Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/28

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/28

TX: US judge blocks Texas law that would end straight-ticket voting

statesman.com

A federal judge has ordered Texas officials to allow straight-ticket voting for the Nov. 3 election, ruling that a state law ending the practice would endanger voters by causing longer lines at polling places during the pandemic.

MT: Federal judge removes Trump's public lands boss after Montana governor’s lawsuit

apnews.com

The ruling came after Montana’s Democratic governor sued to remove the Trump administration's leading steward of public lands, saying the former oil industry attorney was illegally overseeing an agency that manages almost a quarter-billion acres of land, primarily in the West.

WI: Appeals court to hear ballot counting case in Wisconsin

jsonline.com

The case is being watched nationally because Wisconsin is one of the top battlegrounds in the race between President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden. At issue is whether absentee ballots can be counted as long as they were postmarked by Election Day.

MN: COVID-19 surveys halted in Minnesota amid racism, intimidation

startribune.com

A door-to-door COVID-19 testing survey has been halted due to multiple incidents in greater Minnesota of residents intimidating and shouting racial and ethnic slurs at state and federal public health survey teams.

CA: California will house transgender inmates by gender identity

apnews.com

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law requiring California to house transgender inmates in prisons based on their gender identity — but only if the state does not have “management or security concerns.”

FL: Florida bars reopen in possible political gamble

sun-sentinel.com

Bars and nightclubs across South Florida reopened their doors to patrons ready to celebrate the end of the coronavirus pandemic shutdowns. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said he wanted to end six months of frustration with government restrictions.

CO: U.S. Supreme Court vacancy adds urgency to abortion fight in Colorado

denverpost.com

Colorado’s Proposition 115, which will be on the ballot Nov. 3, would make it illegal for medical professionals to perform abortions after 22 weeks except in cases where the mother is at an immediate risk of death. Abortion rights advocates are fighting the measure as another attempt to chip away at a woman’s right to choose.

TX: Texas will spend $171M in federal coronavirus relief funds to help renters avoid evictions

texastribune.org

Texas is using $171 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to provide financial and legal aid to renters facing eviction, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott announced. The vast majority of that money, $167 million, will go toward rental assistance. Another $4.2 million will be used to fund legal services for Texans.

MN: COVID-19 cases already closing some Minnesota school buildings

mprnews.org

Three weeks into the new academic year, COVID-19 cases are already causing some K-12 districts across Minnesota to close their school buildings and send teachers and students into quarantine.

LA: Louisiana governor asks to move $175M from small business program to unemployment fund

theadvocate.com

Igniting controversy, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards asked legislative leaders to move what he called $175 million in unspent dollars for small businesses to help shore up Louisiana's dwindling unemployment fund and for local governments.

PA: Could the Pennsylvania GOP bypass the popular vote regardless of who wins?

spotlightpa.org

The head of the Pennsylvania Republican Party raised the possibility that the GOP-controlled legislature could choose a slate of presidential electors to cast the state’s votes for Donald Trump.

NE: Unemployed Nebraskans will receive full six weeks of extra $300 payment

journalstar.com

Despite being the last state to join the program, Nebraska will be able to pay the full six weeks of additional unemployment compensation through the federal Lost Wages Assistance program.

CT: Earlier absentee ballot processing on Connecticut special session agenda 

apnews.com 

Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont has officially called Connecticut lawmakers back to the state Capitol for a special session to consider bills that could lead to changes in how public utilities are regulated and allow local election officials to start processing absentee ballots earlier. 

RI: Rhode Island COVID-19 restrictions extended 

providencejournal.com 

Rhode Island’s current COVID-19 health restrictions will stay in place for another month, Democratic Gov. Gina M. Raimondo ordered. The state has been operating under “Phase 3” rules, which include a 15-person maximum for social gatherings, a 50-person limit for indoor catered or restaurant events and 100-person limit for outdoor events. 

AZ: Arizona county asks court to allow virtual voting in care facilities

azentral.com

Voters confined to hospitals and nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic should be allowed to cast ballots in the November election via video call, Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes said in a court complaint filed in Arizona Superior Court.

UT: Utah high schools’ spike in COVID-19 cases blamed on parties, extracurriculars

sltrib.com

COVID-19 cases are spiking among Utah’s teenagers and young adults. Eight of the state’s high schools have had to close because of outbreaks. And school officials and an infectious disease expert are pointing to activities outside the classroom — extracurricular and social — as the main sources of the spread.

NV: Nevada tribes see ballot collection as a lifeline

apnews.com

Tribal officials in northern Nevada worry how elders and others who don’t have cars or can’t travel on their own will get to the post office to return their ballots before Election Day. A new Nevada law allows residents to fill out their ballots and let someone else return them on their behalf — a neighbor, tribal official or political volunteer.

NJ: New Jersey cities are hotter than ever. Racism is as much to blame as climate change.

nj.com

New Jersey just experienced its second-hottest summer on record. Decades-old and inherently racist policies made some urban areas as much as 20 degrees hotter than the surrounding suburbs.

MO: By some measures, September is Oklahoma's worst month for COVID-19

tulsaworld.com

September in some respects is the worst month so far for COVID-19 in Oklahoma, and indicators point toward October being at least as bad, perhaps worse, according to a local expert analyzing trends for an OSU Center for Health Sciences program.

WA: Long before coronavirus, Washington nursing homes struggled with staffing

seattletimes.com

As COVID-19 devastated nursing homes across Washington, long-standing staffing woes created a perfect storm at many facilities at a time when workers were needed most.

HI: Airlines race to offer COVID-19 testing to Hawaii-bound passengers

civilbeat.org

Just days after Democratic Gov. David Ige announced Hawaii would allow incoming travelers to bypass the state’s mandatory two-week quarantine by taking a COVID-19 test, airline companies are racing to offer coronavirus tests to their customers.

MS: University of Southern Mississippi creates free COVID-19 course

apnews.com

The University of Southern Mississippi is offering a free online course aimed at educating the public about the coronavirus. The six-part course was created to combat misinformation and misunderstanding among the public about the novel coronavirus and pandemics in general.

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