Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/15

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/15

WA: Washington farms face new threat from wildfires

seattletimes.com

Recent fires in Washington have underscored the vulnerability of farmworkers, including those from other countries without any local support system, amid frighteningly fast-moving fires hitting during the apple harvest.

OR: Oregon opens mobile morgue for wildfire victims

oregonlive.com

Oregon State Police have opened the first-ever mobile morgue in response to historic wildfires that are expected to result in dozens of deaths. A separate facility is expected to open this week where families of the dead and missing can undergo rapid DNA testing to aid in identification.

PA: Pennsylvania governor's COVID-19 business closures, limit on gatherings unconstitutional, federal court rules

spotlightpa.org

Delivering a blow to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s strategy for responding to the coronavirus pandemic, a federal judge ruled that key components of the Democrat’s mitigation strategy are “unconstitutional,” including the decision to temporarily shut down businesses and limit how many Pennsylvanians can gather in one place.

TX: New coronavirus data offer cautionary tale for Texas governor

statesman.com

As Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott moved to lift restrictions in May and June, the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 was higher than state health officials reported at the time, according to new state data.

DC: Emails suggest District of Columbia removed coronavirus data from website

wamu.org 

Emails obtained from the office of Democratic District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser suggest that city officials took down unflattering data from a COVID-19 dashboard in mid-June, rushing to lift restrictions even as the data showed the city failing to meet one key metric for containing the spread of the pandemic.

CA: In California, Trump continues to deny climate change is real

latimes.com

Landing in California, where state officials say his unyielding efforts to undermine global action on climate have intensified the crisis, President Donald Trump continued to express his skepticism about climate science in a meeting with Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.

NH: New Hampshire faces high wildfire risk amid climate catastrophe in West

nhpr.org

As millions of acres burn in California and Oregon, officials in New Hampshire say this region is also facing a high risk of wildfires, amid drought and the arrival of cool, dry fall weather.

MS: Sally projected to hit Mississippi Wednesday

sunherald.com

Hurricane Sally is expected to make landfall at about 2 a.m. on Wednesday in Biloxi as a Category 1, said Republican Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves. Reeves said that the likelihood of the storm growing in size and intensity increases the longer it lingers in the gulf.

TX: Texas leads SBA pandemic relief loan fraud in national prosecutions

houstonchronicle.com

Texas leads the nation in Paycheck Protection Program loan fraud cases prosecuted by the U.S. Justice Department so far, but federal agencies are only beginning to scratch the surface of what experts believe will be one of the largest sources of public funds embezzled from pandemic relief programs.

HI: Hawaii veterans home outbreak draws more scrutiny

staradvertiser.com

Twelve residents have now died from a COVID-19 outbreak at a Hawaii veterans home, and another 66 residents and 28 employees have tested positive. U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, a Democrat, criticized the health care company that operates the home, while Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim lashed out at state and federal officials for their response.

ME: Maine finalizes mandatory paid leave law

pressherald.com

Maine officials said they have finished writing the rules for the state’s first-in-the-nation mandatory paid leave law. The law, signed by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills in 2019, says that employees of businesses with more than 10 workers can earn up to 40 hours of paid leave, beginning in January. Maine is the first state to require paid leave for use outside of illness.

MI: Michigan governor, Republicans agree on budget

freep.com

The agreement ensures there will be no cuts to Michigan's K-12 spending or revenue sharing for local governments. Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Republican legislative leaders struck a deal on the 2021 budget's broad outlines but not details.

NY: New York AG finds student loan company misled borrowers

timesunion.com

The New York state attorney general's office has reached an agreement with a student debt collection firm that will result in the dismissal of thousands of lawsuits the company brought against student borrowers.

GA: Whistleblower blasts Georgia immigration detention center’s COVID-19 response

ajc.com

A coalition of advocacy groups filed a federal complaint against the private company that operates an immigration detention center in South Georgia, alleging the company is failing to protect detainees and employees from the spread of COVID-19.

