Top State Stories 9/15
CA: California governor overwhelmingly defeats recall attempt
The attempt to throw Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom out of office failed by a wide margin, according to vote counts released in California’s historic recall election. With some 9.1 million ballots counted—out of 22.3 million ballots mailed to registered voters—the “no” vote is ahead of the “yes” vote 64% to 36%, according to the California secretary of state.
KS: Kansas prisons dodged a delta COVID surge
When the delta variant began driving up COVID-19 cases across the state, Kansas prisons largely avoided another surge because more than three-fourths of incarcerated people had been vaccinated—a far higher rate than the general population.
FL: Florida will replace high-stakes student exams with progress monitoring
Florida plans to scrap its end-of-the-year standardized tests and replace them with short “check-in” assessments, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis announced, a dramatic shift that aligns the state’s GOP leadership with many educators and parents.
GA: Georgia governor stops short of measures to address COVID′s rampant spread
Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s approach to curbing the spread of COVID-19 in Georgia has been milquetoast, public health advocates say. Kemp hasn’t pursued aggressive measures to stem the spread of the disease, instead taking piecemeal steps that have strained hospitals.
AK: Mu COVID variant fizzles in Alaska
Alaska health officials say the mu variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 does not appear to be spreading in the state. In Alaska and other states, mu appears to be crowded out by the highly contagious delta variant.
ID: Crisis-level hospital rationing is ‘imminent’ in Idaho
Hospitals in two Idaho regions are at and sometimes over capacity for patients who need emergency, medical and critical care. “Just to be clear, crisis standards of care affect all of us, not just COVID patients,” said Idaho Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen.
TX: Sexual abuse, wrong medication, neglect plagued Texas foster care children, new report says
Texas foster children were exposed to unlicensed and dangerous placements—such as offices and hotels—and many were given the wrong or improper doses of medication, exposed to sexual abuse or engaged in self harm, according to a new report from court-appointed watchdogs.
WY: Wyoming hospitality, retail tax collections surpass pre-pandemic levels
Wyoming’s hospitality and retail sectors have been high spots in the state’s economy for the past two years, according to figures released by a state agency. Not only did sales tax collections for those two sectors grow in August 2021 compared with August 2020, but they posted gains over pre-pandemic levels.
WI: Wisconsin governor requires COVID testing for state employees who aren’t fully vaccinated
Wisconsin state employees who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or who haven’t submitted their vaccination status will be subjected to weekly testing. The new requirement was blasted by a Republican legislative leader who suggested he may seek legal action.
MN: COVID hospitalizations in Minnesota surpass spring peak
Patients with COVID-19 occupy more hospital beds in Minnesota than they did during the pandemic surge this spring, according to state figures. A total of 748 hospital beds across Minnesota are being used by COVID-19 patients, most of whom are unvaccinated; the spring peak was 699 patients.
CT: Connecticut governor will request COVID emergency powers into early 2022
Connecticut Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont said he would ask the General Assembly to extend his emergency powers until early next year and called on legislative leaders to work with him on rules to overcome COVID-19, such as mask policies for students.
MO: Missouri Republicans want new photo ID law for voters, but lawsuit could follow
For the third year in a row, Missouri Republicans will push to reinstate photo identification requirements for voting, attempting once again to impose rules that could survive a lawsuit.
MD: Maryland finalizes school mask mandate
Students, employees and visitors to Maryland’s public schools now must mask up, after state lawmakers signed off on a statewide mandate. Only two counties did not already have such a mandate.
HI: Hawaii is in no rush to review the cases of jailed people awaiting trial
Hawaii prison officials say they already comply with a 2019 law that requires reviews of all pretrial detainees every three months.
WA: Thousands of Washington state workers seek exemptions from COVID vaccine mandate
About 7% of Washington state government workers subject to Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate have so far requested medical or religious exemptions, highlighting the breadth of resistance to the order. More than 4,300 exemptions have been filed by workers at 21 different state agencies.
KY: Kentucky health officials warn many hospitals are ‘at the brink of collapse’
Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear announced Kentucky is now third in the nation for the highest number of daily COVID-19 cases, a surge that’s pushing hospitals to their limits.
IN: Indiana Republicans redraw lines to favor GOP representative
The new Indiana redistricting map shores up a Republican suburban congressional seat by removing a Democratic stronghold. Republicans won the seat narrowly in 2020.
AZ: Arizona sues over federal COVID vaccine rules for workers
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, filed a legal challenge to the federal requirements for businesses to require COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing at companies with 100 or more employees, calling it an overreach.
TN: Tennessee labor shortage persists months after expanded unemployment cut
Two months after Tennessee ended federal expanded pandemic unemployment benefits, qualified and willing workers are still in short supply. There are nearly a half-million unfilled positions advertised on the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s website.
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