Top State Stories 12/8

By: - December 8, 2021 12:00 am

OR: Oregon lawmakers, governor exercised little oversight of delayed paid leave launch

Tens of thousands of Oregonians stand to go without paid leave benefits because program officials said they could not launch it by the law’s deadline. The program rarely came up in lawmakers’ check-ins, and the glacial pace depicted during regular updates to Democratic Gov. Kate Brown’s staff did not prompt any intervention to get the project back on track.

HI: Hawaii military families move into hotels amid water crisis

Hundreds of military families in Hawaii have been affected by a contaminated water crisis for more than a week. The military has been unable to say when the drinking water will be safe again after petroleum was discovered at a Navy well not far from an underground jet fuel storage facility.

TX: Texas GOP takes aim at local, county nonpartisan races

The Republican Party of Texas is increasing its involvement in nonpartisan local races, hoping to do more to influence municipal and school board elections that have turned into political battlegrounds during the coronavirus pandemic.

SD: South Dakota governor calls for pay raises

Soaring inflation has South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, calling for across-the-board raises for state educators and employees, who she says are struggling to make ends meet.

DC: Provision to give DC control of its National Guard scuttled in Congress’ major defense bill

Washington, D.C., is not bound to gain control of its National Guard for the foreseeable future after a provision that would have made it happen was scuttled in Congress, a major blow for advocates who saw autonomy over the District’s own military unit as a step toward D.C. statehood.

MO: Missouri attorney general demands local governments, school districts end health orders 

Missouri’s Republican attorney general issued a legal threat to school districts and local health agencies, demanding they scrap COVID-19 health orders following a judge’s ruling last month. He said they must rescind and stop enforcing public health orders, mask mandates and quarantine orders declared null and void by the recent decision.

IL: Illinois governor lets water and sewer bill assistance flow ‘to support our most vulnerable’

Illinois Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker urged low-income residents in need of help with their water and sewer bills to tap into a new million state program created to help them avoid seeing those services shut off.

CO: Colorado has a ‘window of opportunity’ to get COVID under control ahead of Christmas

Colorado’s COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases are stable or improving, though it won’t be clear until later this week if the virus spread across Thanksgiving tables. Half of the hospitals reporting to the state said they expect to be short-staffed in the next week, and about 94% of intensive care beds are full.

UT: Proposed ballot initiative would return Utah to in-person paper votes on Election Day

A group calling itself Secure Vote Utah is hoping to get enough signatures to put an initiative on the 2022 ballot to do away with Utah’s mail-in elections in favor of all paper ballots. The proposal also would scrap early voting and most absentee balloting and make it more difficult to register to vote.

KS: Kansas universities to pause COVID vaccine mandate after federal court ruling

The three largest universities in Kansas are pausing efforts to require COVID-19 vaccination for their staff after a federal judge in Georgia blocked implementation of a Biden administration directive that federal contractors be immunized against the virus.

MD: Maryland lawmakers strip governor of power to block parole

Maryland’s governors will no longer have the final say over whether inmates serving life sentences will be released on parole, following action by state lawmakers. Maryland’s General Assembly overrode a veto by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.

MI: Michigan doctor begs for more help as state tops hospitalization peak

As Michigan broke another record for confirmed COVID-19 hospitalizations, a critical care doctor called on the state and federal governments to “bring to bear all resources” to help the hospitals and for health care workers who’ve left medicine to return to the field.

TN: Tennessee governor sending National Guard to combat drug trafficking at Mexico border

Tennessee will send 50 guardsmen to support the Texas National Guard and “address drug trafficking,” Republican Gov. Bill Lee said in a news release. The release cites U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics, which show agents have seized 190,000 pounds of methamphetamine and 11,000 pounds of fentanyl at the border over the last year.

WI: Wisconsin hospital leaders say they are at a crisis point with new COVID surge

Wisconsin hospital leaders are sounding the alarm as the state endures another COVID-19 surge. The seven-day average of new infections is more than 3,500—the highest it’s been in a year. “We are full. Period,” said Eric Conley, CEO of Milwaukee’s Froedtert Hospital.

NJ: Governor wants all-electric, self-driving transit system in New Jersey’s capital

Trenton could get New Jersey’s first all-electric powered, micro-transit system with self-driving mini-buses under a request for interested companies to build and run it, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy announced.

CA: California fast-food workers say they face a ‘crisis of violence’ at their jobs

An advocacy group documented some 77,000 911 calls for alleged violent or threatening incidents between 2017 and 2020 at major chain fast-food restaurants in nine big California cities. The group called the reports a “crisis of violence.” 

DE: Delaware reports nearly 50% increase in COVID cases

The COVID-19 delta variant has led to about a 50% surge in Delaware cases in the past week. The state saw the highest number of new daily COVID-19 cases since January. Hospitalizations have increased by 77% since Nov. 1.

WV: West Virginia surpasses 5,000 COVID deaths

West Virginia surpassed 5,000 COVID-19 deaths, a grim milestone for a state that has one of the highest virus-related mortality rates per capita in the nation.

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Stateline staff
Stateline staff

Stateline’s team of veteran journalists combines original reporting with a roundup of the latest news from sources around the country.