Top State Stories 7/22
DE: All police in Delaware now have to wear body cameras
The new Delaware law requires all officers to wear the cameras, along with a few related employees, such as probation officers and special youth investigators. Democratic Gov. John Carney signed the bill lawmakers passed in late June, largely thanks to police support.
PA: Pennsylvania decertifies county’s voting system after partisan audit
Pennsylvania’s top election official has decertified the voting machines of a sparsely populated county that disclosed that it had agreed to requests by local Republican lawmakers and allowed a software firm to inspect the machines as part of an “audit” after the 2020 election.
AR: Judge blocks implementation of Arkansas gender-treatment ban
In a surprise move, a federal judge issued a ruling from the bench to temporarily block an Arkansas law set to go into effect less than a week from now that would ban gender dysphoria treatment for minors, and to deny a motion from the state to dismiss the case.
MS: 13 Mississippi ICUs are at capacity; access to COVID care is limited in some areas
Nearly 140 patients were in intensive care units and 57 were on ventilators in Mississippi hospitals. At least 13 ICUs across the state are at maximum capacity.
TX: Texas comptroller may blacklist Ben & Jerry’s for refusing to sell ice cream in Palestine
Ben & Jerry’s released a statement saying it will no longer sell ice cream in “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” but Texas law prohibits the state from giving contracts to companies that support a boycott of Israel or an “Israeli-controlled territory.”
LA: Louisiana House fails to override veto of transgender sports bill
The Republican-led Louisiana House failed to override Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ veto of a bill that would have banned transgender athletes from participating in women’s and girls sports teams.
MI: Truthful unemployment claimants won’t have to repay benefits despite Michigan error
Nearly 650,000 Michiganders received letters saying they may not have qualified for unemployment benefits they received, but the state is now saying most of them won’t have to repay the money.
KS: Lawsuit alleges Kansas altered software to hide election records
A judge is considering whether Kansas’ Republican secretary of state ran afoul of the state’s open records law by ordering the removal of an election database function that generates a statewide report showing which provisional ballots were not counted—a decision civil rights advocates say will have far-reaching implications for government transparency.
GA: Businesses condemned Georgia’s voting law, then gave thousands to its backers
Comcast was one of several companies that raised the alarm about Georgia’s voting restrictions but then donated more than ,000 collectively between April and June of this year to politicians who voted for or publicly defended the legislation, according to an examination by Advance Democracy, a nonprofit research group.
NH: New Hampshire refunds business fines for COVID violations
The New Hampshire attorney general had issued fines totaling ,000 to eight businesses, but three hadn’t paid and instead appealed the citations. Those cases were dropped in June because the state of emergency was ending, the violated rules were no longer in effect and the appeals were using up the office’s scarce resources, said Associate Attorney General Anne Edwards.
MO: Missouri governor reveals COVID vaccine incentive program with cash and prizes
Missouri Republican Gov. Mike Parson announced drawings with ,000 prizes to encourage residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19. In total, 900 residents will win prizes of either ,000 cash or ,000 toward education savings.
FL: Florida governor rebuffs call for red tide emergency declaration
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis rebuffed calls for an emergency declaration to address a red tide outbreak in Tampa Bay that has killed scores of fish and other marine life, saying it would do more harm than good.
CA: California voters OK’d billions for water projects. Where are the new dams, reservoirs?
None of the major water storage projects being funded by Proposition 1, the 2014 water bond, will be able to provide short-term relief for California’s worsening water situation. They’re all still in the pre-construction phase: reviewing environmental impacts, designing dams and securing financing to pay for the costs the state won’t handle.
ME: Maine’s government savings reach historic level
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, aided by her party’s majorities in the legislature, has grown Maine’s so-called rainy day fund to nearly million, the highest total ever recorded, her office announced.
CO: Just 4.4% of bills in Colorado this year passed along purely partisan lines
A record 504 bills introduced in the Colorado legislature became law this year, and 94% of them had at least one Republican vote. Half of the 39 Republicans in the state House and Senate voted for 58% of those bills.
MT: Montana takes public comment on Medicaid spending plan
In a draft proposal released this month, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services suggested funneling federal Medicaid dollars to support people in search of stable housing, patients preparing to exit prisons, and specific treatments for stimulant addictions. The state also proposed using Medicaid to pay for inpatient and residential treatment.
WY: Wyoming governor issues emergency rule to increase fuel supply during wildfire season
Republican Gov. Mark Gordon issued an executive order that allows the Wyoming Department of Transportation to deliver additional gasoline, diesel and aviation fuel through Aug. 20. Record-breaking travel and tourism, coupled with efforts to combat an early fire season, are straining the state’s fuel reserves.
RI: Rhode Island state courts plan to resume regular operations by September
Rhode Island’s courts are preparing to resume regular operations this fall. State Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Suttell issued an executive order that will lift most coronavirus restrictions by Sept. 7 and will allow the public to return to all judicial buildings, with some restrictions.
IA: Wrong-way drivers lead to .4M interchange overhaul in Iowa
Wrong-way drivers kill an average of four Iowans a year, prompting a .4 million effort to overhaul 165 interchanges with new signs and pavement markings. The Iowa Department of Transportation also has installed about 50 traffic cameras to study how and why drivers are steering into oncoming traffic.
CT: Suburban lawmakers face renewed calls to address car thefts in Connecticut
Spurred by public outcry, legislative leaders in Connecticut have formed a bipartisan working group to develop policies to address a spike in car thefts.
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