What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/12
WA: Washington governor: Trump can't 'take back' Seattle
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, said he “will not allow … threats of military violence against Washingtonians coming from the White House” after President Donald Trump a day earlier threatened to “take back” Seattle from protesters.
MD: Top health adviser pushes back against Maryland governor’s latest coronavirus reopening decisions
A top adviser to Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan pushed back on the governor’s decision the day before to open the state’s restaurants, gyms and malls, saying the moves allowing indoor gatherings could erase progress on containing growth of the coronavirus.
UT: Utah governor bans police chokeholds
The Utah Highway Patrol and state corrections guards can no longer use chokeholds on people in custody, Republican Gov. Gary Herbert said — and he’s urging law enforcement agencies around the state to follow suit.
MO: Missouri governor to lift COVID-19 restrictions
GOP Gov. Mike Parson said he was lifting restrictions designed to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus, even as data shows hospitalizations increased across the state.
MI: Michigan lawmakers fast-track policing changes
Michigan lawmakers are introducing legislation aimed at preventing police brutality and increasing sanctions for misconduct. One bill with bipartisan support would require police officers who see another officer using excessive force to intervene.
OR: Oregon governor pauses reopening
Democratic Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced that she has put all applications for further reopening across the state on hold for at least seven days after seeing a concerning increase in coronavirus infections.
NM: New Mexico governor wants election changes, police body cameras
New Mexico’s Democratic governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, wants lawmakers to wade into potentially volatile issues of election procedure and police accountability during a special session initially scheduled for budget matters.
KY: Kentucky governor expects panel to OK removal of Jefferson Davis statue from Capitol
Democratic Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said he expects a state panel that oversees statues in the Capitol to approve his request to remove the controversial statue of Confederacy President Jefferson Davis from the Rotunda.
FL: Florida to open schools fully in September
The plan provides a "road map" to support health and safety measures amid COVID-19 and close achievement gaps from the move to distance learning in Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said.
NV: Nevada governor proposes furloughs, merit pay freeze, layoffs for state employees
Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak says he’ll propose furloughs of one day a month for state employees in Nevada, as well as a freeze in merit salary raises and fewer than 50 layoffs to help address the state’s pandemic-related budget shortfall.
IA: Iowa Senate passes bill to limit absentee voting for November
After more than two hours of emotional debate, Iowa Senate Republicans passed a wide-ranging election bill that would prohibit the secretary of state from mailing absentee ballot request forms without first receiving a request from a voter.
SD: George Floyd's uncle wants his South Dakota town to remove Confederate flag from police logo
George Floyd's uncle moved to Gettysburg in central South Dakota three years ago and became a business owner in the town of 1,200. Now, he wants to see his community remove the Confederate flag that is part of the police department's logo.
MT: Montana seeks to recover $10M in unemployment fraud
Montana has paid out more than $10 million in potentially fraudulent unemployment claims during the COVID-19 pandemic, but has stopped more than $220 million in fraudulent payments since April 28, the Department of Labor and Industry said.
ME: Pandemic sparks bicycle boom, and Mainers overwhelm supply
Stay-at-home orders created ideal market conditions for a surge in cycling, but now Maine consumers face a shortage of bikes because of supply chain disruption.
AR: Arkansas schools to reopen this fall
Arkansas officials detailed plans to reopen public schools in the fall amid the coronavirus pandemic. GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he expects Arkansas schools to meet in the classroom with supplemental online classes.
AK: As COVID-19 spikes in Alaska, Kenai Peninsula emerges as hotspot
While Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula transforms into a tourism and fishing hub, officials there don’t blame the high case rate on any particular factor — though they say some cases are tied to residents who continue to gather in groups.
WY: Wyoming state parks had record visitors in April and May
In April and May, when many public spaces were closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Wyoming’s state parks drew more than 575,000 visitors — a roughly 160% increase over the five-year average of 225,000.
TX: Texas cities grappling with budget shortfalls
The economic impact from the pandemic has left Texas’ biggest cities facing a difficult choice: cutting services like libraries, pools and parks, or raising taxes. Federal aid through the CARES Act is helping, but it likely won't be enough.
MN: Minnesota governor, leaders announce priorities ahead of special session
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, says police reform would be a top priority for the special legislative session, scheduled to begin Friday, but there are already signs of partisan disagreement.
