Top State Stories 11/29
PA: Electricity prices in Pennsylvania to rise by as much as 50%
Energy costs for electric customers are going up by as much as 50% across Pennsylvania, the latest manifestation of across-the-board energy price increases affecting gasoline, heating oil, propane and natural gas.
CO: Tax-delinquent businesses got PPP loans in Colorado
At least 161 Colorado companies and individuals who owed millions in back taxes still qualified for federal pandemic relief loans. More than half of the companies and individuals were paid more than they owed.
MA: Massachusetts law meant to clear old convictions helps few
When Massachusetts legislators passed a criminal justice overhaul bill in 2018, state residents won the ability to clear away certain criminal records, including marijuana possession convictions. But three years later only a fraction of those who are likely eligible for relief have had their records expunged.
KS: Kansas students suffered sharp learning loss during pandemic
A year of shutdowns and quarantines generated lousy test scores for Kansas schoolchildren. More than 30% of students fell behind their grade level in math and language arts in the 2020-21 school year.
AL: Alabama prisons to resume visitation after 20 months
The Alabama Department of Corrections said visitation for incarcerated individuals will resume Dec. 4, after being suspended since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
ID: Freeze on Idaho’s transgender athlete ban faces new challenges
The near-term fate of the Idaho law, which bars transgender women and girls from competing on collegiate and K-12 women’s and girls sports teams, could depend on whether a judge thinks a transgender athlete still has a stake in a lawsuit challenging the law.
WI: Wisconsin farmland worth 10% more than in 2020
A survey of Midwest farm bankers found Wisconsin farmland values are up 10% from the same period in 2020. One farm appraiser called the current market “the perfect storm” of demand for rural property from farmers, those looking to participate in recreational activities and people looking to get out of the city in reaction to the pandemic.
WA: Washington struggles to stop sexual misconduct in health care
In 282 cases since 2009, Washington state health regulators have taken more than a year to discipline a provider accused of sexual misconduct. Deadlines laid out in state regulations to evaluate allegations, investigate cases and decide whether to bring charges are routinely missed.
TX: Texas grids vulnerable to blackouts during severe weather, even with new preparations
Electricity outages in Texas could occur this winter if the state experiences a cold snap that forces many power plants offline when demand for power is high, according to an analysis by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.
MN: Minnesota schools work to respond to growing student mental health needs
Schools across Minnesota are using federal funds to invest in mental health support for students—adding more counselors and therapists and offering more professional development for staff. But widespread staffing shortages have meant some schools are struggling to fill those positions.
GA: Georgia voting law drives rejections of absentee requests made too late
The top reason Georgia election officials rejected absentee ballot applications this fall was that they were submitted too close to Election Day, missing a deadline imposed by the state’s new voting law.
IA: Iowa no longer tracks county-of-residence for COVID hospitalizations
The Iowa Department of Public Health is no longer tracking the county of residence of Iowans who are hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19. The change was made, a spokesperson said, to ease the reporting burden on hospitals as they struggle with staffing shortages.
NY: New York legislature’s sexual harassment policies not strong enough, critics say
Despite revisions and a New York Assembly policy that lawmakers have touted as one of the strongest in the nation, some say neither chambers’ policies go far enough to protect the employees who need it.
ND: North Dakota eyes federal funds for oil, gas well plugging program
North Dakota’s top oil regulator wants to extend the state’s abandoned well plugging program by tapping into billion made available in the federal infrastructure bill to clean up old oil and gas sites across the nation.
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