Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/30

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/30

CA: Los Angeles County cases surge; ICU beds could run out

latimes.com

Los Angeles County health officials issued a dire warning that conditions in the COVID-19 pandemic are deteriorating rapidly and the highly contagious virus is spreading swiftly in the nation’s most populous county. They said they are now facing fears that easing restrictions would coincide with sudden jumps in disease transmission that have the potential to overwhelm hospitals.

CO: Colorado Supreme Court upholds state ban on large-capacity gun magazines

denverpost.com

The Colorado Supreme Court unanimously upheld the state’s ban on large-capacity gun magazines, finding that the prohibition does not violate residents’ right to bear arms as guaranteed by the state constitution. The ban on magazines that hold more than 15 rounds was put in place in 2013 in the wake of the Aurora movie theater mass shooting.

TX: Texas bars sue over shutdown

statesman.com

Hoping to block Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s order closing Texas bars after a rise in coronavirus cases, more than 30 bar owners filed a lawsuit. Seven bar licenses have been suspended for opening in violation of the order.

LA: Split Supreme Court throws out Louisiana abortion clinic limit

apnews.com

A divided U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law regulating abortion clinics, reasserting a commitment to abortion rights over fierce opposition from dissenting conservative justices in the first big abortion case under the Trump administration.

MO: Missouri couple points guns at protesters marching to St. Louis mayor’s home

stltoday.com

As protesters made their way to the St. Louis, Missouri, mayor's home, demanding her resignation, they were met by a white couple pointing guns and telling protesters to get away. The couple are personal-injury lawyers who work together and own a million-dollar home.

NV: Union in Nevada sues over hazardous working conditions

thenevadaindependent.com

The Culinary Workers Union Local 226 has filed a lawsuit against three Las Vegas Strip properties, alleging employees at the Nevada businesses aren’t being protected from COVID-19 in the workplace. The lawsuit alleges inadequate contact tracing efforts and “unreasonable rules and procedures” for addressing the spread of the virus.

NJ, NY: Alarmed by Sun Belt spike, New Jersey and New York reconsider pace of reopening

nytimes.com

New Jersey Gov. Philip Murphy, a Democrat, postponed plans to allow indoor dining this week, and New York officials are considering a similar pause. Many restaurants have been preparing to reopen by expanding their staffs and increasing inventory as they struggle to recover financially.

HI: COVID-19 cases among Pacific Islanders surge in Hawaii

civilbeat.org

Nearly a quarter of all confirmed coronavirus cases in Hawaii involve Pacific Islanders, who make up just 4% of the state’s population. They tend to have higher poverty rates and are more likely to live in overcrowded conditions, making it harder for sick people to self-isolate.

WV: Half of West Virginia voters cast their ballots by mail

wvgazettemail.com

A little more than half of the more than 436,000 ballots that were cast in West Virginia’s 2020 primary election earlier this month were mail-in absentee ballots. Historically, about 3% of votes in a presidential primary election in West Virginia are cast by absentee ballot.

GA: Georgia governor to embark on a ‘wear a mask’ tour

ajc.com

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp doesn’t plan to require Georgians wear masks. But he’s set to go on a statewide “fly-around” tour this week to encourage them to do so. 

MI: Michigan governor wants chokehold ban, crackdown on 911 calls

freep.com

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants to ban police use of chokeholds and make racially motivated 911 calls hate crimes, among other changes. Some changes can be made by a state commission on law enforcement standards; others have to pass the Republican-dominated state legislature.

MS: Winds of change: Mississippi rebel-themed flag fading away

apnews.com

The Mississippi flag is fading from public display in many places, even before the governor signs a bill that will retire the last state banner in the U.S. that includes the Confederate battle emblem.

NY: New York governor says malls won't open unless they install filter systems

timesunion.com

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said "large malls" in New York state will be required to install air filters that remove COVID-19 particulates from the air before they will be allowed to reopen. Mall operators have pushed back on any assertion that their indoor heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems pose a danger.

NV: Nevada governor extends current phase of reopening plan

lasvegassun.com

Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak will sign a directive extending the second phase of Nevada’s reopening into early July, after last week calling discussion of a third phase “tabled.” Nevada has recently seen an increase in daily coronavirus cases, with 734 cases on Sunday and 821 on Saturday.

UT: Judge rules Utah County must name businesses that created COVID-19 hotspots

sltrib.com

Following a judge’s ruling, Utah County will be required to release information identifying two businesses that reportedly were the source of coronavirus outbreaks that infected at least 68 people.

AZ: Arizona governor orders bars, gyms and theaters to close

azcentral.com

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey announced he would again shut down bars, gyms and theaters in Arizona. The governor also announced limits on gathering of 50 or more people and said the first day of in-person instruction for K-12 schools would be delayed until at least Aug. 17. 

NY: New York City mayor calls for cutting $1 billion from police budget

nytimes.com

A week after a “defund the police” protest became a full-blown occupation outside City Hall, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, announced he has a plan for the New York City police department budget to be slashed by $1 billion.

SD: South Dakota governor suspends teen driving law during COVID-19

apnews.com

South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem has suspended a teen driving law which was set to take effect this week. Noem said the legislative bill was suspended because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic and the impact the new law would have on licensing.

OK: Two Oklahoma pandemic response leaders resign

oklahoman.com

Two members of GOP Gov. Kevin Stitt's cabinet who have played a key role in Oklahoma's response to the COVID-19 pandemic announced their departures. Both were volunteers in the Stitt administration and were juggling the duties of public service, along with their professional work.

