Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/5

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/5

PA: Pennsylvania governor announces law enforcement changes in wake of George Floyd protests

pennlive.com

The changes call for reviewing use of force training standards for police at all levels in Pennsylvania, said Democratic Governor Tom Wolf. Wolf is also creating an advisory commission to investigate allegations of misconduct involving police under the governor’s jurisdiction and proposing more mental health support for police.

AZ: Arizona attorney general calls for third-party oversight of police brutality investigations

azcentral.com

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, called for third-party oversight of police brutality investigations in Arizona — and offered himself up for the job. Brnovich's office does not have jurisdiction to intervene in police investigations unless local agencies request his involvement.

OR: School superintendent in Oregon city discontinues presence of armed officers in schools

oregonlive.com

An Oregon school district will no longer have city police officers patrol the halls of its nine high schools. Portland Public Schools intends to increase spending on social workers, counselors and culturally specific supports for students.

GA: Georgia Democrats plan push to repeal citizen’s arrest, ‘stand your ground’ laws

ajc.com

Democratic members of the Georgia House announced plans to push the state to change its criminal justice statutes, starting with the repeal of its citizen’s arrest and “stand your ground” laws. It’s unclear whether any new legislation will be considered this session, however.

KS: Kansas Senate approves bill to limit governor’s powers over COVID-19 response

kansas.com

The Kansas Senate has passed a bill to limit Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s authority to close businesses and schools to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The bill also limits lawsuits that can be filed against several classes of businesses and health providers if employees or customers contract the disease.

WY: Wyoming governor tells agencies to expect 20% budget cuts

wyomingnews.com

Gov. Mark Gordon, a Republican, said all indications point to Wyoming facing its largest decline in revenue in state history, a drop-off brought about by both the years-long depletion of the state’s mineral industries and the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

MS: Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus calls for change after George Floyd's death and protests

clarionledger.com

The Mississippi lawmakers said legislation they proposed that died in committee this year included measures to require city and county law enforcement to have body cameras, to require appointment of special prosecutors for officer involved shootings and to require written consent before searches.

MN: Can the Minnesota Department of Human Rights change the Minneapolis Police Department?

minnpost.com

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights investigation will seek to determine if Minneapolis Police Department policies or training lead to race-based discrimination. If so, the state can require changes, enforceable through the courts.

WA: Medical examiner determines police restraint caused Washington man's death

seattletimes.com

A Washington medical examiner has ruled that the death of Manuel Ellis — who died in handcuffs while being restrained on the ground by Tacoma police — was a homicide. It is up to prosecutors to decide if police acted lawfully and if the homicide was justifiable or a criminal act was committed.

NH: New Hampshire establishes process for registering by mail to vote amid pandemic

nhpr.org

To register by mail, a prospective voter would request an absentee voter packet from their city or town clerk or from the New Hampshire secretary of state. Voters would need to provide photo ID and a document to verify name and address as well as a signature from a witness.

MO: New Missouri law expands absentee voting during pandemic

apnews.com

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, signed a bill into law that will allow people to vote by mail this year if they’re concerned about the coronavirus. The law expires at the end of this year.

ME: Maine cancels thousands of allegedly fraudulent unemployment claims

bangordailynews.com

The Maine Department of Labor canceled more than 12,000 initial claims and 17,000 weekly certifications that it found to be fraudulent for the week ending May 30, the department said. The department has also received about 10,000 reports of potential fraud.

LA: Louisiana public defenders request $28M amid court closures

apnews.com

Louisiana’s public defenders asked state lawmakers for millions in stopgap aid to offset dollars they’ve lost to defend the poor because of court closures caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

VT: Vermont Labor Department battles unemployment benefit fraud

vtdigger.org

The Vermont Department of Labor has seen 40 to 50 fraudulent claims since mid-May, said Interim Commissioner Michael Harrington. The fraud – which is also occurring in other states – uses detailed information about Vermonters, he said.

CO: Colorado businesses can refuse to serve customers who don’t wear face masks

denverpost.com

Democratic Gov. Jared Polis described masks as the key to completely reopening Colorado’s economy. Under an executive order, businesses will be able to ask people who don’t wear masks to leave in the same way they require shirts and shoes, he said.

NJ: New Jersey Assembly passes governor's plan for billions in borrowing

nj.com

A plan offered by Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy for New Jersey’s state government to make up for massive losses in tax revenue with up to $14 billion in borrowing passed the state Assembly but still lacks support from the state Senate president.

