Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/1

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/1

OK: Oklahoma voters approve Medicaid expansion

oklahoman.com

Voters approved a state question to expand Medicaid to cover more low-income Oklahomans. The measure will enshrine Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma’s Constitution — preventing the Republican governor and legislature from limiting or undoing the expansion.

GA: Governor signs sweeping senior care bill in Georgia

ajc.com

Georgians living in senior care homes won a slate of new protections when Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill to change an industry that too often failed to provide adequate care, even as it enticed families with resort-like amenities and gourmet menus.

NY: Governor adds eight states to New York quarantine list

timesunion.com

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said travelers from California, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada and Tennessee will have to quarantine for 14 days upon arriving in New York. They join travelers from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Utah who already face quarantine because of the community spread of COVID-19 in those states.

MS: Mississippi governor signs bill to remove Confederate emblem from state flag

clarionledger.com

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, signed the bill that mandates the removal of the insignia from the state flag and bans future use of the Confederate emblem. "Whether you are proud of this step or angry with us over the process, I want you to know that I love you," Reeves said.

NE: Nebraska State Fair still a go, but with big changes

omaha.com

The Nebraska State Fair will go on with the show in August despite COVID-19, but on an abbreviated schedule and possibly without a carnival.

KS: Governor orders Kansans to wear masks in public spaces, setting stage for another fight

kansas.com

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly said she is ordering Kansans to wear face masks in public spaces beginning July 3, as coronavirus cases surge upwards across the state and nation.

NV: Closed casinos yielded near-zero Nevada tax revenue in May

apnews.com

Nevada collected just $56,000 in taxes based on May casino revenues, down 99.9% compared with a year ago. A small amount of revenue came from mobile sports betting and interactive poker that weren’t suspended.

OR: Oregon at COVID-19 'crossroads'

oregonlive.com

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, said the state is at a ‘crossroads’ as she extended by 60 days a state of emergency over the coronavirus pandemic, urging residents to take personal responsibility for slowing the spread. With identified infections reaching all-time daily highs and hospitalizations climbing, Brown extended the state of emergency through Sept. 4.

MD: Maryland treasurer and comptroller will oppose more than $200M of governor’s budget cuts

baltimoresun.com

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s proposal to cut $672 million from the upcoming Maryland state budget because of the economic crisis is imperiled because his two fellow members on the state Board of Public Works, both Democrats, say they will reject a large chunk of the plan when the panel meets Wednesday.

WV: West Virginia governor closes budget shortfall

wvgazettemail.com

Republican Gov. Jim Justice closed West Virginia’s $255 million budget shortfall with nearly $200 million swept from unspent West Virginia account balances and by using emergency reserve money to cover the remaining gap.

HI: Governor says Hawaii will be ready for tourists on Aug. 1

staradvertiser.com

Hawaii Gov. David Ige, a Democrat, said the state will be ready by Aug. 1 to implement the passenger testing program that would allow out-of-state travelers to bypass the 14-day quarantine, despite the concerns of some local residents and the rising coronavirus cases. He said there are five task teams that are working on the process for testing tourists and clearing them through the airport.

CA: California governor signs $202B coronavirus budget

sacbee.com

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, signed a $202 billion budget with emergency pandemic funding, expanded unemployment aid and billions of dollars in cuts forced by the coronavirus-caused recession. The budget that takes effect Wednesday assumed a $54 billion deficit brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and Newsom’s March stay-at-home order, which halted much of the state’s economy.

NJ: New Jersey now wants travelers from 16 states to quarantine, double last week

nj.com

New Jersey’s list of states with surging coronavirus outbreaks that meet the criteria for a 14-day quarantine has increased to 16, as cases continue to increase rapidly in the southern United States where local officials were quicker to reopen businesses.

FL: Florida governor signs abortion, immigration laws

orlandosentinel.com

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis quietly signed into law bills requiring parental consent for a minor to get an abortion and another that mandates governments and some businesses use E-Verify to check the immigration status of their workers. The signature on two of the most controversial bills of the 2020 session came without any comment or announcement.

