Top State Stories 10/27
GA: Georgia to challenge federal vaccine mandate in court this week
Georgia’s top Republican officials plan to file a lawsuit this week that challenges President Joe Biden’s mandate that requires federal contractors to be vaccinated against the coronavirus disease.
US: State election officials describe threats following 2020 election
A bipartisan group of state election officials told a congressional committee they’ve received graphic threats to their safety since the 2020 election and warned that pressure on election workers is a threat to democracy.
OH: Ohio School Boards Association quits national group as passions rise at local meetings
The Ohio School Boards Association voted to cut ties with the National School Boards Association, becoming the latest organization to break away after the national group sent a letter to President Joe Biden seeking federal law enforcement and assistance over increased threats and intimidation at local meetings. The national group has since disavowed and apologized for the letter.
MO: Missouri turns to temp agencies amid shortage of state government workers
In what has become a familiar refrain in state government, the agency overseeing mental health treatment in Missouri has again hired private contractors to provide temporary workers at its facilities. The reason: The state doesn’t pay enough to keep workers from leaving.
ID: Idaho has one of the worst vaccination rates, but 1 county is an outlier
The percentage of eligible Idahoans fully vaccinated is only about 54%, but Blaine County’s vaccination rate for the same group is 86.8%. Local doctors and health district officials said the high rate can be attributed in part to the county’s demographics, such as age and political affiliation. But experts think there’s more at play.
MI: Michigan attorney general calls for end to power outage nightmare
After a summer filled with record-breaking, indefinite power outages, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, assured Michiganders she wants to help hold energy companies accountable. Nessel asked households that have seen repeat outages to report them.
CA: Record rains transform a parched California, but ending drought remains elusive
Despite the mayhem the atmospheric river caused for some residents, the historic storm marked a welcome change for a parched California after a year of heat and drought with so little rain. But while the massive plume of moisture helped, experts said it will take much more than one storm to make a dent in the drought.
WA: More than 1,400 Washington kids have lost a caregiver to COVID
More than 1,400 children in Washington have lost a parent or grandparent to COVID-19, according to findings from a peer-reviewed study set to be published in Pediatrics. The study analyzed death data from April 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021, missing the devastation of the delta surge this fall.
NJ: COVID vaccine or test will be required to enter New Jersey Statehouse—even for lawmakers
Beginning Dec. 1, people who work at or visit the New Jersey Statehouse in Trenton must show proof of being vaccinated against COVID-19 or a negative coronavirus test fewer than three days old, or they will be barred from the building.
ND: Citing misinformation, North Dakota health agency cuts social media comments
The North Dakota Department of Health switched off comments on its social media accounts in an effort to stop the spread of misinformation, mostly about the coronavirus.
WY: Busloads of vaccine mandate opponents attend special session in Wyoming
At least three buses filled with constituents from eastern Wyoming counties arrived in Cheyenne and the passengers quickly filled the galleries in both the House and Senate.
LA: Louisiana governor lifts mask mandate, except for certain K-12 schools
Louisiana Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that he’s lifting the state’s indoor mask mandate but keeping in place requirements for certain K-12 schools that have bucked public health guidance by allowing students exposed to the coronavirus to remain in the classroom.
CO: Colorado’s COVID rent-assistance program may have paid up to .4M in error
A popular COVID-19 rental assistance program mistakenly paid out at least ,000 and perhaps as much as .4 million to landlords, the Colorado Office of the State Auditor said. Some payments were duplicates, others covered rent before the pandemic and still others covered ineligible fees, such as late charges by the landlord.
TN: Tennessee schools could lose authority over mask mandates, contact tracing
Two bills filed ahead of this week’s special session would curtail Tennessee school districts’ power over COVID-19 restrictions. Tennessee Republicans once again are trying to ban school districts from requiring masks, and some lawmakers also hope to strip schools’ authority to conduct contact tracing and deny access to those who could have been exposed to COVID-19.
MA: Massachusetts school mask mandate extended until at least Jan. 15
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has extended the school mask mandate for a second time until at least Jan. 15, to wait until kids can get vaccinated, officials announced.
FL: Florida manatee deaths soar as polluted water kills seagrass
Florida is experiencing an unprecedented die-off of manatees this year, with 959 documented deaths as of Oct. 1. That’s already more than any full year on record, according to state figures, and colder weather soon to come could bring another wave of deaths.
KY: Kentuckians are quitting their jobs at highest rate in US
With the mass exodus of workers in Kentucky, the commonwealth has the highest quit rate in the nation—or the total number of workers who quit during an entire month as a percent of total employment.
MN: Federal regs likely to keep gun owners out of Minnesota’s medical cannabis program
The Minnesota conflict stems from a federal government policy of denying gun purchases and transfers to anyone who signs up for a state’s medical cannabis program.
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