Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 10/29

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 10/29

PA: US Supreme Court refuses to expedite Pennsylvania mail ballot case, but could still intervene

spotlightpa.org

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an eleventh-hour plea by Pennsylvania Republicans to strike down a three-day extension for counties to accept mail ballots but has left open the possibility that it will hear the case and that those votes might not ultimately be counted.

ME: Maine can process absentee ballots early this year

pressherald.com

An executive order by Maine Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, allows local election officials to begin processing absentee ballots up to seven days before the Nov. 3 election. Clerks usually are not allowed to start this process until four days before Election Day.

AZ: Democrats outpace Republicans in early voting in Arizona for first time

azcentral.com

Early ballots returned by Democratic voters are outpacing Republican ballots for the first time in modern Arizona history this close to Election Day. Maricopa County, home to the Phoenix metro area, has already surpassed the 2018 total for early voting. 

NJ: New Jersey mandates workplace COVID-19 safety rules, citing lack of federal standards

nj.com

As COVID-19 numbers continue to rise across the state, New Jersey is mandating that private and public companies implement uniform health and safety standards to protect all workers against the coronavirus. Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order that requires employers to follow the protocols as of 6 a.m. on Nov. 5.

MT: Judge approves change to Montana lake’s racist name

flatheadbeacon.com

Residents near what will now be known as Lost Loon Lake in Montana have officially shed the lake’s old racist name after a Flathead County District Court judge ruled to grant a petition filed by more than half of the lakeshore property owners.

NV: Trump campaign, Nevada GOP sue Clark County

thenevadaindependent.com

The Nevada Republican Party and President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign have filed an emergency lawsuit against Clark County, which surrounds Las Vegas, seeking detailed records related to the county’s plan for processing and overseeing ballots cast in the 2020 election.

FL: Florida man accused of changing governor's voter data

tallahassee.com

A 20-year-old man is accused of changing Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' address in the state's voter database, briefly stalling him while he was attempting to vote. DeSantis updated his address on the spot and was allowed to vote.

CO: Governor announces direct payments for more than 400K Coloradoans

denverpost.com

Hundreds of thousands of Coloradans will receive $375 each in one-time, direct payments that come out of untapped funds, Democratic Gov. Jared Polis announced. Eligibility will be limited to those earning under $52,000 who have filed for unemployment at least once between March 15 and Oct. 24 of this year, and who met state eligibility requirements for a weekly benefit amount between $25 and $500 during that same period.

AZ, NM: Second coronavirus surge hits Navajo Nation in Arizona, New Mexico

abqjournal.com

As the country grapples with a third wave of COVID-19 infections, the Navajo Nation, which includes land in Arizona and New Mexico, is dealing with its second surge, prompting new weekend-long lockdowns. The reservation recently reported the highest number of new cases since mid-July.

WI: Wisconsin speaker shifts attitude toward pandemic

jsonline.com

After going to court to end Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' plans to navigate the pandemic, and after saying no new initiatives were needed, Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is shifting his attitude toward the raging virus outbreak in Wisconsin. Vos is calling for more testing, faster testing and is considering a second state relief package. 

TX: Texas masks-at-polls issue fought out in courts

texastribune.org

A federal appeals court let stand an exemption for polling places in the statewide mask order issued by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican. The ruling blocked an earlier federal judge’s ruling, which found the exemption put a discriminatory burden on Black and Latino voters.

MO: Regulators suspend Missouri nursing home COVID-19 test lab

apnews.com

Attorneys for the federal Medicare agency wrote in court documents that two testing machines at the Missouri lab operated for months producing false-negatives on more than a quarter of known-positive COVID-19 samples. Regulators also found multiple false-positive COVID-19 test results at the lab.

KS: As deaths and hospitalizations rise in Kansas, state leaders urge mask usage, mandates

kansas.com

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and other Kansas leaders are engaged in an increasingly urgent effort to stem the spread of COVID-19 as hospitalizations mount and the state crossed a grim threshold.

CA: Older Californians can skip DMV trip: New order allows license renewals by mail

sacbee.com

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, signed an executive order that lets older Californians renew their driver’s licenses by mail, allowing them to skip a trip to a DMV office during the coronavirus outbreak.

NC: North Carolina residents will be protected against evictions during pandemic, governor says

newsobserver.com

North Carolina residents who can’t afford their rent won’t be evicted if tenants provide a sworn statement to their landlords about their circumstances, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said, keeping the state’s housing protections in line with federal guidelines.

SC: South Carolina Democrats promise army of poll watchers

thestate.com

South Carolina Democrats have assembled a small army of some 1,400 poll watchers and lawyers who will be deployed across the state on Election Day to make sure, they say, that no one interferes with people’s rights to vote.

CT: Connecticut orders mandatory testing of all nursing home staff 

courant.com 

Connecticut has ordered the resumption of mandatory weekly testing of all nursing home and assisted living employees in a bid to contain outbreaks and potential fatalities. The number of staff testing positive for the coronavirus more than doubled in the past two weeks. 

MD: Maryland coronavirus hospitalizations hit highest total since early August

baltimoresun.com

Current hospitalizations in Maryland grew by 30 to 501 on Wednesday. The state has seen a steady increase in hospitalizations since late September, when 281 people were hospitalized.

WV: Ruling favors West Virginia governor in lawsuit over bar closures

apnews.com

A federal judge has ruled in favor of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice in a lawsuit over his decision to close bars in student-heavy Monongalia County due the coronavirus pandemic. The owners of 12 establishments sued the Republican governor last month for ordering them to close after pictures were posted online of college students in Morgantown packing bars without masks.

GA: Fall surge feared as Georgia COVID-19 cases rise again

ajc.com

Coronavirus cases are again on the rise in Georgia, sparking fears among some health experts that the expected autumn surge gripping states across the nation has arrived in the Peach State. 

TN: Tennessee governor plans to extend state of emergency due to surge in COVID-19 cases

fox17.com

Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced that he plans to extend the state of emergency at the end of the month because of the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

WA: Jail inmates can vote in Washington, but they may not know it

crosscut.com

Advocates, defense attorneys and election officials in Washington have taken their outreach inside the jail to register incarcerated people and help them return their ballots. This appears to be the first year anyone has made a concerted effort to bring voting directly to inmates.

OR: Oregon may recoup the $300 weekly unemployment bonus from up to 40K people

oregonlive.com

Oregon mistakenly paid $300 weekly unemployment bonuses to tens of thousands of people who didn’t certify they were eligible for the payments, and now the state might have to recoup that money — even from some people who are actually eligible to receive it. The confounding situation is apparently yet another mess caused by the Oregon Employment Department’s obsolete computer systems.

ID: Idaho juvenile corrections reports coronavirus cases among youth, staff

idahostatesman.com

The Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections has dealt with multiple cases of COVID-19 within its facilities. Since March, the agency has reported 19 coronavirus cases among youth living in its facilities.

HI: Overdue-rent cases are expected to clog Hawaii’s courts

staradvertiser.com

Hawaii’s courts are expected to be filled with “thousands and thousands” of legal disputes between landlords and their tenants who are delinquent on rent once the current ban on evictions expires at the end of the year, the head of the state Office of Consumer Protection said. No one can be evicted for not paying rent due to the economic calamity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but renters ultimately are obligated to make up for any missed payments.

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