Top State Stories 12/14

By: - December 14, 2021 12:00 am

NY: US Supreme Court upholds New York health care worker vaccine mandate

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to block New York’s requirement that health care workers be vaccinated against the coronavirus even when they cite religious objections. As is often the court’s practice in rulings on emergency applications, its unsigned order included no reasoning.

AL: Half of Alabama school staff, teachers think about leaving jobs as shortages worsen

A report from the Alabama Commission on Higher Education found that at least 1,700 teachers in Alabama aren’t certified in their subject areas and shortages are worse in secondary fields and in rural areas. More than half of respondents said they were thinking about or planning to leave the profession in the next five years.

WI: Key Wisconsin Republican calls for end to election review

Republicans and Democrats alike ripped into Wisconsin’s partisan review of the 2020 election, saying it was a baseless exercise that would needlessly damage faith in democracy. State Sen. Kathy Bernier, a Republican who leads the Senate Elections Committee, said the review by former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman is firing up people who don’t understand elections.

WA: Washington governor proposes electric vehicle rebates, other climate initiatives

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, rolled out his latest plans to fight climate change, including an idea to spend $100 million annually to fund rebates for people buying electric vehicles. The governor also proposed spending $100 million in grants for institutions to install solar energy, along with a proposal to wean buildings off natural gas.

NV: State judge strikes down key parts of Nevada’s ‘ghost gun’ ban

Provisions of a Nevada law passed earlier this year prohibiting the possession and sale of unregistered ‘ghost guns’ were struck down by a state district court judge. The ruling said key portions of the law are unconstitutionally vague because they fail to establish clear standards for enforcement.

CA: California orders statewide mask requirement

Faced with rising coronavirus cases, California is ordering a statewide mask mandate for indoor public spaces to go into effect. The order will last a month and will expire on Jan. 15. Los Angeles County, Ventura County and most of the San Francisco Bay Area already have their own indoor mask mandates that were implemented in the summer.

CO: More drugs are being confiscated in Colorado prisons

Colorado prison overdose deaths underscore what correctional officials say is a scourge of narcotics flowing into the state’s facilities, including ultra-potent, hard-to-detect synthetic drugs that can be absorbed into paper and mailed to inmates.

KS: Some Kansas Republicans eye spending limits as state sees bumper year of tax revenue

Kansas is having a bumper year for tax revenue, and a Republican-led group of lawmakers are brainstorming ways to limit government spending. 

ME: Pilot project launched in Maine to assess racial impact of legislative bills

The Maine legislature is launching a pilot program to assess how certain bills and policy proposals would affect people of color and other historically disadvantaged racial populations. Racial impact statements are expected to be drafted for seven bills in the upcoming legislative session.

NJ: New Jersey reveals 70% of state workers are fully vaccinated

The COVID-19 vaccination rate among New Jersey’s state workers, who are required to be either fully vaccinated or to submit to regular testing, is now 70%, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said. It was the first time the state revealed vaccination rates among state government employees since the requirements took effect Oct. 18.

IL: For kids in crisis in Illinois, there is nowhere to turn for help  

Many Illinois teens with developmental disabilities, behavior or mental health issues are being turned away from residential treatment facilities, experts and state lawmakers say. Finding a spot in these facilities can be difficult under normal circumstances, but the COVID-19 pandemic has both exacerbated the needs and created crisis-level shortages.  

MA: Massachusetts governor says rise in COVID hospitalizations driven by unvaccinated

Even as hospitalizations among vaccinated residents rise, recent increases in Massachusetts’ COVID-19 hospitalization rates continue to be driven by those who are unvaccinated, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker said, while urging those who haven’t yet been vaccinated to get the shots.

PA: Pennsylvania attorney general clashes with local governments over opioid settlement

The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office has a message for cities and counties looking to sue major opioid distributors for millions of dollars: Stick with us if you want your money. Representatives for the state’s top litigator warned of a Jan. 2 deadline for local officials to agree to a plan that would see $1 billion in settlement funds distributed across the commonwealth in the coming years.

MN: In statewide ad, Minnesota hospital leaders warn COVID is overwhelming health care

The leaders of nine Minnesota health care organizations signed a letter published in newspapers across the state over the weekend urging people to get vaccinated and wear masks. Across Minnesota, the percentage of all available hospital beds is at the lowest point it’s been since the pandemic started.

OR: Disproportionate number of Native American, Black children remain in Oregon foster care despite leaders’ efforts

Over the last 18 months, leaders of Oregon’s child welfare program have said they are working hard to pull fewer Native American and Black children from their families and into the child welfare system. Yet the percentage of those children in foster care has remained steadily high over the past three years, the agency’s own data shows.

MI: Michigan governor says auto insurance companies must issue $400 refunds to motorists

Michigan’s auto insurance companies are to issue $400 refund checks to state motorists no later than May 9, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said. Whitmer called for the refunds because of a $5 billion and growing surplus in the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association, a nonprofit corporation controlled by the insurance industry.

AK: Citizens hide from active shooters as Alaska fails to deliver on 2019 promise of village troopers

Instead of growing the number of troopers deployed in isolated Alaska Native villages by one-third in a single year, as promised in budget documents, the state has deployed only half as many new troopers in the past two years.

HI: Why so many Hawaii families are opting out of the public school system

Nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, some Hawaii families who decided to pull their kids out of the public school system amid frustration over classroom closures and prolonged virtual learning are standing by their decision to turn to alternatives, despite the financial sacrifice.

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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.