Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 10/1

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 10/1

CA: California task force will consider paying reparations for slavery

latimes.com

With Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature, California became the first state government in the country to adopt a law to study and develop proposals for potential reparations to descendants of enslaved people and those impacted by slavery.

IL, TX: American Airlines, United to cut 32,000 jobs as Washington debates relief

wsj.com

The moves by Texas-based American Airlines and Illinois-based United put more pressure on lawmakers who have negotiated on and off for months over an aid package that could include relief for airlines and other hard-hit industries like restaurants and small businesses. Both carriers said they would bring workers back if a deal is reached in the next few days.

IA: Iowa governor touts $305M state budget surplus

desmoinesregister.com

Iowa has ended its 2020 budget year with a surplus of $305.5 million — a number that shows how the state’s conservative budgeting practices have helped it weather the coronavirus pandemic, said the state’s Republican leadership, including Gov. Kim Reynolds.

WI: Court blocks Wisconsin GOP appeal on ballot count

jsonline.com

It was the second ruling against Wisconsin Republicans in less than 24 hours by a panel of judges appointed by GOP presidents. A federal appeals court blocked an effort to appeal a ruling extending deadlines for counting absentee ballots.

VT: Legislation provides $1,200 for all Vermonters, including migrant farmworkers

vtdigger.org

Vermont is creating the first program in the nation to provide comprehensive relief payments to migrant workers and families, though questions remain over how the money will be distributed.

PA: Pennsylvania Republicans want to create and control an ‘election integrity’ panel with subpoena power

spotlightpa.org

One day after President Donald Trump fanned manufactured fears of election fraud in Pennsylvania, Republicans in the state legislature pushed forward an effort to create an “election integrity” committee that Democrats characterized as a “stealth attack” on voting.

MN: Judge dismisses US Senate candidate's lawsuit over Minnesota governor's COVID-19 orders

startribune.com

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jason Lewis alleging that Democratic Gov. Tim Walz's COVID-19 executive orders restrict his ability to travel and effectively campaign in Minnesota.

MT: Judge rejects Trump challenge to Montana’s mailed ballots

apnews.com

A federal judge in Montana rejected an effort by President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign and Republican groups to block Montana counties from holding a mostly-by-mail general election, saying claims that the election could be marred by widespread voter fraud is “a fiction.”

NE: Nebraska governor shares Trump's concerns about validity of election results

journalstar.com

Nebraska Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts said he shares some of the concerns expressed by President Donald Trump about the validity of some of the mail votes cast for president in other states.

AL: Judge rules Alabama counties can offer curbside voting, blocks some absentee voting laws

al.com

A federal judge ruled that Alabama cannot block counties from offering curbside voting and that witness and photo ID requirements for absentee voting violate the rights of certain voters during the COVID-19 pandemic.

MS: Mississippi governor lifts mask mandate

sunherald.com

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, announced that he will not extend the statewide mask mandate that was originally issued in early August, but masks will still be required in schools. Reeves also eased some social distancing restrictions, including increasing attendance at high school football games to 50% of stadium capacity.

NJ: 11 New Jersey schools report that students or teachers caught the virus in school

nj.com

At least 11 New Jersey schools have confirmed outbreaks in which students or teachers transmitted the coronavirus in school buildings or through extracurricular activities, according to a new state dashboard tracking cases.

IN: More than 2,000 cases of COVID-19 reported in Indiana schools 

indystar.com 

Nearly 2,400 students, teachers and other school employees have tested positive for COVID-19 since the new school year started this fall, according to new data from the Indiana State Department of Health.  

NH: Testing kids not ‘medically necessary’ but good for public health, New Hampshire health officials say

nhpr.org

New Hampshire health officials are doubling down on their recommendations to schools for dealing with potential COVID-19 cases, in spite of criticism that the recommendations are too strict.

KS: Kansas will begin processing extra $300 unemployment payments Friday

kansas.com

Kansans who are eligible for an extra $300 a week in unemployment benefits can apply for the assistance beginning Friday, when the state will start processing the additional payments.

MO: ACLU sues over Missouri order on evictions during pandemic

apnews.com

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit against a Missouri court order allowing some Kansas City area evictions to continue during the coronavirus pandemic.

ME: Some Mainers second guess their decision to cast absentee ballots

pressherald.com

State and local election officials in Maine say they’re getting calls from voters who want to know if they can change their minds about how they cast their ballots, even if they’ve already requested an absentee ballot.

VA: Here’s what Virginia’s redistricting ballot question is all about

pilotonline.com

A question of how Virginia draws its electoral districts is on the ballot in November. Voters will decide whether the constitution should be amended to create a redistricting commission that draws the districts, and, if the General Assembly or commission can’t agree on the district maps, whether the Supreme Court draws them. 