VA: Feds criticize Virginia special ed program for lack of oversight

richmond.com

The Virginia Department of Education inadequately oversees special education complaints made against local school systems, a new federal report says. The report from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs criticized the state agency's lack of procedures in responding to and monitoring complaints related to special education programs.

GA: Supreme Court ruling clears way for decision on Georgia abortion law

ajc.com

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down a Louisiana abortion law clears a path for a decision on a similar case pending in federal court in Georgia

SC: South Carolina aging agency skewered in new report

thestate.com

The South Carolina agency responsible for providing services to South Carolina’s most vulnerable population has not kept pace with growth and, at the same time, is facing shaky employee morale that has dogged the department for years, according to a new state audit that reviewed the cabinet agency’s practices and policies and whether it was complying with state and federal law.

CT: Millions in aid will be allocated to Connecticut renters, landlords, homeowners

courant.com

Connecticut Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont announced that more than $33 million in state and federal support would be distributed to renters, homeowners and landlords impacted by the pandemic. The funds include $10 million for a rental assistance program.

IN: Indiana utility commission extends moratorium on disconnections

indystar.com

The state agency that governs utility companies in Indiana ordered that the moratorium on utility disconnections be extended until August 14, two weeks later than utility companies proposed but months earlier than consumer advocacy groups called for.

RI: Rhode Island will test out-of-staters arriving from virus hotspots

providencejournal.com

Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo ordered anyone who arrives from a state seeing a surge in new COVID-19 cases to quarantine for 14 days, unless they can show they recently tested negative. Rhode Islanders who travel to and return from these states where at least 5% of people tested have the virus will have 72 hours to get tested or they will have to quarantine for 14 days.

MN: COVID-19 hospitalization numbers decline in Minnesota

startribune.com

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 have declined over the past week in Minnesota, reflecting continued progress in detecting and managing the infectious disease among the elderly and other high-risk individuals.

WI: Pandemic exposes failures of Wisconsin unemployment insurance system

wisconsinwatch.org

Wisconsin has failed to deliver unemployment aid to thousands at a time when they most need it. The crisis was years in the making.

PA: The Trump campaign is suing Pennsylvania over how to run the 2020 election

inquirer.com

The Trump campaign sued Pennsylvania state and county elections officials, saying mail ballot drop boxes are unconstitutional the way they were used in the June 2 primary election and asking a federal court to bar them in November.

VT: Governor says spike in U.S. COVID-19 cases won't change Vermont plan

vpr.org

Republican Gov. Phil Scott said that while the number of COVID-19 cases is increasing in some parts of the country, Vermont's numbers are holding steady and he will continue to slowly reopen the economy.

NJ: New Jersey lawmakers pass $7.7B stopgap budget

apnews.com

New Jersey’s legislature passed a short-term $7.7 billion budget after extending the deadline to later in the year because of the COVID-19 outbreak. It was the first in-person voting sessions since March. The stopgap budget doesn’t raise taxes and delays the state’s funding of the public pension plan until October. 

MN: Still in short supply in Minnesota, N95 masks used over and over

startribune.com

Three months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Minnesota nurses and other clinicians are being forced to reuse hospital masks in ways that would have gotten them written up a year ago.

FL: Governor slashes $1B from Florida budget

orlandosentinel.com

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Florida’s $92.2 billion budget after cutting $1 billion from programs for affordable housing, education and social services. His vetoes came because of the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, and included programs he previously supported.

NM: New Mexico governor signs tax relief plan

santafenewmexican.com

The New Mexico bill temporarily waives interest and penalties on late tax payments, and exempts federal CARES Act payments to some state health care providers so more funding can be used for direct services. Lawmakers said it will give more time to small businesses and local governments to recover financially.

AL: CDC team arrives in Alabama to help with pandemic response

al.com

A 5-member team from the Centers for Disease Control has arrived in Alabama to assist the state with response to the growing coronavirus pandemic.

AL: Alabama to extend unemployment benefits for those who exhausted them

al.com

Alabamians who exhausted both their regular unemployment benefits and the benefit program created by the federal stimulus package may be eligible for up to 13 weeks of additional benefits after the state Labor Department announced it would implement a federal program next month.

LA: Masks will be required in Louisiana parish under new emergency order

nola.com

No shirt, no shoes, no mask, no service. Confronted by a rising count in coronavirus cases, especially among younger residents, the president of a Louisiana Parish said she would issue an emergency proclamation requiring the public to wear masks inside businesses and public places.

WA: Washington may need federal loans to cover unemployment claims

seattletimes.com

Washington state may need to borrow federal funds to cover claims for jobless benefits following a projected shortfall in the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund, officials said. The state’s unemployment trust fund, which had $4.7 billion on March 1, is now at $2.8 billion and is expected to be depleted by late 2020 or early 2021.

OR: Oregon residents will be required to wear masks statewide

oregonlive.com

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, announced that she will require Oregonians to wear face masks everywhere in the state. Brown's order requires people ages 12 and older in Oregon to don a mask whenever they’re in a public indoor space, such as grocery stores, gyms and shopping malls.

ID: Details still unclear for in-person voting in Idaho

idahostatesman.com

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Idahoans could still be voting in person in the August and November elections. The Idaho Secretary of State’s office said the decision to implement social distancing or other protective measures will be left up to county clerks, and GOP Gov. Brad Little floated the possibility of calling a special legislative session so lawmakers could address the November election.

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