WI: Wisconsin Assembly speaker blames immigrants for outbreak, in secret recording
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, a Republican, blamed the culture of immigrant populations for a coronavirus outbreak in Racine County, Wisconsin, according to a secret recording of his meeting last month with Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat.
PA: Why the governor's big effort to grant coronavirus reprieves to Pennsylvania inmates came up small
The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has defended its response, saying it was a cautious approach that included all relevant parties to represent the public interest.
IN: Indiana sees large jump in gig workers filing for unemployment
Indiana saw a large jump last week in claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a separate program for gig economy workers, independent contractors and others who do not normally qualify for unemployment benefits.
RI: Rhode Island state furloughs draw more than 1,000 volunteers
More than 1,000 state workers in Rhode Island have volunteered to take two furlough days a week for the next 12 weeks, with the expectation that federally enhanced unemployment benefits will compensate them for most, if not all, of their unpaid days off.
AL: The coronavirus is worse than ever in Alabama
The Alabama Department of Public Health confirmed nearly 850 new coronavirus cases in Alabama, the highest single-day total to date. The new cases bring Alabama’s cumulative case total to nearly 22,500, with 13,500 presumed recoveries and 750 people dead.
GA: Georgia voters, officials want more solutions from county elections board
Following an election marred by long lines and technical issues, Georgia voters and elected officials lobbed complaints and concerns at the board in charge of running Fulton County elections.
GA: Georgia lifts shelter-in-place order for most residents over 65
Republican Gov. Brian Kemp scaled back more coronavirus restrictions by signing an order that lifts a shelter-in-place requirement for many older Georgians, clears the way for live entertainment venues to reopen and permits larger gatherings.
LA: Louisiana frontline workers could get $250 checks under measure pushed by House Democrats
Louisiana House Democrats have drafted legislation to give $250 checks to frontline workers in health care, child care and first responders whose jobs put them at risk during the coronavirus, a plan that would take up to $75 million in federal aid.
NY: New York lawmakers want to repeal lawsuit shield for nursing homes
New York lawmakers want to repeal protections enacted earlier this year by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo that shield nursing homes and long-term care facilities from lawsuits arising from the coronavirus pandemic.
VA: Virginia state revenue down 20%
Virginia's tax revenue was down more than 20% last month compared with May 2019, a figure state officials touted as slightly better than expected given COVID-19's impact on the economy.
SC: Longer school days recommended in fall for South Carolina
The South Carolina guidelines call for social distancing in classrooms and buses and set protocols for wearing personal protective equipment. The guidelines also recommend minimizing interaction among large groups and include longer school days and longer lunch periods, to accommodate distancing.
NC: North Carolina COVID-19 cases on steady rise
For the fifth time in seven days, North Carolina has seen its coronavirus case count exceed 1,000 cases.
CO: Colorado governor opposes tax changes rushed by Democrats
Democrats in Colorado’s legislature have been rushing through a bill that would suspend or reduce several business tax credits and corporate incentives to generate millions of dollars for public schools.
AZ: Arizona governor tries to reassures state residents as COVID-19 cases rise
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, disputed suggestions that he had ended the state’s stay-at-home order too soon and argued misinformation is driving growing alarm.
NJ: New Jersey bill would erase law hiding coronavirus records from public
A New Jersey Republican senator wants to repeal a law Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy's administration has used to keep secret records and documents that would show how it prepared for and responded to the coronavirus.
ID: Idaho governor moves to Stage 4 of reopening
Idaho Gov. Brad Little, a Republican, opted to move forward with reopening Idaho, despite some discouraging coronavirus numbers that nearly forced him to slow down the process.
HI: Hawaii tourism industry faces more losses from extended visitor quarantine
Hawaii tourism, which essentially collapsed amid COVID-19 fears and lockdowns, won’t get out of the starting block for at least another 51 days.
TN: Tennessee Senate approves scaled-back $39B budget with employee buyouts, significant cuts
Signaling the looming conclusion of Tennessee’s 111th General Assembly, the state Senate approved a scaled back budget that incorporates myriad changes — mostly cuts — as a result of the economic effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
MA: Faculty grow uneasy as Massachusetts universities scramble to bring students back to campus
As Massachusetts colleges and universities announce plans to bring students back for the fall, many are encountering resistance from professors who are wary of returning to the classroom, fearful that the health risks may be too high and that teaching face to face and online at the same time may be ineffective.