Top State Stories 11/24
OH: Federal jury finds 3 major pharmacies oversupplied opioids in Ohio
A federal jury found that three pharmacy chains played a key role in feeding the opioid crisis in two Ohio counties, a verdict that is the first in the nation involving the dispensing of prescription painkillers.
TN: Tennessee revises enforcement of law prohibiting classroom discussions about race, bias
Tennessee issued new guidance on enforcement of a law limiting classroom discussions of racism, White privilege and unconscious bias. Under the new rules, districts that violate the law will have to pay a financial penalty equal to 2% of their state aid, and the window of time to report a violation will be 45 days, up from 30 days.
KS: Kansas governor will sign bill fighting vaccine mandates
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, said she will sign legislation aimed at making it easy for workers to avoid employer-issued COVID-19 vaccination mandates. The Republican-controlled legislature has approved a measure requiring businesses with mandates to respect an expansive religious and moral beliefs exemption that most Democratic lawmakers opposed.
MA: Massachusetts governor tells hospitals to reduce non-urgent procedures amid COVID strain
Beginning next week, hospitals in Massachusetts with limited capacity will be required to reduce certain non-urgent, scheduled procedures amid a strain on hospital capacity, the administration of Republican Gov. Charlie Baker announced.
ID: Idaho’s new COVID surge left thousands of patients in need of care
Hospitals in Idaho have thousands of backlogged surgeries to work through, and officials expect fallout from the latest COVID-19 surge. They’re also nervous about a coronavirus resurgence or a nasty flu season.
VT: Vermont governor signs bill allowing local mask mandates
Vermont Republican Gov. Phil Scott signed into law a bill that will allow the state’s municipalities to adopt temporary indoor mask mandates.
AR: At trial on mask-mandate ban, Arkansas officials say schools’ rules effective
Arkansas schools that do not make students and staffers wear masks have a 25% higher rate of COVID-19 transmission than schools that mandate facial coverings, Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s chief health care adviser testified in a lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on mask mandates. Hutchinson is a nominal defendant in the case because he signed the mandate ban into law, a step he said he now regrets.
NY: New York governor extends gun violence state of emergency
New York Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul extended the gun violence state of emergency again as her administration continues to address what has been defined as a public health crisis. The state has now awarded nearly 80% of its promised $159 million to programs focused on gun violence prevention.
IA: Company abandons appeal to export Iowa’s groundwater
A company that initially sought to export billions of gallons of Iowa groundwater to parched Western states each year has abandoned the request to state regulators. The first-of-its kind proposal to withdraw and export water from the Jordan Aquifer—which lies beneath nearly all of Iowa and parts of neighboring states—drew criticism from state lawmakers, the state geologist and conservation groups.
HI: Hawaii governor allows counties to make own pandemic emergency rules
Democratic Gov. David Ige announced that he would allow Hawaii counties to make their own pandemic emergency orders and rules starting next month. He also announced that some existing COVID-19 restrictions will remain in place, including the state’s Safe Travel program and indoor mask mandate.
OH: Democratic-aligned group sues over Ohio’s new congressional map
A national Democratic group run by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder sued seeking to throw out Ohio’s new congressional map just two days after Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed it into law.
CO: 3 Colorado counties enact mask mandates
The boards of health for three metro Denver counties voted to require almost everyone to once again wear masks in indoor public spaces, part of a coordinated push to take action against troubling COVID-19 trends in Colorado. The orders require adults and most children to wear masks in indoor public spaces, though businesses can seek exemptions if they require their employees and customers to be vaccinated.
CA: Conservative group sues to overturn California law requiring diversity on corporate boards
A shareholder advocacy organization filed a lawsuit this week challenging a state law that mandates public corporations headquartered in California to appoint people of color or LGBTQ leaders to their boards of directors.
ME, MA: Maine lawmakers urge Massachusetts governor to cancel power line contract
A group of 50 Maine lawmakers urged Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker to “honor and respect the vote of the people of Maine” and do what he can to terminate the New England Clean Energy Connect project and pursue other options.
The request, contained in a letter to Baker, references the Nov. 2 Maine ballot question for which 60 percent of voters approved a law that specifically would ban transmission lines such as the NECEC project in the Upper Kennebec region.
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