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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/9

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/9

UT: Utah governor orders statewide mask mandate

sltrib.com

Utah Republican Gov. Gary Herbert declared a new state of emergency and issued a series of restrictions, including a statewide mask mandate — a step he has resisted for months. After the state’s most devastating week of the pandemic, his big concern is the surge in hospitalizations.

TX: Texas to appeal on county coronavirus shutdown

dallasnews.com

A Texas state court upheld El Paso County's order to temporarily shut down nonessential businesses as hospitals are overwhelmed with new virus patients. The state attorney general moved to appeal, arguing the shutdown is illegal under Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's statewide order to reopen businesses.

VT: 1 in 4 Vermonters face food insecurity in pandemic

vtdigger.org

Government-funded programs to keep people fed during the pandemic will end in December, and people on Vermont’s hunger front lines worry that the result will be alarming rates of food insecurity. One in every four residents in the state struggles to obtain adequate nutrition.

ID: 1 of Idaho's largest hospitals had to temporarily stop taking patients

idahostatesman.com

One of Idaho’s largest hospitals has been strained so heavily by the surge of COVID-19 cases that it was forced to send patients elsewhere. That meant it not only couldn’t take patients who needed to be transferred from other hospitals, it also didn’t have room for patients who came in needing care.

ND: Battle brewing over deceased North Dakota candidate's House seat

bismarcktribune.com

Three factions disagree on how the North Dakota House seat won by a deceased Bismarck-area legislative candidate should be filled, with a top lawmaker saying Republican Gov. Doug Burgum has crossed a line in making an appointment.

CO: Businesses fret over Colorado’s new paid leave law

denverpost.com

Even though premiums to fund paid leave wouldn’t start to be levied until 2023, Loren Furman of the Colorado Chamber of Commerce said placing a new cost burden on businesses as they struggle under ongoing coronavirus-fueled restrictions is cruel timing.

WI: More than a third of Wisconsin COVID-19 tests are positive

jsonline.com

Sunday's 4,280 new confirmed cases come a day after Wisconsin passed 7,000 daily cases and broke its daily record. The state Department of Health Services reported 11 more deaths, bringing the state's death toll to 2,312 people.

MD: Maryland General Assembly announces COVID-19 rules for legislative session

washingtonpost.com

Plexiglass barriers between desks, limited in-person committee testimony and floor debate, and required coronavirus testing are just a few of the changes that await Maryland legislators when the General Assembly reconvenes in January.

UT: Thousands of Utah students struggle with online learning

sltrib.com

Despite Utah teachers’ efforts, thousands of online students have failed at least one class. Those struggling students are most likely to be poor and to attend school online, according to a Salt Lake Tribuneanalysis.

IL: Hundreds of Illinois schools potentially exposed to COVID-19 in past month 

chicagotribune.com 

In the past 30 days, people who tested positive for the coronavirus reported having recently visited a total of 647 public and private schools statewide, according to Illinois public health data. The data also lists 10 schools with current COVID-19 outbreaks. 

NV: ‘Torrent of bankruptcy filings’ expected as rent comes due for thousands of Nevadans

reviewjournal.com

The due date is quickly approaching for Nevadans who have racked up thousands of dollars in missed rent payments and other debts. For many, easing the financial burden will mean filing for bankruptcy.

AK: As winter sets in and pandemic drags on, many Alaskans need help

adn.com

Eight months into the COVID-19 pandemic in Alaska, social service providers say they’re seeing rising demand from people who need help with life’s most basic needs, including food, rent and utilities. In addition, COVID-19 cases are on the rise, and the lack of in-person classes for children has forced thousands of parents to stay home.

AZ: $144M offered to Arizona tribes and others affected by coal plant closures

azcentral.com

The Arizona Public Service is proposing to offer $144 million in help to three coal-country and tribal communities where the company eventually will close its remaining coal-burning power plants. The plan includes efforts to retain workers, electrify regions of the Navajo reservation that are off the power grid and develop renewable energy projects such as solar and wind plants.

IA: What GOP’s expanded statehouse majority could mean for Iowa

desmoinesregister.com

The results mean Iowa Republicans will have two more years of unified control of state government, including the governor's office, the House and the Senate. They will be free to pursue policies such as tax cuts, expanded gun rights and abortion restrictions, with Democrats all but powerless to stop them.

WY: Wyoming moved further to the right on Election Day

trib.com

Facing a significant budgetary crisis, Wyoming voters supported candidates who favor deep cuts to government and oppose new taxes. The 23 new faces to join the legislature will be significantly more conservative than those in the past.

MN: Minnesota Republicans lack a formula to win statewide

startribune.com

On a statewide level, the Minnesota Republican Party’s losing streak is starting to look epic. Starting with the 2006 election, Democrats have won 26 statewide contests, to one for Republicans.

SD: South Dakota voters sending fewest Democrats to Pierre since Eisenhower presidency

argusleader.com

When the South Dakota legislature convenes in Pierre this winter, South Dakotans will be represented by the highest number of Republican lawmakers and the fewest Democrats in 66 years.

NC: North Carolina’s divide between urban, rural widened by election

newsobserver.com

North Carolina’s urban counties got bluer, and its rural counties got redder in the recent election, a North Carolina State University professor found.

KS: Size of internet providers factors into Kansas’ rural broadband divide

kansas.com

The coronavirus has raised the heat on the daunting challenge of too many Kansans being without high-speed internet at home. In the midst of lockdowns that forced people to work from home and students to study remotely, a lack of broadband access became a problem that couldn’t be ignored.

DE: Tribe in Delaware worries about census count after years of challenges

delawarepublic.org

The Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware had high hopes for the 2020 census. The coronavirus may have stood in the way.

NY: New York governor calls for 'microcluster' approach as COVID-19 climbs upstate

timesunion.com

New York state will use a "microcluster" approach to clamp down on coronavirus cases as upstate communities see infection rates climb to nearly 3% in some areas, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. Statewide, the infection rate is about 1.9%.

RI: Rhode Island gets budget boost

providencejournal.com

Rhode Island's budget got a $331 million projected revenue boost, but the state's fiscal position remains precarious. Sate analysts revised their estimates of tax collections, lottery income and various receipts upward from the dire projections made in May. 

HI: Slow unemployment payments spark protests in Hawaii

civilbeat.org

Demonstrations sprang up around Honolulu calling for Hawaii to work faster in issuing unemployment payments, and to provide more aid to Hawaii residents struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic.

WA: Washington's self-employed, gig workers may be missing out on jobless benefits

seattletimes.com

Labor advocates say many unemployed workers in Washington and elsewhere aren’t getting their full benefits under an emergency federal program called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Many self-employed workers, freelancers, contractors and others may have been underpaid.

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