Top State Stories 6/15
VT: Vermont becomes first state to hit 80% vaccination goal
Vermont is lifting all its remaining COVID-19 restrictions after becoming the first state to have 80% of its eligible population get one dose of the vaccine, Republican Gov. Phil Scott announced. This means any remaining restrictions about wearing masks, physical distancing or crowd size limits have been rescinded by the state.
AZ: Consular IDs now recognized in Arizona, opening doors for noncitizens
The consular ID law is mainly intended to help police determine the identity of immigrants living in Arizona. But it also opens the door for noncitizens to conduct many everyday activities, from opening bank accounts and registering children for school to showing proof of age to buy alcohol. Politically, it marks a notable shift away from Arizona’s longstanding hardline reputation on immigration.
TX: Texas will allow college athletes to profit off their name and likeness
College athletes in Texas will soon be able to receive compensation from outside businesses that want to use their name, image or likeness under a new law GOP Gov. Greg Abbott signed. At least 15 states have passed bills lifting the ban on allowing student athletes to be paid by outside parties.
MO: Missouri governor to sign new limits on local health orders, vaccine passports
Missouri Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s office said he would sign off on a plan to limit the authority of local health officials. The approval is noteworthy because he largely avoided issuing statewide rules during the pandemic, instead allowing counties to implement more stringent regulations such as masking requirements and occupancy restrictions.
FL: Florida requires daily moment of silence in schools
Florida K-12 public schools must hold a moment of silence at the start of each day starting next school year, after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law requiring the practice. He said it will allow students to “reflect and be able to pray as they see fit.”
CA: California lifts most pandemic restrictions
California rescinded most mask rules for vaccinated people and ended capacity limitations on businesses and venues.
MT: Montana public health officials struggle to interpret state pandemic law
Legislation aiming to protect Montana businesses from COVID-19 restrictions imposed by local authorities was signed into law by Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte more than a month ago, but across the state, elected officials, public health officers and attorneys are left with wildly different interpretations of what the new law actually does.
ME: Maine governor announces cash incentives to get unemployed back to work
Maine Democratic Gov. Janet Mills’ office unveiled a program that will provide one-time payments of ,500 for workers who start jobs in June and ,000 for workers who start jobs in July. To be eligible, workers must have recently received unemployment benefits and accept a job that pays less than an hour for at least eight consecutive weeks.
MI: Michigan to use unemployment bonus as back-to-work incentive
Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants to expand how Michigan uses federal unemployment funds to incentivize Michiganders to return to work. The plan involves providing a bonus of per week to specific employees returning to their previous jobs through the week of Sept. 4.
AR: Groups ask judge to block Arkansas’ near-total abortion ban
The American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood asked a federal judge to issue a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction against Arkansas’ near-total abortion ban, which is set to take effect July 28. The groups filed a lawsuit last month challenging the constitutionality of the ban, which prohibits abortions except those to save the life of the woman.
NC: North Carolina just made it easier to stay an organ donor
North Carolina drivers who choose to be organ donors on their driver’s licenses will no longer have to renew their organ-donor status when they renew their licenses. A spokesperson for Carolina Donor Services said North Carolina is the 18th state to enact such legislation.
KS: Help for college, rent now available for former foster kids in Kansas
Thousands of young adults in Kansas who experienced foster care and similar disruptions to home life as children can apply for help paying rent, buying food and covering college tuition and child care through a new pandemic relief program. One key change makes people eligible until they turn 27 for supports that previously ran out at age 21.
ID: Idaho doctors lament state’s low vaccination rate for adolescents
For each age group that’s become eligible for the vaccine, Idaho’s rate has lagged the U.S. average by at least 10 percentage points. Only 14% of Idaho’s 12- to 15-year-old population is partially vaccinated, according to state health officials. Nationally, over 24% of that age group has received at least one shot.
NM: New Mexico banks on cash incentives to meet vaccine goal
New Mexico residents who get vaccinated against COVID-19 will now be eligible for a incentive. The New Mexico Department of Health has announced the reward for anyone who gets their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna or the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine by Thursday.
NJ: Criminal trials in New Jersey resume while jury selection stays partially remote
New Jersey can resume criminal trials more than a year after juries were first suspended statewide because of the coronavirus. Priority will be given to cases where the people charged are awaiting trial in jail. Civil jury trials will largely stay remote for now, as well as the initial phase of jury selection.
PA: A path to citizenship would add to Pennsylvania’s tax collections: study
Pennsylvania residents living in the state illegally now pay about million a year in state and local taxes. But granting them citizenship would boost that figure by 38%, more than million, according to a new study by the Keystone Research Center.
CO: Amid drought, Colorado ranchers are selling off cattle
Ranchers and farmers in western and southern Colorado are shipping livestock to greener pastures or selling them off entirely, as fast as the stream flows past their property are dropping.
WY: Wyoming pot advocates introduce ballot initiatives
A number of Wyoming cannabis advocates and members of the Libertarian Party made history as they submitted two marijuana-related ballot initiatives, kicking off a campaign that will last until next November.
OK: Oklahoma to increase enforcement of medical marijuana laws
Three years after Oklahoma voters approved legalizing medical marijuana, the state will beef up enforcement of its cannabis laws. State lawmakers this year approved a slate of legislation that allows state agencies to ensure medical marijuana businesses are complying with licensing, testing, operation and tax requirements.
IA: Iowa fires nurses who gave COVID vaccine overdoses to 77 incarcerated people
The Iowa Department of Corrections has fired two nurses who gave large overdoses of coronavirus vaccine to dozens of inmates at the Fort Madison prison in April. The incident happened April 20 at the maximum security prison for men. Authorities said at the time that 77 incarcerated people were given up to six times the proper dose for the Pfizer version of the coronavirus vaccine.
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