Top State Stories 10/13
AZ: New Arizona audit review shows Cyber Ninjas didn’t count 312K ballots, double counted 23K
Arizona election analysts say Cyber Ninjas’ count was off by about 312,000 and it also double counted almost 23,000 ballots in its months-long review of 2020 election results. The numbers represent the latest challenge to the Arizona Senate’s audit.
PA: Pennsylvania lawmakers spend M in public funds on lawyers but don’t say why
The Pennsylvania legislature spent nearly $10 million during the last two years on private lawyers but routinely shielded the purpose of those expenses, hiding which lawmakers and their staffs required representation—and why.
TX: Trump supporters hounded Texas elections administrator until she resigned
Michele Carew, who had overseen scores of elections in Texas during her 14-year career, had found herself transformed into the public face of an electoral system that many in the heavily Republican Hood County had come to mistrust.
FL: Florida fines county .57M for violating vaccine passport law
The Florida Department of Health fined Leon County, home to the state capital Tallahassee, for violating the disputed vaccine passport law by mandating COVID-19 shots for its employees. Health officials said the $5,000 per violation fine was issued because the county required 714 employees to be vaccinated and fired 14 for refusing.
MD: Baltimore schools monitor student laptops for mentions of suicide
Nine Baltimore school students have been identified through software monitoring as having a severe mental health crisis and were taken to an emergency room. The monitoring started during the pandemic.
MI: Black officials, activists decry Michigan’s proposed redistricting maps
A day after Michigan’s new independent redistricting commission approved 10 maps with barely a hint of conflict, elected officials, ministers and other interested politicos in Detroit raised vehement concerns that the nation’s largest Black majority city stands on the brink of having its preferred representation taken away in Lansing and in Washington.
DE: Delaware state auditor surrenders to police, pleads not guilty
Delaware State Auditor Kathy McGuiness, a Democrat, turned herself in to authorities and pleaded not guilty to corruption charges. McGuiness faces charges including felony theft and intimidation as well as public service misdemeanors like official misconduct.
NY: New York governor ends Cuomo’s anti-negative info program
New York Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul is ending a program begun under former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, that had helped suppress negative information about Cuomo and his administration. It was framed as bringing a private-sector risk management model to state agencies, but it also managed negative information such as Cuomo’s alleged suppression of nursing home death data.
AK: Alaska GOP politicians lobby governor, pharmacy board for easier access to ivermectin
An array of Republican state lawmakers and activists are pressing GOP Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration and the state pharmacy board to make it easier for Alaskans to get access to ivermectin, the unproven COVID-19 treatment that state and federal agencies caution against using.
MO: Shake-up in Missouri state government as governor announces cabinet changes
In a major shake-up of his cabinet, Missouri Republican Gov. Mike Parson announced a series of departures, ousters and transfers of senior officials, including the immediate resignation of the commissioner of his Office of Administration.
GA: No counterfeit ballots found by Georgia election investigators
Georgia election investigators were unable to find any counterfeit ballots among batches identified by Republican vote-counters, according to a court brief, dealing a blow to a lawsuit seeking to inspect absentee ballots cast in last year’s presidential election.
AR: Group seeks to overturn Arkansas’ new congressional district map
Arkansans for a Unified Natural State will have 90 days to collect 54,000 signatures from at least 15 Arkansas counties to overturn the legislation, which has drawn criticism for cutting Pulaski County into three separate districts, splitting minority communities into Republican-leaning districts that extend far outside central Arkansas.
DC, VA: Hispanic residents report higher vaccination rates in DC, Virginia
After months of equity and access issues in vaccine distribution in Washington, D.C., and Virginia, Hispanic residents now have a higher vaccination rate than White residents. Hispanic adults accounted for the largest share of vaccinations between July and September 2021 as the delta variant drove COVID-19 cases up across the U.S.
MA: Massachusetts governor activates National Guard to help COVID test in public schools
In response to staffing shortages that caused COVID-19 testing delays in many Massachusetts school districts, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker activated up to 200 members of the National Guard to assist with testing in public K-12 schools.
MT: Democrats challenge new Montana law prohibiting campus political activity
The Montana law prohibits political committees from registering voters or collecting signatures in dorms and dining halls. A new lawsuit—the second targeting the law—says that violates students’ constitutional right to engage in political speech.
ID: Idaho governor wants to use COVID funds for day care to alleviate worker shortage
Idaho Gov. Brad Little said he wants to use federal coronavirus relief money to increase day care capacity to help alleviate the state’s worker shortage. The Republican governor said expanding day care could help get more workers back in the workforce.
WV: West Virginia legislature works to restore legal track for domestic violence appeals
With less than a year before the West Virginia Intermediate Court of Appeals is set to begin operation, the legislature is in the process of tweaking at least one part of the appeals process. Lawmakers are considering a bill that would restore the means for domestic violence orders to be appealed from family court to circuit court before being appealed to the intermediate court.
LA: Louisiana will cancel public school letter grades pending approval from federal government
The Louisiana State Department of Education voted to cancel public school letter grades because of the pandemic pending federal approval. At least 45 other states have gotten federal clearance to cancel normal school rating procedures.
OH: House bill would let adult Ohioans grow, buy and possess recreational marijuana
As a coalition of Ohio medical marijuana businesses gathers signatures to get a recreational initiative on the ballot, two Republican state lawmakers announced that they’re working on a bill that would allow Ohioans age 21 and older to buy and grow cannabis legally.
NM: New Mexico pledges support for tribal adoptions in state law
New Mexico’s new Children Youth and Family Department secretary promised to enshrine federal law prioritizing tribal members in adoptions of Native American children into the practices of her department and state law. She also pledged to restore the agency’s credibility following a series of scandals under her predecessor.
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