Top State Stories 7/12
CT: Connecticut state employee unions sue to block order requiring workers to return to offices
Connecticut’s state employee unions are suing Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont, demanding a halt to his order requiring workers to return to their offices and end telework requirements set last year at the start of the pandemic. Workers say they are more productive at home.
FL: Florida collected millions for condo owner education, but lawmakers diverted the money
The state of Florida collected $13.7 million in fees in 2020 from condominium owner associations, vacation timeshares and mobile home parks. But instead of using that money for its intended purpose—which includes training condo associations about maintenance—the Florida legislature swept $5 million of it into the state’s general fund.
CA: California will require masks at school
The new school year in California will start with students and teachers wearing masks, state officials announced, staking out a cautious position on a day when new federal guidelines stressed the importance of fully reopening schools and recommended masks only for those who are not vaccinated.
WA: Washington foster system will stop housing kids in hotels, offices
Youth in foster care in Washington will no longer sleep in cars, offices and hotel rooms, under a proposed agreement between children’s lawyers and the state Department of Children, Youth, and Families. Once signed by a federal judge, the settlement requires the state to create alternative plans to house foster youth by Nov. 1.
OR: Oregon police threaten arrests if people don’t evacuate from fire zone
Sheriff’s deputies in Oregon began handing out citations and issued a stern warning that they may start arresting people who refuse to follow evacuation orders as the intense Bootleg fire continues to burn national forestland and threaten two small towns.
MI: Michigan Supreme Court denies request for new redistricting timeline
The Michigan Supreme Court denied a request from the state’s redistricting commission for a deadline extension to propose and adopt new political maps. The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission had proactively petitioned the court for new deadlines in light of an unprecedented six-month delay in the census data the commission will use to draw new congressional and legislative districts.
AK: Environmental regulators will give Alaska liquefied natural gas pipeline another look
An Alaska liquefied natural gas project that would send natural gas flowing from the North Slope got the go-ahead from environmental regulators in the Trump administration, but now the Biden administration wants to take another look.
TN: Federal judge temporarily blocks Tennessee’s new transgender restroom law
A federal judge temporarily blocked a new Tennessee law that requires businesses to post signs if they allow transgender people to use the bathroom of their choosing. The national and Tennessee chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit challenging the law, arguing it violates businesses’ First Amendment right “against compelled speech.”
CO: Tax refunds for Coloradans? Not if Democrats can help it.
Coloradans are projected to receive billions in tax refunds by 2023, but statehouse Democrats would rather they don’t. The majority party wants to spend the money on infrastructure projects at public universities and prisons, on roads and in education—even though the state budget is relatively flush.
MS: Data on excessive use of force by Mississippi police, overall crime remains sparse
It is hard to capture how often Mississippi police officers use excessive force, as four of more than 250 law enforcement agencies submitted this information to the FBI last year.
RI: Rhode Island bans large balloon releases to protect wildlife
Under a new law signed by Democratic Gov. Dan McKee, Rhode Island will prohibit anyone from intentionally releasing 10 or more helium or other lighter-than-air balloons outdoors. Supporters say balloon releases are an environmental nuisance that poses a serious threat to birds, marine animals and other wildlife that ingest or become entangled in balloon litter.
TX: Republican-backed elections bills clear Texas committees after marathon hearings
Contentious GOP-backed election bills could get votes in the Texas House and Senate as early as this week. Republicans say the push is meant to strengthen election systems, but state and national Democrats contend the legislation is really a response to former President Donald Trump’s false assertions of widespread fraud and will simply make it harder to vote.
NY: Tenured faculty at New York universities are overwhelmingly white men
Decades of New York diversity initiatives launched by colleges and universities have hardly made an impact when it comes to recruiting and retaining faculty from underrepresented backgrounds, the most recent data available from the U.S. Department of Education shows.
OH: Ohio governor vetoes bill that would have legalized consumer fireworks
Republican Gov. Mike DeWine vetoed a bill that would have legalized consumer fireworks in Ohio, saying that the change in law was dramatic and would have been one of the least restrictive in the country.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.