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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 8/28

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 8/28

LA: Powerful Hurricane Laura delivers damage across Louisiana; last-minute shift reduces storm surge

nola.com

Hurricane Laura, the most powerful storm ever to make landfall in Louisiana, left a broad path of destruction across much of the western portion of the state.

WI: Wisconsin GOP leaders silent after calls to convene legislature for police policy changes

wpr.org

Republican leaders of the Wisconsin legislature remained silent about the prospect of a special session to take up bills related to police policies and training, despite a high-profile call-out by the Milwaukee Bucks and protests staged by other sports teams and activists across the state.

VA: Virginia bill would redefine what qualifies as assaulting a police officer

richmond.com

A bill that would redefine what qualifies as assaulting a police officer and eliminate mandatory jail time for the offense triggered a ferocious political debate in Virginia over policing changes and public protests, before passing on a party-line vote. Republicans decried Senate Bill 5032 as an insult to law enforcement, court officials and emergency first responders.

CO: GOP leader asks Colorado Supreme Court to overturn mask mandate

denverpost.com

A pair of Colorado conservatives is asking the state Supreme Court to rule that Democratic Gov. Jared Polis and state and local health departments have overstepped their authority in requiring masks to be worn in public and issuing other orders designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

NJ: New Jersey legislature passes landmark environmental justice bill to protect minority communities

northjersey.com

It will be harder to build or expand projects that produce a heavy amount of pollution in low-income and minority communities in New Jersey under a landmark environmental justice bill passed by the state legislature. The bill now heads to Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, who had indicated he would sign it.

AZ: Navajo Nation voters file lawsuit to force Arizona to count late mail-in ballots

azcentral.com

Several Navajo Nation citizens with concerns about the U.S. Postal Service are asking a court to ensure their ballots will still be counted in Arizona even if delivered late. The state’s current law says election officials cannot count mail-in ballots received after election night.

AK: Large coronavirus outbreak at Alaska homeless shelter grows to 61 cases

alaskapublic.org

Anchorage, Alaska, health officials say they’ve confirmed infections in 60 people who have stayed at the homeless shelter and one staff member. And they expect the outbreak has impacted more.

WY: Crowds flock to Wyoming public lands during COVID-19 summer

wyofile.com

Visitors have flocked to Wyoming’s public lands this summer — from state parks to national forests, reservoirs to private campgrounds. Experts consider outdoor spaces relatively safe from disease transmission, a fact that appears to be accelerating a years-long trend across the West of increased use.   

CA: California Republicans banned from Capitol after positive COVID-19 test

sacbee.com

Republican California state senators were banned from the Capitol after one of their colleagues tested positive for the coronavirus this week and potentially exposed others at caucus meetings in the final leg of the 2020 legislative session. The banned members can debate and vote remotely.

SC: University of South Carolina president says rapid campus spread of COVID-19 is ‘unsustainable’

thestate.com

University of South Carolina President Robert Caslen is warning the spread of the coronavirus on campus is becoming “unsustainable” after the number of cases doubled. Between the first day of classes on Aug. 20 and Aug. 25, the number of new coronavirus cases at USC was 183. On Wednesday an additional 191 people tested positive, he said.

NV: So far, Nevada rental assistance program has paid out about $2M

thenevadaindependent.com

Nevada officials trying to get $60 million in federal rental assistance out the door by the end of the year have disbursed about $2 million so far. Administrators say that generous federally funded unemployment benefits, which just expired, pushed many applicants over the income eligibility threshold. Others say they’re fielding a high volume of inquiries about the program that may be duplicative.

KS: Kansas will help cover health care costs for essential workers who contract COVID-19

kansas.com

Workers deemed essential in Kansas, from first responders to food service employees, can apply to have their COVID-19 health care expenses covered by state funds from the federal CARES Act, Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly announced.

IA: Iowa governor closes bars in 6 counties amid coronavirus spikes

desmoinesregister.com

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds ordered all bars, breweries and nightclubs to close in six Iowa counties to combat spiking coronavirus cases. Reynolds cited high positive test rates among young adults age 19 to 24.

ME: Maine paid prisoners jobless benefits after governor said to stop

bangordailynews.com

The Maine Department of Labor continued to pay unemployment benefits to several prisoners after Democratic Gov. Janet Mills ordered the payments to stop in May. Now, the state wants that money back.

NM: New Mexico to bring back some young students for in-person school

abqjournal.com

New Mexico plans to allow some of its youngest students back for in-person learning — but only if the schools meet a series of strict requirements. Each school’s reentry plan will have to be approved by the state Public Education Department.

OK: Dozens of Oklahoma school districts not following COVID-19 mask guidance, officials say

oklahoman.com

The Oklahoma State Department of Education found 190 school districts, or 35%, are not requiring any students or staff to wear face coverings, though nearly all are based in counties with community spread of COVID-19.

NJ: New Jersey fast tracks bills to help nursing home residents after nearly 7K die from COVID-19

nj.com

With one in 10 long-term care residents in New Jersey dead from the coronavirus, state lawmakers voted on a package of bills that would bolster the low-paid workforce and require facility operators and state regulators to better prepare should an outbreak create a public emergency again. The four bills only need Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s signature to become law.

MO: Motorcycle helmet reprieve among new Missouri laws going into effect

stltoday.com

Beginning Friday, most motorcycle riders in Missouri won’t have to wear helmets under a new law approved by lawmakers earlier this year. The repeal is among a handful of new statutes after the legislature met in an abbreviated session this spring because of the coronavirus, including measures on vaping, drones and fake emotional support animals.

CT: COVID-19 outbreak quarantines University of Connecticut dorm

nhregister.com

Nearly 300 students in a University of Connecticut dormitory have been asked to quarantine as the coronavirus continues to spread on campus. Nine of the school’s 10 new cases on Thursday were from that dorm.

MN: Minnesota’s largest state agency to cut spending, impose layoffs

startribune.com

Facing a major budget shortfall, the Minnesota Department of Human Services is preparing to lay off staff and slash millions of dollars in spending on state-run programs that serve vulnerable populations as well as sex offenders. The budget cuts include shifting the operation of some group homes for people with disabilities to private operators.

PA: A vital rental assistance program is riddled with problems as Pennsylvania prepares to resume evictions

spotlightpa.org

A Spotlight PA review found many landlords have refused to participate, and Pennsylvania lawmakers have failed to act despite warnings the program is failing.

NY: New York governor says colleges must go remote if coronavirus cases spike

timesunion.com

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said colleges in New York would be required to shift to remote learning if they see 100 or more COVID-19 cases, or a number equal to 5% of the campus's population.

MA: Despite threat of lawsuit, Massachusetts continues income tax on remote workers

bostonherald.com

Earlier this year Massachusetts enacted a temporary rule to levy income tax on remote out-of-state workers through the end of the year or until 30 days after Republican Gov. Charlie Baker lifts the state of coronavirus public health emergency — whichever is later. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, has threatened to sue if Massachusetts doesn’t reconsider.

MD: Maryland officials say all school districts meet new benchmarks for some in-person instruction

baltimoresun.com

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan strongly encouraged all local school boards in Maryland to develop plans to reopen schools this fall, saying that all 24 school districts meet a new set of state-created benchmarks that indicate it is safe to reopen for some in-person instruction. All school districts in the state are starting the school year with all instruction online.

SD: 160 positive COVID-19 cases on South Dakota college campuses

apnews.com

Trackers following coronavirus cases at South Dakota’s six higher education institutions shows 160 active positive cases overall and more than 600 additional people in isolation or quarantine.

Unemployment Likely Rising in 11 States Counting Absentee Votes
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