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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/21

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/21

MN: Minnesota lawmakers pass sweeping package of police accountability measures

startribune.com

The Minnesota legislature passed one of the most substantial changes to the state's criminal justice system in years, including a statewide ban on chokeholds and neck restraints.

SC: South Carolina private schools to get federal pandemic funds, governor says

thestate.com

South Carolina’s private K-12 schools will get $32 million in federal COVID-19 aid, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster announced. McMaster pushed to get the state’s public schools to reopen to students in person five days a week. The aid comes from the governor’s discretionary education account, part of the federal CARES Act.

KY: 38 people test positive for COVID-19 following Kentucky high school football team outbreak

kentucky.com

A COVID-19 outbreak among football players at Hazard Independent High School in Kentucky spread to 38 people, including 18 football players, three coaches and 17 of their family members and close contacts.

CA: California ballot issue on affirmative action could dictate who gets hired

sacbee.com

A ballot initiative that would reinstate affirmative action in California could change the makeup of who gets hired in schools, police departments and other government agencies around the state. The initiative — known as Proposition 16 — passed the legislature earlier this year and will show up on the November ballot.

MA: Massachusetts testing delays hurt effort to contain COVID-19

bostonglobe.com

Five months into the coronavirus pandemic, people in Massachusetts and across the country are often waiting up to a week or more to learn the results of their COVID-19 tests, seriously endangering efforts to contain and control future infections.

SD: Coronavirus surge causing delays for test results in South Dakota

argusleader.com

The surge in coronavirus cases in other states is causing delays in coronavirus test results in South Dakota. Health Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon said there has been a change in the last week in the length of time it takes for a result if the sample is sent to an out-of-state commercial lab. 

CO: Colorado releases reopening guidance for schools

coloradosun.com

All Colorado students 11 and older will be required to wear masks while those 10 and younger are urged to cover their faces under the guidance of health and education officials. Districts are encouraged to “cohort” students to prevent mass spread of the disease if there is an outbreak. 

OH: Ohio drug overdose deaths back on rise

dispatch.com

The number of people dying in drug overdoses increased 5% in 2019, preliminary counts show, returning to a trend that looked like it was ready to reverse in Ohio when fatal overdoses declined 22% in 2018.

NH: New Hampshire college students uneasy about ‘consent agreement’ assuming COVID-19 risks

nhpr.org

The University of New Hampshire is asking students to sign an informed consent agreement before arriving on campus in the fall for classes, though some students say they want more information from the university before signing.

IA: Iowa’s wealthiest among CARES Act beneficiaries

desmoinesregister.com

The federal government gave Iowa’s richest man up to $6.3 million in coronavirus stimulus money intended to help small businesses, and he's far from the only deep-pocketed or politically connected Iowa businessowner to benefit from the program.

ME: Maine moves swiftly to remove illegal, racist names from five state islands

pressherald.com

The Maine islands bore slurs against Black people and Native American women, though both terms were banned as place names decades ago.

WI: Wisconsin teachers unions in largest districts call on governor to require schools start virtually

jsonline.com

Teachers unions in the state's five largest school districts are calling on Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, and Wisconsin's top health and education leaders to require schools to remain closed for now and to start the school year online.

AK: Alaska’s rising cases blamed partly on seafood industry

adn.com

Alaska’s lucrative fishing grounds draw thousands of fishermen and processing workers. Under plans submitted to the state, seafood companies are required to test employees, often multiple times, and enact quarantine protocols to keep the virus from spreading to small communities with limited hospital beds, if any.

WY: Wyoming hits another daily COVID-19 record

trib.com

A record 62 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in Wyoming. The previous daily high was 43 confirmed cases.

CT: Connecticut to impose fines on travelers from hotspot states who don’t self-isolate

courant.com

In a shift from an earlier position, Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont said Connecticut will require all travelers arriving from 22 hotspot states to register and fill out an online health questionnaire or face a fine of $1,000.

MS: Mississippi governor extends coronavirus mask mandate and adds 10 counties to list

sunherald.com

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, announced he is extending his Safe Return order and adding 10 counties to the list of places where he has implemented a mask mandate and required stricter social distancing.

AL: Alabama secretary of state extends COVID-19 emergency absentee voting rule to general election

al.com

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, a Republican, has extended to the general election an emergency rule to allow people to vote absentee if they don’t want to go to the polls because of COVID-19.

GA: Georgia signs deal to expand coronavirus test processing

ajc.com

Georgia officials announced a partnership with a North Carolina company to help alleviate a testing logjam that’s led to prolonged waits for coronavirus test results.

