Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/14

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/14

US: States sue Trump over college student visa rule

usatoday.com

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia sued President Donald Trump's administration to block a new rule that would force international college students to leave the United States if they’re only enrolled in online classes this fall.

CA: California governor orders new shutdowns

sacbee.com

Huge swaths of California’s economy have now plunged back into shutdown mode, as Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the closure of shopping malls, gyms, indoor church worship, nail salons and more to limit the rapidly growing coronavirus outbreak.

TX: Texas GOP opts for virtual convention after court defeat

texastribune.org

After exhausting its legal options to hold an in-person convention this week in Houston, the Republican Party of Texas moved the event online. The all-Republican Texas Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by the party seeking to host the convention as scheduled despite a city order cancelling it.

GA: Federal judge throws out Georgia’s anti-abortion law

ajc.com

A federal judge struck down Georgia’s anti-abortion law approved by the legislature last year, calling it unconstitutional.

NY: New York to fine travelers from high-risk states who don’t disclose plans

timesunion.com

Travelers flying into New York airports from states with high rates of coronavirus infections will be mandated to fill out forms disclosing their travel plans or risk a summons that carries a $2,000 fine. Tens of thousands of airline travelers have been refusing to sign the forms and brushing past tables staffed by health officials.

TN: Moments after governor signed it, court halts Tennessee's restrictive abortion law

tennessean.com

A federal judge halted the roll out of an abortion law in Tennessee less than an hour after Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed it into law.

MA: Massachusetts Senate passes sweeping police bill, limits qualified immunity protections

bostonherald.com

The Massachusetts Senate passed a sweeping police package hours before daylight broke this morning, ending a five-day stalemate over changes to qualified immunity protections for police that split Democrats and generated days of protests in front of the State House.

AL: Alabama coroner reactivates mobile morgue as coronavirus cases explode

al.com

An Alabama county is reactivating its mobile morgue units amid an explosion in coronavirus cases. Coroner Cody Nugent said the reactivation comes during a dramatic increase in the number of positive cases, hospitalizations and deaths as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

MI: Michigan renters brace for evictions

freep.com

With Michigan's eviction moratorium set to lift this week, some expect a deluge of eviction filings in district courts across the state. The state estimates a backlog of 75,000 eviction filings, and a $50 million state program to help with back rent is likely to fall far short of the need.

GA: Georgia governor extends order deploying 1,000 National Guard troops to Atlanta

ajc.com

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp extended an order that deployed 1,000 Georgia National Guard troops to protect state buildings in Atlanta, the latest step in a series of escalating tensions with Democratic Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms over safety and public health.

MD: Maryland lawmakers ask utility regulators to study pandemic’s impact on consumers

marylandmatters.org

More than 60 members of the Maryland General Assembly are urging the Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities, to quickly study the pandemic’s impact on consumers’ ability to pay their utility bills. A moratorium on utility shut-offs is set to end Aug. 1.

NY: New York governor says schools can open if infection rate stays below 5%

timesunion.com

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New York has developed a formula that will allow schools to reopen this fall in regions that are in Phase 4 and have an infection rate of 5% or less on a rolling 14-day average. Cuomo said the state would issue guidelines on social distancing and sanitizing measures.

OK: Oklahoma receives $51.4M to help transit agencies cope with COVID-19

oklahoman.com

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation has been awarded a $51.4 million federal grant to help 20 transit agencies and intercity bus operators weather the COVID-19 crisis.

NJ: Huge crowds at Jersey Shore beaches like ‘playing with fire,’ governor says

nj.com

Big crowds and a lack of social distancing at some Jersey Shore beaches — which prompted at least one town to partially close access this weekend — have state officials concerned about the coronavirus spreading in those settings, New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said.

MO: Missouri governor signs free COVID-19 testing, rape kit bills

apnews.com

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, signed a number of bills into law, including legislation to ensure free COVID-19 testing and a requirement that hospitals perform rape kits when needed.

WV: West Virginia governor reinstates some restrictions

wvgazettemail.com

With active COVID-19 cases increasing in West Virginia, Republican Gov. Jim Justice announced that he is restricting fairs, festivals, outdoor concerts and other gatherings to no more than 25 people and ordering a 10-day closure of bars in Monongalia County, home of West Virginia University.

UT: Utahns can get free masks at grocery stores

sltrib.com

Free face coverings are available at more than 225 grocery stores and pharmacies, hardware stores, convenience stores and other retail outlets in Utah, officials said. Utah is using federal money to pay for the masks.

