domestic violence protection orders to report their firearms, coming just days after a man shot and killed six people in a domestic dispute in Colorado Springs. The legislation would require the person who is issued a protective order by a judge to report the type and location of firearms in their possession within a week.
CA: Governor proposes transitional kindergarten for all California 4-year-olds in budget plan
Transitional kindergarten, currently available only to about one-third of California’s 4-year-olds, would be expanded to all age-eligible students by the 2024 academic year under a proposal unveiled by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.
PA: Thousands of Pennsylvanians await jobless benefits
More than a year into the pandemic, thousands of Pennsylvania workers still wait weeks or even months in limbo to receive jobless benefits or be denied. As of last week, there were roughly 289,000 unemployment claims that had not received payment, though the Department of Labor & Industry said most of these claims are filed by fraudsters and other claims are duplicates.
NC: Elected officials could carry concealed guns inside North Carolina legislature under new bill
North Carolina lawmakers voted to allow any elected official to carry concealed weapons inside the General Assembly, including themselves.
OH: Ohio unemployment officials hid extent of fraud from state auditor’s office, auditor says
As scammers bilked millions from Ohio’s unemployment benefits system during the initial months of the coronavirus crisis, the state auditor says system officials withheld the extent of the problem from his office and dawdled on installing anti-fraud measures.
ME: Maine governor unveils supplemental budget plan targeting full education funding
Maine Democratic Gov. Janet Mills touted a $187 million investment in public education as a central feature of her supplemental budget proposal. She says local education funding is long overdue because it brings the state’s share to 55%, a threshold mandated by voters 17 years ago but never achieved in subsequent state budgets.
WA: IRS will send long-delayed stimulus checks to unhoused filers in Washington
Potentially hundreds to thousands of people experiencing homelessness in Washington could receive stimulus checks after the Internal Revenue Service lifted a hold on seven addresses in King County. Many unhoused people had yet to receive their second and third stimulus checks—a life-changing amount of money for some.
DC: More than 13,000 unemployment claimants in Washington, DC, missed payments this spring
More than 13,000 Washington, D.C., unemployment claimants—about 1 in 5 who believed they should be getting benefits—did not receive a check this spring as the city was adjusting to a change in federal benefits, a previously unreported number that further illustrates problems plaguing the district’s Department of Employment Services.
OK: As some GOP states seek to limit ballot access, Oklahoma expands early voting
Oklahoma is poised to add an extra day of in-person early voting for general elections.
NJ: New Jersey will move forward with major reopening plan, lift many COVID restrictions
Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy announced he will sign an executive order for the state to formally move forward with what he called New Jersey’s “most aggressive” steps yet to ease coronavirus restrictions.
RI: Rhode Island makes changes to unemployment rules
Rhode Island lawmakers passed legislation that would allow people to work more while still collecting unemployment. Meanwhile, the state is preparing to put rules back into place that require people to search for work to stay in the unemployment system.
OR: Oregon lawmakers won’t pursue cap-and-trade this session
This year, Oregon’s Democrats are proposing scaled-back climate legislation, partly in hopes of avoiding more protests from Republicans. While cap-and-trade legislation is off the table for 2021, two bills being debated would create different policies to decarbonize Oregon’s electric grid by transitioning to 100% emission-free electricity by either 2040 or 2050.
IA: Iowa governor phases out food assistance task force, ends federal unemployment help
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, said the Feeding Iowa Task Force will be scaled back. The task force was formed at the start of the pandemic to connect food producers, nonprofits and state agencies to help Iowans facing food insecurity. The governor also emphasized her decision to end Iowa’s participation in the federal government’s supplemental unemployment insurance program.
MN: Minnesota companies weigh vaccine mandates for workers
With Democratic Gov. Tim Walz continuing to relax COVID-19 restrictions, Minnesota businesses now are preparing for workers to return to job sites, and vaccinations are a key factor. While many are offering incentives and making it easy for people to get vaccines, some businesses are going so far as to mandate immunizations.
KS: Kansas agencies will return to ‘normal operations’ next month
Kansas state agencies can once again require employees to return to work in person and resume normal operations starting next month, more than a year after workers were sent home at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The change would go into effect June 13 after all state employees have had access to a COVID-19 vaccine.
UT: COVID-related unemployment benefits will end soon for Utahns
Republican Gov. Spencer Cox has announced that Utah will stop paying higher unemployment benefits, an effort to get people back to work. The $300 weekly bonus payment, as well as the other federal unemployment pandemic-related programs, will end June 26 and benefits will return to pre-pandemic levels.
DE: Delaware bill pushes to include Black history in schools
A bill making its way through the General Assembly seeks to require Delaware school districts to incorporate lessons on Black history into “all educational programming.” It would not create new classes for students, but elements of Black history would be woven into subjects such as science and the arts.
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