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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/10

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/10

OR: Oregon could see largest wildfire losses ever, governor says

oregonlive.com

High temperatures and strong winds continued to create disastrous fire conditions across Oregon, as hundreds of thousands of acres were scorched and thousands of residents fled their homes. Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, said the wildfires could lead to the greatest loss of property and human lives in state history.

CA: Wildfires burn record acreage in California

sacbee.com

Diablo winds in Northern California and Santa Ana winds in the southern part of the state were stoking unprecedented numbers of fires that have already grown explosively. California has already set a record with nearly 2.3 million acres burned this year, and the worst part of the wildfire season is just beginning.

WA: Wildfires grow in Washington

seattletimes.com

Continuous and strong winds expanded new and existing large fires and threatened communities around Washington. Fire conditions remain dangerous, with a combination of extreme heat, high winds and dry conditions, and with firefighting resources stretched thin.

US: College towns fret about census count

apnews.com

Hundreds of thousands of U.S. college students who normally live off campus are being counted for the 2020 census at their parents’ homes or other locations. The confusion has enormous implications for college towns, which may face severe shortfalls in federal dollars and a dilution of political power.

MD: Maryland ends budget year better than expected

baltimoresun.com

Despite job losses and business restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic, Maryland’s state government collected more tax revenue this budget year than last year. The money coming into the state’s general fund dropped only about $102.2 million, or 0.5%, from pre-pandemic estimates.

VA: Hundreds of James Madison University students are sick in Virginia

richmond.com

Nine days after classes began, James Madison University in Virginia has seen 772 cases of coronavirus among its students and faculty — the most of any college in the state. The school announced that it was sending students home and making classes almost exclusively online, the first in Virginia to reverse course because of the virus.

NC: Pushback halts North Carolina governor’s order to protect agricultural workers

newsobserver.com

Weeks after a public commitment to issue a new executive order with sweeping labor protections for vulnerable agricultural workers in the COVID-19 pandemic, North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s office said it couldn’t follow through, citing pushback from state officials.

SC: South Carolina Senate debates one-time $1,000 bonus for essential workers

thestate.com

South Carolina Senate budget writers gave final approval to a slimmed down spending plan that would offer a one-time bonus to about 30% of state employees, specifically those deemed essential during the COVID-19 outbreak.

MI: Michigan court debates governor's emergency powers

mlive.com

Challenges to Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s use of emergency powers during the COVID-19 pandemic were argued for nearly four hours in the state Supreme Court. The debate has implications for executive authority in this and future states of emergency.

US: Six states blast Utah plan to tap Colorado River water

apnews.com

Water officials from Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming urged the U.S. government to halt the approval process for an underground pipeline that would transport billions of gallons of Colorado River water through the desert to southwest Utah.

OH: Ohio quickly eclipses 1M requests for mail ballots for election

dispatch.com

Republican Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s prediction that up to half of the state’s votes could be cast via mail ballots amid the COVID-19 pandemic is looking solid.

ID: Idaho wildfires force evacuations, burn buildings

apnews.com

A wildfire in northern Idaho forced evacuations along a rural highway, and another destroyed an unknown number of structures. The National Interagency Fire Center said eight large wildfires are burning in Idaho.

LA: Power outages remain huge hurdle in southwest Louisiana

theadvocate.com

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards said that about 90% of Calcasieu Parish, which includes Lake Charles, is without power nearly two weeks after Hurricane Laura struck Louisiana.

AK: Alaska school district could lose millions during pandemic

adn.com

The school district in Anchorage, Alaska, is reporting about a 9% drop in enrollment, and the district says it could see a $26 million impact to its funding because of the increase in homeschooling and drop in enrollment.

HI: Hawaii governor unveils $100M program to help renters

staradvertiser.com

Hawaii renters who are at risk of eviction because of the coronavirus pandemic may be eligible for financial help under a new $100 million rent relief and housing assistance program announced by Democratic Gov. David Ige. The new program, underwritten by federal CARES Act funds, will provide renters with monthly rent as well as financial counseling.

