Top State Stories 11/19
FL: Florida governor signs bills offsetting federal vaccine rules
Wasting little time, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law four bills that offset federal mask and vaccine mandates less than 12 hours after state lawmakers passed the legislation along mostly party lines. DeSantis said he was signing the strongest legislation yet that blunts a federal mandate on employer vaccine requirements.
OH: Ohio legislature congressional redistricting plan gives advantage to GOP
Ohio’s Republican-dominated legislature gave final approval to a redistricting plan that would give the GOP a leg up in as many as 13 of the state’s 15 congressional districts.
CA: Nation is watching California’s new battle plan against environmental injustice
No state pursues environmental justice more aggressively than California. The White House and other states are borrowing from its tools and tactics.
WI: Wisconsin governor vetoes GOP redistricting plans, sending maps to state Supreme Court
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers vetoed Republican-drawn election maps, setting the stage for courts to draw Wisconsin’s legislative and congressional districts. Attention now turns to the state Supreme Court, which this week spelled out a schedule for filings and arguments that could result in it selecting maps by early next year.
NJ: New Jersey schools fell short in supporting English learners during COVID lockdown
New immigrant students with limited English skills, known as English learners, missed out on critical education services in New Jersey as a result of school closings during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new study says.
VT: Vermont governor calls special session for local mask rules
Vermont Republican Gov. Phil Scott is calling legislators into a special session on Monday in order to pass legislation giving municipalities the authority to put in place temporary mask mandates.
WA: Washington governor will seek federal aid for flood damage
With floodwaters receding in parts of Washington state, damage assessments are beginning and Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, is promising he’ll aggressively seek federal money.
KS: Kansas lawmakers look to undercut federal vaccine mandates
The Kansas legislature meets in a special session next week to engage in battle with the federal government over the vaccine mandates. But courts will likely have the final say on whether the mandates are legal, and some factions worry such bold action to fight mandates could further atrophy the state’s ability to respond to public health crises.
OR: Oregon state parks to spend million on new campsites, park improvements
Oregon’s state parks are set for a million upgrade over the next two years. The list includes additional camping at some of Oregon’s busiest state parks, as well as new visitor centers, restrooms, parking lots and general maintenance upgrades that have been a long time coming.
MN: Minnesota governor all but rules out special session, state of emergency despite COVID surge
Minnesota Democratic Gov. Tim Walz said another state of emergency to unilaterally institute a mask mandate or restrict bars and restaurants would be politically costly—and not particularly effective. Instead, Walz said he’s focusing on expanding eligibility for COVID-19 vaccine boosters and urging people to get vaccinated and avoid crowds.
WV: West Virginia cases still rising; officials beg residents to get vaccines
With 970 new cases and 22 new COVID-19 associated deaths reported in West Virginia on a single day, state officials are again begging residents to get their vaccines before winter holidays exacerbate the spread.
ME: Broadband providers are fighting Maine towns trying to expand networks
As the federal government continues to send millions of dollars to Maine and other states to expand high-speed internet service, some towns are considering municipal-run networks. But in some cases, they’re encountering opposition funded by the same big internet service providers that have long refused to expand their networks.
CO: Colorado voters to decide whether to cut income taxes
Colorado voters will be asked once again if they want to reduce the state’s income tax rate, this time on the November 2022 ballot.
WY: Wyoming food banks struggle with supply chain issues
Food pantries across Wyoming are struggling to meet an increased demand for assistance due to the pandemic because of supply chain issues seen around the nation. With the holidays approaching, some food items that used to be purchased in bulk aren’t available anymore.
MT: CBD ban removed from Montana’s marijuana program
Following pushback from industry stakeholders and lawmakers, the Montana Department of Revenue has decided to remove an unpopular ban on CBD products from the state’s cannabis program rules. The agency also will nix a separate rule that would have barred anyone with a minor criminal conviction from gaining or renewing a permit to work in the cannabis industry.
PA: Pennsylvania state officials, lawmakers and judges get big 2022 pay raise
Inflation is driving up consumer prices and will drive a big salary increase for Pennsylvania state lawmakers, judges and top executive branch officials in 2022. For many of these positions, it’s the biggest increase in three decades. Salaries across the board will rise 5.6%, a figure tied by state law to the year-over-year change in the consumer price index.
MI: Performance bonuses for Michigan state workers quadrupled in 2021
Performance bonuses paid to mostly higher-ranking state of Michigan employees quadrupled in 2021, records show, amid a vastly improved state budget outlook from a year earlier. The state paid 1,546 employees just over .6 million in one-time, lump-sum bonuses during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.
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