Top State Stories 10/18
FL: Florida governor suspends debt collections for unemployment overpayments ‘indefinitely’
Facing criticism over the latest unemployment debacle, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered the state’s jobless agency not to send Floridians to debt collectors if they’ve been issued an overpayment notice for their unemployment claims.
CA: Desperation grows on delayed California cargo ships
Dozens of cargo ships are anchored outside clogged ports in Southern California waiting to unload parts for factories, merchandise for retailers’ shelves and online orders destined for consumer doorsteps.
TN: Tennessee lawmakers rush changes to state’s sex offender registry
Tennessee lawmakers are in a rush to make changes to the state’s sex offender registry to avoid parts of it being deemed unconstitutional. This comes after a federal judge in Michigan removed thousands of people from that state’s list.
IA: Iowa’s stiff marijuana laws result in yearslong consequences
Although adult pot use and possession are no longer illegal in a growing number of states, they remain so in Iowa. State leaders have been reticent to expand the state’s medical cannabis statute, one of the most restrictive in the country.
ME: Maine to rid the roads of vulgar vanity plates
Under a new Maine law, people with vanity license plates adorned with swear words, crude references or slang will likely have to give up their plates. People will be able to appeal any decision that their plates are too coarse.
DC: DC to hire more substitute teachers, contact tracers for understaffed schools
Washington, D.C., plans to spend nearly $40 million to hire additional contact tracers, substitute teachers and workers who would handle coronavirus logistics in schools, marking an attempt to address staffing shortages that have hampered the reopening of campuses.
MA: Massachusetts state workers must get COVID vaccine or face termination
Massachusetts’ state employees must be vaccinated starting today or risk termination. The mandate was issued by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker.
NV: Last in the nation for nursing home resident vaccinations, Nevada grapples with reporting issues, hesitancy
The latest data show about 1 in 4 nursing home residents in Nevada have yet to be fully vaccinated. State officials point to vaccine hesitancy coupled with reporting challenges.
HI: Hawaii COVID vaccine mandates increasing employee compliance, survey shows
Over 60% of Hawaii businesses require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested—and more than 84% say they have employees who have gotten vaccinated, according to a new survey.
GA: Georgia regulators in the dark on elevator safety checks
Thanks to a faulty computer database, government regulators have no idea how many of Georgia’s 34,000 elevators, escalators and moving sidewalks are overdue for inspections—or for how long.
LA: Louisiana will restart prison visits with COVID precautions
Louisiana will phase in visitation at state prisons and screen visitors for symptoms of COVID-19. Visitation was last suspended in July during an infections surge.
NE: Nebraska ranchers unite to fight low prices
The Nebraska ranchers’ goal is to capture some of the record profits now being reaped by large meatpackers. While packers and grocers capture a bigger share of record consumer beef prices, ranchers’ portion of the retail dollar has slipped.
MO: Missouri state government wrestles with massive computer shortcomings
Key computer systems used by Missouri are so outdated officials are worried some of the only programmers who know how to work with the antiquated technology will retire.
WA: Heat-loving bacteria kill thousands of Washington salmon
Lummi Nation officials say a triple whammy of warm water, low flows and bacteria killed 80% or more of Chinook salmon returning to Washington’s South Fork Nooksack River.
OR: Oregon ‘herd immunity’ against delta variant should arrive in late December
The worst could be over in the next two months—at least for the delta variant in Oregon. Because the variant now has fewer and fewer willing hosts in the state, another surge that would stretch hospitals to their limits probably isn’t in the cards.
MI: Michigan governor vetoes more GOP-led election bills
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, argued the measures perpetuate conspiracies and misinformation to prevent some people from successfully voting.
AK: Alaska governor won’t endorse or ban mask or vaccine mandates
“There are some people that believe that you need government to do the right thing,” said Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, a Republican. “I don’t believe in mandates, especially putting something into someone’s arms.”
IL: As unions balk, Illinois governor extends vaccine deadline for workers
Illinois Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker again pushed back the deadline for state workers in prisons, veterans homes and other group facilities to get vaccinated as negotiations with unions drag on.
MD: Maryland governor calls for ‘re-funding’ police
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, pitched a $150 million boost in state spending on police and public safety. Hogan’s “Re-Fund the Police Initiative,” riffed on calls from some activists to “defund the police.”
WV: West Virginia governor unveils B broadband plan
West Virginia is ready to move forward with a plan to expand long-sought broadband access in rural communities at a potential cost of more than $1 billion.
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