NY: New York City to allow indoor dining in pandemic recovery milestone

nytimes.com

New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that New York City restaurants can open for indoor service at 25% capacity starting on Sept. 30, ending the city’s status as one of the few places in the nation with a complete ban. Restaurants form a critical part of the city’s economy and its currently moribund tourist trade.

CO: New $32M fund to help Colorado schools, colleges

denverpost.com

Colorado public schools and universities can apply for financial help from a newly launched fund created by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis that’s intended to support learning institutions and students hit hardest by COVID-19. The fund draws from federal CARES Act dollars.

DE: Delaware sets up $25M fund to help nonprofits

wdel.com

Funded with $20 million provided from the state's CARES Act allocations and $5 million from New Castle County, the Delaware support program will help prop up nonprofits doing difficult work on tight budgets.

VT: Vermont House OKs stimulus checks for immigrant workers

apnews.com

The Vermont House has given preliminary approval to $5 million in stimulus payments amid the coronavirus pandemic for residents who did not receive stimulus checks from the federal government based on their immigrant status.

RI: Groups cry foul over Rhode Island governor’s extending emergency pandemic powers

providencejournal.com 

Three open-government groups are calling on legislative leaders to rein in what they say is Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo’s attempt to extend her emergency decision-making powers “indefinitely” during the pandemic — and beyond what state law allows. 

MN: Minnesota governor calls legislature back, back, back

startribune.com

Democratic-Farmer-Labor Gov. Tim Walz extended the state’s peacetime emergency in response to the coronavirus pandemic for another 30 days, triggering a fourth special session of the Minnesota legislature. The session could feature another fight over the governor’s use of executive powers.

MA: Nearly 1 in 4 Massachusetts restaurants still closed

boston.com

The Massachusetts Restaurant Association estimated that 3,600 of the 16,000 restaurants that existed in the state before the pandemic have not reopened — about 23%.

TX: Texas physicians losing money in pandemic

texastribune.org

Texas primary care doctors say they’re hemorrhaging cash and at risk of closing their doors during the coronavirus pandemic. A trade group proposal argues it’s time for Texas lawmakers to overhaul how physicians’ practices get paid.

WI: Hundreds of Wisconsinites have been waiting since March and April for unemployment

jsonline.com

Like the rest of the country, Wisconsin residents lost the extra $600 provided by the CARES Act at the end of July, leaving most recipients of unemployment with only the standard state-level benefits, ranging between $100 and $370 per week.

NV: Nevada officials fear census undercount

thenevadaindependent.com

A comparison of county census response rates between 2010 and 2020 shows more than half of Nevada’s counties have yet to hit response rates from the 2010 census, Lt. Gov. Kate Marshall told members of the Nevada Complete Count Committee.

NY: Feds shipping 7M masks to New York for students, teachers

timesunion.com

The 6.9 million cloth face coverings arriving in September may prove useful to some New York schools, but most schools offering in-person learning have already had to procure thousands of face coverings and districts are unsure if they'll get reimbursed for those new costs.

MN: Minnesota bars, restaurants 50-50 on COVID-19 compliance checks

startribune.com

Nearly half of 167 Minnesota bars and restaurants were found out of compliance with COVID-19 safety requirements during recent spot visits by compliance teams, but health leaders said most violations were minor and commended the industry for its efforts.

TN: Tennessee reports new COVID-19 cases among students, staff

tennessean.com

The numbers come as the Tennessee Department of Education released a dashboard tracking COVID-19 cases linked to schools. The agency reported 756 active COVID-19 cases among students and staff, but the data could be an undercount.

IN: Indiana says coronavirus spread steady or slowing in most counties

indystar.com 

Most counties in Indiana continue to see minimal to moderate spread of the coronavirus, paving the way for schools to bring more students back into their buildings.

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