WY: Some tribal members were turned away by Wyoming ER at pandemic’s beginning, they say

trib.com

Emergency room staff in Riverton, Wyoming, allegedly turned away potential COVID-19 patients from the Wind River Indian Reservation at the start of the pandemic, the chairperson of the Northern Arapaho Business Council told state lawmakers, leaving tribal members to figure out their care on their own.

SD: Family speaks out after man killed in crash involving South Dakota attorney general

argusleader.com

The South Dakota Highway Patrol confirmed that Republican Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg was involved in a crash that killed a man Saturday night, according to a news release. Ravnsborg initially reported to the Hyde County Sheriff's Office that he thought he had hit a deer.

AL: Alabama governor approves $10M in CARES Act funds for tourism campaign

al.com

Republican Gov. Kay Ivey has approved using $10 million of Alabama’s money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act for a marketing and advertising campaign to help the tourism industry recover from the slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

IA: Iowa judge voids 90,000 absentee ballot requests

apnews.com

Johnson County became the third county in Iowa to have its ballot request forms voided after President Donald Trump’s campaign and state and national Republican Party groups challenged county election officials who mailed the forms to voters with personal information filled in to simplify the process.

AK: Question of whether Alaska Native Corporations get COVID-19 money could hinge on a comma

alaskapublic.org

Attorneys for tribes argued in a federal appeals court that Alaska Native Corporations deserve no share of the money Congress reserved for tribes in the CARES Act.

DE: Polling place changes in Delaware confuse voters

delawareonline.com

Delaware elections officials changed the polling place for Wilmington's Hilltop neighborhood twice in the past month and a half, but not everyone was notified before the primary. 

SC: South Carolina anti-mask protest set

thestate.com

A group of anti-mask and anti-COVID-19 closure protesters will be meeting at the South Carolina State House as lawmakers return to discuss the state’s budget, spending of federal coronavirus dollars and virus voting precautions.

MD: Amazon hiring 4,400 workers in Maryland amid pandemic e-commerce boom

baltimoresun.com

The planned new hires will add to the Seattle-based online retailer’s 17,500-person workforce in Maryland. Amazon is engaged in a massive company-wide expansion accelerated by booming sales during the pandemic.

OK: Oklahoma Democrats seek legal opinion on using federal funds

apnews.com

Several Oklahoma House Democrats requested a legal opinion on Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt’s decision to spend federal coronavirus relief funds to send students to private schools.

MO: Missouri becomes latest red state to reject Trump’s payroll tax deferral offer

stltoday.com

After reviewing the offer for five weeks, Republican Missouri Gov. Mike Parson’s administration announced it would not temporarily stop taking the 6.2% tax out of paychecks of people earning $4,000 or less per biweekly pay period beginning Sept. 1.

CT: Connecticut governor announces new fines for violating rules on social gatherings and mask-wearing

courant.com 

Connecticut is cracking down on COVID-19-related violations through a series of new fines aimed at residents who flout the state’s mandates, Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont announced. Residents could be fined $100 for violating the mask mandate, $250 for attending a large, unsanctioned event and $500 for organizing a large, unsanctioned event. 

WI: Wisconsin ballot dispute ends

jsonline.com

The Wisconsin Supreme Court kept the Green Party's presidential ticket off the ballot. That disappointed party members but ensured more than a million absentee ballots will be sent to voters this week as required by state law.

LA: Hurricane Sally: Louisiana governor said threat continues for state

theadvertiser.com

As Hurricane Sally crawled toward the Louisiana-Mississippi border Monday, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards warned residents to stay vigilant despite forecasts that shifted the storm’s path east.

OH: Religious reaction to COVID-19 mask mandate varies in Ohio

dispatch.com

Ohio's statewide mask mandate is the only COVID-related state health policy to include houses of worship, a distinction some aren’t happy with while others are thankful for.

NC: North Carolina GOP accuses education association of supporting cop killers; group pushes back

newsobserver.com

Senate Republicans accused the North Carolina Association of Educators of supporting cop killers, prompting the group to say Senate GOP leader Phil Berger was spouting garbage.

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