Top State Stories 10/1
UT: Utah governor vows to block any bill to keep private businesses from mandating vaccines
Republican Gov. Spencer Cox vowed to stop any effort by the Utah legislature to prevent private companies from requiring employees to get vaccinated. Lawmakers are set to hold a hearing to get public input on President Joe Biden’s plan to require some large businesses to either require employees to be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing.
MA, TN: Smith & Wesson to flee Massachusetts for Tennessee, citing restrictive gun laws
Longtime Springfield, Massachusetts-based gunmaker Smith & Wesson said it will move its headquarters to Tennessee, pointing to tough new gun manufacturing laws being proposed on Beacon Hill.
NY: New York’s vaccine mandate doesn’t apply to all health workers
Thousands of nurses and other medical personnel who work in New York state agencies related to mental health, developmental disabilities and corrections will not be mandated to receive coronavirus vaccinations or face the loss of their jobs, unlike a policy that went into effect this week for medical professionals in hospitals and other health care settings.
FL: Florida lawmaker files measure to add cameras to school bus stop signs
A Florida state representative has introduced a bipartisan bill to allow school districts to place cameras on school bus stop signals to catch drivers who blow past them.
OH: Ohio Supreme Court justice says he won’t recuse himself from redistricting lawsuits involving his father, the governor
Ohio Supreme Court Justice Pat DeWine says he doesn’t plan to recuse himself from hearing a trio of lawsuits challenging new state House and Senate districts that his father, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, voted to approve.
AR: Arkansas court won’t halt ruling against mask mandate ban
The Arkansas Supreme Court said it wouldn’t allow the state to enforce its ban on mask mandates by schools and other government bodies, keeping in place a judge’s ruling temporarily halting the law.
KY: New bill filed by Democrats would guarantee right to abortion in Kentucky
A pair of Democratic lawmakers pre-filed a bill this week for the 2022 General Assembly’s regular session to enshrine the right to an abortion in Kentucky.
PA: Philadelphia to run out of rental relief money as it waits for federal funds
With thousands of people still waiting for help, Philadelphia’s emergency rental assistance program could run out of money in as little as two weeks, as the city waits to receive more funding from the U.S. Treasury. An additional $35 million in federal relief is on the way, though exactly when it will arrive is unclear.
SC: Many South Carolina residents request COVID vaccine exemptions
With the prospect of a federal COVID-19 vaccine requirement for large employers looming, some unvaccinated South Carolinians are looking for ways to hold onto their jobs without rolling up their sleeves.
CT: New domestic violence law in Connecticut makes it easier for victims of emotional abuse to get restraining orders
A new Connecticut state law expands the definition of family violence to include people who have been continuously controlled by a member of their family or household, making it easier for them to obtain restraining orders, advocates say.
MO: Report finds Missouri falls short on protecting foster children from going missing
Missouri’s child welfare agency does not make enough of an effort to reduce the risk of foster children going missing, a new report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General found.
OR: Most Oregon schools aren’t testing students for COVID
Most Oregon school districts have chosen not to participate in a COVID-19 testing program—even though President Joe Biden earlier this month urged schools to embrace testing as a key COVID-19 safety precaution.
MI: Michigan budget prompts counties to nix school mask orders
Several local Michigan health departments scrambled to decide whether to rescind school mask mandates and COVID-19 quarantine rules for fear they could lose state funding because of language in the newly approved state budget.
TN: Tennessee leads nation in COVID-related school closures this academic year
From Aug. 2 to Sept. 17, Tennessee saw more than 400 schools close for at least one day, according to a study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
DC: Vaccine resistance in some Washington, DC, schools could threaten high school sports seasons
The District of Columbia Scholastic Athletic Association announced last week it would implement a vaccine mandate for anyone participating in athletics. Several football coaches said fewer than half of their players are vaccinated, with some rough estimates pegging 25% as having received a shot.
IN: Indiana governor extends public health emergency order
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican, renewed the state’s public health emergency order. The extension comes one day after state health officials offered cautious optimism about the state’s waning COVID-19 trends.
MN: Record COVID case counts reported in Minnesota pre-K-12 schools
Minnesota reported 2,071 coronavirus infections linked to pre-K-12 school buildings in the week ending Sept. 18, an increase from 977 the previous week and the first weekly count above 2,000 in the pandemic. The total more than doubles the pace last fall.
DE: For the first time in Delaware, most positive COVID cases are among young people
For the first time since the start of the pandemic, young people in the 5- to 17-year-old age group had the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Delaware, according to Division of Public Health data.
MT: Judge delays implementation of 3 Montana abortion restriction laws
A Montana district court judge granted a temporary restraining order delaying the implementation of three laws restricting abortion access, hours before the laws were set to go into effect. The laws would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, restrict access to abortion pills and require abortion providers to ask patients if they would like to view an ultrasound.
TX: GOP lawmakers say new Texas redistricting maps are ‘race blind,’ as they did a decade ago
Texas’ 4-million-person population growth over the past decade has been driven almost entirely by people of color, but the proposed maps for the state Senate and Congress do not create any new districts where those voters are a majority.
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