Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/30

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/30

FL, CA: 28,000 Disney workers face layoffs

miamiherald.com

The Walt Disney Company has taken another hit by the pandemic as about 28,000 employees at its Florida and California theme parks will be laid off. Many theme park employees were furloughed in April but until now they had been getting benefits.

WI: Wisconsin declares new COVID-19 crisis

jsonline.com

Wisconsin is considering setting up temporary hospitals as one-day deaths reached a four-month high and cases and hospitalizations are higher than ever. Hospitals are reaching capacity, especially in northeastern Wisconsin.

NJ: Governor signs $32.7B New Jersey budget filled with taxes, borrowing and cuts

northjersey.com

Millionaires, certain businesses and HMOs will face increased taxes, and New Jersey taxpayers will have to pay back billions of dollars in borrowing, with interest, that the state intends to use to plug revenue holes caused by the coronavirus, under the $32.7 billion state budget Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law.

KS: 65 Kansas counties have so many new cases that state suggests ending in-person teaching

kansas.com

Kansas has 65 counties with so many new cases of COVID-19 that their incidence rates have moved into the red zone of the school reopening guide. The red zone is the most serious of the pandemic, suggesting that schools should close to all in-person classes and stop sports practices and games.

MS: Entire Mississippi middle school sent home after outbreak

sunherald.com

The entire student body of Mississippi's Long Beach Middle School will be sent home to quarantine for two weeks after more than a third of students either tested positive for COVID-19 or were potentially exposed to the virus. Students will return to school on Oct. 14.

IA: Iowa easing guidelines on when schools need to quarantine students exposed to coronavirus cases

desmoinesregister.com

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds said Iowa will no longer recommend those who have been exposed to a person who tested positive with coronavirus to self-quarantine for 14 days if both people were wearing a facial covering.

CA: New California law funds COVID-19 outreach, enforcement for farmworkers

sacbee.com

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom this week signed two laws aimed at helping California’s “unsung essential workers” during the COVID-19 crisis, one of which aims to ensure farmworkers have access to reliable information about how to stay healthy.

PA: Pennsylvania counties push for changes to mail ballot law

apnews.com

Pennsylvania’s counties pressed lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to allow them to process mail-in ballots before Election Day in the battleground state as they consider the prospect of waiting until polls open to dig into what could be 3 million or more envelopes.

ME: Maine will process absentee ballots early but won’t tally until Election Day

pressherald.com

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the historic surge in absentee ballot requests in Maine and across the country, Democratic Gov. Janet Mills has extended the early processing time for absentee ballots to up to seven days. The votes won’t be tallied until election day.

SC: South Carolina absentee voters should get witness signatures while appeals go on, official says

thestate.com

South Carolina election officials hope to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on whether a federal judge was right to toss a requirement for voters to have a witness sign their absentee ballot envelopes. In the meantime, state elections officials are urging voters to get a witness to sign anyway.

AZ: Arizona attorney general asks for unsigned ballot ruling to be put on hold

apnews.com

Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich has asked an appeals court to hold off on enforcing a ruling that gives Arizona voters who forget to sign their early ballots up to five days after the election to fix the problem.

CT: COVID-19 positivity rate in Connecticut hits highest level since June 

courant.com

Connecticut health officials and medical experts have attributed the increase to various factors, including colleges and K-12 schools reopening and fatigue with social distancing measures. 

MN: Hospital COVID-19 admissions on the rise in Minnesota

startribune.com

Hospital admissions for COVID-19 have risen to a level not seen in Minnesota since the start of June. The increase followed rising infections with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 in young adults and teenagers, who then spread the virus to others at greater risk of severe illness, said Kris Ehresmann, state infectious disease director.

MO: Marijuana expected to hit Missouri shelves this fall

stltoday.com

Missouri inched closer this week to its first commercial marijuana sales when a laboratory got a green light to start testing samples of pot expected to hit shelves by late October.