PA: Evictions could begin before Pennsylvania rental assistance program can provide relief

spotlightpa.org

A $150 million assistance program intended to provide rental payments on behalf of Pennsylvanians who are struggling amid the economic fallout from the coronavirus may not come soon enough to stave off some eviction proceedings. The program will begin accepting applications July 6, but with the eviction moratorium set to expire a few days later, some fear the cash won’t flow fast enough.

MD: Partisan divide prevents agreement on Maryland’s Nov. 3 election method

baltimoresun.com

A partisan divide over whether voter fraud is a legitimate concern in mostly mail-in elections kept Maryland officials from reaching a consensus on how they believe the state should conduct voting in the upcoming presidential election.

TX: Texas will delay work-search requirements

texastribune.org

The Texas Workforce Commission decided to postpone reinstating a work-search requirement for out-of-work Texans receiving unemployment benefits. Agency officials cited rising numbers of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations across Texas.

MI: Michigan schools plan: masks, spaced desks, no visitors

detroitnews.com

School life in Michigan, from athletics to riding the bus to wearing masks in classrooms, will depend on how much or little the virus is raging through regions of the state come the first day of school. The state will provide $256 million to schools to implement plans.

NM: New Mexico governor vetoes budget cuts

santafenewmexican.com

Democratic New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham vetoed over $30 million in budget cuts that legislators had approved, mostly in education but also in economic development and elections. She said the state shouldn't "lose sight of the important work that is still needed" while battling a $2 billion revenue drop.

ID: Idaho governor's staff test positive for COVID-19

lmtribune.com

The office of Idaho Gov. Brad Little, a Republican, has confirmed that two members of his staff have tested positive for the coronavirus. Little's office said neither staff member had contact with the governor during the infectious period, declining to provide additional details about the cases.

CT: Connecticut’s court system is struggling to recover from devastating coronavirus shutdown

courant.com

The coronavirus crisis is having a devastating effect on Connecticut’s court system and, short of a vaccine that returns life to normal, no one is prepared to predict how it will emerge as court administrators work to reconstruct the post-pandemic wreckage.

MT: Montana continues trend of COVID-19 case growth

billingsgazette.com

The state of Montana reported adding 49 new COVID-19 cases, continuing a trend of higher case growth over the last few weeks. There are 303 active cases around the state and 12 reported hospitalizations.

ND: North Dakota expands visitation for some long-term care patients

apnews.com

North Dakota health officials said they are expanding visitation at long-term care facilities to include residents who are showing symptoms of declining health.

IA: Emails reveal confusion and conflict in Iowa’s pandemic response

iowacapitaldispatch.com

Emails between Iowa state and federal officials during the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic point to confusion and serious disagreement over testing, equipment and the projected spread of the virus.

IN: Judge blocks new Indiana panhandling law from taking effect July 1

indystar.com

Indiana's entire panhandling statute could be at risk following a federal judge's move to block regulations that were supposed to become even more restrictive this week. In reviewing the change to state law, the judge called both the current statute and its amendment an "unconstitutional prohibition on the freedom of speech.”

VA: Virginia governor extends state of emergency in Richmond

richmond.com

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, quietly signed an executive order extending a state of emergency declaration in Richmond, citing "civil unrest" following weeks of protests that have resulted in some violent clashes between demonstrators and police.

NJ: Paid family leave benefits just got more generous in New Jersey

nj.com

A big expansion of New Jersey’s paid family leave, signed into law last year, is taking effect, boosting benefits and doubling eligibility to 12 weeks. New Jersey workers can take off more time to care for a new child or sick relative and also receive thousands of dollars more in replaced wages.

MO: Governor signs Missouri budget, slashes planned spending amid lagging tax collections

stltoday.com

Republican Gov. Mike Parson signed Missouri’s $35 billion spending plan for the new fiscal year, but used his veto pen to cut more than $11 million as revenue collections lag during the current economic downturn. In addition to the vetoes, the Parson administration restricted an additional $448 million in spending.

