US: 6 states account for more than half of recent COVID hospitalizations
Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York and Illinois, respectively, have accounted for the majority of the country’s increase in hospital beds filled, according to an NBC News analysis of federal data. While these states make up 35% of the population among states with increasing COVID-19 hospitalizations, they make up 60% of the hospitalized cases added between Nov. 10 and Dec. 5.
IA: Feds say Iowa is ‘heavily biased’ toward institutionalizing people with disabilities
The findings are the result of a long-running investigation into two resource centers that the Iowa Department of Human Services manages for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The investigation centered on the issue of whether residents are subjected to unnecessary institutionalization in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
MA: University of Massachusetts, other colleges will require booster shots
At least three Massachusetts colleges will require students and staff to get COVID-19 booster vaccines for the upcoming spring semester, the schools confirmed. The spring term starts after the holiday break that spills into January. The three schools are UMass Amherst, Emerson College and Boston College.
TN: Judge upholds Tennessee law with heavy penalties for sharing absentee ballot request forms
A judge upheld a Tennessee law that makes it a felony to share vote-by-mail or absentee ballot applications with another person unless you work for an election commission. Voting rights activists last summer sued the state to overturn the law, arguing that handing out the application is an effective part of get-out-the-vote campaigns.
FL: Test feeding plan in works for starving Florida manatees
Normally giving food to wild animals is considered off limits, but more than 1,000 manatees dying from starvation in Florida due to human-made pollution are leading officials to consider an unprecedented feeding plan. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state environmental officials intend to unveil a limited proposal to feed the marine mammals.
MS: Mississippi universities ditch employee vaccine mandate
Officials at two Mississippi universities, the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University, announced they would not enforce the vaccine mandate as a result of the federal judge in Georgia issuing an injunction against President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal contract workers.
SC: South Carolina lawmakers would strip towns of control over short-term rentals
State legislators are proposing a change to the way short-term rentals are handled and regulated across South Carolina. If approved, the bill would prevent local governments from enacting restrictions on short-term rentals. Instead, those orders could be approved only by the state government.
MI: Michigan lawmakers, governor fast-tracking incentive plan aimed at electric vehicle plants
Lawmakers, with support from Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, are fast-tracking a bipartisan package of bills intended to give Michigan a better chance of attracting major new plants related to electric vehicles. The legislation follows recent developments in which Michigan was passed over for battery plants and other plants related to electric vehicles for states farther south.
AK: Judge dismisses Alaska’s complaint against subsistence hunt
A U.S. District judge has rejected a challenge by GOP Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration to a special subsistence hunt authorized for a southeast Alaska tribe by a federal board last year. The Organized Village of Kake was granted an emergency hunt last year by the Federal Subsistence Board, citing food security concerns amid the pandemic. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game challenged the board’s action, raising procedural objections.
MO: Legislation would bar warrantless searches in Missouri based solely on the scent of marijuana
Police officers wouldn’t be able to perform warrantless searches of vehicles, homes or other private property based on “the odor of marijuana alone” under a bill introduced in the Missouri House. The legislation follows Missouri’s approval of medical marijuana in 2018 as well as changes elsewhere in how police may gain probable cause for warrantless searches of private property.
IL: Illinois courts seek compassion, hope for people with mental illnesses
Illinois courts are taking steps toward better understanding mental illness and its growing effect on the judicial system, which the state’s Supreme Court chief justice said too often lacks compassion, treats mental disorders as a crime and skirts alternatives to jail.
CO: Colorado’s top elections official is asking for security
The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office is asking state lawmakers for a new annual appropriation of about ,000 to “address election-related security concerns” stemming from recent threats, many of which originated with people who believe baseless claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
WI: Wisconsin governor seeks FEMA workers, uses National Guard to staff hospitals
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers is asking the Biden administration to send 100 federal health care workers to Wisconsin and is using National Guard nurses in state mental health hospitals as hundreds of health care facilities say they need help to combat staffing shortages and a surge of COVID-19 cases.
AR: Income tax cut bills roll through Arkansas House and Senate
The Arkansas House and Senate handily approved identical income tax cut bills that state officials estimate will eventually provide nearly million a year in tax relief for Arkansans. The bills would cut the top individual income tax and top corporate income tax rates, consolidate the low- and middle-income tax tables and create a nonrefundable low-income tax credit.
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