Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/18

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/18

Top State Coronavirus Action

CA: California schools likely closed for rest of the year

latimes.com

California public schools are likely to be closed for the remainder of the school year, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom said. “I don’t want to mislead you,” he said to parents and educators during a press conference. Nearly 99% of all school districts in the state are closed.

OH: Ohio decision to postpone primary gets court challenge

dispatch.com

The Ohio Democratic Party and a Reynoldsburg woman filed suit against Secretary of State Frank LaRose in the Ohio Supreme Court, arguing only lawmakers — not LaRose — could set an election date. The litigation contends there should not be another primary election day, just an extension of absentee balloting until late April.

NV: Nevada health insurance exchange opens special enrollment period

thenevadaindependent.com

Nevadans will be able to enroll in exchange plans between March 17 and April 15 as part of a limited exceptional circumstance special enrollment period. Several other states across the country, including Maryland, Massachusetts and Washington, have also opened special enrollment periods for their residents.

WA: Call centers stumble in Washington

seattletimes.com

Washington provides some early lessons on public communication. The state and King County both stumbled in setting up public information hotlines, with too few operators, technical snafus and contradicting messages from health care providers all hampering the usefulness of the call centers.

WY: Men break into Wyoming hospital building to steal toilet paper

trib.com

A Wyoming hospital executive said that two men broke into the hospital’s office building and stole masks; they then attempted to break into the hospital itself to steal “masks, gloves, and toilet paper.” Surveillance footage was turned over to Douglas, Wyoming, Police, and no arrests were made immediately.

KS: Kansas shuts schools for the rest of the year

kansas.com

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, a Republican, ordered K-12 schools closed for the rest of the academic year — a decision that will lead to massive upheaval for thousands of students and their families. Kelly and top education officials vowed to continue the task of educating the state’s children.

ID: Two Idaho senators leave, calling ongoing session "reckless"

idahostatesman.com

Hundreds of people stream into the Idaho Capitol each day for the 2020 legislative session. A pair of Democratic senators have left the Capitol, calling the ongoing session "irresponsible, reckless and an unmistakable disregard for the health and safety of our constituents.”

CO: Colorado attorney general warns businesses against delays to refunds

coloradopolitics.com

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, a Democrat, warned businesses that do not provide promised refunds that his office will investigate such conduct.

SC: South Carolina lawmakers planning to approve $45M for virus response

thestate.com

State lawmakers are making plans to approve $45 million for the state’s coronavirus response and to fund the government beyond July 1 if they fail to adopt a new budget by the end of the session. The South Carolina House will cut its furlough week short to speed up adoption of.

NY: New York lawmakers strike paid sick leave deal and suspend debt collection

timesunion.com

New York is suspending state debt collection and implementing paid sick leave measures. The paid sick leave package, to be voted upon by the state legislature on Wednesday, will provide immediate relief to those who have been quarantined.

MA: Massachusetts governor says ‘no shelter in place’

bostonherald.com

But Republican Gov. Charlie Baker did say he is making key decisions, including making $5 million in emergency funds available to local boards of health, speeding up licenses for health care professionals, declaring “economic injury” in the state to help small businesses, seeking help from testing companies to expand capacity.

FL: Florida governor won't close beaches but some cities do

nbcnews.com

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, refused to issue an order to close the state's beaches. However, the mayors of Ft. Lauderdale and Miami Beach, popular spring break destinations, have already closed their beaches.

NC: North Carolina blocks coastal visitors

newsobserver.com

Coastal Dare County North Carolina, faced with an unexpected influx of visitors, restricted access. Access will be limited the way it is before and after a hurricane, which excludes visitors. Residents had been pushing for additional restriction, saying visitors were increasing the risk of exposure.

VA: Virginia looking to cancel standardized tests

richmond.com

Virginia's education leaders want to cancel the state's Standards of Learning testing this year. The state Education Department announced that the agency will seek "maximum flexibility for schools and students to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, including relief from federal and state requirements related to testing."

CO: Colorado cancels all K-12 state testing for the remainder of the school year

denverpost.com

End-of-the-year K-12 school testing is canceled in Colorado as dozens of school districts across the state have shuttered, the Department of Education announced. The department is working with the College Board to come up with potential solutions for the PSAT and SAT, which impact scholarship and college entrance for students.

AZ: Big turnout in Arizona Democratic primary election

apnews.com

Arizona opened election polls for Democrats to pick a presidential candidate, and the number of returned mail-in ballots has already surpassed 2016. The state’s top election official declined to seek a delay, saying that there was no certainty that putting off voting would help.

RI: Elections board votes to move Rhode Island primary to June

providencejournal.com

The Rhode Island Board of Elections voted 6 to 1 to ask Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo to take all measures necessary, including potentially issuing another emergency executive order, to waive the state law currently requiring the primary on April 28.

PA: Pennsylvania Senate to consider changing remote voting rules

spotlightpa.org

The Pennsylvania Senate will meet to consider allowing greater voting outside the state Capitol in order to protect members and their staff.

CO: Colorado unemployment filings skyrocket

denverpost.com

The flood of online claims for unemployment insurance in Colorado was so great it led to technical issues with the state’s online filing system that may have prevented some people from successfully filing.

