Top State Stories 12/7
TX: Justice Department sues Texas over new political maps
Texas lawmakers illegally discriminated against voters of color by drawing new political districts that give White voters more political power despite rapid growth of Hispanic and Black populations, the U.S. Department of Justice claims in its lawsuit.
NY: New York City sets COVID vaccine mandate for all private employers
New York City unveiled plans to require on-site employees at all private businesses, from bodegas to multinational banks, to get vaccinated—the most sweeping local mandate in the country and one that is intended to limit the spread of the new coronavirus variant this winter.
IL: Proposed legislation in Illinois would put unvaccinated on the hook for COVID expenses
An Illinois state representative has filed a bill that would require unvaccinated Illinoisans to pay for their health care expenses—including hospital bills—out of pocket if they contract COVID-19.
UT: A secretive Utah group is going door to door looking for election fraud
The group knocking on doors calls itself the Utah Voter Verification Project, and it’s the latest front in the “Stop the Steal” election fraud conspiracy movement. The group has no mainstream online presence, and most volunteers are recruited through alternative messaging apps such as Telegram.
MT: Montana petitions feds to delist regional grizzly bear
Montana is petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove Endangered Species Act protections for grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, citing robust population counts and touting the state’s ability to independently manage the grizzly bears, which have been federally protected since 1975.
PA: Pennsylvania awards .6M to redevelop Tree of Life synagogue, site of worst antisemitic attack
Pennsylvania has awarded .6 million for redevelopment of Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, where a gunman killed 11 people in 2018 in the nation’s deadliest attack on Jews.
AR: Arkansans have long wait for housing assistance
Low-income Arkansans in need of affordable housing sometimes wait years for assistance from their local public housing agencies after being put on waiting lists. Demand for affordable housing outweighs the supply of both Section 8 vouchers and available rental units, housing authority directors said.
MN: Hospital ICU usage at record levels amid Minnesota’s COVID wave
COVID-19 hospitalizations in Minnesota increased to 1,570, including 346 people receiving intensive care. The state reported that 994 of 1,012 available adult intensive care beds were occupied by COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients, a 98% occupancy rate that is the highest in the pandemic.
CO: Colorado improperly paid M in unemployment benefits
Colorado paid out about million in fraudulent unemployment benefits during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic and failed to resolve most customer complaints related to unemployment insurance fraud, a state audit found.
IA: Iowa ventilator stockpile sat idle during worst of pandemic
Iowa spent .3 million acquiring 500 ventilators before the worst months of the coronavirus pandemic when hospitalizations and deaths peaked late last year, but just nine of the breathing apparatuses were distributed to hospitals at that time.
WI: Wisconsin enacts law to ensure evidence of sexual assaults is processed quickly
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers signed legislation to improve the processing of evidence of sexual assaults in Wisconsin. The approval of the two bipartisan measures came after years of debate over how law enforcement has handled such evidence, some of which had been left untested for years.
DE: Supply chain shortages hitting Delaware State Parks
The sale of 2022 Delaware State Parks annual passes and surf fishing permits is being delayed due to supply chain disruptions. The adhesive parts of the stickers are stuck in the supply chain, officials said.
CT: Connecticut governor faces questions about his wife’s investments, state contracts
More than two years ago, Connecticut Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont sought legal counsel on how to avoid conflicts with his wife’s extensive company investment portfolio. But despite receiving a ruling endorsing his plan to avoid a conflict between state business and family investments, he has faced criticism recently for investments in two startup companies involving state funding.
OH: Ohio cemeteries accuse funeral homes of seeking a monopoly on casket sales
Ohio cemeteries are spooked that the funeral home industry is trying to exclude them from the sale of pre-planned funeral caskets with new state legislation that could add regulations on the graveyards. The sale of caskets helps pay for the overall operations of burial grounds, including those run by religious organizations, cemetery owners say.
LA: Louisiana lawmakers ask governor to reject rule adding COVID vaccine to school shot list
Louisiana lawmakers voted to reject Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ proposal to require students to get vaccinated against COVID-19 before entering school. Edwards has said he intends to override legislative rejection and add the vaccine to the state immunization schedule.
AL: Alabama health department launches campaign to encourage COVID testing, vaccinations
The Alabama Department of Public Health is beginning a new multimedia communications campaign stressing the importance of the COVID-19 vaccines and testing.
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