What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/9
OR: Oregon governor declares wildfire emergency
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, has declared a wildfire emergency, after fire in the Santiam Canyon forced evacuations and wildfires elsewhere sent thick smoke across western Oregon. The governor called the weekend’s weather conditions “once in a generation.”
ID: Idaho tax revenue surpasses expectations for August
Idaho’s state tax revenue for August blew past predictions for the second consecutive month, state budget officials said. Idaho’s state tax revenue came in $37 million, or 13%, over forecasts, and the state is looking at a potential $500 million in surplus tax revenue for the fiscal year.
NY: New York governor: Colleges must report COVID-19 cases to state
Following a recent large crowd of "young people" gathering at a park near New York University, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said colleges in New York will be required to report coronavirus cases to the state Department of Health if they have more than 100 COVID-19 cases in a two-week period.
NV: Trump campaign narrows lawsuit challenging mail-in voting in Nevada
President Donald Trump’s campaign is narrowing its focus in a lawsuit against Nevada’s expanded use of mail-in ballots for the 2020 general election, now specifically challenging a provision allowing ballots received up to three days after the election to be counted if their postmark is unclear.
WY: Wyoming GOP tells state candidates to toe the party linetrib.com
The Wyoming Republican Party will be withholding funding from any GOP statehouse candidates who do not commit to supporting the party platform 80% of the time in the legislature over the next two years, a move that could potentially jeopardize a number of vulnerable incumbents facing credible challenges from Democrats this year.
HI: Bankruptcy filings fall in Hawaii despite economic hardship
Hawaii’s slowing economy apparently isn’t leading to an influx of bankruptcy filings. The number of cases in August plunged 22.7% to 109 from 141 in the year-earlier period even though more local businesses are closing as customers slow to a trickle.
UT: Hurricane-force winds slam Utah
Hurricane-force winds wreaked havoc across northern Utah toppling hundreds of huge trees, closing schools and knocking out the power for more than 170,000 homes and businesses.
AK: Civil rights groups sue over Alaska’s two-signature ballot law
Three civil rights groups filed a lawsuit in state court against Alaska over a state law that requires absentee voters to have a witness sign their ballot envelope.
AZ: Arizona Supreme Court denies Kanye West bid to appear on ballot
The Arizona Supreme Court has rejected Kanye West’s bid to appear on the state’s Nov. 3 ballot as an independent presidential candidate, just hours before eight of the state’s 15 counties faced a deadline for printing ballots.
NJ: New Jersey residents can register to vote online, track mail-in ballots with new website
New Jersey voters can now register to cast ballots in the November election and track mail-in ballots through a new state website, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy announced. Some 13,000 people already registered to vote during the site’s soft launch last week.
CA: Migrant workers, undocumented immigrants most vulnerable to California wildfires: study
A deadly 2017 wildfire on California’s Central Coast underscored the vulnerability of the state’s undocumented immigrants and migrant workers, according to a new study that assessed who received help first from emergency response organizations. The wealthy got more emergency aid faster, the study found.
MN: Minnesota Department of Human Services accused of 'toxic environment' for minority employees
As Minnesota's largest agency struggles to retain employees of color and Native Americans, the Department of Human Services commissioner says she's adding programs to make it an "anti-racist organization."
WI: Wisconsin task force aims for bipartisan proposals on policing, racial inequality early next year
A group tasked with proposing state law changes related to policing and racial inequality in Wisconsin will be mostly made up of residents and will aim to get bills before state lawmakers by early next year. The task force was created last month by Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.
MD: Rapid COVID-19 tests now available in some Maryland doctor’s offices
So far, 122 medical offices in Maryland have been approved to offer six rapid antigen and PCR tests that have emergency approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The Maryland Department of Health last month issued an order allowing medical offices with basic lab certification to offer the tests.
CO: Colorado football fans can attend Denver Broncos games starting in September
The move marks a significant unwinding of coronavirus restrictions in Colorado. Mask-wearing requirements as well as social distancing guidelines will be in place at Mile High Stadium.
NC: North Carolina COVID-19 level lowest in two weeks; attractions reopening
North Carolina added 716 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases Tuesday, the lowest number of new cases recorded in a day since Aug. 17. Museums, aquariums, playgrounds and fitness centers were allowed to open with prescribed safety measures and occupancy limits.
PA: Pennsylvania raising indoor dining capacity to 50%
Restaurants in most of Pennsylvania can fill up to 50% occupancy inside starting Sept. 21, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf announced. Restaurants were previously limited to 25% capacity inside.
FL: Florida to pay extra $300 unemployment
Floridians eligible for the additional $300 weekly benefits under the federal “lost wages” program should expect their money to arrive this week, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis announced. The additional benefits cover three weeks and more may become available.
MI: Michigan moves toward $300 payment
An extra $300 a week in unemployment aid is expected to drop into unemployed Michigan worker accounts soon, as the state has taken the next step in distributing federal aid. Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill funding the plan.
VT: Vermont officials hope schools can expand in-person learning if COVID-19 cases remain low
Vermont Education Secretary Daniel French says he hopes districts will be able to offer more in-person instruction in the coming weeks if COVID-19 case rates remain low. Most schools are offering a mixture of in-person and remote classes.
DE: Delaware governor: Phrase 3 depends on residents’ behavior
When will Delaware move to Phase 3 of its reopening plan in the wake of the global novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic? It depends on how responsibly the state handled its Labor Day weekend festivities, Gov. John Carney, a Democrat, said. Delaware is on the quarantine lists for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut again.
MS: Mississippi reports no new COVID-19 deaths in latest update
No new coronavirus-related deaths were reported in Mississippi for the first time since late March. Delays in reporting coupled with the Labor Day weekend may have influenced the data, and 249 new cases were reported statewide.
LA: Louisiana governor says he's leaning toward 25,000-fan limit in LSU stadium
Democratic Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said he is inclined to support placing a limit of 25% of capacity in Tiger Stadium — around 25,000 fans — when the 2020 football season begins for Louisiana State University on Sept. 26.
MO: Three-quarters of Missouri students have in-person option
Nearly three-quarters of public-school students in Missouri have the option to attend classes in person this fall, according to data posted by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
WA: Washington mounts last-ditch census campaign
Washington cities, counties, tribes and community groups are launching an all-out effort to try to make sure every person in the state gets counted by the 2020 census. More than 93% of Washington households have already been counted, according to the Census Bureau, the third-best rate of any state.
MA: In Massachusetts, many people want more hard facts on where COVID-19 is popping up
Massachusetts, which has teamed up with the Boston-based nonprofit Partners in Health to conduct contact tracing, is not publicly releasing information from that effort that would more clearly pinpoint where and how infections are spreading.
GA: Georgia appeals absentee ballot deadline extension
GOP Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has appealed a federal judge’s ruling that absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day should be counted. A federal court last week nullified a Georgia law requiring absentee ballots to be received at county election offices by 7 p.m. on Election Day.
KY: Veteran Kentucky lawmaker hospitalized with COVID-19
Kentucky state Sen. Gerald Neal, a Democrat, has tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently being hospitalized. On Sunday another state politician, Kentucky state Rep. Attica Scott, also a Democrat, announced that she had tested positive for COVID-19 on her Twitter page.