Top State Stories 2/8
AL: US Supreme Court allows Alabama congressional map to stand
The U.S. Supreme Court granted Alabama’s request to put a hold on a lower court ruling that would have forced the state to redraw its seven congressional districts for this year’s elections. The lower court said the map diluted the political power of Black voters, likely in violation of the Voting Rights Act.
CA: California will lift indoor mask mandate for vaccinated residents next week
With the omicron coronavirus surge rapidly receding, California will lift its mask mandate for indoor public places for vaccinated residents. The lifting of the mandate will apply to counties without local mask orders of their own. Other counties with local mask orders will remain in place.
TX: Abortions in Texas dropped almost 60% in 1st month after new restrictions
Texas Health and Human Services released statistics showing the number of abortions reported in the state decreased almost 60% in the first month after new restrictions went into effect. The state reported 2,197 induced terminations of pregnancies for September 2021, following 5,404 in August.
MO: GOP plan to gut Medicaid advances to floor of Missouri House
A Missouri House budget panel advanced a proposed constitutional amendment that would ask voters to allow Medicaid to be subject to annual appropriations. If approved, the proposal would put the power to make the program available to as many as 275,000 low-income Missourians in the hands of the legislature.
CO: State auditor finds evidence of illegal activities in Colorado’s judicial branch
An investigation by the state auditor into the Colorado Judicial Branch found evidence of occupational fraud, apparently illegal transactions and the misuse of public funds. The auditor’s office will report four former employees of the State Court Administrator’s Office to law enforcement.
NM: New Mexico lawmakers propose M school cybersecurity fund
Lawmakers in New Mexico are considering major investments in cybersecurity, following two serious cyberattacks against school districts in the state last month and increased vulnerability of information technology in K-12 schools nationally.
CT: Connecticut governor recommends end to statewide school mask mandate
Connecticut children will soon be permitted to go maskless in schools and childcare settings. Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont announced that he will recommend the state lift its mask mandate as of Feb. 28, leaving decisions on whether to require masks up to local school districts.
MN: Counties begin distributing KN95 masks throughout Minnesota
Health officials across Minnesota are distributing thousands of free, higher quality masks, especially to people in vulnerable groups who otherwise would lack access. Democratic Gov. Tim Walz announced a plan in January to distribute 2.1 million masks from a state stockpile.
OR: Oregon will lift mask mandate by March 31
Oregon health officials will end the mask mandate for indoor public places and schools no later than March 31 and might do so earlier if COVID-19 hospitalizations drop to around 400 occupied beds.
TN: Tennessee governor signs bills dividing Nashville into 3 congressional districts
The new Tennessee maps split Davidson County through downtown Nashville, parceling pieces of the current 5th congressional district into the largely rural, historically Republican 6th and 7th districts. By diluting Davidson County’s Democratic and minority vote, the new lines could further entrench the GOP in Tennessee with an 8-1 advantage in the congressional delegation.
DE: Delaware governor dropping mask mandates
Delaware’s universal indoor mask requirement put in place last month will expire Feb. 11. The statewide mask mandate for students in public and private schools is expected to expire March 31.
FL: Florida Democrats launch .5M effort to close voter registration gap
Florida Democrats announced a new effort to try to bring more voters into the fold as they trail Republicans in the number of registered voters for the first time in state history. The effort is a partnership between the state party, the Senate and House caucuses and a secretive donor group.
ID: Idaho secretary of state hopeful would ditch same-day election registration
A GOP lawmaker who is running for Idaho secretary of state has filed a bill that would require non-registered voters to register 30 days before an election. Late registration would be available in person at a county clerk’s office through the Friday before Election Day.
NE: Nebraska tax plan would limit school spending
Two proponents of a Nebraska plan to cap school property tax growth acknowledged that it would have the unintended effect of limiting school spending. They challenged opponents to propose something better.
GA: Georgia Senate votes to extend maternal Medicaid from 6 to 12 months
The Georgia Senate unanimously approved legislation that would double the amount of time eligible new mothers can receive Medicaid. The move comes two years after lawmakers extended the benefits from 2 to 6 months.
AZ: Arizona police, legislators seek new oversight for officer shootings
A bipartisan bill would create a critical incident bureau within the Arizona Department of Public Safety to investigate uses of force that result in death or serious bodily injury and any discharge of a firearm by a peace officer.
ME: Maine governor unveils M plan to improve child safety
Maine Democratic Gov. Janet Mills unveiled an million plan to improve the state’s child welfare system by strengthening the office of the child welfare ombudsman, adding caseworkers to reduce pressures on existing staff, improving staff training and expanding support for families.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.