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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/2

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/2

TX: Republicans challenge drive-thru voting in Texas

statesman.com

Some Republicans argue that Texas law prohibits drive-thru voting, so every vote cast from cars during the early voting period should be tossed out as illegal. Legal challenges are under review by the state Supreme Court and a federal judge.

FL: Undelivered ballots found at Florida post office

miamiherald.com

Special postal agents discovered 48 pieces of election mail sitting in a South Florida post office and said there could be similar issues at nearby post offices. Forty-two of the ballots had not yet been delivered to voters, and another six had already been filled out but not delivered to the county.

LA: Louisiana abortion amendment gets attention

theadvocate.com

Being against abortion is one of the few issues that crosses the often-bitter divides among Louisiana politicians, but the state's voters have never been asked before if they agree. A constitutional amendment on the ballot could be interpreted as removing the right to an abortion or public funding for abortions.

NC: Police pepper spray ends North Carolina march to the polls

newsobserver.com

A get-out-the-vote march to the polls in North Carolina was broken up by pepper spray after demonstrators refused to clear an intersection, police said. The group, led by Alamance County Rev. Greg Drumwright, said another march is planned on Election Day.

MD: Drop in drug charges in Maryland means fewer patients, less money for treatment

baltimoresun.com

Even as drug and alcohol overdoses rise amid the coronavirus pandemic, fewer Marylanders are undergoing court-ordered treatment because police are arresting far fewer people for lower-level drug offenses. The change in approach has drug treatment centers across the state facing steep shortfalls of patients and money.

NY: Many travelers to New York must test for virus to avoid quarantine

apnews.com

New York will require travelers from non-neighboring states to get a coronavirus test before, and after, they arrive in the state if they want to avoid a full 14-day quarantine.

WA: Changes across Washington fuel races for state legislature

seattletimes.com

If you want to see how Washington is changing politically, look to the legislature. A host of Black women running this year could substantially boost the diversity in the legislature, and a handful of intraparty races could determine whether Democrats move further to the left.

NJ: Fears of voter intimidation spur close watch at New Jersey polls

nj.com

Leaders at voting rights organizations told NJ Advance Media they are mobilizing volunteers to keep watch outside New Jersey polling places, without breaking the required 100-foot buffer zone around voting booths. Law enforcement leaders are also dispatching more deputy attorneys general than in 2016 to help local officials.

CO: More Coloradans are dying from Alzheimer’s disease during pandemic

denverpost.com

At least 1,053 people died from Alzheimer’s disease in Colorado during the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic, up 26% from the 3-year average for the same period, according to the state Department of Public Health and Environment. Social isolation is taking a toll.

UT: Record week culminates with 10 more coronavirus deaths in Utah

sltrib.com

Over the past seven days, there have been 11,628 total new cases and 42 deaths, Utah’s deadliest week during the pandemic. There are 342 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19, an increase from the old record of 318.

WI: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, likely to break historic homicide record

jsonline.com

The Milwaukee Police Department has recorded 162 homicides so far this year, with the Wisconsin city close to surpassing the highest total ever recorded of 165 in 1991. National experts and local activists point to the cascading effects of the coronavirus pandemic as a driving factor.

KS: Election experts warn Kansas voters to be patient with results this year

kansas.com

Kansas will accept mail ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 through the Friday after the election, to ensure delivery delays don’t prevent votes being counted. This could make a significant difference in close legislative races and the high-stakes race for U.S. Senate.

OK: Oklahoma demonstrates success of local mask ordinances

tulsaworld.com

COVID-19 cases in the parts of Oklahoma without mask mandates grew by 88%, while those in areas covered by mask ordinances rose by only 21% in the same nearly three-month period, according to the Oct. 30 version of the state’s weekly epidemiology report.

CO: Denver warns downtown businesses to prepare for Election Day unrest

denverpost.com

Officials in Denver, Colorado, warned downtown businesses to prepare for unrest. Shops along the 16th Street Mall had boarded up their windows with plywood to ward off looters.

WI: Wisconsin breaks record for coronavirus cases

apnews.com

Wisconsin reported an all-time high for new coronavirus cases in a single day as 5,278 people tested positive. Deaths from the virus also passed 2,000.

MO: Rise in cases puts pressure on Missouri hospitals

columbiamissourian.com

As Missouri hospitals continue to see rising COVID-19 admissions, some local officials around the state are taking steps to slow the trend before it overwhelms health care providers.

