Top State Stories 7/1
OR: 63 people have died in Oregon heat wave
At least 63 people throughout Oregon died from health issues related to the hot weather over the past few days, authorities say. Capt. Tim Fox, an Oregon State Police spokesperson, said the death toll was based on reports from each county’s medical examiner office, but that number could go up as agencies conduct more investigations.
HI: Hawaii’s millions in rental assistance goes unused
Hawaii county officials are trying to get the word out that rent help is available and process applications as the end of the eviction moratorium looms.
NJ: New Jersey eviction records during pandemic could be kept private under bill
Under a New Jersey Senate bill awaiting the governor’s review, certain eviction court records during the pandemic could be kept confidential, in turn reducing barriers to finding new housing.
AL: Alabama schools see highest teacher retirement levels in nearly a decade
The Alabama Retirement System released 2021 data that showed more than 3,500 teachers retired, the largest number of teachers who have left the field since 2011, when changes to retirement benefits prompted an exodus of 4,100 educators.
MO: Medicaid tax gets through Missouri House in time for state to avert budget cuts
Missouri lawmakers sent the renewal of a tax critical to funding Medicaid to Republican Gov. Mike Parson just ahead of a deadline he imposed for enacting drastic budget cuts across the state. The House passed the bill 140-13 with no debate.
RI: Rhode Island legislature OKs banning guns on school grounds
Rhode Island lawmakers passed three firearms-related bills: One would ban guns on school grounds, another would prohibit “straw purchases” of guns and the third would have the attorney general create an annual report on all gun charges. The measures passed the Senate and House, but will need another round of votes to get to Democratic Gov. Dan McKee’s desk.
IL: Illinois high court reinstates speedy trial rules
Beginning Oct. 1, criminal defendants in Illinois will once again be able to effectively invoke their right to a speedy trial, the Illinois Supreme Court ordered. The state’s highest court last year ordered that speedy trial deadlines could be suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
GA: Governor ends Georgia’s pandemic emergency declaration
Republican Gov. Brian Kemp officially ended the 15-month state of emergency that gave him far-reaching authority to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
LA: Calls for Louisiana’s 1st veto override session grow over guns, roads, transgender athletes
Some lawmakers in the Louisiana legislature say there is a likelihood of a veto override session beginning July 20 because Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, vetoed high-profile bills.
CT: Governor vetoes bill barring solitary confinement in Connecticut prisons
Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont vetoed a bill that would have placed new limits on the use of solitary confinement in Connecticut prisons, saying the measure could put the safety of incarcerated people and Department of Correction staff in danger.
MI: Legislature passes bill aimed at closing Michigan school funding gap
Michigan’s GOP-controlled Senate and House sent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, a K-12 funding bill that would eliminate the longstanding funding gap among Michigan school districts, giving each a basic per-pupil grant of ,700. Whitmer is expected to sign the bill—part of a record .1 billion school aid package—into law.
ME: Democratic criminal justice bills die after Maine lawmakers uphold governor’s vetoes
Several bills aiming to overhaul Maine’s criminal justice system, including efforts to close the state’s youth prison and decriminalize prostitution, died after the legislature upheld a ream of vetoes from Democratic Gov. Janet Mills.
MS: Mississippi faces ominous blood shortage
Mississippi health and medical professionals say the state is experiencing the worst blood shortage in decades. The situation is rapidly worsening for hospitals, in turn leaving patients without blood for treatments.
MT: Montana governor ends pandemic state of emergency
Gov. Greg Gianforte, a Republican, announced that he is ending Montana’s COVID-19 state of emergency immediately, bringing the state’s 15 months under emergency declarations stemming from the pandemic to an official close.
WA: Washington child care costs rise faster than financial help
In 2021, the crisis of child care costs and capacity not only has worsened for Washington’s most vulnerable working families, but it has continued to spread up the socioeconomic ladder to higher-income workers. At the same time, child care providers operate at low, sometimes negative financial margins, which means there are fewer available caregivers.
FL: Florida governor signs bill banning arrests of children under 7
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that sets standards for police conduct and also bans the arrest of children under 7 for nonviolent offenses, a provision inspired by the arrest of an Orlando girl that garnered nationwide interest and outrage.
KS: Kansas starts COVID campaign amid fears about delta variant
This week, Kansas Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly launched COVID-19 public service announcements, reflecting officials’ fears that people who travel over the Fourth of July holiday will return with the fast-spreading delta variant.
WI: Wisconsin governor vetoes bill that would have limited grants to help run elections
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers vetoed a bill that would have barred a nonprofit group from repeating its practice of giving millions of dollars to more than 200 Wisconsin communities to help them run elections.
IA: Iowa Supreme Court rules state can block Planned Parenthood sex education program
Iowa lawmakers can prohibit Planned Parenthood from teaching federally funded sex education to students, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled. A 2019 state law specified groups that provide abortion services could not access grant funding for sex education programs. The court ruled that lawmakers may prohibit Planned Parenthood from accessing certain federal grants for sex education, even if the curriculum does not include abortion as a viable option.
NM: New Mexico law opens door to new era of civil rights suits
Efforts among a handful of states to hold police accountable for brutality and misconduct are expanding as New Mexico opens the door to civil rights lawsuits against government agencies in state court. The New Mexico Civil Rights Act removes immunity provisions that shielded government agencies from financial liability related to misconduct, though individual officials won’t pay for damages.
AK: Alaska lawmakers narrowly averted shutdown
Communication between the two caucuses of the Alaska House broke down briefly before the body voted to avert a state government shutdown. The vote almost didn’t happen.
NV: Nevada casinos saw record-breaking .23B revenues in May
Nevada casinos collected a single-month record of .23 billion in gaming revenues during May, a stunning figure given that most casinos statewide were still operating under COVID-19 capacity restrictions that weren’t fully lifted until June 1.
AZ: Arizona Senate passes bill that would bar critical discussions of Israel
Teaching anti-Semitism in Arizona public schools would include any claim that the state of Israel has no right to exist, under legislation approved by the state Senate. The 16-14 vote came over the objections of every Democratic lawmaker, who argued the bill would effectively stifle any discussion of how the government there is dealing with Palestinians living both within the official state and in occupied territories.
CO: Colorado Supreme Court ruling makes more police internal investigations accessible
People no longer need to reference a “specific, identifiable incident” in requesting completed law enforcement internal affairs investigations in Colorado, the state’s highest court has ruled. The decision upholds a district court’s ruling against the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office’s refusal to provide a criminal defendant with internal investigation files about deputies involved in her case because she did not make the request about a specific incident.
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