Top State Stories 7/26
US: States scale back virus reporting right as cases spike
Several states scaled back their reporting of COVID-19 statistics this month just as cases across the country started to skyrocket, depriving the public of real-time information on outbreaks, cases, hospitalizations and deaths in their communities.
NY: Rearrest data muddies New York bail reform debate
About a sixth of the criminal cases that went before a judge in New York in 2020 led to the person being rearrested before the case concluded, according to new data from the state’s court system.
MI, NY, PA: Feds won’t investigate nursing home deaths in 3 states
The U.S. Justice Department has decided not to open a civil rights investigation into nursing homes in New York, Michigan and Pennsylvania regarding their COVID-19 response, dealing a blow to several Republican lawmakers who had demanded a probe. One underlying issue is whether the three states with Democratic governors inadvertently added to the death toll by allowing nursing homes to take in residents who had been hospitalized for COVID-19.
FL: Hackers expose personal data of 58K unemployment benefits recipients in Florida
Hackers targeting Florida’s unemployment website potentially stole the personal data, including Social Security numbers, of nearly 58,000 people between April 27 and July 16 of this year, according to the Department of Economic Opportunity.
MN: More Minnesota school board members resign in turbulent year
An unprecedented number of Minnesota school board members are resigning early after an unrelenting year of community angst over school closures and mask debates, budget cuts, reckonings over social justice and curriculum battles.
US: Requests for US college aid are down; experts blame the pandemic
U.S. high school seniors completed fewer federal financial aid applications for college this year, as compared with last year, which saw an even steeper drop. The decline signals that the number of low-income students attending college is falling again.
CT: Connecticut bond commission will release more than B for school, transportation projects
After operating on a self-imposed “debt diet,” Connecticut Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont and the State Bond Commission are opening up the spigot and planning to release more than $1 billion for a wide variety of construction projects. The largest amounts are for transportation infrastructure, including highway and bridge repairs.
HI: More people than ever are receiving food stamps in Hawaii
More than 200,000 people are receiving food stamps in Hawaii, a historic high, and the program has grown steadily each month this year despite a recent decline in the unemployment rate. It’s a reflection of how food insecurity continues to be a problem in Hawaii as the pandemic drags on, advocates say.
WA: Pandemic’s 5th wave has arrived in Washington
The fifth wave of the coronavirus pandemic is here, Washington’s acting state health officer said. The increase in cases seen in metro areas around the state, from Seattle to the Tri-Cities and Yakima, is concerning to health officials, particularly in those counties with lower vaccination rates.
ME: Maine will allow online voter registration in Nov. 2023
Maine residents soon will be able to register to vote via a secure online portal. Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, has signed a proposal passed by the legislature that proponents said will expand voting access.
VT: Vermont state colleges will require COVID vaccines for students
The 3,000 students on the residential campuses of the Vermont State Colleges will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for the fall semester.
NJ: New Jerseyans with marijuana cases aren’t seeing the benefits of first-time offender program
Following the passage of landmark cannabis laws, New Jersey has begun clearing the records of hundreds of thousands of people charged or convicted of marijuana possession. But some who participated in programs that diverted them from prison time upon getting charged years ago are now falling through a crack in the law, defense attorneys say.
WI: University of Wisconsin System announces scholarship lottery to encourage vaccination
Vaccinated students at all University of Wisconsin campuses except UW-Madison will be entered into a lottery for one of 70 one-time, $7,000 scholarships. The catch is that in order to be eligible, a student’s campus has to hit a 70% vaccination rate by Oct. 15.
OR: Farmworkers say Oregon’s limited oversight, lenient fines leave them vulnerable
Farmworkers and their advocates say Oregon’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires commitment from workers who come forward but is ill-equipped to provide the justice they seek.
AR: Arkansas governor spells out Medicaid proposal
Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson outlined his vision for overhauling the state’s expanded Medicaid program. Unlike the state’s previous proposal, the Arkansas Health and Opportunity for Me program does not condition coverage for some recipients on work, job training or volunteer service.
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 $250 Visa gift card.
MI: Entrapment accusations and scandal emerge in case of Michigan governor kidnapping plot
Entrapment claims, allegations that the media tainted the possibility of a fair trial and the arrest of a lead FBI agent who’s now accused of brutally beating his wife following a swingers’ sex party are among the latest developments in the prosecution of 14 men charged with conspiring to kidnap Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
AK: Alaska sees used auto prices soar amid new vehicle shortage
The global slowdown in auto manufacturing has left many showroom floors and car lots in Alaska nearly empty, and auto dealers say the situation has boosted demand for used cars and trucks, causing prices of those vehicles to skyrocket. New car prices rose about 5% over the past 12 months, while used car prices in Alaska jumped an astounding 47%.
NH: New Hampshire elections overlook unhoused
Earlier this month, the New Hampshire Supreme Court struck down a law that would have required proof of residency for voters. Plaintiffs in the case included college students who feared a residency requirement would have barred them from voting in the state, centering the conversation around New Hampshire’s college population. But this requirement would have affected the ability of people experiencing homelessness to vote as well.
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