Top State Stories 10/21
VA: Virginia’s redistricting commission near failure on new maps
Virginia’s redistricting commission, continuing to split along partisan lines, appears close to failure on fashioning a map of the state’s congressional districts. If they can’t agree, the task will be left to the state Supreme Court.
US: Cities crack down on unvaccinated workers
At least 18 cities require municipal employees to be vaccinated, and some are starting to crack down on workers who won’t comply. New York City expanded its vaccine mandate to all employees while Chicago began to place police officers who refused to disclose vaccine status on unpaid leave.
SC: South Carolina to fight OSHA takeover of business safety plans
The federal government is threatening to take away approval of South Carolina’s workplace safety plan because the state hasn’t adopted federal COVID-19 safety standards for health care settings. Republican Gov. Henry McMaster is vowing to fight the proposed takeover in court.
CO: Low Colorado River flows speed need for conservation
New projections of Colorado River water flows confirm dire news about drought draining the West’s key reservoirs and increases pressure on Colorado to conserve water immediately to avoid future demands from down-river states.
HI: ‘Sand burritos’ endanger Hawaii beaches
Coastal officials in Hawaii are taking action against wealthy residents who lined their oceanfront properties with sandbags. When waves slam up against a hardened shoreline, they claw away at the sand, causing beaches to disappear.
CA: California governor looks to state properties to store goods from clogged ports
Amid a continuing crisis with backed-up California ports, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order directing state agencies to look for state-owned properties that could temporarily help store goods. About 40% of the nation’s incoming shipping containers come through the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports.
US: Nursing homes in some states are slow to vaccinate workers
At facilities in several states, many workers are still not immunized. Ten states, including Florida, Michigan and Ohio, still report vaccination rates for nursing home staff under 60%.
TN: Tennessee workplace inspectors refuse to cancel COVID rules for fear of federal takeover
The agency tasked with enforcing workplace safety rules in Tennessee has rejected a directive from state lawmakers to abandon federal COVID-19 rules. Workplace officials say they’re trying to avoid a federal takeover.
IN: Indiana senator invites defiant Chicago police officers
Indiana U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, a Republican, said he will help find jobs in Indiana police departments for Chicago police officers looking to defy their city’s vaccine mandate.
IA: Iowa auditor says Medicaid management firms’ patterns show illegal denial of care
When Iowa’s private Medicaid management companies deny payment for health care services, they are much more likely to have those decisions overturned on appeal than used to happen when state administrators ran the program, a new report from the state auditor’s office says.
MT: Redistricting maps highlight two Montanas
In Montana, Republicans are pushing to separate the two booming college towns of Bozeman and Missoula. Putting the two Democratic-leaning communities in different districts would make it hard for Democrats to win either seat.
LA: Sports betting could soon come to Louisiana’s state regulated casinos
Louisiana’s first casinos are close to getting licenses for sports betting by November. Applications were delayed because of Hurricane Ida.
PA: Pennsylvania school mask mandate gets its day in court
A panel of judges heard arguments over Pennsylvania’s mandate that students and staff at all schools and child care facilities must wear faces masks intended to limit spread of COVID-19. It wasn’t immediately clear when the judges intend to decide the matter.
NE: Nebraska congressman pleads not guilty to federal election charges
Republican Jeff Fortenberry, who has represented Nebraska’s 1st District since 2005, is charged with three felonies stemming illegal “conduit” contributions made by a Nigerian billionaire to his 2016 reelection campaign. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
WI: Wisconsin Republicans release redistricting map that would maintain GOP control
Republicans who control the Wisconsin legislature would maintain a large advantage in Assembly races under a redistricting plan they made public. GOP lawmakers plan to approve it as soon as next month, but Democratic Gov. Tony Evers is likely to veto it.
AR: Arkansas governor delays call for session on tax cut plan
Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has decided against calling a special legislative session next week to consider income tax cuts, saying his administration needs more time to finalize the details with legislative leaders.
NM: New Mexico may devote state office to missing and murdered Indigenous women
A New Mexico task force charged with drawing attention to the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women suggested creating an interim state office to help coordinate efforts. The office would organize state efforts and collect much-needed data.
NC: North Carolina maps would give GOP the advantage
North Carolina lawmakers have begun posting draft versions of new congressional maps online, with the options so far indicating that GOP leaders are considering maps that could give their party a sizable advantage in future elections.
OH: Ohio state workers to get vaccine bonuses
More than 11,000 Ohio state employees, 22% of the state’s workforce, will be paid bonuses because at least 65% of their co-workers attested to getting coronavirus vaccinations.
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