Top State Stories 10/22
US: State elections face supply, employee shortages
Poll worker shortages and supply chain issues are among the problems state and local elections officials are contending with as they prepare for the upcoming Nov. 2 elections. Ohio alone is short 17,000 workers from its goal of 42,000.
FL: Florida governor plans to call special session to ban vaccine mandates for government workers
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said he would call a special legislative session in November to ban local governments and agencies from mandating COVID-19 vaccines, but he stopped short of calling for an outright ban on vaccine requirements imposed by private employers.
TX: Texas to power companies: Prepare for winter
Texas utility regulators adopted a rule—which experts first recommended a decade ago following a winter storm—requiring power companies to use “best efforts” to ensure plants can operate in the winter. The rule also requires plants to fix issues from a February winter storm that left millions without electricity, heat and clean water.
WI: Wisconsin AG seeks to block GOP election subpoenas
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, a Democrat, is seeking to block subpoenas issued to state elections officials as part of Assembly Republicans’ review of the 2020 presidential election.
OH: Banner attached to wrong end of Wright Flyer on new Ohio license plate
Ohio unveiled its new license plate, which depicts the Wright brothers’ plane as a symbol of the state’s place in aviation history. The only problem: The banner is attached to the wrong end of the plane.
AK: Alaska wants to pay someone to help solve its teacher retention problem
The state’s education department calls the lack of teachers in Alaska an emergency issue and says the pandemic is only making things worse. It’s willing to pay up to $300,000 to figure out how to attract and keep more teachers in the state.
TN: Tennessee Medicaid should refund as much as M to federal government, audit finds
Tennessee owes as much as $767 million to the federal government for years of overbilling, mistakes and insufficient documentation at the state’s Medicaid program, according to a new audit. The report alleges that TennCare routinely failed to return federal tax dollars overpaid to public hospitals for uncompensated care from 2009 to 2014.
AR: Revised revenue outlook for Arkansas raises tax-cutting hopes
Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson and some lawmakers think that Arkansas can afford to cut individual income taxes by more than $300 million over the next two years.
GA: Georgia’s B teacher pension system on a financial roll
The huge increase to the Teachers Retirement System in Georgia will probably have a political effect: It could dampen talk during the 2022 session of the General Assembly about making changes to the pension system, something some Republican lawmakers have pushed for in recent years.
IL: Gun, ammunition taxes shot down by Illinois’ top court
Two Cook County taxes targeting firearms and ammunition are in jeopardy after the Illinois Supreme Court found they violate the state constitution in a 6-0 decision.
CO: Colorado ICU bed capacity nears 90%
Colorado is seeing an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations among all age groups as ICU bed capacity across the state nears 90%. Democratic Gov. Jared Polis called the latest data a “wake up call” and urged anyone who has not yet been vaccinated to do so.
UT: Drought depresses electrical power generation in Utah
The West’s historic drought is not only threatening water supplies but also depressing electrical power generation in Utah, particularly at Glen Canyon Dam. At least 33 Utah cities rely on energy from the Colorado River.
DE: Delaware announces plan to help people reenter the community after prison
Delaware’s new three-year plan to reduce recidivism rates will focus on improving access to health care, housing and jobs for those reentering the community from prison.
MN: Minnesota school COVID cases plunge since mid-September
COVID-19 cases in Minnesota pre-K-12 schools have dropped significantly since mid-September, with the number of new infections falling nearly 70%.
ND: October becomes deadliest months for COVID in North Dakota
North Dakota reported five more coronavirus-related deaths, making October the deadliest COVID-19 month this year for the state. There have been 77 COVID-19 deaths this month, one more than the previous 2021 high in January.
SC: Judge upholds local vaccine mandates in South Carolina
A federal judge denied an effort by nearly 80 South Carolina firefighters, police officers, sheriff’s deputies and paramedics to temporarily stop four separate COVID-19 vaccination mandates from going into effect next month in the Charleston area.
WV: West Virginia state workers face hike in health costs
State and public school employees who get health insurance through West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency face a series of premium hikes beginning in 2023. Union leaders said employees can’t afford the $50 million hike.
NY: New York cuts down pot plant seizures
The number of marijuana plants seized by police across New York has plummeted this year as many law enforcement agencies have abandoned their once-annual missions, often aided by state police helicopters, to locate and remove the crops. The drop-off in the costly operations comes after New York legalized possession of up to 3 ounces of marijuana for adults.
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