Top State Stories 11/8
CO: Experts aren’t sure what’s driving Colorado’s COVID surge
COVID-19 infections have risen in Colorado, one of the more heavily vaccinated states in the country, and no one is quite sure why. Hospitals also are being hit not just by coronavirus hospitalizations but the consequences of people delaying health care during the pandemic.
KS: Kansas governor distances herself from Biden on vaccine mandates
Kansas Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, one of the most vulnerable incumbent governors in the nation, forcefully broke with President Joe Biden on vaccine and testing requirements for private businesses, issuing a statement that called the policy counterproductive to the goal of increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates.
AL, FL, GA: Alabama, Florida, Georgia file lawsuit against Biden over vaccine mandate
Republican officials in Alabama, Florida and Georgia together filed a lawsuit to challenge a federal order requiring companies with 100 or more employees to impose mandatory coronavirus vaccinations of their staff or weekly testing by Jan. 4.
MA: 5 years into marijuana legalization, Massachusetts’ laws not finished
Since rewriting the voter-approved ballot initiative in 2017, the Massachusetts legislature has failed to update state laws governing local control and equity so they reflect the reality—and not just the idea—of legal cannabis.
MN: Developers pause projects in Minnesota capital after rent control vote
Less than 24 hours after St. Paul, Minnesota, voters approved one of the country’s most stringent rent control policies, developers began telling the city they were placing projects on hold, putting hundreds of new housing units at risk. A city official said the ordinance as written may put the city’s equity goals at odds with its growth goals.
ID: Idaho not yet ready to deactivate crisis standards of care
After months of record-breaking numbers, Idaho finally might have seen the worst of its fourth COVID-19 surge. But Idaho still might have a long way to go before it’s ready to deactivate statewide crisis standards of care, or health care rationing that allows providers to make decisions based on chance of survival if necessary.
MT: Montana’s school agency has seen 90% turnover in 5 years
According to records recently obtained by Montana Free Press, 180 employees have left Montana’s Office of Public Instruction in the past five years—a turnover rate of nearly 90%. Former staffers and leaders of Montana education associations told the news organization the result has been a significant loss of operational knowledge at the agency.
IA: Iowa auditors worry about effects of election changes on midterms
Iowa’s county auditors, the elected officials who run the polls, said new deadlines for absentee ballots and an 8 p.m. cutoff for mail-in voting presented only a few issues in the 2021 election. However, several auditors said the changes did not meaningfully improve Iowa’s process, as Republican lawmakers promised they would.
WI: Wisconsin governor vetoes bill to increase literacy tests
Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers vetoed a plan that would have overhauled how elementary schools work with young children who struggle to read, citing the bill’s lack of new funding to carry out the changes.
WA: Federal infrastructure package is an .6B ‘game changer’ for Washington state
Under the federal infrastructure package, Washington will see nearly $8.6 billion in dedicated funds and billions more in potential grants for everything from highways and bridges to electric vehicle charging stations and broadband to public transit and safer drinking water.
OR: More Oregonians are buying electric vehicles, but it’s still not enough to meet carbon-cutting goals
The number of registered electric vehicles in Oregon could hit 45,000 by year end, after standing at 16,545 just three years ago. Even so, all that growth in recent years has barely made a dent in the state’s long-term goals.
MI: EPA to begin testing water in Michigan city’s homes
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will soon start testing the water in 300 homes in Benton Harbor, Michigan, to find out whether the certified filters residents were given by the state to remove lead from the drinking water are working as expected.
AK: To survive extreme competition, Alaska pot businesses race to expand
Alaska’s residency requirement for business owners has kept out large corporations and deep-pocketed investors, and the unlimited cap on licenses has left hundreds of independent businesses in a saturated market, with both cultivators and retailers in many areas competing for dwindling profits.
WY: Wyoming student, parents sue governor, health officials over COVID mandates
A Wyoming high school student who was arrested for trespassing after refusing to comply with the school’s mask mandate is suing the governor, public health officials and six local school districts to overturn executive and public health orders related to COVID-19.
UT: Utah redistricting proposal would split Salt Lake City
Utah’s Legislative Redistricting Committee released its proposed congressional, legislative and school board maps. The maps would divide Salt Lake County among all four congressional districts.
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