Top State Stories 9/22
MA: Massachusetts police union files suit over COVID vaccination mandate
The Massachusetts State Police union has filed a lawsuit to delay Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate, which requires state employees to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 17 or risk being fired.
MN: ’Perfect storm’ complicates census count for Minnesota college towns
The pandemic emptied college campuses last year, leaving academic ghost towns across Minnesota. For local and federal officials trying to make sure every resident was counted in the 2020 census, the timing could not have been worse.
AK: Alaska’s COVID case rate is the highest in the nation
With many of its hospitals still in crisis, Alaska is now recording the highest COVID-19 case rate per capita of any U.S. state, surpassing its winter levels of infections and hospitalizations. Alaska’s average rate of daily new infections over the last week is more than double the national average.
CO: Colorado’s economy grows despite worker shortage
Colorado analysts say they expect the state legislature to have .3 billion to spend out of the General Fund this fiscal year, a 7.2% increase from last year. But Colorado’s unemployment rate is 5.9%, more than double the average state rate for the five-year period before the pandemic.
WI: 6 Wisconsin tribes sue state to stop fall wolf hunt
Six Ojibwe tribes in Wisconsin are suing the state in federal court to stop the fall wolf hunt, arguing their treaty rights are being violated.
WV: West Virginia governor withdraws application for high school coaching job
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, has withdrawn his name from consideration as the boys basketball coach at Greenbrier East High School. He stirred controversy earlier when he said he would have to have “great” assistant coaches to do “all the work.” He would just be at games, he said.
MO: Missouri could appeal ruling targeting state’s parole process for young offenders
Missouri officials are considering an appeal of a ruling that found that the state violates the rights of juveniles sentenced to life in prison. The ruling by a federal appeals court found that the Missouri Parole Board’s review process for such youth was unconstitutional.
NY: Former New York state worker pleads guilty in pandemic unemployment fraud case
A former New York Department of Labor employee pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to using her position to fraudulently reap ,168 in unemployment insurance benefits intended to help out-of-work New Yorkers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
AL: Alabama hospitals plead for federal aid
The president of the Alabama Hospital Association said the state’s hospitals can’t wait until the regular legislative session in 2022 to receive part of the billion given to the state by the American Rescue Plan, urging lawmakers to allocate million in health care funding during an upcoming special session.
WY: Wyoming governor deploys National Guard to provide hospital assistance
Republican Gov. Mark Gordon is activating the Wyoming National Guard to temporarily assist with local hospitals due to a high number of COVID-19 patients. Guard members will take on a range of logistical tasks.
UT: Utah lawmakers seek public input before taking action against Biden’s vaccine order
Utah’s Republican leaders have claimed Biden’s vaccine proposal is unconstitutional and an instance of federal overreach—but nobody knows precisely when that rule will go into effect or what it will say. Because of that ambiguity, legislative leaders believe this is a perfect opportunity to gather public input from Utahns.
RI: Rhode Island’s COVID vaccination deadline might not apply to some unvaccinated health care workers
On the same day that Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Dan McKee disclosed a backup plan to replace as many as 60 unvaccinated workers at the state hospital and Veterans Home, the state health director announced some could work another 30 days past the vaccination deadline if patients’ health is at risk.
FL: Florida’s next surgeon general opposes mask, vaccine mandates
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a new surgeon general for Florida who advocated for an approach to the pandemic that emphasizes protecting individual rights over community-based precautions. The appointee, who expressed skepticism that vaccines could help end the pandemic, said that he would “reject fear” as a public health strategy.
IN: GOP will likely keep Indiana state Senate supermajority
Republicans would probably keep their supermajority under the proposed Indiana Senate redistricting maps. Democrats running statewide typically win more than 40% of the vote, but under this plan Democrats would still control only about 22% of the state Senate seats.
CA: Despite California governor’s call to cut water use, two major cities didn’t conserve in July
Despite an appeal by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom for all Californians to voluntarily cut water use by 15%, Southern California has lagged in conservation efforts and water usage has slightly increased in Los Angeles and San Diego, according to newly released data.
HI: Many Hawaii Head Start classes go back online amid COVID surge
Hawaii’s largest provider of a federally funded preschool program for low-income families has resumed all-virtual instruction after just a few weeks back in class as the latest COVID-19 surge hit some neighborhoods with Head Start programs particularly hard.
WA: Washington hospitalizations are down slightly as deaths increase
As COVID-19 hospitalizations in Washington declined this week, health officials said several factors are at play: More people are wearing masks and taking the disease seriously, and more people are dying.
OR: COVID quarantines frustrate Oregon parents as school year starts
Thousands of Oregon families are experiencing quarantine orders and other COVID-19 closures in the first weeks of school, as districts take steps to prevent infections. The quarantine orders have upended the excitement of a new school year for some students and once again complicated work schedules for parents eager to see their kids reap the benefits of in-person learning.
MI: Michigan budget bill bans vaccine mandates, many local school mask rules
Michigan public agencies would not be able to require employees or customers be vaccinated against COVID-19 , and state and local health officials would not be allowed to enact or enforce mask rules for K-12 students, under provisions of a budget bill that Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and legislative leaders say will be approved.
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