Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/18

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/18

AZ: Arizona governor allows localities to mandate mask wearing

tucson.com

Under pressure as COVID-19 cases rise, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey backed down and allowed Arizona cities and counties to require people to wear masks. The move comes less than a week after Ducey specifically rejected the concept of local control on issues of public health.

CA: California Democratic rent relief plan would give tenants 10 years to pay

sacbee.com

A Democratic plan to give struggling California tenants 10 years to make up rent gone unpaid during the pandemic is taking shape in the state Senate. The state would assume the financial burden and allow renters to repay.

IA: Iowa governor will issue order on felon voting rights

radioiowa.com

Republican Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds will issue an executive order that automatically restores felons’ voting rights before the November election. Iowa is the lone state to permanently bar paroled felons from voting unless the governor approves their voting rights application.

NH: New Hampshire Senate votes to ban police chokeholds, tighten misconduct reporting

nhpr.org

The New Hampshire Senate approved a sweeping bill that tightens some bail standards and outlaws the use of chokeholds by police. The bill also mandates that police officers report misconduct by fellow officers, and boosts access to psychological screening before officers are put on the job.

AL: Alabama seeks to block federal judge’s order allowing curbside voting, relaxing absentee ballot rules

al.com

Alabama has asked a federal appeals court for an emergency stay of a federal judge’s order that allows local officials to offer curbside voting during the COVID-19 pandemic and relaxes restrictions on absentee ballots in three counties for the July 14 runoff election.

CT: Landlords sue Connecticut governor, saying his executive order violates their constitutional rights

courant.com

Eight Connecticut landlords, represented by three Republican lawmakers who are also attorneys, are suing Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont, arguing his executive order suspending evictions for nonpayment of rent in the midst of the pandemic is a violation of the landlords’ constitutional rights.

OR: Oregon governor to require masks in seven counties

wweek.com

After a week's pause, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, will allow Multnomah Country to begin reopening Friday. But the most striking aspect of the governor's decision was the mask mandate, effective June 24, which applies to seven Oregon counties.

MN: Minnesota Republicans blast secretary of state deal on pandemic ballots

startribune.com

Republican lawmakers in Minnesota sharply rebuked court agreements between Democratic–Farmer–Labor Secretary of State Steve Simon and two citizens’ groups that would ease absentee ballot rules during the COVID-19 pandemic.

WI: Wisconsin governor to add $80M to K-12, higher ed in response to coronavirus

jsonline.com

Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, will add more than $80 million to Wisconsin K-12 schools and higher education institutions to mitigate financial losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the governor announced. Of the total, $46.6 million will go to K-12 schools and $37 million to colleges and universities.

IL: Illinois makes Election Day a holiday

dailyherald.com

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, signed a measure that makes Election Day a state holiday. It also expanded vote by mail, which the governor's office said is aimed at ensuring "safe and active participation in the 2020 general election during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic."

AR: Arkansas modeling shows September peak

katv.com

Doctors in Little Rock have predicted that Arkansas will have around 150,000 active cases of COVID-19 at the end of September, the virus's peak. The projection was based on modeling from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

VA: Arthur Ashe statue vandalized in Virginia

richmond.com

The Richmond statue of Arthur Ashe, a civil rights activist and tennis icon, was vandalized with racist graffiti, setting the Virginia city further on edge following weeks of protest.

NC: North Carolina city to require face masks in effort to slow increasing virus

newsobserver.com

The city of Raleigh, North Carolina, will require the use of masks in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The emergency proclamation requires masks “where it is not possible to maintain social distance or where recommended social distancing practices are not being followed.”

IN: Indiana's K-12 schools will be spared budget cuts, governor says

indystar.com

Republican Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said the $183 million school spending increase planned for the 2020-21 school year would remain intact, even as the state looks to cut spending in nearly every other area.

RI: $166K plexiglass bill as Rhode Island General Assembly returns

providencejournal.com

Rhode Island lawmakers convened for the first time in three months to desks encased on three sides by plexiglass. House and Senate leaders ordered the installation at the lawmakers’ side-by-side desks at a cost of $166,542.

