Top State Stories 12/23
TX: COVID wave puts Texas’ high share of uninsured at risk
In 2019, more than 18% of Texans were without health insurance, the highest rate in the country and more than double the national average. Texas is one of just 12 states that opted out of expanding Medicaid access under the Affordable Care Act. The new COVID-19 wave puts the uninsured at risk.
MA: Massachusetts high court broadens police frisk power
A divided Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court broadened the legal standard police must use to justify frisking a person suspected of being armed, endorsing a concept three dissenting justices say will harm communities of color.
PA: Pennsylvania governor vetoes bill that would have put academic materials online
Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a bill that would have required school districts to post information about textbooks, course material and state academic standards online. Wolf said the legislation “politicizes what is being taught in our schools.”
DC: DC to require COVID vaccination to enter restaurants, gyms and other businesses
People 12 and older will be required to show proof of coronavirus vaccination to enter restaurants and many other businesses in Washington, D.C., Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser announced. The District of Columbia’s new daily case rate was higher than that of any state in the nation this week.
NE: Nebraskans jolted awake by mistaken police alert
Nebraska’s Wireless Emergency Alert System was inadvertently activated with a test that caused cell phones across the state to make loud noises late at night. State police said it was a mistake.
AR: Arkansas to receive federal money for road, bridge repairs
Arkansas is in line to receive up to .9 million in federal emergency relief funds to pay for repairs to roads and bridges damaged by the historic Arkansas River flooding in 2019 and other natural disasters.
WV: West Virginia will use federal funds to recruit, train nurses
Citing a nursing shortage caused by the coronavirus pandemic, West Virginia will use million in federal stimulus funding to aggressively recruit and train nurses over the next four years, Republican Gov. Jim Justice said. Justice about 1,700 nurses declined to renew their state licenses last year.
CA: California omicron surge arrives as cases spike, officials warn of tough weeks ahead
The omicron surge has hit California, with new coronavirus cases climbing rapidly and public health officials in some parts of the state warning that hospitals could see a surge in patients in the coming weeks.
WI: Wisconsin lawsuit seeks reinstatement of 31K voters
The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin filed a federal lawsuit seeking to have the Wisconsin Elections Commission reinstate voter registrations for nearly 32,000 people who were deactivated this summer. The commission deactivated the registrations after a two-year legal fight.
FL: Universal Orlando will return to masks indoors as virus cases rise in Florida
Universal Orlando Resort is tightening its mask policies at parks, hotels and restaurants as the omicron variant spreads and cases rise. Starting Christmas Eve, face coverings will be required at all indoor locations at Universal Orlando.
WA: Washington legislature sues governor over vetoes
Washington state lawmakers are again suing Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee over his use of veto powers, claiming the governor overstepped his executive authority earlier this year while vetoing portions of two bills he signed. The lawsuit is a rare bipartisan pushback over the governor’s use of executive powers.
OR: Oregon unions propose campaign finance limits that would still allow them to make big donations
After private negotiations to control political donations in Oregon broke down, labor unions have filed three dueling campaign finance initiative petitions for the 2022 ballot that are far looser than measures already proposed by good government groups. The union proposals would still allow unions and other member-based organizations to make large donations to political campaigns.
TN: Omicron is now the dominant variant in Tennessee
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 95% of new Tennessee infections are from the omicron variant. The state reported more than 2,900 infections and 14% test positivity, the highest statistics in weeks.
MI: Michigan attorney general will back Biden vaccine mandate in SCOTUS case
If an opportunity arises, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, said she will support President Joe Biden’s worker vaccine mandate before the U.S. Supreme Court.
NY: New York governor signs package of bills to help people with disabilities
New York Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a package of bills intended to help people with disabilities and their families, including a study of the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
MN: Minnesota dials back COVID antibody strategy as omicron rises to 50% of new cases
The omicron variant of the coronavirus is causing more than 50% of new COVID-19 cases in Minnesota, state leaders said, prompting health systems to suspend use of two monoclonal antibody therapies that are ineffective against the strain.
SD: Impeachment hearings for South Dakota AG scheduled
A South Dakota House committee will meet next week to begin deliberating whether Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, a Republican, should be impeached for striking and killing a pedestrian last year.
MT: Montana manufacturing has fared well during pandemic, report shows
Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the manufacturing industry in Montana fared relatively well in 2020 and is on track to return to pre-pandemic levels of business, according to a new report from both the University of Montana and Montana State University.
GA: Police shootings in Georgia this year surpass 2020 total
More than half of this year’s 97 shootings by police in Georgia have been fatal, with 54 of the police encounters ending with a death, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Last year, the agency investigated 43 fatal shootings.
HI: Inconsistencies in data from US military may hold up Hawaii redistricting
A state panel tasked with redrawing Hawaii political boundaries still doesn’t know if it has the right population figures. That’s because the U.S. military sent the Hawaii Reapportionment Commission inconsistent data sets on the number of nonresident military personnel and their dependents residing in the state.
NV: Nevada GOP legislators block college student, state worker vaccine mandate
In a party-line vote, six Republican lawmakers blocked the Nevada Board of Health’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates for college students and state health and corrections workers from becoming permanent.
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