Top State Stories 7/30
US: Biden administration wants states and cities to pay people to get vaccinated
The Biden administration is calling on states, territories and local governments to pay to residents who remain unvaccinated against the coronavirus to get their shots. The move comes as concern has grown about rising cases across the country, and the administration has shifted its strategy to focus on more personalized approaches.
AR: Arkansas governor reinstates public health emergency, will call special session on mask mandates
Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson reinstated Arkansas’ public health emergency and said he would call a special session to lift a state law’s prohibition on mask requirements in K-12 public schools. Hutchinson also said he would ask other states to send health care workers to Arkansas and ease its licensure requirements to help hospitals with staffing.
IL: Hacker attack costs Illinois Attorney General’s office millions
Illinois’ attorney general said he has spent more than .5 million in crisis management after a massive ransomware hack crippled the agency in April and potentially exposed gigabytes of personal and confidential records on the dark web.
OR: Oregon will require K-12 students to wear masks
Students enrolled in Oregon public schools will have to wear masks when they return to classrooms this fall. Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, directed the Oregon Health Authority and the Department of Education to write rules instituting the requirement, weeks after the agencies issued guidelines strongly suggesting districts do so on their own.
NV: Nevada could adopt low- and zero-emission vehicle programs modeled after California’s
Nevada is one step closer to adopting the vehicle emissions standard proposal announced by Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak last year after reaching a compromise lauded by environmental groups and automakers.
CO: Colorado’s child protection ombudsman announces program to review child deaths
The ombudsman said she intends to fill the gap left by other child fatality review systems in Colorado that do not result in publicly accessible reports that could help save children’s lives. The announcement comes after legislation passed this year that gave the ombudsman authority to access medical, behavioral health and law enforcement records.
AL: Alabama’s COVID test positivity rate becomes nation’s highest
Alabama’s COVID-19 test positivity rate stands at 18.5%, which outpaces the rest of the country. It is more than a full percentage point higher than the next closest state—Florida.
FL: Florida student test scores fall, with the ‘COVID slide’
Florida students struggled more on the state’s standardized tests this spring compared with before the pandemic, with scores dropping most sharply in math, according to data posted online by the Florida Department of Education.
SC: South Carolina governor faces suit over decision to end federal jobless aid
A legal nonprofit is suing Republican Gov. Henry McMaster and the head of the state employment department for terminating extra COVID-19 aid the federal government was providing to thousands of unemployed South Carolinians.
UT: Utah governor says no mask mandates in schools despite surge
As Utah’s daily coronavirus count eclipsed 1,000 cases for the first time in five months, Republican Gov. Spencer Cox said he wouldn’t be pushing for mask mandates in schools during the upcoming year or a rollback of a state law that prohibits individual districts from passing their own mandates.
NJ: Just had a baby in New Jersey? You can soon get a free house call from a nurse under new law
Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law that guarantees parents in New Jersey can receive a free home visit by a nurse within two weeks of their child’s birth, a crucial juncture for the health and well-being of mothers and babies.
MN: Minnesota offers for getting COVID shots
Minnesota will offer a Visa gift card to anyone 12 and older who gets their first shot between July 30 and Aug. 15. President Joe Biden had urged states to offer the incentive.
MO: All four University of Missouri campuses will require masks this fall
All University of Missouri campuses will require masks in class this fall, regardless of vaccination status, the four schools announced. The state continues to struggle with the surge of COVID-19 cases driven by the aggressive delta variant.
MI: Michigan’s affordable housing crisis could worsen
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, affordable homes were scarce in Michigan. Housing experts say that emergency rental aid is a short-term fix and communities need more options, especially as federal protections expire.
AK: Alaska leaders aren’t bringing back mandates
Alaska is reporting its highest rate of COVID-19 transmission in six months, and hospital executives in the state are warning of a looming crisis as the contagious delta variant runs rampant. But Alaska’s most powerful elected officials are taking little concrete action to slow the virus’s spread amid this latest spike in cases.
VA: Virginia governor encourages, but will not require, people to wear masks indoors
Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam will not require people who live in areas where COVID-19 is surging to wear masks inside indoor public spaces, declining to make the latest guidance from federal officials a requirement.
WI: Wisconsin GOP aims to block universities from requiring COVID testing, masking
The Republican chair of the legislature’s administrative rulemaking committee said he aims to introduce a plan next week that would require University of Wisconsin System schools to submit any mandatory pandemic regulations to the rulemaking committee for approval. The committee is controlled by Republicans.
RI: Black, Latino Rhode Island lawmakers call for state to comply with work contract requirements
A Rhode Island law requires that at least 10% of the dollar value of state contracts go to minority- and women-owned businesses. But the state waived that requirement during the pandemic last year, and it has met the mandate only twice in the past six years, legislators say. So now, the Rhode Island Legislative Black and Latino Caucus is calling for accountability, and legislators have passed a new law prohibiting the state from waiving the requirement at any time.
CA: As violent crimes surge, Californians’ faith in gun control slips in new poll
Amid a surge in shootings this year, a majority of California voters say that they believe gun control laws are effective in reducing violent crime, but confidence in them has slipped, according to a new UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times.
DE: Fentanyl drives record Delaware overdoses
Last year Delaware had a record 447 drug overdose deaths. More than 80% of those deaths were caused by fentanyl, according to the state Division of Forensic Science annual report.
NC: North Carolina issues urgent call for COVID vaccinations, sans mask mandate
North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper struck an urgent and cautionary tone, calling out people who are unvaccinated for perpetuating the coronavirus pandemic. He stopped short of reinstating a statewide mask mandate, though.
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