FL: Florida governor vows to veto new spending to balance budget

orlandosentinel.com

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, said a large number of vetoes, combined with $4 billion in reserves and some leeway from the federal government, would allow him to make up for any shortfalls.

TX: Some Texas bars and restaurants closing up again

texastribune.org

As employees test positive, some Texas bars and restaurants are closing even though the state allows them to operate. Many owners are balancing feedback from their staffs, their patrons, state guidelines and local officials.

NM: New Mexico lawmakers take up policing, mail voting and tax relief

abqjournal.com

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is setting an ambitious agenda for the special session that begins this week in New Mexico. The state expects a $2 billion hit to revenues and lawmakers will consider requiring police to wear body cameras and allowing more voters to get mail-in ballots.

CO: College parties fuel Colorado spike in cases

denverpost.com

More than a hundred residents of Boulder County, home to the University of Colorado, have tested positive for COVID-19 since last week, making it the largest surge of novel coronavirus cases since March. Most of the new cases are among college-aged people.

UT: Utah governor’s latest COVID-19 plan focused on economic recovery

sltrib.com

Crucial to the first phase of Republican Gov. Gary Herbert’s recovery plan is getting an estimated 61,000 Utah workers who have been temporarily furloughed back to work, possibly with the help of state spending on ad campaigns and other means to boost customer confidence and market demand in key sectors.

NV: Nevada forgives more than 15,000 marijuana convictions

thenevadaindependent.com

State officials formally forgave more than 15,000 misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions notched during the three decades before recreational cannabis was legalized in Nevada, although there’s still much for people to do to fully clear their slates.

NJ: New Jersey AG: Local courts must prosecute COVID-19 offenses

northjersey.com

The guidelines prohibit New Jersey state attorneys from "categorically" refusing to prosecute all citizens charged with COVID-19 related violations. But it allows prosecutors to lessen or dismiss charges on an individual basis. 

WA: Washington governor halts some state worker raises and imposes furloughs

seattletimes.com

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, said he’s canceling raises for more than 5,500 state workers and imposing unpaid furlough days, as state officials grapple with a looming budget shortfall brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

ID: Idaho's unemployment claims backlog shrinks

idahostatesman.com

The backlog of jobless Idaho workers who have gone for weeks, even months, without federal coronavirus-related unemployment payments is shrinking, the state Department of Labor says. The department said that it has whittled pending claims to just over 20,000, from 42,000.

HI: Hawaii's police killings review board has taken little action

civilbeat.org

Hawaii’s panel responsible for reviewing officer-involved deaths says it won’t meet until “it is appropriate” because of concerns about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The nine-member Law Enforcement Officer Independent Review Board has met only a handful of times since its inception and finished just one case in its three-year history.

GA: Surprise medical billing legislation heads to Georgia governor’s desk

ajc.com

The Georgia Senate unanimously approved legislation aimed at protecting patients from receiving unexpected medical bills. House Bill 888 intends to prevent people from receiving high hospital bills when out-of-network doctors treat them.

OK: Oklahoma governor now recommends Trump not visit race massacre site

tulsaworld.com

Republican Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt reversed course on his invitation for President Donald Trump to visit the Greenwood District, the site of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, this weekend. The potential visit caused some concerns from leaders of Tulsa's black community who feared it could erupt into violence.

NJ: New Jersey just made it easier to vote by mail in the July 7 primary

nj.com

With so many more mail-in ballots expected in next month’s primary election, New Jersey officials have agreed to settle a lawsuit over voting. Under the agreement, which still requires approval by the U.S. District Court in Newark, voters will be told of any problems with their ballots and given the chance to fix them so they will be counted.

NY: New York governor declares Juneteenth a holiday for state employees

timesunion.com

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order declaring Juneteenth — a day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States — a holiday for New York state employees. The holiday falls annually on June 19, the same day in 1865 that a Union general arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved African Americans that the Civil War had ended and they had been freed.

MD: Maryland reaches three straight weeks of hospitalization declines

baltimoresun.com 

The number of patients currently hospitalized in Maryland has declined for 21 consecutive days, dropping from 1,334 on May 28 to 702 on Wednesday. Maryland’s tally of current hospitalizations has dropped by 59% since peaking at 1,711 on April 30.

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