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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/17

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/17

GA: Election workers struggle to finish counting Georgia absentee ballots

ajc.com

A week after Georgia’s primary, tens of thousands of absentee ballots haven’t yet been counted, stalling complete results and leaving some races in limbo. The sheer number of absentee votes, a Georgia record of 1.1 million, caused much of the holdup. 

CA: Utility pleads guilty to 84 counts of manslaughter in deadliest California wildfire

sacbee.com

Pacific Gas & Electric admitted its guilt in connection with the 2018 Camp Fire, the second time in three years California’s largest utility has been convicted of a felony. After each victim’s name was read, CEO Bill Johnson replied “guilty.”

OK: Oklahoma health commissioner issues advisory on Trump rally as cases continue to surge

oklahoman.com

Oklahoma’s top health official warned people planning to attend President Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa that they face an increased risk of becoming infected and transmitting COVID-19, as Trump supporters slept outside the rally site and the campaign considered additional venues to accommodate more people.

AL: Federal judge blocks some Alabama voting laws because of pandemic

al.com

A federal judge ruled in favor of voters and organizations that claimed several Alabama voting restrictions violate their voting rights because of hardships and risks created by the coronavirus pandemic.

NM: Statue protest in New Mexico ends with shooting

abqjournal.com

The New Mexico shooting occurred when a peaceful protest escalated as demonstrators called for the removal of a sculpture of conquistador Juan de Oñate at an Albuquerque museum. Members of the New Mexico Civil Guard, a self-described civilian militia group, showed up to protect the statue.

NY: New York has lowest rate of infection in country

timesunion.com

New York had a slight increase — 1% — in the number of people who tested positive for coronavirus antibodies over the past six weeks, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. Still, the governor declared that New York's phased reopening is controlling the spread of the virus and the state has "the lowest rate of transmission of any state."

MI: Michigan AG to review 2014 'I can't breathe' case

freep.com

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, has agreed to review the 2014 death of a man who died after mall security officers pinned him to the floor. The death was captured on cellphone video but no charges were filed.

VA: Virginia governor calls for making Juneteenth a state holiday

richmond.com

Juneteenth, the day that marks the end of legal slavery in the United States, could soon become a state holiday in Virginia. Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam said he would introduce legislation to make June 19 a paid holiday for state employees.

WI: Wisconsin police departments have more than $45M in surplus military equipment

jsonline.com

Wisconsin law enforcement agencies have more than $45 million worth of surplus military equipment. That includes $28.7 million worth of mine-resistant armored vehicles provided to 39 law enforcement agencies across Wisconsin.

NC: Family removes statue of racist relative from North Carolina square

newsobserver.com

The family of Josephus Daniels, former Raleigh News & Observer publisher, U.S. Navy secretary and lifelong white supremacist, removed a statue of him from Raleigh’s Nash Square in North Carolina. “The time is right,” said Frank Daniels III, who drove from his home in Nashville to watch the removal of the monument to his great-grandfather.

AK: Airport COVID-19 test results can take up to five days in Alaska

adn.com

Alaska officials say it’s taking longer than they had hoped to process COVID-19 tests obtained at airports — meaning travelers may have to quarantine longer than planned while they await results.

WY: Wyoming eases visitation restrictions for long-term care facilities

trib.com

Wyoming’s new requirements allow in-person visitation of two people in outdoor settings. The visitors must be screened for symptoms, and a trained staff member must be present throughout the visit.

DE: Delaware Senate passes constitutional amendment that would ban discrimination

wdel.com

The Delaware state Senate has unanimously passed the first leg of a constitutional amendment that bans discrimination based on race, color or national origin.

CT: Connecticut police chiefs announce pause on acquisition of military gear

courant.com

The Connecticut Police Chiefs Association has agreed to a 90-day pause on the acquisition of military equipment from the federal government, the group announced. Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont wants more than a 90-day moratorium for municipal departments.

RI: ACLU sues to suspend signature requirement for Rhode Island ballot access

providencejournal.com

The ACLU of Rhode Island is asking a federal court to suspend the signature-gathering requirement for candidates to qualify for the state ballot because of the pandemic. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of one state senator and five candidates for whom such one-on-one exchanges are medically “inadvisable.”

VT: Black inmates make up a disproportionate share of COVID-19 cases in Vermont prisons

vtdigger.org

With all prisoners in Vermont’s six correctional facilities having been tested for the coronavirus, black inmates make up eight of the 45 positive test results, or nearly 18%.