SC: South Carolina judge freezes federal funds from $600M plutonium settlement

thestate.com

A South Carolina circuit judge issued a temporary injunction freezing $600 million in federal funds that came to the state because of a political settlement in a long-running dispute over what to do with 11 tons of deadly plutonium stored at the Savannah River Site in Barnwell County.  

NC: North Carolina bars, restaurants, movie theaters can open with restrictions

newsobserver.com

Bars and other entertainment venues will be able to reopen at limited outdoor capacity as the state move to Phase 3 of eased pandemic restrictions, Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said.

DC: Pandemic hit District of Columbia budget less than feared in 2020 

washingtonpost.com 

The District of Columbia’s chief financial officer presented a revised revenue report showing the coronavirus did not damage the city’s bottom line as much as previously feared — but will likely hurt worse than expected in 2021, as the pandemic remains uncontrolled. 

AK: Alaska inmates struggle through continued virus lockdown

alaskapublic.org

Friends, family, outside volunteers and educators have not been allowed to visit since March under rules from the Alaska Department of Corrections. The department says it’s found ways to offer limited education and treatment programming and workarounds, but inmates and advocates say it’s not enough, and some inmates are locked down for 23 hours a day.

DE: Delaware pandemic response team offers final report

wdel.com

Delaware's Pandemic Resurgence Advisory Committee unveiled its final report detailing an attack plan if COVID-19 begins to spread out of control again. Members said they want to maintain readiness while maximizing economic opportunity.

CO: New COVID-19 outbreaks hit Greek organizations at Colorado universities

denverpost.com

Six fraternities and sororities at three Colorado universities reported new COVID-19 outbreaks in the past week, while the University of Colorado Boulder’s community-wide outbreak grew to more than 1,500 confirmed cases.

UT: Utah auditors say state did not adequately prepare for COVID-19

sltrib.com

A newly released review of the state’s early response to COVID-19 found that Utah leaders were unprepared for a global pandemic and that, in the scramble to adapt, they spent millions of dollars in no-bid contracts with little documentation of due diligence.

AZ: Arizona school, hospital officials urge continued mask mandates

apnews.com 

Hospital officials and Arizona’s schools’ chief urged local governments not to lift their mask mandates, warning that moving too quickly could reverse the state’s progress in tamping down COVID-19. Scottsdale’s mayor lifted a mask mandate last week, though the city is still subject to a mask requirement imposed by Maricopa County.  

NV: Over 2,000 layoffs expected for Nevada airport

reviewjournal.com

Airline and airport-related companies are set to furlough or lay off at least 2,123 workers at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada. Air travel at the airport was down 75% between March and August.

CO: Colorado plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions calls for more electric cars

denverpost.com

Democratic Gov. Jared Polis’ draft plan to drastically cut greenhouse gas pollution in Colorado calls for an accelerated move to electric vehicles and buses, deep reductions of methane emissions from the oil and gas industry and at least an 80% drop in emissions from electricity generation.

WA: Anxious Washington residents slowing down voter registration process

crosscut.com

Some Washington voters have reported problems updating their voter registrations, and it turns out making multiple attempts moves the update to the back of the queue. The idea is to avoid creating multiple data submissions for each voter.

OR: Oregon's US marshal, US attorney won't cancel federal deputization of local officers

oregonlive.com

The move comes despite requests from Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and City Attorney Tracey Reeve to drop the federal designation for Portland, Oregon, officers, saying they thought the federal status would last only through the weekend.

HI: COVID-19 is revealing problems with how Hawaii's government uses data

civilbeat.org

COVID-19 has exposed structural problems in not only how the Hawaii Department of Health collects and shares its data but also how government officials approach data in general. These deficiencies include a lack of enough staff who know data science, underpaid and overworked public servants and outdated systems that are incapable of handling modern-day problems.

FL: Evictions moratorium to lapse in Florida

tampabay.com

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis announced he would allow Florida’s moratorium to expire. DeSantis cited a federal order that freezes evictions if tenants declare they are behind on rent because of the pandemic.

MI: Michigan hits milestone in fish resurrection

mlive.com

Native Arctic grayling are now found only in Alaska and in Montana, where they were reintroduced using a program that Michigan is now replicating. Experimental spawning has begun with fish raised in conditions that mimic the wild.

NM: New Mexico close to completing census as deadline nears

lcsun-news.com

With only days left to accept responses, New Mexico is reporting 96.1% of households counted. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that Oct. 5 will be the target date for completing self-response and field data collection for states.

NY: Indoor dining returns to New York City

nytimes.com

The return of indoor dining is a major step forward in New York City’s recovery and a critical moment for a restaurant industry that has been struggling for months in the face of a pandemic that devastated it. But it remains to be seen if limited indoor dining will be enough to help keep struggling restaurants afloat.

WV: West Virginia official refutes Trump claim on ballot fraud

apnews.com

West Virginia’s secretary of state refuted President Donald Trump’s claim that a postal worker in the state was “selling ballots,” while two U.S. senators expressed full confidence in the elections.

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