Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/15

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/15

OK: Health director 'wishes' Trump would postpone Oklahoma rally as local COVID-19 cases surge

tulsaworld.com

Expressing concerns about COVID-19’s increasing spread, the Tulsa City-County Health Department’s director said he wishes the Oklahoma campaign rally for President Donald Trump this week would be pushed back to a later date.

GA: Georgia civil rights groups call for changes after latest police shooting

ajc.com

Georgia civil rights groups ratcheted up calls for policing changes as protesters peacefully demonstrated into the early evening against use of force and the police shooting death of a black man south of downtown Atlanta.

TX: Floyd's death inspires bias training for Texas police

statesman.com

Implicit bias training was originally in the 2017 Texas Sandra Bland Act, but objections from law enforcement doomed the requirement. After the death of George Floyd, who grew up in Houston, the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement agreed to include it in officer training.

OR: Coronavirus outbreaks surge among Oregon food processors as state scrambles to react

oregonlive.com

Coronavirus outbreaks at food processors and agricultural sites have infected more than 600 workers and close contacts in Oregon and Southwest Washington since mid-April. A rise in infections was among several markers that prompted Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, to pause the state’s reopening plans.

UT: Utah wasn’t prepared to help Hispanics fight the coronavirus

sltrib.com

Health officials, current and former government officials, and leaders of community organizations say Utah reacted too slowly to the virus’s impact on Hispanics, failing to provide the necessary health information in effective ways.

MS: Mississippi faces reckoning on Confederate emblem in flag

sunherald.com

The young activists who launched a protest movement after George Floyd’s death are bringing fresh energy to a long-simmering debate about the Confederate battle emblem that white supremacists embedded within the Mississippi state flag more than 125 years ago.

AZ: Despite virus surge, Arizona governor won’t require masks

apnews.com

Hospitalizations are increasing and more people are dying since Arizona relaxed stay-at-home orders last month. But Republican Gov. Doug Ducey is not requiring residents to wear masks in public, and it seems a good many people agree with him.

WA: Despite army of workers, coronavirus contact tracing in Washington state is challenging

seattletimes.com

Quickly tracking the contacts of COVID-19 patients is vital for reopening Washington, Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee has said, but his administration can’t tell you if it’s meeting its own goal to reach people within 48 hours of a positive coronavirus test.

CA: California’s largest police unions unveil agenda

sacbee.com

The largest police unions in California unveiled plans to find racist police officers and “root those individuals out of the law enforcement profession.” The San Jose, San Francisco and Los Angeles officers associations announced the plan in full-page ads in major newspapers.

IN: Chief justice wants Indiana courts to address racial disparities

nwitimes.com

The chief justice of the Indiana Supreme Court is calling on state, county and local courts, Hoosier lawyers and law schools to respond to recent racial inequality protests by taking action to improve fairness and justice throughout the state's judicial branch.

NY: New York to revamp domestic violence resources

timesunion.com

New York officials are working to expand resources available to domestic violence survivors after abuse reports have dramatically increased during the pandemic. The changes will include domestic violence chat and text hotlines, housing aid for survivors and programs to improve resources for people of color.

CT: Connecticut nursing homes begin to allow outside visits

apnews.com

Connecticut is letting nursing homes begin to allow some residents to meet with loved ones outside, wearing a mask and adhering to social distancing, months after Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont imposed a ban on most visits to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

ND: North Dakota reports record drop in oil production

bismarcktribune.com

North Dakota's daily oil output fell 15% from March to April, the largest drop ever recorded from one month to the next.

VT: Vermont schools need $12M in relief to deliver lunches through summer

vpr.org

Vermont lawmakers are trying to carve out about $12 million from the federal coronavirus package to support the summer food program. The money will pay for transportation, labor, extra packaging and protective equipment such as masks and gloves.

MN: Minnesota governor extends coronavirus peacetime emergency

twincities.com

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, announced that he extended the COVID-19 peacetime emergency for another month, which gives him sweeping authority under the state’s emergency powers law. 

WI: Wisconsin may have made $1.2M in fraudulent unemployment payments

jsonline.com

Wisconsin may have paid more than $1 million in fraudulent unemployment benefits since the coronavirus outbreak began. The state Department of Workforce Development has blocked nearly $10 million in possible fraudulent payments of unemployment benefits.  

