Top State Stories 9/27
CA, OH: California will ban state-sponsored travel to Ohio due to recent law allowing medical providers to deny care to LGBTQ Ohioans
Starting this week, California will restrict state-funded travel to Ohio as a result of a provision in Ohio’s two-year budget that allows medical providers in the state to deny care to LGBTQ patients.
RI: Health care workers sue Rhode Island for not accepting religious exemptions for COVID vaccines
A group of health care workers in Rhode Island whose requests for religious exemptions to the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate were denied have filed a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against Democratic Gov. Dan McKee and the state health department director.
PA: SEC subpoenas Pennsylvania teacher pension fund over ‘compensation and gifts’ to staff
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has joined the FBI in the investigation of Pennsylvania’s biggest pension fund, subpoenaing records about its board’s adoption of a false figure for its financial performance—and about improper “compensation and gifts” possibly offered to staff.
MA: Massachusetts Senate approves “X” designation for sex on IDs
Two Massachusetts bills involving gender and sexuality—one that would allow state residents to mark their sex as “X” on driver’s licenses and birth certificates, and one that would require “medically accurate” sex education in public schools—cleared the state Senate last week.
ID: Idaho lawmakers seek ways to fight Biden’s COVID vaccine mandate
Idaho legislators in the state House and Senate are hoping to find common ground in the effort to contest President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
TX: Texas governor signs restrictions on medicated abortions
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, signed a bill that will limit the use of abortion medication after seven weeks and prohibit sending such pills through the mail altogether.
CA: Lightning could spark more California fires as world warms
Fire officials are bracing for the worst as scientists predict that climate change could cause more lightning strikes, which often ignite deadly, unpredictable and remote wildfires in Northern California.
CT: After imposing vaccine mandates, Connecticut colleges and universities see few COVID cases
After nearly all Connecticut colleges and universities chose to require COVID-19 vaccinations for all students returning to campus this fall, most have recorded few coronavirus cases in the early weeks of the semester, numbers from the schools show.
NE: Nebraska beef ranches face uncertain future
Nebraska ranchers worry that their way of life is slipping away amid low cattle prices and ever-rising expenses. Calf prices are half what they were a few years ago despite record store prices for steaks and hamburgers.
WA: Washington State Patrol failed to diversify for decades
The Washington State Patrol is as White today as it was nearly 20 years ago, before the agency’s first Black chief took charge.
MI: Michigan’s local health leaders want statewide K-12 mask mandate after threats, harassment
The vitriol over local pandemic restrictions has been amplified further now that the Michigan legislature has passed a budget bill including a provision that would withhold state funding for public health services if local health departments enact or enforce mask rules for K-12 students as of Oct. 1.
IL: Illinois governor signs revised Democrat-drawn legislative districts into law
Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law a revised map of General Assembly boundaries designed to ensure Democrats keep control of the Illinois House and Senate through the decade, starting with next year’s elections. But federal court challenges continue.
IA: Poll: Half of Iowans oppose state ban on mask mandates
Half of surveyed Iowans oppose a state law banning local mask mandates, including at schools, a joint poll by the Des Moines Register and Mediacom Iowa finds. But nearly as many support it, a reflection of the hyper-divisive controversy playing out in courtrooms and at school board meetings across the state.
SD: South Dakota ICU nurses are stretched thin
The surge of COVID-19 cases has filled South Dakota intensive care units, forcing staff to decide which patients must wait for care.
CO: Fentanyl deaths surge in Colorado
In 2018, at least 102 Coloradans died after overdosing on fentanyl, according to state data. The following year, that number doubled. At least 381 Coloradans died of fentanyl overdoses in the first six months of 2021.
UT: Catalytic converter thefts hit low-income Utahns the hardest
Utah lawmakers are considering a crackdown on catalytic converter theft, in which criminals saw the emission control devices from cars and sell the precious metals found inside to a booming worldwide black market.
WI: From 2017-2018, Wisconsin schools called police on students at twice the national rate
Public schools in Wisconsin referred students to police twice as often as schools nationwide in 2017-18—nine students were referred to police for every 1,000 students enrolled compared with the national rate of 4.5. Wisconsin was more likely than any other state to refer Native students to law enforcement.
MN: Minnesota’s divided government has tight timeline for redistricting
Minnesota’s judicial branch isn’t exactly sitting back and waiting for the legislature this redistricting cycle. The courts have already appointed a panel of five judges, who are scheduling hearings of their own.
DE: State lawmakers focus on issues affecting Delaware’s aging population
As a retirement hotspot, Delaware’s population is skewing older. State lawmakers are anticipating the issues a graying population will bring and gathering experts for their aging-in-place working group, which met for the first time last week.
WV: More training could help West Virginia welfare workers recognize child trafficking
More training is needed to help West Virginia child welfare workers identify human trafficking and more support is needed for survivors. A lack of understanding, education and training can lead to misidentification of trafficking offenses, which can result in lesser criminal penalties, as well as hindering or delaying victims from getting vital services for trafficking survivors, state officials said.
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