Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/23

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/23

ME: Maine high court clears way for ranked-choice voting in November

pressherald.com

Maine’s highest court opened the door for the first use of ranked-choice voting in a presidential election, ruling that opponents of the process had failed to collect enough signatures to trigger another statewide referendum. 

TX: Texas shatters voter registration records again as November election draws closer

houstonchronicle.com

Texas has once again shattered voter registration records, adding more than 1.5 million voters since the last presidential election. Texas now has surpassed 16.6 million voters, according to the latest numbers announced by Republican Secretary of State Ruth R. Hughs. And there are still almost two weeks to add more.

CO: Colorado governor will require furloughs for state workers – including himself

denverpost.com

Most state employees who make more than $50,000 annually will be taking up to four furlough days before the end of the fiscal year, Democratic Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’ office announced. Some employees will be exempt, but those taking the days include the governor and lieutenant governor.

GA: Republican Party seeks to reverse Georgia absentee deadline ruling

ajc.com

The Republican National Committee is getting involved in an appeal over absentee ballot deadlines in Georgia, making it the 20th state where the Republican Party is fighting election lawsuits.

OR: Oregon wildfires destroyed at least seven marijuana businesses

oregonlive.com

The sudden wildfires that torched more than 1 million acres across Oregon this month destroyed at least seven marijuana businesses and damaged at least dozen more, according to preliminary state survey data.

FL: Bloomberg raises millions to help Florida felons vote

apnews.com

After Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis won a court victory to keep felons from voting until they’ve paid off fines, billionaire Mike Bloomberg has stepped in to help them pay off the debts. The former Democratic presidential candidate has helped raise more than $20 million.

NY: New York paid over $700M in improper Medicaid benefits, auditor says

timesunion.com

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released five audits of the state Department of Health’s Medicaid program and found roughly $706.6 million in “unnecessary, improper or questionable payments” through various elements of the program. But state health officials argue New York already has corrected the cost overruns. 

NM: New Mexico latest state to borrow unemployment funds

krqe.com

The state fund used to pay New Mexico’s unemployment claims has been completely drained, forcing the state to borrow cash from the federal government to pay more than 90,000 jobless.

GA: Georgia loosens some nursing home visit rules

ajc.com

The new guidelines still restrict visitations in Georgia homes that have active coronavirus cases and in counties with high infection rates. 

LA: Coronavirus hasn't hurt Louisiana college enrollment; most report increases for fall

theadvocate.com

Public universities in Louisiana, pretty much across the board, saw more students sign up and pay tuition for the fall semester.

MN: High-risk Minnesotans ID'd for COVID-19 prevention

startribune.com

A Minnesota state Medicaid partnership seeks to get ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic by screening for people with clear risks and helping them reduce their odds of infection or severe illness.

PA: Federal judge denies governor's request to stay order invalidating Pennsylvania coronavirus mitigation measures

mcall.com

There is no limit — at least for now — on how many people can gather indoors or outdoors in Pennsylvania, after a federal judge put the exclamation mark on a ruling he made this month that goes against some of the restrictions Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf put in place to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

VT: Vermont schools will be allowed to start using cafeterias, holding sports competitions

vpr.org

Starting Saturday, K-12 schools in Vermont will move from Step 2 to Step 3 guidance. Secretary of Education Dan French said the change will allow for the use of common areas such as gyms and cafeterias, and also enable athletic competitions between schools.

PA: Pennsylvania Republicans asking U.S. Supreme Court for ruling on state’s mail-in ballot issue

wpxi.com

Republicans are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to look at a ruling on mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania in what could be the first case since Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death.

OK: Oklahoma ups COVID-19 response in state prisons after deaths of inmates, staff

tulsaworld.com

COVID-19 testing for Oklahoma Department of Corrections staff is going from voluntary to mandatory after the agency reported nine inmate deaths and three staff deaths.

NJ: Bill boosting New Jersey nursing home staffing advances

nj.com

Nursing homes in New Jersey — long-plagued by staffing shortages that were exposed and exploited during the pandemic — would have to meet minimum staffing quotas for the frontline workers who feed, bathe and comfort residents under a measure two legislative committees approved.

MO: COVID-19 hospitalizations hit record numbers in Missouri. Experts worry about rural hospitals.

stltoday.com

Experts warned that a continued rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations in Missouri could lead to over-burdened hospitals, especially in rural areas. Missouri’s hospitalization numbers have been trending upward for weeks, rising the most in rural areas.

VA: Virginia governor proposes to save universities $300M by restructuring debt  

richmond.com

Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is throwing a lifeline to Virginia's public colleges and universities, which would save $300 million over the next two years through the proposed restructuring of their debt for capital projects as they struggle with the costs of the COVID-19 pandemic.