WI: Wisconsin's new crime victim bill of rights could fall short without more funding from state

jsonline.com

A new amendment to the Wisconsin state Constitution aimed at protecting victim rights may fall short of its goal without more funding from the state, supporters and critics of the measure say. The constitutional changes are known as Marsy’s Law: 16 rights for victims aimed at protecting their privacy and giving them more say in how crimes against them are prosecuted.

FL: GOP sheriff: Florida convention can't be safe

jacksonville.com

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in Florida will be unable to keep the Republican National Convention safe next month, said Sheriff Mike Williams, a Republican. The event already has changed because of a rise in coronavirus cases in Jacksonville, with attendance limited and more outdoor venues.

TX: Texas faces $4.6B deficit

texastribune.org

The coronavirus pandemic and low oil prices are driving down projected general revenue in Texas’ current budget by more than $11 billion. A $2.9 billion surplus, projected in October, has evaporated.

NM: New Mexico court upholds governor's ban on indoor dining

kob.com

The New Mexico Supreme Court swiftly stepped in and forced indoor dining at restaurants to remain closed. The court stepped in at Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan's request after a lower court allowed restaurants to reopen.

CO: Cleanup and repair of Colorado’s Capitol will cost more than $1M

denverpost.com

The graffiti, broken windows and other damage to the Colorado Capitol property was inflicted during the demonstrations against police violence that started May 28. Money to pay for the repairs and restoration will come from the Office of the State Architect and the state’s Risk Management Property Fund. Costs above $1 million will be covered by the state’s insurance.

NV: Court rules Nevada has to immediately pay some gig workers

reviewjournal.com

A Nevada judge will order the state’s employment department to begin paying out gig and independent worker claims who haven’t completely stopped working and who have received and then stopped receiving payments.

IN: Indiana launches crisis hotline to help residents cope amid COVID

indystar.com

As calls to crisis and suicide hotlines have soared during the pandemic, Indiana’s family and social services administration is introducing a 24/7 hotline that will connect Hoosiers with trained counselors. It was created in direct response to the stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic.

WA: Washington tribes get nearly $6M in COVID-19 relief

seattletimes.com

Nearly $6 million in federal grants have been approved for five Washington tribes to pay for programs to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus and give financial help to tribal members for rent and utility bills.

HI: Hawaii's rise in cases not as bad as feared

staradvertiser.com

Hawaii’s COVID-19 new case count hit its highest level in four days, but officials found some relief in that the number was still well below what they feared it would be in the wake of the Fourth of July holiday.

ID: Idaho lawmakers seek options for calling special sessions

idahostatesman.com

Idaho lawmakers concerned that GOP Gov. Brad Little has too much power following his emergency declaration because of the coronavirus pandemic are considering ways to reconvene after the regular legislative session has ended.

RI: Rhode Island licenses first medical-marijuana testing lab

providencejournal.com

Rhode Island has licensed its first testing lab to better regulate and improve the safety of medical-marijuana products sold at the state’s three dispensaries and grown as well by state-licensed cultivators.

LA: Louisiana fisheries, coastal agencies working on initial oyster recovery strategy

nola.com

Oysters are such a mainstay of Louisiana cuisine that when President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited in 1937, Antoine's proudly served up a plate of them Rockefeller style. But over the past two decades, the state's legendary bivalves have been getting battered.

NC: North Carolina private high schools plan to play sports this fall

newsobserver.com

The North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association plans to play high school football this fall, if the state gets to Phase 3 of its reopening plan. It’s currently in Phase 2. Public school teams won’t start practice before September at the earliest, but the private schools plan to practice in August.

VA: Virginia police chief who resigned got about $87,000 in severance

richmond.com

Richmond, Virginia, former Police Chief William Smith, who resigned last month over his handling of protests that began in May, got $85,477 in severance pay, according to the city’s Department of Human Resources.

MS: Advocate: Mississippi governor’s veto is ‘roadblock to justice’

apnews.com

People seeking improvements in Mississippi’s troubled prison system said they want lawmakers to overturn the governor’s veto of a bill that could make more inmates eligible for parole.

GA, NY: New York’s governor pledges aid to Georgia city in visit

apnews.com

New York’s Democratic governor flew to Georgia, pledging to help the city of Savannah fight COVID-19, in a barely concealed rebuke to Georgia’s Republican leadership as virus cases continued to rise in the southern state.

US: States try again to block coal sales that Trump revived

apnews.com

A coalition of states renewed its push to stop the administration of President Donald Trump from selling coal from public lands after a previous effort to halt the lease sales was dismissed by a federal judge.

AZ: Arizona sees slight downturn in virus hospitalizations

apnews.com

Hospitalizations reported Monday were at the lowest level in more than two weeks, a sign that Arizona’s COVID-19 outbreak might be moderating. The number of people on ventilators and in intensive care also has decreased.

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