Top State Stories 7/19
IL: Suburban school districts in Illinois are letting parents decide whether students should wear masks
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Illinois health department recently recommended that unvaccinated students and staff continue wearing masks indoors to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But a growing slate of suburban school districts have passed policies that veer from that guidance.
CO: New Colorado laws look to reduce maternal deaths, improve racial disparities
Maternal health is the focus of three new Colorado laws that take effect in September. Democrats argue the laws will help address racial disparities, improve health outcomes and reduce the number of people who die during pregnancy and through the first year after childbirth.
CT: Marijuana is legal in Connecticut, but some towns want little or no part of it
Within weeks of marijuana becoming legal in Connecticut, local governments are looking to clamp down. Adults may now possess marijuana, but communities are free to dictate where they can smoke it.
FL: In blow to Florida governor, court blocks order lifting CDC virus rules on cruise ships
Pandemic restrictions on Florida-based cruise ships will remain in place after a federal appeals court temporarily blocked a previous ruling that sided with a Florida lawsuit championed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis that challenged the regulations.
MO: Missouri governor fumes over CDC refusal of vaccination incentive plan
Missouri Republican Gov. Mike Parson is at odds with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over a proposal to provide incentives worth more than to people who get vaccinated against COVID-19.
WY: Report finds severe drop in Wyoming coal production in 2020
A new report says coal production in Wyoming, the nation’s top coal mining state, fell by 21% in 2020 from the previous year, caused in part by reduced demand during the coronavirus pandemic, low natural gas prices and a longstanding move away from fossil fuels to cheaper and cleaner-burning natural gas to generate electricity.
MT: Plaintiffs sue over ‘draconian’ birth certificate law in Montana
A Billings woman and a Bozeman-born man are suing Montana over a new law requiring a person to obtain gender-affirming surgery and a court order before changing the gender designation on a birth certificate. The new law reverses a 2017 Department of Public Health and Human Services policy.
ID: Idaho’s COVID rate triples in under 2 weeks
The rise in Idaho coincides with a nationwide uptick in cases, which health officials have partly attributed to the highly contagious delta variant, which now accounts for most cases across the country, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
IA: Iowa’s nursing home worker vaccination rate drops further
Even in Iowa nursing homes where a half-dozen residents or more have died of COVID-19, the percentage of workers who have been vaccinated against the virus is as low as 48%, federal records show.
MA: Massachusetts governor pressures legislature to spend COVID money
With five years to spend .9 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds—a one-time influx with the potential to transform Massachusetts—the legislature is under pressure from Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and advocacy groups who want the money to start flowing soon. But lawmakers are “in no rush to get this money out the door,” said state Sen. Michael Rodrigues, the Democrat who leads the chamber’s budget efforts.
NY: New York governor signs expanded voting laws
New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a series of changes to New York voting law, including extending the deadline for absentee ballot returns until Election Day and offering voters the option of digital absentee ballot requests.
AL: Alabama launches TikTok competition to promote youth vaccination
The Alabama Department of Public Health announced a TikTok competition to encourage youth between the ages of 13 to 19 to get a COVID-19 vaccination. Four winners will receive a Visa gift card.
CA: In California, Los Angeles County now requires masks indoors. But will people follow the rules?
Los Angeles County, California, is by far the biggest jurisdiction in the nation to require masks again. But with coronavirus cases rising across the nation, officials elsewhere will be watching to see if the effort works.
TX: Texas foster care crisis worsens
The number of Texas foster children placed in unlicensed facilities such as motels, churches and offices surpassed 400 in June 2021, after trending upward for the past year. Before 2021, the number rarely went above 100.
NM: New Mexico DACA recipients lose work permissions amid extreme backlog
Thousands of ‘Dreamers’ who benefit from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, including many in New Mexico, are finding themselves shut out of the job market. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is dealing with a pandemic paperwork backlog that could cause changes to immigration status to take up to 50 months to process, according to a group of DACA recipients.
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