Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/24

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/24

TX: Texas governor warns residents to stay home

statesman.com

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott warned Texans to stay home when possible as the state hits all-time highs for cases and hospitalizations. With mounting intensity, the governor has been sounding the alarm on a troubling spike in the pandemic’s spread.

WA: Washington governor issues statewide mask order

seattletimes.com

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, announced a statewide mandate requiring facial coverings in public to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, as cases again begin to rise in Washington. And for Yakima County — where hospital capacity has maxed out — Inslee ordered even more stringent requirements to make sure people cover their faces while at businesses.

GA: Georgia legislature approves hate-crimes bill

ajc.com

The Georgia legislature approved hate-crimes legislation, setting the state up to have a law on the books for the first time in more than a decade that extends protections to people who are targeted because of their race, sexual orientation or religion.

NY: Malls, gyms, movie theaters still not open in New York

timesunion.com

Malls, movie theaters and gyms are not cleared to reopen during Phase 4 in New York, even as coronavirus cases have dwindled and the rate of infection in the state is among the lowest in the nation. New York mall operators have been limited to opening only stores that have exterior entrances.

FL: Florida threatens liquor licenses over social distancing

tampabay.com

Florida bars and restaurants that violate the state’s social distancing guidelines now risk losing their liquor licenses. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the crackdown after the state suspended the license of an Orlando club as a warning.

CA: California governor to get power to withhold funds from counties that flout COVID-19 regulations

sacbee.com

California counties must comply with state and federal COVID-19 rules if they want part of up to $1 billion in funding through the state budget, according to details of a budget deal expected to win approval in the legislature. That agreement came between Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders.

AK: Without mask mandate, Alaska businesses wade into culture war

alaskapublic.org

A handful of states around the country have made requirements for public face coverings to curb the spread of the coronavirus, but Alaska is not one of them. That has left businessowners to make decisions about whether to require masks in their buildings. Many say they’re realizing that making everyone happy just isn’t possible.

AZ: Arizonans wait for hours for coronavirus tests

azcentral.com

Some Arizonans have reported waiting in line for hours on end for tests, battling the punishing summer heat. Some people report waiting a week or more to hear whether they tested positive. And testing materials have been running short in some places.

MS: ‘It’s a moral issue:’ Mississippi Baptist Convention calls for new state flag

mississippitoday.org

The powerful Mississippi Baptist Convention called for state leaders to change the Mississippi flag, with its Confederate battle emblem in one corner. The convention includes about 2,100 churches in Mississippi, and Baptists are the largest denomination in the state.

MN: COVID-19 cases rise in Minnesota, but unknown transmissions drop

startribune.com

Contact tracing has reduced the number of COVID-19 cases from unknown sources to the state goal of 30%, according to updated figures on Minnesota's pandemic response dashboard.

WY: Department of Justice is monitoring Wyoming’s health orders

wyofile.com

The U.S. attorney for the District of Wyoming has told health-order critics he is monitoring state- and county-imposed restrictions to stop the COVID-19 pandemic but stopped short of saying he found any violations of the U.S. Constitution.

VT: Vermont Senate mandates state police body cameras, bans chokeholds

vtdigger.org

The Vermont Senate unanimously approved a law enforcement measure that would mandate state police wear body cameras, establish a uniform use of force policy for officers and criminalize the use of certain restraint techniques, including chokeholds.

MI: Michigan hopes to clear unemployment backlog

freep.com

Michigan hopes to get benefits to more than 11,000 people who applied for unemployment before May 1 and are still waiting for money. Those workers should get their money by July 4.

DE: Uptick in cases has Delaware governor worried residents ‘letting their guard down’

wdel.com

Delaware Gov. John Carney, a Democrat, said, anecdotally, he's hearing and seeing that coronavirus restrictions, aimed at preventing the spread of the respiratory illness, such as social distancing and wearing face masks, aren't happening as often as he'd like.

NM: New Mexico public schools to limit fall reopening

abqjournal.com

To minimize the number of students in New Mexico schools, half will attend Mondays and Tuesdays and the other half Thursdays and Friday. Students will get online classes when they're not in school and Wednesdays will be for cleaning, Secretary of Education Ryan Stewart announced.

MN: Minnesota police chief: George Floyd's death was a 'murder,' not about lack of training

startribune.com

Derek Chauvin and Tou Thao — two of the Minnesota officers involved in killing George Floyd May 25 — both took department training on preventing suffocating people being restrained face down, the Minneapolis Police Department confirmed. In one of his most forceful comments yet on Floyd’s killing, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo issued a statement saying “Chauvin knew what he was doing.”

MD: Maryland schools still suspending Black students at higher rates

baltimoresun.com

Maryland school systems are still suspending about 1,200 students in pre-kindergarten through second grade every year despite a 2017 law intended to virtually eliminate suspensions of the youngest students. And Black students are suspended at a higher rate than all other races.

SC: South Carolina Senate votes to use federal money for jobless fund

thestate.com

The South Carolina Senate agreed to spend a bulk of the state’s $1.9 billion COVID-19 federal share to replenish the state’s jobless fund and to exempt students for one year from standardized testing — a move proposed by the state’s schools chief.

OR: Oregon lawmakers refine police plans ahead of special session

oregonlive.com

Oregon lawmakers are refining six police accountability proposals as they prepare to enter a special session dedicated to those policy changes and the state’s coronavirus response. The potential changes include measures to bolster accountability and transparency and to limit the use of force.

