What We're Reading: Top State Stories 12/1
ME: Maine legislature to meet outside of Statehouse for first time in more than 100 years
With COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in place, the 130th Maine legislature will be sworn in during historic proceedings that were moved to the Augusta Civic Center from the State House to accommodate social distancing.
CA: California governor threatens regional stay-at-home order as COVID-19 hospitalizations swell
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom warned that California is again on the brink of a wider coronavirus stay-at-home order as public health officials work desperately to shore up a state hospital system that’s contending with record numbers of COVID-19 patients.
HI: Furloughs and layoffs loom for Hawaii state budget
Hawaii lawmakers and Gov. David Ige, a Democrat, are planning initiatives to “restructure” government to cut costs to cope with the state budget crisis. The administration has also proposed two-day-per-month furloughs for unionized state workers in most collective bargaining units.
AZ: Arizona governor pledged $51M to profitable businesses
Corporate giveaways by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey since 2015 exceed by $8 million all pandemic relief paid this year from Arizona’s general fund, including small business rent and mortgage relief, assistance for health care and homeless shelters.
FL: Florida governor: No new mandates
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, ruled out imposing any further coronavirus restrictions or a mask mandate, despite rising case numbers across the state and nation.
NE: Governor says his COVID-19 plan is right for Nebraska despite White House task force assessments
Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts rejected a continuing series of White House COVID-19 task force assessments declaring that Nebraska needs to issue a mask mandate to control the spread of the virus in the state, arguing that his plan is "right for Nebraska."
AL: ‘Out of control’: Alabama hits record virus hospitalizations
Alabama reached a new high for the number of people in state hospitals with COVID-19, a record that comes before an expected spike in cases in the weeks following Thanksgiving gatherings.
MS: Mississippi sets new record for hospitalizations
More people are hospitalized with the coronavirus in Mississippi than at any time since the pandemic began.
IN: Additional COVID-19 cases reported in Indiana schools
Nearly 2,000 additional cases of coronavirus in Indiana schools have been reported by the state Department of Health. The current totals since the school year began are 11,677 students, 2,486 teachers and 2,899 staff members statewide—more than 17,000 cases.
RI: Rhode Island hospitals have reached capacity
As the demand for hospital beds in Rhode Island rises with an increase in coronavirus patients, a field hospital in Cranston is taking patients, according to a spokeswoman. The site is for COVID-19 patients who aren’t critically ill.
OK: Oklahoma Obamacare premiums are lowest in years, but COVID-19 may hurt sign-ups
Thanks in part to a record number of insurers offering plans in Oklahoma, with coverage starting Jan. 1, the average monthly benchmark premiums on the federal exchange are down more than 20% from a record high in 2019.
NJ: New Jersey governor reveals tighter outdoor gathering limits
In an effort to fight the second wave of the coronavirus, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy announced he’s lowering New Jersey’s outdoor gathering restrictions for the second time this month—to 25 people—ahead of the busy December holiday season.
VT: ‘Butter boom’ a bright spot for Vermont’s dairy industry
2020 has been a tough year for Vermont dairy producers. Butwith more people staying home since March, and doing more baking, butter makers say Vermonters are buying their product for home use in greater quantities than in years past.
WI: Wisconsin governor authorizes Biden electors
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and the head of Wisconsin's elections board certified Joe Biden's victory in the state as Republicans contended they should have waited to act because of a likely lawsuit from President Donald Trump.
CO: Colorado lawmakers begin special session to aid those hit hardest by the pandemic
Colorado lawmakers begin a special legislative session to tackle an economic relief package aimed at helping small businesses, expanding broadband access for students and educators doing remote learning, providing assistance for child care providers and helping renters and landlords.
TX: Texas budget in better shape than lawmakers expected
Texas lawmakers will have more money to work with in the upcoming legislative session than Comptroller Glenn Hegar expected over the summer.
MI: Michigan cities ask state officials for help
City leaders called on Michigan lawmakers for actions they said would help prevent cuts to vital services such as police. One request was to allow cities to keep taxing the incomes of people temporarily working at home.
WV: West Virginia hospitals to curb elective surgeries as coronavirus cases soar
Hospitals across West Virginia will reduce elective surgeries to ensure there is enough space to accommodate coronavirus patients.
WA: WA Notify system goes live with COVID-19 exposure notifications for smartphones
More than 200,000 people have already signed up for Washington’s COVID-19 notification phone app, Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, said as he implored residents to sign up for it.
OR: Oregon Capitol staffers begin union drive
Legislative staffers at the Oregon Capitol are in the process of organizing a union. In a letter received by legislative leaders on Nov. 12, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 89 gave official notice of the unionization effort.
ID: Idaho convenience stores deny gas-gouging allegations but agree to lower prices
Idaho’s three largest convenience store chains have agreed to provide $1.5 million in discounted gasoline to settle claims that they gouged customers during the coronavirus pandemic.
MA: Massachusetts lawmakers unveil police reform compromise after months of secret negotiations
Massachusetts legislative leaders said they reached an agreement on “landmark” policing legislation that would create a new system for holding officers accountable, including stripping them of legal protections in some cases of misconduct.