Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/17

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/17

CA: California significantly rolls back county reopening plans amid alarming COVID-19 surge

mercurynews.com

In response to ballooning COVID-19 cases, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he was pulling an “emergency brake” to slow the spread of the virus, forcing the vast majority of California to return to the state’s most restrictive tier in its reopening blueprint.

IA: Iowa governor broadens mask requirements, limits bar, restaurant hours

desmoinesregister.com

After months of rebuffing calls for a broad mask mandate to fight COVID-19, Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that everyone ages 2 and older must wear a face covering when in an indoor space that is open to the public.

AK: Trump rushes to sell drilling rights to Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

washingtonpost.com

The Trump administration is asking oil and gas firms to pick spots where they want to drill in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as it races to open the pristine wilderness to development and lock in drilling rights before President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

OK: Oklahoma governor announces limits on bars, restaurants

oklahoman.com

Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt announced that effective Thursday, Oklahoma bars and restaurants must close by 11 p.m., except for to-go and drive-thru orders. Stitt also announced a new requirement that all state employees must wear masks while at work.

NJ: New Jersey orders new coronavirus-related gathering limits

nj.com

New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy announced he’s signing an executive order that will re-tighten limits on the number of people allowed to gather, with indoor gatherings limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 150 people, though there are exceptions. The moves affect everything from parties to holiday get-togethers to sporting events.

WY: Wyoming GOP passes resolution opposing state of emergency

wyofile.com

As Wyoming’s COVID-19 crisis reaches a fever pitch, the Wyoming Republican Party’s governing body passed a resolution calling on Gov. Mark Gordon, also a Republican, to rescind his declaration of a state of emergency. Two GOP state senators recently announced they had COVID-19. A state representative died of the disease this month.

HI: Time is running out for Hawaii to spend $877M in relief funds

civilbeat.org

Hawaii still has $877 million in CARES Act money that needs to be spent by Dec. 31. That there’s still such a huge pile of cash sitting there with the deadline just six weeks away shows how hard it is to spend hundreds of millions of federal dollars in a short time.

MS: Mississippi governor proposes phasing out state income tax

apnews.com

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, said the state should phase out its individual income tax by 2030 to attract new residents and businesses that could boost economic growth. The individual income tax is one of the largest sources of Mississippi tax collections.

NE: Nebraska teachers union leaders call on governor to issue state mask mandate

journalstar.com

The Nebraska State Education Association called on Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts to enact strict guidelines in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and allow schools to stay open.

AL: Alabama cattle auctions, poultry processors can apply for CARES Act funds

al.com

Alabama Republican Agriculture Commissioner Rick Pate announced that cattle auction markets and poultry processors can apply for reimbursement of costs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

MO: Outbreak forces Missouri lawmakers to postpone special session on COVID-19

stltoday.com

The Missouri Senate has postponed a special legislative session focused on limiting COVID-19-related lawsuits after a COVID-19 outbreak within its ranks. The Senate majority leader said it was "due to a number of positive COVID-19 cases among members and staff."

WV: West Virginia teachers’ group calls for virtual learning for the rest of 2020

apnews.com

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, has barred in-person instruction from Thanksgiving through Dec. 3 with the aim of stemming possible outbreaks in schools amid holiday traveling. But the West Virginia Education Association said in a statement that officials should go further and end classroom instruction for the rest of the year.

WI: Wisconsin Supreme Court hears arguments as it decides fate of governor’s COVID-19 policies

jsonline.com

A lawsuit brought by the president of a Caterpillar equipment dealer could wipe out Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ COVID-19-related executive orders, such as those that limited the capacity of bars and restaurants and required people to wear masks. The capacity limits are no longer in effect, but the mask requirement is.

PA: Feds reject Pennsylvania’s plan to spend up to $300M in stimulus money for school property tax relief

spotlightpa.org

For over a decade, state lawmakers have sent yearly payments to Pennsylvania’s school districts so they can lower residents' property tax bills. These payments are funded by gambling revenue, which has taken a major hit this year as the coronavirus forced casinos to shut down for months before reopening under new restrictions.

NH: Rising COVID-19 cases in New Hampshire exacerbate health care workforce shortages

nhpr.org

New Hampshire hospitals and health care facilities have long struggled to recruit and retain workers, especially licensed nursing assistants.

CT: Connecticut governor asks president to extend National Guard virus support

apnews.com

Connecticut Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont has written to President Donald Trump, requesting that the National Guard be allowed to continue supporting the state’s coronavirus response efforts through the middle of next year. He also asked that the federal government pick up 100% of the cost.

OR: 2 Oregon counties voted to look at joining Idaho

opb.org

On Election Day, voters in Oregon's Jefferson and Union counties voted to push their lawmakers to consider taking their communities into Idaho. The chances of that actually happening remain slim: It would require votes by both Oregon and Idaho legislatures and the U.S. Congress.

WA: Late GOP ballots thwart Democratic gains in Washington legislature

crosscut.com

Democrats were optimistic that they would pick up at least a seat or two in Washington's Legislature, based on early results on election night. But late ballots skewed Republican to an unusual degree, zeroing out the gains Democrats initially thought they might have made.

NY: New York City tourism may not fully recover until 2025

nytimes.com

The pandemic triggered a free fall in tourism to New York City, one of the world’s most popular destinations. A new forecast predicts that the influx of tourists will not fully rebound for at least four years, a somber assessment that reflects one of the biggest challenges to the city’s recovery.

ID: Idaho schools plead for help amid COVID-19 surge

idahostatesman.com

Leaders for the largest school districts in Idaho's Treasure Valley are urging the public to help get escalating COVID-19 case counts under control, warning the current path puts in-person classes at risk. The letter asks residents to wear a face covering, keep their distance from others, wash their hands, follow quarantines and avoid social gatherings and large crowds.

TX: Texas universities lax on oversight as students head home

texastribune.org

Few Texas universities—some of which have been identified as coronavirus hot spots—have explicitly encouraged students to quarantine for 14 days before Thanksgiving or required exit testing, despite staggering rises in case counts across the state and country.

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