FL: Florida accidentally invites some registered voters to register

tallahassee.com

Florida identified 2 million potentially eligible but unregistered voters but didn’t filter out the untold thousands of voters whose personal information is protected. Voters can claim a special public records exemption because of the sensitive nature of their jobs.

CT: Connecticut state universities cancel spring break

courant.com

Connecticut state university students will no longer have a spring break, and their spring semester will begin one week later than originally expected, the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system announced. The decision was made after consulting with public health professionals. 

RI: Three states put Rhode Island back on travel quarantine list

providencejournal.com 

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut added Rhode Island to their travel advisory list Tuesday, meaning that people headed from Rhode Island to those states will have to quarantine for 14 days when arriving. 

HI: Half of Hawaii residents are wary of taking a vaccine

staradvertiser.com

Even if a much-awaited vaccine for COVID-19 became available, nearly half of Hawaii residents surveyed last month said they were not yet committed to getting it. When asked whether they will get the COVID-19 vaccination when it is available, only 51% said yes, while 32% said they were unsure and another 15% said no.

NC: North Carolina governor will open large outdoor venues with limited attendance

newsobserver.com

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, announced that he plans to loosen the restrictions on large outdoor venues, including stadiums, because of the state’s “continued stability” in coronavirus cases and metrics.  He said he plans to allow a capacity of 7% for large venues with a seating capacity of more than 10,000, effective Oct. 2.

SC: South Carolina teacher pay raise, employee bonuses, appear dead

thestate.com

Efforts to give South Carolina teachers pay raises and some state employees hazard pay are likely dead this year, after House members sent the state budget back to committee for review. The legislative session ends at 5 p.m. Thursday, when all pending legislation dies, and the state budget-writing Ways and Means Committee has no meetings scheduled this week.

CA: California announces nail salons can resume indoor operations soon

sacbee.com

California reverses course on nail salons, announces they can resume indoor operations soon. Under previous state guidance, nail salons were allowed to operate only outdoors in purple-tier counties — the state’s most restrictive category.

MT: Montana seeing ‘remarkable increase’ in COVID-19 cases

apnews.com

Montana is seeing a “remarkable increase” in COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks, the state’s medical officer said, as officials urged residents to step up measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and seasonal influenza.

ND: No budget cuts expected as North Dakota state revenue ahead of forecast

bismarcktribune.com

North Dakota tax collections took a hit in August, but overall state revenue for the two-year budget cycle is maintaining a narrow cushion, with no budget cuts expected.

AZ: Some Arizona hospitals start allowing visitors

azcentral.com

Visitor rules at Arizona hospitals are not entirely back to normal— there are temperature screenings, mask requirements and visitors typically can't go into the rooms of patients with COVID-19. But there has been an easing of some of the visitor rules that have separated many families since the onset of the pandemic in March.

CA: California grants western Joshua trees temporary endangered species protections

latimes.com

California officials took the unusual step of granting temporary endangered species status to the western Joshua tree, but will allow 15 solar energy firms to raze Joshua trees that stand in the way of their shovel-ready projects.

US: Navajo Nation to extend weekend lockdown

apnews.com

The Navajo Nation is implementing a stricter weekend lockdown as it looks into new clusters of coronavirus cases from family gatherings and off-reservation travel. Residents of the vast reservation that extends into New Mexico, Arizona and Utah will be required to stay home from Friday evening until early Monday morning.

MD: With no clear state guidance, Maryland school districts left to weigh reopening risks

baltimoresun.com

Maryland’s 24 school superintendents have asked for guidelines like those in other states such as West Virginia, which has created a chart with five categories that prescribes what a school system should do if the spread of the virus has reached a certain level in their county. But Maryland does not have such specific criteria for schools. 

WA: Washington launches dashboard to track pandemic's impact on economy

seattletimes.com

Washington has unveiled a new interactive data tool to examine the depth of COVID-19’s impact on the struggling economy. The tool — an economic recovery dashboard developed with federal funding from the CARES Act — will visualize data from public and private organizations, and track the state’s recovery efforts across different industries and demographics.

WI: Wisconsin extends mask mandate to November

jsonline.com

Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers declared a new health emergency, extending the expiring statewide mask mandate. Infections among college-age students skyrocketed after campuses opened.

MI: Michigan near repeal of ticket scalping ban

detroitnews.com

Michigan's State House overwhelmingly passed legislation that would repeal a 1931 ban on ticket scalping while protecting a venue’s own ticket sale efforts. The change now moves to the state Senate where a different version of the repeal has already passed.

Polling Place Changes Plugging Abandoned Oil Wells

States of Innovation

EXPLORE MORE FROM STATELINE
Places
Topics