NC: Protesters at North Carolina governor’s mansion arrested after spray painting the street outside

newsobserver.com

Police arrested four protesters after they spray painted “Veto SB168” on a street where the North Carolina governor’s mansion sits. About a dozen people camped outside the governor’s mansion to protest a new bill that further limits public access to death investigation records.

SC: South Carolina officials urge residents to stay home for July Fourth

thestate.com

Staying at home is the safest way to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday in South Carolina during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Department of Health and Environmental Control.

MN: Governor warns Minnesota bar owners: Follow COVID-19 rules — or get shut down

minnpost.com

The head of the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association also cautioned bar owners that not following the state’s guidelines to stem COVID-19 infections “may end up being the reason for our governor to dial back,” on reopening. “We have to do better.”

WI: Don't expect a face mask requirement or statewide bar closures in Wisconsin

jsonline.com

The coronavirus is showing signs of acceleration in Wisconsin but unlike states experiencing a resurgence, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers likely won't be mandating face masks or issuing orders to close bars. Because of a state Supreme Court decision in May that struck down much of the governor's stay-at-home order, Evers says his administration no longer has the sole authority to issue statewide mandates aimed at curbing the spread of the virus. But whether Evers can or can't take such actions is under debate.

VT: Vermont Senate president calls for school reopening task force

wcax.com

Vermont Senate President Tim Ashe, a Democrat, has called for the Agency of Education to create a School Reopening Task Force to develop strategies to safely and successfully reopen our public schools in the fall.

AL: New Alabama COVID-19 order changes hospital visitations rule

montgomeryadvertiser.com

While Republican Gov. Kay Ivey's new COVID-19 order imposed no new restrictions in Alabama, it did make one notable change. The order changes language that prohibited most hospital visitations.

CO: Colorado governor closes bars as coronavirus cases increase

denverpost.com

Democratic Gov. Jared Polis closed Colorado bars for in-person service — after allowing them to reopen at limited capacity on June 19 — due to the increasing spread of the novel coronavirus. Bars can continue to sell alcohol to-go or by delivery. 

AZ: Arizona hospitals can start activating ‘crisis care’ standards

azcentral.com

Arizona's state health director declared that hospitals could activate "crisis care standards" that guide the allocation of scarce resources to patients based on factors such as their likelihood for survival. The announcement immediately was met with criticism by advocates for people with disabilities.

GA: Georgia governor signs $26B budget

ajc.com

A day before the start of Georgia’s new fiscal year, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed a $26 billion budget that cuts $2.2 billion in spending amid an uncertain financial future for the state.

LA: Bill aimed at lowering Louisiana auto insurance rates goes to the governor

theadvocate.com

After much negotiation and toil, the Louisiana legislature finally approved legislation that changes how Louisiana courts operate in hopes that it will bring down auto insurance rates.

OK: For first time, governor urges Oklahomans to wear masks in public

oklahoman.com

For the first time, GOP Gov. Kevin Stitt publicly encouraged Oklahomans to wear a face mask in public. In a news conference, the governor wore a neck gaiter, also the first time Stitt wore a mask to any one of more than a dozen COVID-19 news conferences he’s led since the pandemic started.

LA: U.S. court rejects majority Black Louisiana judicial district

apnews.com

A federal appeals court in New Orleans has overturned a lower court ruling calling for a majority Black judgeship election district in a south Louisiana parish.

WI: Lawsuit a test case for local power to fight COVID-19 in Wisconsin

jsonline.com

Six weeks after the Wisconsin Supreme Court threw out the state’s stay-at-home order, city and county officials are learning they may have little ability to control the spread of the coronavirus. A lawsuit in Racine could determine how much power local officials have to close bars and gyms and take other steps to try to contain the pandemic.

MN: Minnesota to spend $9M on COVID-19 ad push

mprnews.org

Minnesota will commit nearly $9 million toward an all-platform, statewide ad campaign around minimizing risks, accessing testing options and taking other measures to contain COVID-19. The public awareness effort and the money for it were approved over the objections of Republican lawmakers on a six-member legislative panel. Gov. Tim Walz’s Democratic administration intends to use part of a federal relief allocation to pay for the expense.

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