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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 8/14

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 8/14

TX: Texas Black Caucus unveils George Floyd Act

texastribune.org

The sweeping proposal would ban chokeholds across Texas and require law enforcement officers to intervene if another officer uses excessive force. Floyd, who had roots in Houston and was buried there, died in Minneapolis police custody.

OH: Ohio task force targeting racial disparities

dispatch.com

After coronavirus deaths and hospitalizations shone a light on racial disparities in Ohio, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine said his administration would lay out a blueprint for how to reduce health inequities in minority communities.

ID: Filled to capacity, one Idaho coroner's office uses trailer

idahostatesman.com

The Ada County Coroner’s Office in Idaho is using a refrigerated 55-foot trailer to house the bodies of those exposed to the virus. On average, there are about six to 11 bodies in the trailer, as the office is running at full capacity.

NJ: Sexual harassment rampant in New Jersey politics, survey finds

northjersey.com

Nearly two-thirds of women said they have experienced harassment working in New Jersey politics, from unwanted touching to sexually suggestive comments to, in rare instances, sexual assault, according to a new survey.

NV: Nevada Medicaid pushes ahead with rate cut

thenevadaindependent.com

Nevada Medicaid is moving forward with a planned 6% across-the-board rate reduction approved by lawmakers to balance a $1 billion budget shortfall. Health care providers opposed the reductions.

MA: Massachusetts child care shortage is dire

bostonglobe.com

As teachers and parents agonize over final plans to return to school, Massachusetts early education leaders are sounding the alarm over care for younger children: Only 72% of the spots available before the pandemic will remain in September.

TN: Tennessee governor to sign anti-protest bill

tennessean.com

A new Tennessee measure increases penalties for certain protest-related offenses, including making it a felony punishable by up to six years in prison to set up a tent outside the Capitol overnight. 

GA: Challenges loom for Georgia’s presidential election

ajc.com

Georgia’s runoff was as much a warning for November as it was a success. The uneventful, low-turnout runoff exposed cracks that could spell trouble for voters if they’re not corrected in time.

RI: U.S. Supreme Court denies Rhode Island GOP mail ballot appeal

providencejournal.com 

The U.S. Supreme Court denied a Republican Party bid to maintain witness verification for Rhode Islanders voting by mail during the pandemic. The 6-3 ruling means Rhode Island voters will not need two witnesses or a notary to observe them in person casting a ballot. 

LA: Louisiana's laid-off workers could soon get $300 more a week

theadvocate.com

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards said Louisiana will move forward with a plan to deliver additional $300 checks to unemployed workers under an executive order issued by President Donald Trump. The state is using a funding source that could leave fewer people out of the program.

NE: Nebraska legislature approves big property tax cut, state investment package

journalstar.com

The Nebraska legislature approved a compromise constructed around increased property tax relief after rejecting a last-ditch effort to wait until senators could gauge the growing economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

AL: Alabama health officials explain data issue that led to large coronavirus case increase

al.com

Earlier this week, several Alabama counties saw large increases in coronavirus cases. But, the state explained, the large swings had to do with catching up on backlogged data from labs as opposed to a rush of new cases.

FL: Florida governor clarifies ‘bin Laden’ remark

palmbeachpost.com

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, was ridiculed on social media after making a comparison between opening schools and the raid on Osama bin Laden. DeSantis said the comparison was "more about inspiration and about figuring (a) way to get it done than anything about comparing the danger."

CT: Nearly 30% of Connecticut nursing homes residents tested positive for coronavirus, study finds

courant.com

A study found that more than 28% of Connecticut nursing home residents tested positive for the coronavirus. As of last week, there were 2,849 COVID-19 deaths in the state’s 215 nursing homes — about 64% of the state total. 

MN: Churches sue Minnesota over mask mandate

startribune.com

Three Minnesota churches sued the state over executive orders that require that people wear masks and follow social distancing practices during religious services.

PA: Penn State reverses plan on student liability waivers

spotlightpa.org

In the face of criticism from students, faculty and legal experts, Pennsylvania State University said it will reverse course and provide an alternate legal agreement that students must sign regarding the pandemic. 

NY: In New York, no guidance for reopening fitness centers, wedding venues

timesunion.com

Despite infection rates remaining low across New York state, many businesses — including gyms, yoga studios, wedding venues and theaters — remain shuttered and are waiting for Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo to release guidance on how they can safely reopen.

MD: Maryland opens hotline for reporting coronavirus violations

baltimoresun.com

Maryland residents can use the toll-free “COVID Prevention Line,” a joint effort between Maryland’s Emergency Management Agency, Department of Health and State Police, to report people who aren’t observing proper social distancing or are ignoring other precautions.

CO: New Colorado guidance would allow more to stay in school

chalkbeat.org

In cases where students or staff have mild symptoms that resolve within 24 hours, the new Colorado guidance lays out ways to keep students in school. It also allows students to return to school if they have a negative COVID-19 test after exposure.

AZ: Arizona landlords ask court to invalidate eviction ban

apnews.com

Landlord advocacy groups filed a special action with the Arizona State Supreme Court seeking to invalidate as unconstitutional Republican Gov. Doug Ducey’s moratorium on evictions of people who have missed rent payments because they became ill or lost their income because of the coronavirus.

AZ: Arizona has highest pediatric COVID-19 rate

azcentral.com

Arizona is leading the country with its rate of COVID-19 infection among children.  About 12% of COVID-19 infections are in those 19 and younger.  

UT: Fewer Utahns seeking hospital care out of ‘false fear’ of COVID-19

deseret.com

Utah hospitals are seeing a 40% reduction in patients with symptoms of stroke and 35% fewer with symptoms of heart attack, as well as other emergent and potentially life-threatening conditions.

NJ: November election in New Jersey to be mostly mail-in

nj.com

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy was expected to announce that all of New Jersey’s 6.2 million registered voters will be sent ballots to vote by mail in the Nov. 3 elections.

HI: Cases erupt at Hawaii's largest jail

civilbeat.org

At least 70 inmates at Hawaii's largest jail have tested positive for COVID-19 this week, exactly the kind of outbreak inside correctional facilities that advocates have feared.

MT: Marijuana legalization on Montana ballot

apnews.com

The Montana Secretary of State certified that a measure seeking to legalize recreational marijuana in the state has gathered enough signatures to appear on the November ballot.

GA: Georgia jobless wave ebbs, hope rises

ajc.com

In a sign of modest but steady improvement in the economy, the number of Georgians filing jobless claims dropped for the fourth consecutive week, hitting the lowest level since March 21.

KY: Kentucky Catholic schools return to in-person learning

kentucky.com

Catholic schools in Kentucky are not following Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s recommendation to delay in-person learning until late September. They will start face-to-face instruction next week amid statewide upheaval over how to reopen.

Lawsuit Seeks to Force Texas Medicaid to Offer Hep C Drugs COVID-19 Testing
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