Top State Stories 8/2
GA: Georgia GOP advances effort to take over Fulton County’s election system
Georgia Republican lawmakers took a key step in a long and untested process that could trigger an extraordinary takeover of the elections system of one of the state’s biggest Democratic strongholds.
FL: Florida governor signs order allowing parents to ignore school mask mandates
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order giving parents the right to ignore any COVID-19 school mask mandates such as the one in Broward County. He said the Parents’ Bill of Rights he signed into law last month gave him the authority to issue an emergency rule “protecting the rights of parents to make this decision.”
CA: California says federal ‘let it burn’ policy is reckless as wildfires rage out of control
California leaders say federal agencies that view burns, planned or otherwise, as a necessity to decreasing fire risk in the future, are minimizing the risks of fires mushrooming, especially in forests and grasslands transformed by climate change.
IL: Illinois’ unemployment agency faces another fraud problem: ‘hijacked’ payments
The Illinois Department of Employment Security is dealing with a variation on unemployment fraud in which qualified people start getting their benefits and then somebody directs that cash elsewhere. The department has declined to provide figures on how many people have reported being robbed of their benefits, and how much money was taken.
MT: Montana issues guidance for law barring COVID vaccine status discrimination
The Montana Department of Labor and Industry offered guidance on a new state law barring discrimination against people based on vaccination status. Government agencies and private employers are barred from requiring proof of vaccination as a condition of receiving goods, services, public assistance or employment.
US: Legislators from other states will join Texas lawmakers in DC to lobby for voting bills
More than 100 Democratic state legislators from across the country will assemble in Washington, D.C., with their Texas counterparts to push the Senate and President Joe Biden to act on voting reform legislation. The lawmakers represent more than 20 states, including some in which Republican-led legislatures have passed or are considering new voting restrictions.
WA: Thousands of Washingtonians on unemployment can’t find a job
Washington is recovering from the COVID-19 recession so strongly that labor shortages are showing up in industries ranging from food service and warehouses to accounting and finance. Yet amid that boom, a surprisingly large number of people have struggled to find work—some since the start of the pandemic.
MI: Michigan governor says her hands are tied in COVID fight
More people are about to get sick from COVID-19 in Michigan. But Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, says her hands are tied, after GOP lawmakers and activists successfully repealed an emergency powers law she had used to issue orders.
MN: Minnesota construction projects rarely meet workforce diversity goals
Minnesota spends hundreds of millions of dollars annually on construction, but contractors rarely meet state goals for hiring a diverse workforce. In dozens of instances over the past two years, companies contracting with the state did not employ a single woman or person of color as part of their construction team.
WI: Leader of Wisconsin election review says integrity concerns warrant ‘very thorough examination’
The retired Wisconsin Supreme Court justice tasked with leading a review of the 2020 presidential election said there are enough concerns about the integrity of the election to warrant a “very thorough examination.” Michael Gableman was hired by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, a Republican, as a special counsel in charge of the investigation.
TX: Democratic walkout creates uncertainty about fall redistricting schedule for Texas legislature
If Texas Democrats hold ranks in Washington, D.C., for long enough, they could further complicate the redistricting process that awaits lawmakers after the debates over voting, critical race theory and other contentious issues are settled. Redistricting is expected to occur in a special session this fall.
AZ: Company auditing Arizona election releases donor list
A handful of nonprofits whose leaders have falsely alleged widespread voter fraud led to President Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 election have poured more than $5.6 million into the Arizona election audit so far, according to the company running the audit. That list includes nonprofits associated with several of former President Donald Trump’s allies and supporters.
NM: New Mexico’s largest utilities will resume normal billing
Tens of thousands of people in New Mexico who are behind on their gas and electric bills could lose power as soon as mid-August after a pandemic moratorium on utility shutoffs ended. More than 47,000 residential customers of Public Service Company of New Mexico have outstanding balances of about $448 on average for electricity, the company said.
DE: Microplastics in the Delaware Bay rival global hotspots, researcher finds
A group of University of Delaware researchers have been studying microplastics in Delaware for years, finding them in numerous waterways. The overall concentration of microplastics in the bay is high, even compared to other places around the world, the team found.
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