CO: Colorado becomes 11th state to ban LGBTQ ‘panic defense’

denverpost.com

Colorado became the 11th U.S. state to ban the LGBTQ “panic defense,” meaning defendants can no longer blame their own violent actions on a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

NV: Nevada legislators return to special session after COVID-19 case

knpr.org

Dueling protests, big cuts in education and Nevada’s mining industry's low-tax status are on the agenda as lawmakers continue the special session. A staff member tested positive for COVID-19, which is slowing things down.

MN: Face masks remain symbol of division as Minnesota governor considers mandate

startribune.com

A decision by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, could come in a matter of days, as state lawmakers return for another special session to consider his emergency powers.

PA: Damning report on Pennsylvania’s failure to protect residents from fracking unlikely to result in major change

spotlightpa.org

Pennsylvania state agencies implicated in the report dismissed it outright, calling the recommendations outdated and ill-informed.

VT: Vermont receives 10 times the mail-in ballot requests as ’16

apnews.com

Voters across Vermont have requested more than 10 times as many mail-in ballots as were requested at the same point in 2016, the last presidential election year, the state’s top election official said.

CT: Air travelers from hotspot states must check in upon arrival in Connecticut

courant.com

Connecticut will soon implement a certification process for air travelers arriving from pandemic hotspot states, Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont announced. He said those travelers will be required to complete a form telling officials where they are coming from and where they plan to quarantine.

NE: More Nebraskans are fishing this summer as families seek safe activities close to home

omaha.com

COVID-19 in Nebraska is causing another kind of fever — fishing fever. Sales of annual and one-day fishing licenses in Nebraska have shot up about 40% each over a year ago, when heavy flooding curtailed fishing, according to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

ME: Flurry of absentee voting continues, a day before Maine’s unusual July primary

pressherald.com

Maine town and city clerks have been inundated with absentee ballots, but some say they still expect to see voters coming to the polls in person in a primary that was delayed from June by the COVID-19 pandemic.

NC: Coronavirus fears spark surge of North Carolina mail-in ballot requests

newsobserver.com

A new report shows “a striking surge” in the number of absentee ballot requests in North Carolina, reflecting patterns seen across the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic. State election officials say as many as 4 in 10 voters, or more than 1.5 million, could cast mail-in ballots this fall. That’s 10 times the usual number.

SC: South Carolina utility wants to raise rates substantially

thestate.com

Dominion Energy signaled its intent to raise rates to customers for the first time since acquiring the beleaguered utility that engineered one of the biggest construction failures in South Carolina history. Dominion filed notice of a planned rate adjustment that many expect will be a hefty increase for customers.

OR: Oregon limits indoor gatherings, mandates masks outdoors

oregonlive.com

Oregon is banning indoor social gatherings of more than 10 people and will require people to wear face coverings outdoors when they cannot maintain a 6-foot distance from people outside their households, Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, announced. The new limit on indoor gatherings does not apply to houses of worship and businesses.

ID: More Idaho inmates show COVID-19 symptoms

idahostatesman.com

More people incarcerated at Idaho prisons are getting sick from the coronavirus. The Idaho Department of Corrections has updated its COVID-19 numbers, which showed the number of those who tested positive for the virus and are showing symptoms nearly doubled, with hundreds of tests still pending.

HI: Hawaii governor to extend quarantine for new arrivals through end of August

staradvertiser.com

Hawaii Gov. David Ige, a Democrat, said that he plans to extend the state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine for arriving passengers through the end of August in another COVID-19 supplemental emergency proclamation. Ige had earlier announced plans to end the quarantine Aug. 1 for passengers who test negative for the coronavirus before coming to the state.

FL: Florida GOP convention could be half-empty

nbcnews.com

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis enacted requirements for all big sports venues to operate at no more than 50% capacity. That includes the Jacksonville arena where Republicans intend to gather in August.

NM: New Mexico restaurants protest new closings

abqjournal.com

New Mexico restaurant workers and owners took to their parking lots and social media pages today in a “virtual protest” against a new public health order that once again barred indoor dining. The state restaurant association said it would go to court to halt the order by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

DE: One-third of inmates in Delaware prison have COVID-19

doverpost.com

About two weeks ago, three inmates in Sussex, Delaware, were found to be infected with COVID-19. Since then, the Department of Correction has tested all 973 Sussex inmates and found 320 of them to be positive. Twenty test results are still pending. Of the Sussex inmates who tested positive, 90% of them are asymptomatic.

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