Top State Stories 12/2
TX: Texas’ ban on mask mandates in public schools back in place after court ruling
A federal appellate court has temporarily restored Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order prohibiting mask mandates in schools. The order from the three-judge panel stated that there had been “no concrete, or actual or imminent, injury as a result of the enforcement” of the executive order.
MO: Missouri Republicans to target vaccine requirements, public and private, next session
Republican lawmakers in Missouri have filed a raft of bills targeting COVID-19 vaccine requirements. One proposal would bar schools from requiring students to get the vaccine. Several would force businesses to serve customers who are not vaccinated.
CO: Colorado lawmakers announce plans to protect abortion rights
Colorado lawmakers plan to try to enshrine abortion rights into state law given the possibility the U.S Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade. Advocates for reproductive rights in Colorado previously said they didn’t think putting explicit protections for abortion access into state law was necessary.
OR: Many Oregonians come up empty-handed in hunt for booster shots
After months of vaccine surplus in Oregon and across that nation, vaccines have suddenly become scarce in some parts of the state. The clamor is intense, especially for boosters.
TN: Tennessee’s strict new abortion law to go before full 6th Circuit Court of Appeals
The new law puts in place some of the nation’s most restrictive abortion measures, including one that seeks to block the procedure at a gestational stage as early as six weeks or if the doctor knows the patient is seeking an abortion due to the fetus’ sex, race or Down syndrome diagnosis.
KS: Kansas AG says universities in the state are violating COVID law
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, a Republican, has notified state education officials that some public universities are violating a state law passed last week that loosened requirements for obtaining medical and religious exemptions to COVID-19 vaccinations.
FL: Bipartisan bill aims to add new rules to Florida’s medical marijuana industry
After years of partisan squabbling over the fate of Florida’s medical marijuana program, Democrats and Republicans are coming together to push a bill that could make it a lot harder for Floridians to get their hands on delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) products.
NV: At mandate deadline, more than 1,200 Nevada higher education employees unvaccinated
Two months after Nevada regents voted to authorize a system-wide COVID-19 vaccine mandate for higher education employees, almost 6% of those employees remain unvaccinated—setting the stage for upwards of 1,200 possible terminations by the end of the calendar year.
NJ: As New Jersey sex abuse lawsuit window closes, victims face long road
New Jersey’s two-year window that made it easier for victims of child sexual abuse to file lawsuits has closed, and attorneys for some of the hundreds of plaintiffs say it could take years more for the cases against Catholic clerics and dioceses and other entities to be resolved.
ME: Maine regulators warn community solar expansion could drive up electricity prices
Maine energy regulators are warning that spikes in electricity prices coming this winter could be exacerbated in future years by the rapid expansion of so-called community solar programs.
The legislature recently increased the size of projects that could access the state’s net energy billing system.
MN: Minnesota denies medical cannabis for anxiety
Anxiety disorders won’t be added next year to qualifying conditions for medical cannabis in Minnesota. State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm found too little evidence of benefits of medical cannabis use when compared with the risks and existing treatments.
WA: Digital COVID vaccine verification tool officially launched in Washington state
Washington state’s digital COVID-19 vaccine verification tool, WA Verify, allows individuals to present a QR code when asked by restaurants, arenas and other establishments to show proof of vaccination. The tool draws upon records from the state’s immunization system.
MD: Maryland schools want ‘off ramp’ option for masking
Maryland’s State Board of Education asked the state for “off ramps” that allow systems to lift school masking requirements in the future. Other states like Massachusetts have similar approaches.
WI: A 172-year-old abortion law could go back into effect in Wisconsin
A 172-year-old state law that makes providing an abortion a felony in Wisconsin could go back into effect if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade—a prospect many say is possible within the next year.
IA: Iowa sees 2021 peak for COVID hospitalizations
COVID-19 hospitalizations in Iowa have surged to their highest point in 2021, the state Department of Public Health reported. The new total of 721 was up nearly 100 cases from the previous week and is higher than the year’s previous peak of 638, set in September.
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