AR: Arkansas hits record high voter registration

arkansasonline.com

Arkansas has its highest recorded number of registered eligible voters in history — greater than 1.8 million — and election officials across the state attribute the growth to a combination of population changes and voter enthusiasm.

TN: Tennessee online sports betting projected to bring in millions in tax revenue, but questions remain

tennessean.com

As Tennessee prepares to take its place as the nineteenth state to enter the legal online sports gambling arena on Sunday, analysts predict the state's newest industry could bring in tens of millions of dollars in annual tax revenue once it solidifies its footing.

MS: Dueling medical marijuana measures on Mississippi ballot

apnews.com

After years of seeing medical marijuana proposals shot down by the Mississippi legislature, supporters decided to try something new: adding it to the state constitution. In response, Republican legislators drafted their own, more restrictive medical marijuana ballot measure.

NY: New York City shuts down 2 warehouse Halloween parties

nytimes.com

Two Halloween parties with hundreds of guests dancing and drinking inside warehouses were broken up by New York City authorities this weekend, as officials strive to curb behavior that they worry could fuel a second wave of the pandemic. Few people were social distancing or wearing masks, and 28 people face charges.

WV: West Virginia’s boom and bust tells story of Trump’s promise

washingtonpost.com

Between President Donald Trump's inauguration in January 2017 and March of this year, West Virginia recorded the fastest labor-force growth among the states, adjusting for population. West Virginia added nearly 37,000 jobs in that period, and the state's unemployment rate fell below 5%, a phenomenon that has occurred only twice since the late 1970s.

NM: New Mexico flags lowered for 1,000th virus death

lcsun-news.com

New Mexico state flags have been lowered to half-staff for a week after the state set a record for COVID-19 deaths in a single day and exceeded 1,000 fatalities. Community spread continued at an accelerated rate in every region of the state. 

MN: Minnesotans scramble to return absentee ballots

startribune.com

After a court ruled that Minnesota mail-in ballots received after 8 p.m. on Election Day must be set aside for possible legal challenges, state election officials are telling voters to drop them off at their local election office or vote in person. But that’s not an option for Minnesota voters who are in another state or overseas.

AK: On masks, Alaska governor tells local leaders to use power they say they don’t have

alaskapublic.org

Alaska Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy has resisted imposing a mask mandate and maintains that such decisions are best made by local governments. But municipal officials say they don’t have that power. 

DE: Delaware reminds voters of their rights

delawarepublic.org

Delaware officials are preparing to stop any voter intimidation that occurs Tuesday. The state Department of Justice has set up a hotline and sent guidance to law enforcement agencies about possible illegal activity surrounding the election — particularly voter intimidation.

CT: As COVID-19 infections surge across Connecticut, deaths climb at nursing homes 

courant.com 

As the coronavirus continues to spread through communities across Connecticut, the deadly virus is starting to creep back into long-term care facilities. Deaths have nearly quadrupled there in two weeks, with 27 homes now reporting at least one new COVID-19 case. 

RI: Rhode Island restaurants dodge new virus restrictions

providencejournal.com 

The Rhode Island hospitality industry has gotten at least a temporary reprieve from tougher COVID-19 restrictions. Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo said she was lowering the social-gathering limit from 15 people to 10 and banning certain aspects of youth sports, but set no new rules for restaurants.  

IL: Illinois to be under tighter restrictions as coronavirus cases climb

chicagotribune.com

All regions in the Illinois reopening plan will soon be under tighter restrictions as positivity rates for the coronavirus climb, including a ban on indoor dining and bar service and at least a 25-person cap on gatherings. 

ND: North Dakota breaks record for daily new cases

apnews.com

North Dakota reported a record number of new virus cases for the third straight day as health officials reported 1,433 people have tested positive.

ME: Virus cases surge; Maine governor rolls back openings

pressherald.com

Maine Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, announced a significant rollback of Maine’s reopening plans in response to a recent COVID-19 surge that saw the largest-ever number of new cases in the state. Mills has reduced indoor gathering limits, postponed planned reopenings of bars and tasting rooms and lowered the number of states exempt from Maine’s travel restrictions.

VT: Vermont state employees to continue remote work through winter

vtdigger.org

Vermont state employees who can work from home should expect to continue doing so until March 31, 2021, at the earliest, officials said. Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, in late March ordered state employees to telecommute.

VA: Appointments at Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles on 5-month backlog

richmond.com

Eight months into the COVID-19 crisis, all open 73 Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles centers are by appointment only, and most are booked three months out. Statewide, residents are traveling past their county’s borders to access an available date.

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