Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/27

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/27

NY: Incarcerated people are left out of New York’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout

nytimes.com

When New York announced new COVID-19 vaccine eligibility guidelines two weeks ago that cover millions of additional state residents, one particularly hard-hit group went unmentioned: the nearly 50,000 people incarcerated in the state’s prisons and jails. Now the virus that tore through the state’s correctional facilities in the spring is again roaring behind bars.

GA: Georgia lawmaker booted from chamber for failing to get COVID-19 test

ajc.com

A Georgia state representative was removed from the House chamber for refusing to be tested for COVID-19. “I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve been to too many funerals, and I’m getting tired of going to them,” Republican House Speaker David Ralston said of the ejected member.

MD: Maryland works to open mass coronavirus vaccination sites

baltimoresun.com

Maryland will soon open mass coronavirus vaccination sites, including at the Baltimore Convention Center, even as the state’s severely limited supply of shots hampers immunization efforts and with no end to the shortage in sight, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan said. At least six mass vaccination sites are in the works, Hogan said.

OK: Oklahoma moves forward with $2B plan to privatize Medicaid

oklahoman.com

A split Oklahoma Health Care Authority board signed off on plans for the agency to spend up to $2.2 billion to privatize the state’s Medicaid program. The board did not approve specific contracts with for-profit companies to manage the program’s spending.

CO: Colorado sports betting is raising more tax revenue than the governor expected

coloradosun.com

Colorado had already collected more than $3.4 million in sports betting tax revenue through the end of December, more than enough to cover the roughly $2 million in startup costs that had to be paid off before wagering dollars could start being directed to the state’s water plan.

AZ: Arizona lawmakers target governor’s emergency powers

apnews.com

Republican lawmakers in Arizona are pushing to cut off broad emergency powers that GOP Gov. Doug Ducey has used to restrict large gatherings and business occupancy during the coronavirus pandemic.

SC: South Carolina plans to ration COVID-19 vaccine doses on a per capita basis

thestate.com

Lacking the supply necessary to meet South Carolina’s demand for COVID-19 vaccines, state health officials will begin planning to ration doses to counties on a per capita basis. 

UT: Utah redirects COVID-19 vaccine doses that were bound for nursing homes

sltrib.com

Utah is claiming more than 28,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine that had been scheduled for use in long-term care facilities and redirecting their delivery to other eligible residents, the state’s health department announced.

WI: Wisconsin takes back some COVID-19 vaccine doses from pharmacies

jsonline.com

With just over 40,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses administered out of the nearly 200,000 set aside for Wisconsin nursing home and assisted living facilities, state health officials are working to take back some doses from CVS and Walgreens to distribute them faster through other means.

FL: Florida will reserve second COVID-19 vaccine doses

tampabay.com

In a reversal, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said Florida is withholding COVID-19 vaccines to ensure older adults and health care workers can get their second doses.

DE: Citing, short supply, Delaware postpones second doses of COVID-19 vaccines meant for first responders

delawarepublic.org

Delaware postponed a COVID-19 vaccination event that would have given some first responders eligible under Phase 1A of the state’s distribution plan their second vaccine doses. This week the state plans to give first doses to thousands of additional older adults eligible under Phase 1B, as well as 1,000 high-risk educators and school staff.

OH: Scarce COVID-19 vaccines cause uneven access to first doses for Ohio teachers

dispatch.com

Because of a scarcity of vaccines, Ohio's 334,000 teachers and staff will receive initial doses in stages.

NM: New Mexico aims for February school openings

abqjournal.com

New Mexico is preparing to expand in-person learning for students of all ages within two weeks. New Mexico public schools now offer some in-person learning under public health regulations.

MT: Montana House endorses bills targeting abortion access, transgender athletes

billingsgazette.com

The Montana House, on mostly party-line votes, gave initial approval to four bills that would limit access to abortions, as well as legislation that would prohibit transgender women from participating in women's sports and penalize doctors for providing gender-affirming care.

SD: South Dakota lawmakers revive bill decried by LGBTQ groups

apnews.com

South Dakota Republican lawmakers revived a proposed law that would ban people from changing the sex designation on their birth certificates, even after a House committee rejected the bill that LGBTQ advocates decried as an attack on transgender people.

CA: California unemployment agency was unprepared for a COVID-19 claim surge, audit says

sacbee.com

The state’s Employment Development Department, eager to get timely unemployment payments to Californians as claims surged, was unprepared for the crisis and used a system that was “compromising the integrity” of the insurance program, a state audit found.

MO: Police overhaul package moves forward in Missouri legislature—alongside a crackdown on protesters

stltoday.com

At the same time Missouri Democrats are pressing for a sweeping police overhaul package, at least one Republican wants a corresponding crackdown on protesters.

OR: Oregon legislature will consider ‘right-to-repair’ law

oregonlive.com

Oregon lawmakers will consider legislation this year to require manufacturers to make repair tools, parts and instructions readily available on “fair and reasonable terms.” The measure is among two-dozen similar bills before state legislatures across the country this year.

IA: Iowa Senate leaders change virtual meeting policy after ‘pornographic’ Zoom incident

desmoinesregister.com

Republicans in the Iowa Senate said they have changed their policy for participants in virtual subcommittee meetings after an incident that was "pornographic in nature" during a hearing.

VT: Vermont governor’s budget pitches investments in economy for pandemic recovery

vtdigger.org

As Vermont continues to grapple with an economic crisis brought on by the pandemic, Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, pitched a state budget that avoids spending cuts and instead makes major investments in local economies, affordable housing, broadband expansion and environmental protection.

MS: Mississippi governor calls to eliminate state income tax

clarionledger.com

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, said eliminating the state's income tax is the bold move the state needs to incentivize more people and companies to choose Mississippi for their business growth opportunities.

AK: Alaska human rights commission member booted after defending Nazi terms

alaskapublic.org

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, a Republican, removed a state Human Rights Commission member, Anchorage Assembly member Jamie Allard, over comments she made on social media defending Nazi terminology on a pair of custom Alaska license plates.

KS: Statehouse path unclear for move to end Kansas’ Columbus Day

apnews.com

Legislators have heard testimony from Democratic lawmakers pushing for Kansas to join more than a dozen states observing a day honoring Native Americans instead of or in addition to Christopher Columbus, but a chief proponent said he doubts that the bill will get a vote.

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