AK: Hospital capacity could be strained in Alaska as COVID-19 cases rise

alaskapublic.org

Inpatient bed capacity is already strained in Alaska, as more people opt for surgeries or elective procedures later in the year when they’ve met their deductibles. COVID-19 hospitalizations haven’t spiked significantly, but with flu season approaching, experts urged Alaskans to get flu shots to help prevent further strain on the system.

NY: New York City elementary schools open for in-person classes

nytimes.com

About 300,000 New York City children returned to classrooms for the first time since March. But Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city’s daily rate of positive coronavirus tests had risen to more than 3% for the first time in months, and he promised another shutdown if the average rate stays above 3% for seven days.

CO: School enrollment may be dropping in Colorado amid pandemic

coloradosun.com

Democratic Gov. Jared Polis pleaded with Colorado parents to enroll their children in school, saying that districts have seen declines in the number of kids signed up for classes during the coronavirus crisis, especially among younger grades.

WY: Wyoming COVID-19 cases are on the rise, setting new records

oilcity.news

Much like other states, many of the infections in Wyoming are being traced to bars, restaurants and parties, along with other late-summer gatherings such as weddings.

TX: Two Texas school districts cancel remote learning options. Will others follow suit?

houstonchronicle.com

Some smaller school districts are reconsidering their online-learning programs after Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath reiterated that they are not required.

NM: New Mexico grabs federal checks for child support

apnews.com

New Mexico has increased annual child support collections by $18 million as it intercepts federal economic impact payments to parents owing money. Child support collections increased to $156 million through June compared with last year.

LA: Louisiana lawmakers could get more oversight of coronavirus restrictions under proposed bill

theadvocate.com

A legislative panel advanced a bill that would give Louisiana lawmakers oversight — but not an up-or-down vote — over the Democratic governor’s emergency declarations, a response to complaints by Republican lawmakers that they have been sidelined by Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration in coronavirus restrictions.

MD: Economic forecast shows Maryland weathering pandemic recession

baltimoresun.com

Maryland’s state government budget has avoided catastrophic shortfalls so far during the pandemic-induced recession, largely due to federal coronavirus aid programs. But things could get much worse if there’s a second wave of the virus that requires a return to shutdowns or if Congress fails to approve another aid package, state forecasters warned.

UT: Utah governor’s emergency coronavirus orders frustrate conservatives

sltrib.com 

Utah lawmakers are the target of an onslaught of emails, phone calls and social media messages urging them to meet in a special session to end the state’s COVID-19 related state of emergency. The push for the legislature to step in comes as COVID-19 cases are spiking in the state.

NV: Nevada strike force making progress on unemployment claim backlog

thenevadaindependent.com

After two months, a Nevada strike force charged with addressing delays in an unemployment system strained by more than 1.1 million claims this year has resolved about a quarter of the backlog it inherited and hopes to finish the job with the help of 200 newly retrained welfare workers. 

VT: For a small state, Vermont receives a huge share of the federal coronavirus funding

vtdigger.org

Vermont is awash in money right now as policymakers decide how to spend the state’s $1.25 billion share of CARES Act money. Vermont is second only to Wyoming in the size of its per capita payout.

MD: Mental health toll of pandemic surges in Maryland

baltimoresun.com

Mental health practitioners and suicide experts say they’re on watch and responding to help treat the alarmingly high levels of depression and anxiety Marylanders have reported since the COVID-19 outbreak started seven months ago. Calls to Baltimore’s crisis hotline have doubled during the pandemic.

SD: South Dakota criminal and civil traffic laws favor drivers over pedestrians in collisions

argusleader.com

South Dakota traffic laws place more responsibility on pedestrians to be on the lookout for errant drivers than they do for drivers to watch out for walkers, joggers and cyclists when it comes to assigning liability in vehicle versus pedestrian accidents.

CO: Colorado city extends outdoor dining for a year

denverpost.com

Denver, Colorado, announced that relaxed restrictions for expanded restaurant and bar patios will stay in place through October 2021. They were originally slated to expire at the end of October.

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