SD: South Dakota governor: Current budget will be OK, but future uncertain

apnews.com

The current year’s South Dakota state budget will not need to be overhauled because state revenues haven’t dropped as dramatically as had been feared due to the coronavirus pandemic, Republican Gov. Kristi Noem said.

IN: Federal data suggests Indiana is undercounting nursing home deaths

indystar.com

At least 1,141 nursing home residents have died in Indiana, according to the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. That's nearly 200 more than the state reported.

RI: Return to school in Rhode Island will involve hybrid of classes

providencejournal.com

When Rhode Island’s public-school classes begin again this fall, students will take a mix of online and in-school classes, and districts will have some flexibility over how they offer this hybrid model, according to the state’s education commissioner.

NC: North Carolina bars sue over coronavirus shutdown

newsobserver.com

The lawsuit adds to the growing pile of legal challenges saying North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper can’t keep certain sectors of the state economy shut down. Churches have sued. So have gyms, trampoline parks and strip clubs.

IA: Iowa governor aims to reopen nursing homes to visitors

desmoinesregister.com

Iowa officials are working to reopen long-term care facilities to visitation while minimizing risk from the novel coronavirus. Dr. Caitlin Pedati, the state medical director and epidemiologist, said guidance would be released soon to allow facilities to start easing those restrictions.

NV: Nevada casinos shuttered by the virus reopen

lasvegassun.com

Dozens of casinos are reopening in Las Vegas, Nevada. Property owners, state regulators and Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak had to balance health concerns against the loss of billions of dollars a month in gambling revenue and unemployment that topped 28% in April.

VT: As Vermont child cares reopen, staff and families hesitant to return

vtdigger.org

Vermont child care providers were given the green light to open their doors to the general public this week. But only about half have done so, according to data collected by the state, and providers who are planning to open soon say many families — and workers — are not rushing to return.

AK: Alaska relaxes quarantine policy for residents traveling out of state

adn.com

Starting Saturday, Alaska residents taking short trips will not have to obtain a test in the state they are visiting, but instead will be asked to take a test when they return.

WI: Mass testing, more quarantines: Wisconsin prisons’ plan for moving forward amid pandemic

madison.com

To prevent potential spread of the virus, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections is quarantining new prisoners and transfers for 14 days — and testing them for COVID-19 at the end of that period — before introducing them to the general inmate population.

NY: Prosecutors say New York governor is wrong to urge them to 'overcharge' looters

timesunion.com

The New York state district attorneys association said Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and members of his administration are wrong on the law and should not be saying — as they have this week — that prosecutors could be charging looters with second-degree burglary, a felony that after July 2 would allow judges to set bail on the offense.

MD: Maryland, DC officials disagree on Maryland National Guard in the capital

baltimoresun.com

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan continued to disagree over the presence of Maryland National Guard troops in the nation’s capital. Hogan, a Republican, was among several governors who agreed to a federal request to send troops to Washington, but Bowser, a Democrat, opposes the deployment of out-of-state guard units in the city.

MA: Is Massachusetts ready for Phase 2 Reopening?

wbur.com

Massachusetts is poised to enter the second phase of its reopening plan, possibly as early June 8. Businesses await word from Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, who has promised to set the date for hotels to resume bookings, restaurants to welcome dining in and shoppers to go back to retail stores, among other easing of restrictions.

KY: Police stop wearing riot gear as protests continue for 7th night in Lexington, Kentucky

kentucky.com

Instead, a temporary barrier was set up outside police headquarters in Lexington, Kentucky, and officers in their normal uniforms listened to protesters and spoke to them over it. Protest organizers said police told them that they didn’t want protesters to be silent, but to “let them have it” and talk, so long as they didn’t push the barriers.

TN: Judge orders Tennessee to permit vote by mail for all registered voters

tennessean.com

A Nashville judge ruled the state of Tennessee must give any registered voter the option to cast a ballot by mail, paving the way for widespread mail-in voting in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

PA: Governor will announce more Pennsylvania counties can enter 'green' phase

apnews.com

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf will announce Friday that more Pennsylvania counties will be allowed to enter the “green” phase of his pandemic reopening plan, the least-restrictive phase of his stoplight-colored three-phase plan, his office said.   

CA: Rate of coronavirus spread varies widely in California

sacbee.com

The worst outbreak during the past two weeks in California was in Imperial County, east of San Diego, where cases more than doubled and deaths rose by 60%. Other counties experiencing relatively high rates of new cases and deaths included Los Angeles County. Much of Northern California saw relatively few new cases and deaths.

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