ID: Idaho Statehouse gallery packed for special session as cases spike

idahostatesman.com

Idaho is seeing a surge of COVID-19 cases, but that didn’t stop 15 legislators from convening a rogue House session to blast pandemic emergency orders. The Republican legislators wore no masks and sat next to one another against all medical guidance, while about 200 people packed the State Capitol gallery above at close quarters, almost entirely without masks.

HI: Negotiations begin on Hawaii police misconduct bill

civilbeat.org

Law enforcement officers in Hawaii may soon lose an exemption that helps shield misconduct records from public scrutiny. But before the measure has a chance of becoming law, the legislature’s negotiators on the bill must work out issues they still have with it.

CO: Death rate for COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Colorado has declined

denverpost.com

Colorado patients are faring better at least partly thanks to new knowledge doctors gained about how to care for them. The death rate for hospitalized COVID-19 patients dropped from more than 15% in March and April to about 10.5% in May, and the average hospital stay fell from about 12 to seven days.

UT: Utah governor won’t require masks despite local officials’ requests

sltrib.com

Republican Gov. Gary Herbert says he has no plans to impose strict restrictions on Utah’s businesses again — despite a surge in coronavirus cases. Meanwhile, the mayors of the state’s most-populous city and county are calling on the state to require face masks be worn.

NV: Thousands of votes could not be counted in Nevada primary

thenevadaindependent.com

Of the more than 490,000 ballots cast in Nevada’s primary election, 10,799 were unable to be counted statewide — most because of invalid signatures that voters failed to resolve.

WY: State workers return in Wyoming, but some supplies are lacking

trib.com

Personal protective equipment in the office of one Wyoming agency has been hard to come by and — while masks and hand sanitizer are available upon request — their facility so far lacks any requirements for people in common areas of their building to wear masks or to limit gathering sizes. Some items, like sanitary wipes, have been in short supply.

NC: Confederate statue has divided North Carolina town’s main street but no more

newsobserver.com

The monument that has towered over Main Street in the North Carolina town of Louisburg for 106 years will be moved to the municipal cemetery and placed among the graves of the Confederate soldiers it memorializes, following an emergency vote by the Town Council.

AZ: Democrats urge Arizona governor to extend eviction delay

azcentral.com

Arizona Democratic lawmakers are asking Republican Gov. Doug Ducey to extend a statewide eviction moratorium, scheduled to end July 22, to help tenants who are struggling financially because of the pandemic.

GA: Georgia Senate OKs COVID-19 protections for businesses

ajc.com

The Georgia Senate cleared legislation that would shield businesses and health care providers from lawsuits if workers or customers contract COVID-19 at their establishments.

LA: This latest big spike in Louisiana coronavirus cases has health officials 'quite concerned'

theadvocate.com

Louisiana health officials raised the alarm about the biggest one-day spike in coronavirus cases since the height of the state’s outbreak in early April, saying the surge is not tied to backlogs in data and comes after the state saw its third-highest weekly rise in cases on record.

TX: New safety rules for Texas day care

texastribune.org

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott ordered safety standards for Texas child care centers during the pandemic, more than a week after rules for the centers were made optional. Abbott also allowed local officials to impose more restrictions on public gatherings as cases and hospitalization in the state spike.

MD: Maryland Senate leaders call for ‘hybrid’ election

baltimoresun.com

Two state Senate leaders have called for a “hybrid” election to be held in Maryland this fall that would expand the number of in-person voting locations and allow early voting, while still mailing ballots to registered voters across the state.

NV: Nevada church presses its fight over coronavirus crowd limit

apnews.com

Leaders of a rural Nevada church are asking a federal appeals court to overturn the state’s COVID-19 cap on the size of religious gatherings that they say treats them more severely than casinos and other secular activities in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

VA: Virginia Supreme Court lifts moratorium on evictions

richmond.com

Evictions can resume in Virginia next week after the state’s high court lifted a ban on eviction hearings in response to COVID-19. The ban, instituted initially in March and extended earlier this month, expires June 28. According to an order from Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Lemons, which is in effect through July 19, eviction hearings can resume June 29, the same day the state is set to roll out a rent relief program.

IL: Illinois schools set to reopen this fall

abc7chicago.com

Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker outlined his plan for Illinois schools to welcome students back this fall as the state advances to Phase 4 of reopening. The guidelines will require use of appropriate personal protective equipment, including face coverings.

IA: Iowa capital city approves racial profiling ban after years of persistence by organizers

desmoinesregister.com

Civil rights leaders said an anti-racial-profiling ordinance that prohibits biased policing, passed by the Des Moines City Council, shows progress but is not enough to combat racial inequities in Iowa’s capital city.

NJ: This New Jersey city says it has bad cops and can't fire them

northjersey.com

Officials in Hackensack, New Jersey, have spent three years trying to fire a group of police officers connected to the warrantless search of an apartment in December 2016, and the legal entanglement could extend well into 2021.

MO: Black residents in Missouri die at higher homicide rate than any other state, study finds

stltoday.com

Black residents in Missouri die at a higher homicide rate than any other state in the nation, according to a study released by the Violence Policy Center, a gun control advocacy group. The analysis by the Washington, D.C.-based center draws on FBI data from 2017 and finds that while Black people that year made up 13% of the U.S. population, they accounted for 50% of national homicide victims.

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