Top State Stories 5/21
RI: Rhode Island governor signs minimum wage law
Rhode Island’s minimum wage is going up next year and again in each of the next three years after that. Democratic Gov. Dan McKee signed legislation raising the state minimum wage from the current .50 an hour in increments up to an hour by 2025.
FL: As pandemic worsens Florida’s eviction crisis, more Black renters lives are upended
Tens of thousands of people in Florida lost their jobs during the pandemic, leaving many at risk of eviction. But renters living in predominately Black neighborhoods were most vulnerable, new data shows.
MO: Medicaid expansion advocates sue Missouri to force coverage
Advocates for Medicaid expansion took Missouri Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s administration to court over its refusal to extend eligibility, which was widened under the terms of a constitutional amendment approved by voters last year, to an estimated 275,000 low-income residents.
CO: Governor will issue more pardons now that Coloradoans can legally possess 2 ounces of marijuana
Democratic Gov. Jared Polis said he will issue additional pardons to Coloradans convicted of low-level marijuana possession crimes now that he’s signed a bill into law allowing people to have up to 2 ounces of cannabis. In October, Polis pardoned more than 2,700 people convicted of possessing up to 1 ounce of marijuana, the previous possession limit.
NY: Prosecutors look at whether New York governor’s family got ‘special access’ to tests
Federal prosecutors have been looking into whether New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration granted special access to rapid coronavirus test results for the governor’s family and other influential people.
MI: Michigan will lift outdoor restrictions June 1
Beginning June 1, all outdoor capacity limits in Michigan will be removed. Indoor settings including event spaces, gyms and casinos will increase capacity from 30% to 50%, while other indoor settings already at 50% will stay there for another month.
WA: 2nd wave of unemployment fraud hits Washington
One year after Washington disclosed hundreds of millions of dollars in unemployment fraud, criminals appear to be making a second run at the state’s system. But so far, the thieves aren’t getting away with much money, the Employment Security Department said.
VT: Vermont House and Senate reach deal on M broadband package
Vermont lawmakers have agreed on a broadband bill that would use million to expand internet access throughout the state. The legislation, which relies on federal money from the American Rescue Plan, emerged from a conference committee of state Senate and House legislators.
CA: California is reimagining math instruction. Some worry it will hold back high achievers
A plan to reimagine math instruction for 6 million California students has become ensnared in equity and fairness issues—with critics saying proposed guidelines will hold back gifted students and supporters saying it will, over time, give all K-12 students a better chance to excel.
GA: Georgia governor urges safeguards against teaching on race
With rank-and-file Republicans in arms over fears that their public-school students are being indoctrinated that the United States is inherently racist, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signaled that he shared their concerns. The Republican wrote a letter to the state Board of Education, urging them to prevent the “dangerous ideology” critical race theory in state curricula.
CT: Connecticut plans to use M in COVID aid to help deaf residents during the pandemic
Connecticut Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration is looking to direct million out of its billion in federal COVID-19 relief aid over the next two years to help hearing-impaired residents cope with the pandemic. It would be used to produce vaccine informational videos and acquire see-through masks, among other measures.
MS: Mississippi activists work to overcome vaccine transportation barriers in the Delta
A host of organizations and institutions including the Mississippi Valley State University and the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi provided free rides to vaccine appointments for people in the Mississippi Delta—a region with limited to no transportation. Spreading awareness about the initiative because of a lack of broadband and computer access has been one of the biggest challenges for organizers.
WI: Republicans reject Wisconsin governor’s plan to fight homelessness
Republicans on the Wisconsin legislature’s budget committee declined to approve Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ plan to increase funding for housing and homeless programs by more than million over the next two years. Instead, Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee adopted a plan that would increase funding for homeless shelters by ,000 a year.
MN: Minnesota jobs agency calls thousands of unemployed workers to point out openings
The state’s jobs agency is calling thousands of out-of-work Minnesotans every week as it looks to help workers with their job search and point them to other available openings. It has already completed more than 20,000 of those conversations, which can last about half an hour.
DE: Delaware lawmakers pass bill to include Black history in schools
Lessons on Black history will be included in all public-school curricula in Delaware starting in the 2022-2023 school year, if the governor signs a bill approved by the state legislature. It would not create new classes for students; elements of Black history would be woven into subjects such as science and the arts.
NH: New Hampshire Republicans push through changes to voter registration, campaign fundraising laws
The Republican-led New Hampshire Senate has voted to back its own versions of House plans to overhaul the state’s campaign finance system, and to add a photo requirement for people who register at the polls without state-approved identification. The bills are among several GOP-backed bills this year that seek to modify current laws around voting and elections.
AZ: Arizona secretary of state may not let Maricopa County reuse voting machines after election audit
Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, told Maricopa County officials that the county broke the chain of custody, or the procedures for properly securing and tracking the machines, when it was required to give the machines to the state Senate under subpoenas for its general election audit.
TX: Texas House gives initial OK to bill allowing college athletes to get paid
With less than two weeks left in the session, Texas lawmakers are inching toward passing a bill that would allow college athletes to earn compensation for their name, image and likeness, a game-changing move several states have already committed to.
AR: Arkansas governor won’t extend pandemic emergency
Citing the availability of coronavirus vaccines, a reduction in the number of people hospitalized with the virus and measures passed by the legislature this year, among other factors, Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he would not request an extension of the statewide public emergency he first declared in March 2020.
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