MN: Minnesota lawmakers get second shot at eliminating ‘ban the box’ loophole

minnpost.com

For years, Minnesota has prohibited both public and private employers from asking jobseekers about their criminal history on initial application forms. Yet it somehow still allows the question to appear on applications for one class of job: appointments to state boards and commissions.

WI: Judge's Facebook friendship upends Wisconsin custody case

apnews.com

A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that a judge’s decision to become Facebook friends with a woman whose child custody case he was hearing created at least the appearance of bias.

PA: Parts of Pennsylvania reopened with little contact tracing

spotlightpa.org

Health experts say tracing is most needed as Pennsylvania's reopening begins, when the disease’s spread becomes more complex.

CO: Colorado state workers can now bargain for pay, benefits

denverpost.com

Thousands of Colorado state employees will now be able to negotiate their pay, benefits and workplace conditions after Democratic Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill expanding their union powers.

UT: Utah governor calls lawmakers into special session

sltrib.com

Republican Gov. Gary Herbert issued a proclamation calling the Utah legislature into a special session later this week to address ongoing impacts related to the coronavirus, including declining state revenue.

NV: Nevada reports single largest daily increase of virus cases

apnews.com

Health officials said 379 new cases were reported in Nevada in one day. Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak announced that current limits on customer capacity in businesses, social distancing guidance and limits on gatherings of more than 50 people would remain at least until the end of June.

AL: Hospitals in several Alabama cities now seeing all-time highs in coronavirus patients

al.com

The number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals in Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Montgomery and Decatur has hit all-time highs this month, filling beds and taxing staff as Alabama struggles with a wave of new cases.

GA: Coronavirus cases on the rise again in Georgia

ajc.com

Georgia’s reported coronavirus cases rose in each of the past two weeks, and clusters of counties across the state have experienced spikes in new cases, state data shows. The jump in confirmed infections comes as the state loosens restrictions.

WA: Judge upholds Washington's stay-at-home order

spokesman.com

Washington's stay-home order and system of reopening businesses in phases is within Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee's authority to protect the public, a federal judge has ruled. U.S. Judge Thomas Rice ruled that, "the public interest in mitigating and combating the significant danger posed by the spread of COVID-19 outweighs individual business interests."

OR: Oregon governor calls legislature into special session on police accountability, coronavirus

oregonlive.com

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, will call the legislature into a special session on June 24 to pass police accountability legislation and adopt some of her coronavirus executive orders into law.

ND: North Dakota’s oil tax account to post lowest deposit in its history

bismarcktribune.com

North Dakota's oil tax savings account next week will see its lowest-ever monthly deposit. State Treasurer Kelly Schmidt said the Legacy Fund on June 19 would receive about $10.24 million from oil tax revenue, the "lowest deposit in history," reflecting April oil production, collected in May and distributed in June.

ID: Nearly a quarter of adults in one Idaho county have COVID-19 antibodies

idahostatesman.com

Roughly 23% of Blaine County’s adult population has coronavirus antibodies, according to a study of the Idaho county. More than 2,500 residents completed a survey for the study, and tests were administered to 917 of those selected.

HI: Hawaii economy faces a 'long slow road back'

civilbeat.org

When Hawaii finally opens for tourism, it’s likely to take years to build the visitor base to anything close to what it was before the COVID-19 crisis shut down the state’s travel industry, experts in that business say. In the meantime, businesses that rely on a mix of residents and tourists are likely to begin failing in the fall, as federal stimulus money goes away.

NJ: New Jersey to borrow $1.7B from feds to pay unemployment benefits

nj.com

New Jersey will borrow $1.7 billion from the federal government to replenish the unemployment fund that’s paid out more than $2.1 billion in benefits to workers who lost jobs or hours during the pandemic crisis.

MO: Plan to help cash-strapped small Missouri cities postponed as some question whether it’s generous enough

stltoday.com

Members of the Missouri Development Finance Board agreed the $5 million initiative could be helpful to cities affected by the pandemic-related economic downturn, but questioned whether it would be enough money going to enough communities.

FL: Florida governor: 'We're not rolling back'

tampabay.com

As the number of Florida coronavirus cases continues to climb and after his own administration announced that those who work at elder care facilities must now be tested, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said he’s not considering another shutdown, which he said would do more harm than good.

TX: Texas governor scolds 20-somethings for not wearing masks

dallasnews.com

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott says 20-something Texans are catching the coronavirus in greater numbers. And he’s rebuking them for not taking safety precautions, such as wearing masks, when they go out.

Mayors to Texas Governor: Let Us Require Masks Camera Registries
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