Top State Stories 7/26
MN: Minnesota’s jobless rate is the lowest any state has ever had
At 1.8%, Minnesota now officially has the lowest unemployment rate of any state ever. The state has been highlighting people who tend to be overlooked for jobs — older workers, immigrants, people with disabilities and those recently released from correctional facilities — as a solution to the state’s tight labor market.
DE: 6 maternal and infant health bills signed into Delaware law
Delaware Democratic Gov. John Carney signed six maternal and infant health-related bills into law. Two bills focus on reproductive health for incarcerated women, and another two expand Medicaid access to include doula services and extend Medicaid coverage throughout the first year postpartum.
WI: Wisconsin disabled voters file federal lawsuit over ballots
Four people in Wisconsin with disabilities have filed a lawsuit asking a federal court to ensure that they’ll be able to get help turning in their ballots, even though the conservative-controlled state Supreme Court said no one other than the voter can return absentee ballots in person.
AK: Alaska experiencing wildfires it’s never seen before
Alaska is burning this year in ways rarely or ever seen, from the largest wildfire in a typically mainly fireproof southwest region to a pair of blazes that ripped through forests and produced smoke that blew hundreds of miles to the Bering Sea community of Nome, where the normally crystal clear air was pushed into the extremely unhealthy category.
MA: Massachusetts cities scurry to contain rats with electronic traps, carbon monoxide, birth control
All across Greater Boston and the northeast, cities and towns in Massachusetts are battling a swelling rat population. In Boston alone, rat and rodent complaints climbed 48% from 2019 to 2021, according to the city’s 311 data. Local officials are finding creative ways to respond.
WV: West Virginia governor calls on legislature to ‘modernize’ abortion laws
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, abruptly added state abortion law to the agenda for a special session of the West Virginia Legislature he called to focus on his plan to reduce the state’s income tax. In his announcement, Justice asked legislators to “clarify and modernize” the state abortion laws in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last month ending constitutional protection for abortion.
MT: Montana wants to expand institutional mental health, addiction treatment
With about 90,000 Montanans estimated to have a substance use disorder and roughly 10% of those seeking treatment, demand for detox and rehabilitation services is high. The goal of increasing inpatient treatment has been stalled by one prominent and beleaguered psychiatric facility with hundreds of patients: the Montana State Hospital.
IL: Tampons present an innovative way for scientists, researchers in Illinois to test for COVID
A University of Illinois team is working with both the Chicago and Illinois departments of public health to test tampons in wastewater to monitor COVID-19 cases in the state.
MI: Ruling on Michigan tipped wages could be ‘massive, fundamental’ change to restaurant industry
Thousands of tipped workers in Michigan could see major changes to their paychecks after a recent court ruling threw into question the state’s minimum wage. Court of Claims Judge Douglas Shapiro ruled last week that the legislature’s adopt-and-amend strategy — used on the minimum wage initiative and another for paid sick time — is unconstitutional.
WA: New Washington program gives low-income renters access to A/C
Many more people in Washington are adding air conditioning to their homes than in previous years, with climate-friendlier forms of cooling like heat pumps also gaining in popularity. Companies and municipalities across the region are working to help lower-income homeowners have access to this technology through rebate programs.
ID: Idaho’s polio vaccine rate is low
Idaho’s kindergarten polio immunization rate is just above “herd immunity” threshold. The state’s polio vaccination rates have slipped in recent years — leaving more people at risk, were the poliovirus to find its way to Idaho.
PA: New Pennsylvania law will make it easier for teachers from New Jersey, other states to work there
A change to how the state grants licenses to teachers will make it easier for educators coming from out of state to work in Pennsylvania. In the past, even veteran certified teachers from just across the river would have to take a test to be certified to teach in Pennsylvania. Now, teachers credentialed in other states who can demonstrate two or more years of successful teaching won’t have to pass those additional exams.
ME: Fewer Maine students opted out of vaccines last school year after lawmakers eliminated exemptions
According to new data from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more Maine students received required vaccinations following the state’s new immunization law for school-age children. Last year was the first in which Maine families were no longer allowed to claim religious or philosophical objections to immunizations.
NY: New York governor announces new child care expansion program
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, announced that million will go toward new child care providers. The move, Hochul said, will create roughly 12,000 new child care slots among 344 providers, after many disappeared as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those spots include 592 spaces for infants and toddlers, in addition to 5,000 places for those in need of care during non-traditional work hours.
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