PA: The coronavirus exploited failure of Pennsylvania health officials to improve nursing homes

inquirer.com

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf's Democratic administration was repeatedly warned of dangerously low minimum staffing and weak and inconsistent inspections, all problems that could have made the outbreak worse.

RI: Expanded hunting could be coming to Rhode Island

providencejournal.com

Hunters are pleased but environmental and animal-rights groups in Rhode Island are objecting to a proposal being considered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that would introduce or expand access to hunting at all five of the state’s national wildlife refuges.

OK: Cherokee Nation removes Confederate monuments in Oklahoma

apnews.com

The Cherokee Nation has removed two Confederate monuments from its Capitol Square in Oklahoma that were erected nearly a century ago by the Daughters of the Confederacy.

NJ: New Jersey coronavirus death toll surpasses WWII losses

nj.com

The statewide total in New Jersey reached 12,589 known deaths related to COVID-19, with 166,605 known cases. The death toll has now surpassed the total of 12,565 New Jerseyans who died in World War II.

NJ: How Camden, New Jersey, reimagined its police force

apnews.com

Policing in Camden, New Jersey, transformed from the law-and-order, lock-’em-up approach of the 1990s to a holistic, do-no-harm philosophy that’s put the long-maligned city in the spotlight during the national reckoning over race and police brutality.

MO: Deaths draw focus on nursing home industry and its political influence in Missouri

stltoday.com

After years of failed attempts, advocates for nursing home residents this year won approval of legislation that allows families to install surveillance cameras in Missouri residents’ rooms. But to win passage, backers of the camera bill had to compromise with the Missouri Health Care Association, the state’s chief nursing home industry group. 

LA: The New Orleans economy is bad now. Come August, things could get much worse

nola.com

As grim as the economic news has been over the past three months, with unemployment numbers smashing records, Louisiana’s badly damaged economy, and New Orleans’ hospitality and tourism-dependent economy in particular, appears to be lurching toward a cliff.

IA: Iowa legislature approves new voter ID requirements

desmoinesregister.com

The Iowa legislature adjourned its coronavirus-disrupted 2020 session after a marathon overnight debate that saw the passage of a mostly status quo budget and an expansion of the state’s voter ID program.

ME: Pandemic takes staggering financial toll on Maine hospitals

pressherald.com

Maine hospitals have lost $250 million a month since the pandemic hit. The federal bailout has covered about a month’s losses.

KS: Kansas governor looked to save ‘political capital’ for next wave

kansas.com

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly viewed the prospect of a protracted battle with state Republicans as a drain on precious political capital — power and influence the Democrat may need if Kansas experiences a large second wave of infections later this year and a new response is necessary.

NM: New Mexico presses for plugging oil wells

apnews.com

As New Mexico’s oil and gas industry struggles with lower prices and slowing production, some lawmakers are urging the U.S. Interior Department to allow operators to temporarily plug wells until prices stabilize.

CO: Colorado governor issues new order to delay evictions

denverpost.com

Hours before Colorado’s moratorium on evictions and foreclosures was to expire, Democratic Gov. Jared Polis issued a new and much more limited order.

NV: Nevada governor calls for investigation into arrests at Las Vegas Strip protest

reviewjournal.com

Democratic Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak called for an investigation into the arrests of several legal observers at a protest against police brutality. At least seven attorneys and law students who documented interactions with police and demonstrators were taken to jail.

NV: Nevada lawmakers approve first step of governor’s plan addressing budget shortfall

thenevadaindependent.com

Nevada lawmakers have voted to accept Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak’s initial plan to address an $812 million hole in the state’s budget, including $88 million in cuts, a major step to address the financial damage of the COVID-19 pandemic and related business shutdown.

VA: Policing changes will be at the center of special Virginia General Assembly session

richmond.com

Virginia lawmakers are vowing swift action to address systemic racism and lack of oversight in policing. The topic will be at the center of a special session Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam plans to convene in August.

NC: North Carolina cases continue to rise

newsobserver.com

The number of new cases in North Carolina continued to climb at near-record numbers while hospitalizations fell slightly. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,443 new cases across the state, bringing the total to 44,119.

SC: South Carolina lawmakers divided on how to respond to rising COVID-19 cases

thestate.com

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, has made it clear he thinks slowing COVID-19’s spread comes down to “individual responsibility” and he has no intention of shuttering businesses again, some lawmakers say he should leave “all options on the table.”

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