NH: New emergency orders in New Hampshire ban utility disconnections, evictions; unemployment extended

wmur.com

Republican New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu announced new emergency orders to help people who are struggling financially during work slowdowns. Utilities in the state are prohibited from disconnecting any homes or businesses. Evictions and foreclosures are temporarily prohibited. Immediate unemployment benefits are

AR: Arkansas to ease unemployment applications

thv11.com

Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the state is working on steps to ease hardship when it comes to unemployment insurance. Arkansans will now be able to apply for unemployment online. He said he is directing the commerce department to waive immediate eligibility for unemployment.

DE: Delaware expands unemployment benefits

delawareonline.com

Under changes approved this week, workers who qualify for Delaware's unemployment insurance policy can get between $20 and $400 a week depending on their income.

MD: Maryland reduced public transit, plans drive-through testing sites

baltimoresun.com

Maryland backed off plans to cut bus service, while drivers will move to statewide cashless toll collections as part of a series of transportation changes ordered by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. Hogan also suspended operations of the state’s Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program so the sites can be used for drive-through testing.

OH: Elective surgery halted in Ohio, special child care set for health workers

dispatch.com

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio’s health director have ordered all hospitals to postpone elective surgeries, and the state will also issue temporary licenses to provide child care for parents who work in health and safety jobs.

OR: Oregon bans visitors at nursing homes

oregonlive.com

Oregon will no longer allow visitors at nursing homes and other group care facilities. People will still be allowed to visit their loved ones who are near the end of life.

HI: Hawaii closes some state parks

hawaiinewsnow.com

Hawaii authorities are closing state parks across the islands. In addition to the park closures, state officials say they are canceling hunts, camping and special use permits for state-managed areas.

ME: Governor issues declaration to protect Maine people against price-gouging

newscentermaine.com

Certain items in Maine will not be allowed to be sold to consumers at more than 115% the normal price because of a declaration by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills.

IA: Iowa governor prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people, limits restaurants, closes theaters, casinos, bars

desmoinesregister.com

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds ordered the closure of many businesses and recreational facilities in Iowa for two weeks, a substantial pause on both the state economy and cultural life.

DC: Facing likely economic downturn, District of Columbia Council passes emergency relief bill

wamu.org

The District of Columbia Council unanimously passed an emergency bill expanding eligibility for unemployment insurance and providing financial assistance for businesses likely to be hammered during the ongoing public health crisis.

UT: Utah hospitals delay nonessential medical treatments

sltrib.com

Utah’s two largest health care providers said they would temporarily delay all nonessential surgeries, doctor appointments and other medical services. Patients with urgent needs and time-sensitive medical conditions such as cancer will continue to get the treatments they need, officials said.

GA: Georgia governor signs mid-year budget with $100M in virus funding

ajc.com

Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed the mid-year budget that includes $100 million to fight the coronavirus. The General Assembly approved the measure last week after Kemp requested the money to assist the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Public Health in their response efforts.

LA: How old are Louisiana's coronavirus patients? New state data sheds light.

theadvocate.com

Louisiana released new data on the ages of Louisiana’s nearly 200 positive cases of the new coronavirus showing a significant portion of cases are among people 60 or older, and nearly half are between the ages of 40 and 59. The data provides the first demographic glimpse of the state’s 196 confirmed cases of the virus.

MS: Mississippi lawmakers to halt legislative session

clarionledger.com

Mississippi lawmakers voted to suspend the legislative session without taking any action to support private sector workers. Both the House and Senate passed versions of a bill that would provide relief to local government employees.

OK: Someone in Oklahoma Senate contracts virus; lawmakers get tested, prepare for remote work

tulsaworld.com

Someone in the Oklahoma Senate has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a message sent senators and staff. It was not immediately clear if it was a senator or staff member. Senate offices will be closed through Friday and staff will work remotely over the coming days.

NJ: New Jersey malls, amusement parks to close

northjersey.com

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy ordered all malls and amusement parks closed and said even more drastic steps, such as requiring residents to stay home, could be taken. The order came a day after Murphy closed all casinos, racetracks, bars, movie theaters, nightclubs, performing arts centers and gyms and set a voluntary curfew.

MO: Missouri closing casinos; inmates freed

apnews.com

GOP Gov. Mike Parson has ordered the closure of Missouri’s 13 casinos through March 30. Meanwhile, some nonviolent jail inmates are being freed to reduce the risk of transmission behind bars.

TX: Texas governor calls National Guard

texastribune.org

The National Guard was last activated in Texas during Hurricane Harvey, the 2017 disaster that devastated the Houston area. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said guard members will stand by until needed for such things as guard duty at testing sites or hospitals.

MN: Minnesota governor signs $200M package for emergency COVID-19 response

startribune.com

Democratic Gov. Tim Walz signed a sweeping $200 million package to help Minnesota hospitals, first responders, long-term care providers and pharmacies. The votes were the final acts of lawmakers before recessing for up to a month.

VT: Child care centers not serving “essential” Vermont workers to close

vtdigger.org

Republican Gov. Phil Scott will direct child care facilities that are not serving "essential" personnel, including health care workers and first responders, to close, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Children and Families told lawmakers.

Coronavirus and the States: Unemployment Sites Jam, Evictions Pause and More Coronavirus Paid Leave
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