Top State Stories 10/4
LA: Louisiana hospital system will charge employees’ unvaccinated spouses to remain insured
Ochsner Health, Louisiana’s largest health system, will add a health insurance charge of per pay period for employees with unvaccinated partners or spouses who are covered under the system’s benefits plan.
TN: Tennessee Republicans again seek special session to relax COVID restrictions
In a joint statement, Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton and Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, both Republicans, signaled support for legislation that would provide Tennesseans with “relief from burdensome COVID-19 mandates being imposed upon them.” The call marks a second attempt this year by some GOP lawmakers and activists to loosen restrictions they say infringe upon their liberties.
NE: Redistricting delays in Nebraska lead to calls for independent commission
Some Nebraska lawmakers are calling for an independent redistricting commission after partisan logjams delayed this year’s new legislative maps. Republican maps passed preliminarily on party-line votes but were met by Democratic filibusters.
CA: Massive oil spill sends crude onto California beaches, killing birds, marine life
Crews raced to contain the damage from a major oil spill off the Orange County, California, coast that left crude spoiling beaches, killing fish and birds and threatening local wetlands.
MO: Thousands of additional Missourians eligible for Medicaid
Several thousand Missourians who previously were not eligible for Medicaid are expected to seek the health care coverage now that voter-approved expansion of the program has taken effect.
AZ: Data in Arizona’s election audit report shows hand count is ‘fiction,’ analysts say
Three top Arizona election analysts say the hand count of ballots by Cyber Ninjas is “fiction” and the state Senate’s own records prove it. The hand count of 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County’s 2020 election is wildly inaccurate and is not supported by the data made public during a three-hour Senate hearing last week, their new report finds.
IN: Labor shortages force more Indiana BMV closures
The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles is shutting down several branches around the state in a second round of closures forced by staffing shortages.
WI: Election officials across Wisconsin receive subpoenas in GOP 2020 election probe
The head of a Republican-ordered investigation into the 2020 election in Wisconsin served subpoenas to election officials in Green Bay, Racine and Milwaukee, along with the administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, asking for an array of documents related to the election.
MN: Accident victims in Minnesota and elsewhere surrender millions to a relentless industry
Each year, settlement purchasing companies persuade accident victims in Minnesota and across the country to give up an estimated billion in future payments in return for a much smaller lump sum of cash. The companies keep about 60% of the money, according to a Star Tribune analysis of more than 2,400 deals from seven states between 2000 and 2020.
MT: Montana GOP lawmakers seek 2020 election audit
An overwhelming majority of Montana’s GOP legislators are urging their leadership in the state House and Senate to appoint a special committee to investigate the security of the state’s election system, an effort spearheaded by Republican legislators pushing false theories of widespread voting fraud.
CO: Colorado’s labor market struggles to recover
Even as Colorado employers wonder what happened to all the applicants, some job seekers are wondering why employers aren’t responding—or hiring?
PA: Pennsylvania GOP won’t hire contractor for 2020 election review until judge acts
Pennsylvania Senate Republicans say they won’t hire a private contractor to assist with their review of the 2020 election until a judge weighs in on the matter.
KS: Kansas local governments need more workers
Some local Kansas governments are operating with 10% of their positions unfilled, making it hard to deliver the services that citizens expect. Across the state, Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that Kansas has seen a 4.7% drop in the number of public sector workers, which translates into about 12,000 vacant jobs.
AK: Crisis standards of care are now active for 20 health care facilities across Alaska
Following weeks of rising COVID-19 case counts in Alaska and a tide of hospitalizations that has strained hospitals, 20 out of 31 health care facilities in the state are now operating under crisis standards of care. Crisis standards are meant to provide both guidance and liability protection for health care workers operating with extremely scarce resources.
CT: Connecticut state employees seek 20-day vaccination compliance deadline extension
With a deadline approaching, Connecticut state employees asked for a 20-day extension of Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont’s order that they must be vaccinated or tested weekly.
OR: Firefighters say they’re swamped by calls for routine care from Oregon senior homes
Senior care home operators all over Oregon are increasingly calling on emergency responders to handle routine tasks. A new state law prohibits cities or fire districts from doing much of anything about it, even as firefighters, ambulance crews and hospital emergency room staff say they’re being taken advantage of, and potentially taken out of action when a real disaster strikes.
NM: Navajo Nation Council voices opposition to Biden’s plan to ban drilling in New Mexico
The Navajo Nation Council is opposing President Joe Biden’s .5 trillion climate change bill because would ban new drilling near Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico. The Navajos said the ban is a “real threat” to their livelihoods.
WV: Quidditch Cup tournament won’t consider West Virginia over transgender ban
A West Virginia law banning transgender girls and women from competing on public school sports teams that align with their gender identity will cost the state a tournament that would have brought more than 1,600 visitors. US Quidditch, the organizers of the Quidditch Cup, say they will no longer consider bids from the state of West Virginia.
NY: Sexual assault remains vastly underreported despite New York law
In 2015, New York’s Enough is Enough Act was touted by then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, as “the most aggressive” anti-campus violence legislation in the nation. Two years of data suggest that sexual assault and harassment are still vastly underreported by college students in New York.
IL: Illinois GOP leaders question whether crime bill provision was an effort to oust agency head
The Illinois legislature’s top two Republicans are asking if Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker and top Democrats placed a little-noticed provision in the massive criminal justice package passed in January specifically to oust the head of a state agency who was investigating a Pritzker supporter accused of filing phony overtime reports.
DE: Why many of Delaware’s independent pharmacies may be forced to close
An independent pharmacist in Delaware fears that he will have to close three pharmacies by next year “if something does not change soon.” The problem, he said, is that third-party administrators, called pharmacy benefit managers, which are meant to keep drug prices affordable, are now doing the opposite.
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