Top State Stories 8/31
US: Biden administration investigates 5 states over their mask mandate bans
The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights will determine whether prohibitions on universal mask mandates in Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah schools are restricting access for students who are protected under federal law from discrimination based on their disabilities.
GA: Appeals court rules ballot postage isn’t a poll tax in Georgia
A federal appeals court has upheld Georgia’s requirement that voters pay postage when mailing absentee ballots, saying claims that the cost amounts to a poll tax “border on the frivolous.” The 58-cent cost of a first-class stamp isn’t a tax, according to the court.
NC: New North Carolina law says school boards must vote each month whether to require face masks
North Carolina school boards will have to vote monthly on whether they want to continue requiring face masks, under a new law signed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. The requirement comes as 98 of the state’s 115 school districts have opted to require masking.
WV: West Virginia governor says no mandates, as COVID hospitalizations approach record levels
Although West Virginia COVID-19 cases increased 252% over the past two weeks, and state virus hospitalizations are on pace to break the prior pandemic record, Republican Gov. Jim Justice continued to decline to take statewide action.
DC: DC’s sports betting app keeps underperforming
July’s dismal betting revenue, the least lucrative month of the fiscal year for the consistently underperforming GambetDC app, is just the latest evidence that Washington, D.C.’s gamble on a city-sponsored sports betting website has fallen drastically short of what top city officials once promised.
LA: New Orleans Public Schools close indefinitely after Hurricane Ida hits Louisiana
New Orleans Public Schools will be closed indefinitely until the Louisiana city can better gauge Hurricane Ida’s impact. The closure also means no remote learning options will be available for the next week.
HI: Hawaii distance-learning students might get taught by out-of-state teachers
With the highly contagious delta variant surging across Hawaii, the state Department of Education is looking to the mainland for teachers to help satisfy increasing demand for online instruction. An internal committee will consider issues such as the tax implications of employing teachers based in other states.
CO: Colorado mandates COVID vaccines for health care workers at thousands of facilities
Health care workers at about 3,800 facilities across Colorado must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of October. The mandate applies to staff and contractors who interact with patients or clients in assisted living homes, nursing homes, hospitals, hospices, community clinics and other health care settings regulated by the state Board of Health.
NY: New York legislature will return for eviction moratorium action
New York lawmakers are expected back at the state Capitol this week to address the state’s expiring eviction moratorium, including tweaking policies to work within the parameters of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on emergency relief to renters.
NJ: New Jersey will reopen COVID vaccine megasites to help with expected demand for booster shots
New Jersey will reopen some megasites as people become eligible for COVID-19 booster shots, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said.
MN: Minnesota hospitals get hit with COVID spike just as staff, ICU beds grow scarce
The Minnesota Health Department said 95% of intensive care unit beds are occupied, with 91% of hospital beds overall in use, in part because people deferred routine health care during the pandemic. Those numbers are even tighter in the metro area, as cases of COVID-19 again ramp up.
IN: Indiana renews state of emergency as COVID cases surge
As COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Indiana, bolstered by the delta variant, Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb renewed the state’s public health emergency order.
OH: Ohio marijuana legalization effort can start collecting signatures after approval from state panel
Backers of a marijuana legalization effort now can start collecting the signatures needed to send the issue to the Ohio legislature, following a vote from a panel of state officials.
CA: All California national forests are closed to visitors
With fires raging across the state, the U.S. Forest Service is closing all 20 million acres of California’s national forests to public access for two weeks.
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