Top State Stories 11/1
US: 11 Republican-led states sue US government over vaccine mandate
Eleven states with Republican governors sued the Biden administration, seeking to block a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors. They argue it is unconstitutional and violates federal procurement law.
TN: Tennessee lawmakers approve restrictive anti-mask mandate bill
Tennessee lawmakers passed legislation limiting school and government mask mandates to a last resort, usable only if a future coronavirus surge matches the prior peaks of the pandemic. Anyone can opt out of a mandate by claiming a sincerely held religious belief.
CO: Colorado governor signs order giving state control of hospital admissions
Colorado Democratic Gov. Jared Polis signed two executive orders, giving the state control of hospital admissions and transfers, and laying the groundwork to authorize crisis standards of care as hospitals continue to get crushed by COVID-19 cases.
IA: Iowa governor signs COVID vaccine mandate exemption into law
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, signed into law a bill that allows Iowa workers to seek medical and religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccine mandates. It also guarantees that those who are fired for refusing a vaccine will qualify for unemployment benefits.
VA: COVID booster shots in Virginia are outpacing first doses; nearly all have gone to White residents
Fully vaccinated Virginians are receiving COVID-19 booster shots at more than double the rate of people getting their first dose, according to a Richmond Times-Dispatch analysis of Virginia Department of Health data.
US: US prisons face staff shortages as officers quit amid COVID-19
Staff shortages have long been a challenge for prison agencies, given the low pay and grueling nature of the work. But the coronavirus pandemic has pushed many corrections systems into crisis.
MN: Minnesota schools struggle with substitute teacher shortage
A shortage of substitute teachers is forcing Minnesota schools to try new strategies, including raising pay and urging parents who might be interested in getting licensed to fill in. The state’s teacher licensing board even suggested that schools preemptively license every staff member with a bachelor’s degree, including janitors and nurses, to increase the pool of possible substitutes.
DC: DC received at least 13K reports of fraudulent unemployment claims during pandemic
The D.C. Department of Employment Services has processed 270,000 unemployment claims since March 2020, and last year it saw a 372% increase in new claims compared with an average year. But the substantial rise in claims has also brought about 13,000 reports of fraud from workers who say unemployment claims were filed in their names using false or stolen information.
WY: Wyoming House approves anti-vaccine mandate bill, despite criticism it does little
A bill that would ban some Wyoming employers from using a person’s coronavirus vaccination status as a condition of employment won final House approval despite criticism that it does little to oppose the proposed federal vaccination mandate.
FL: Florida governor calls special session on vaccine mandates
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis formally called a special session to address COVID-19 vaccine mandates on employees by businesses and local governments, ordering the legislature to convene later this month. But he backed off from stripping liability protections from businesses that impose vaccine mandates on their workers.
ID: Homeless students’ challenges intensified by Idaho housing boom
Education coordinators are seeing working families priced out of their homes across Idaho. And once a family becomes loses housing, it’s getting increasingly difficult to find a new place.
IL: Illinois lawmakers approve in-state college sports betting over athletic directors’ objections
Illinois legislators approved a measure allowing bettors to place wagers in person at state-licensed sportsbooks on the outcome of games played by in-state college teams. While betting on college games is legal in Illinois, the law has prohibited wagers on in-state teams.
WA: Washington lawmakers look at long-term care program as frustration builds over benefits
Washington’s fledgling long-term care program is off to a rocky start. Critics, and even some supporters, point to people who will pay into WA Cares but never earn a benefit, such as older people right now. Others point to workers who could pay in for decades and never receive a dime if they leave Washington to retire elsewhere.
NV: ‘Prison gerrymandering’ endures in Nevada, despite law
Incomplete demographic information that Nevada prison officials provided lawmakers preparing to redraw the state’s political maps is prompting questions and frustration two years after the legislature passed a law to count incarcerated residents in their home communities during the once-in-a-decade redistricting process.
OR: Number of Oregon children in foster care dropped steeply during the pandemic
The number of Oregon children in foster care has fallen nearly 20% since January 2020, the sharpest prolonged decline on record and one that state officials hope they can leverage to better serve the state’s most vulnerable children and families.
MI: Brutal shortage has Michigan schools looking for ‘super subs’
Schools throughout Michigan are struggling to attract half as many substitutes to fill daily staff vacancies as they did prior to the pandemic. The pandemic has accentuated staffing shortages, with teachers and staff sometimes needing to unexpectedly quarantine or miss time due to a COVID-19 diagnosis.
MT: Legal challenges stack up against Montana anti-vaccine mandate law
The Montana Nurses Association filed a motion asking to join a lawsuit challenging the state’s new vaccination discrimination law. If granted, the motion would expand the scope of the legal challenge originally filed against the state by the Montana Medical Association and a cohort of health care providers and patients in September.
MA: Hundreds of Massachusetts state workers have lost jobs over vaccine mandate
Hundreds of Massachusetts state workers have been suspended or pushed out of their jobs because they remain unvaccinated against COVID-19, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s office said. The disciplinary actions represent the first wave of enforcement to follow an Oct. 17 vaccination deadline for roughly 42,000 executive-branch employees and contractors.
AK: Rise in oil prices could add .2B in state revenue for Alaska
The recent increase in oil prices could lead to the Alaska state government receiving .2 billion more than expected this year. That’s according to a preliminary revenue forecast released by the state Department of Revenue.
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