What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/28
WA: Washington governor rebukes medical center for giving donors special access to COVID-19 vaccines
Earlier this month, a medical center in Washington emailed roughly 110 donors who gave more than $10,000 to the Eastside hospital system, informing them that highly coveted coronavirus vaccine slots were available. “If in fact they were giving preference to some VIP list ... that is not acceptable for us,” said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat.
OR: Oregon House Republicans disavow their party’s position on US Capitol attack
Republicans in the Oregon House distanced themselves from their state party, after GOP officials passed a resolution labeling the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol a “‘false flag’ operation.’” A statement signed by all 23 House Republicans noted that “there is no credible evidence to support false flag claims.”
AZ: Arizona county approves another election audit
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in Arizona voted unanimously to hire two independent companies to conduct an audit that will examine again whether the machines counted votes properly, whether they were hacked or tampered with, and whether the county used proper procedures when leasing its machines from Dominion Voting Systems.
GA: Georgia bill would require two copies of photo ID for absentee ballots
Georgia voters would be required to make copies of their photo ID and mail them to election officials twice before being allowed to cast an absentee ballot, under a bill introduced in the state Senate.
FL: Florida mayor will mandate masks for Super Bowl attendees
Outdoor masks will be required at Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Florida, at least in some heavily trafficked areas. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, a Democrat, plans to issue an order before the Fe. 7 event.
OK: Oklahoma sues a bar owner it paid $2.1M to deliver N95 masks from China
In March, Oklahoma health officials turned four times to a Tulsa piano bar owner who promised he could get N95 masks from China in large amounts and quickly. They ordered more than 2 million masks from his new company for $2.125 million but got fewer than 10,000 masks, and now are suing him and his company.
NJ: New Jersey is close to having every student ready for virtual school
Eleven months after schools went virtual, New Jersey’s state government will soon be sure that every student has both internet access and a device to learn. Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy announced that the number of students who lack either a computer or internet connectivity is down to 1,928.
NY: New York governor relaxes some coronavirus restrictions as infection rates decline
Extra restrictions imposed on coronavirus “clusters” in some upstate New York counties will be lifted, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced. Stricter rules will remain in place in New York City and several other “yellow zones,'' where there will be extra school testing requirements, and limits on indoor and outdoor dining, worship services and public gatherings.
IN: Indiana governor relaxes limits on crowd sizes
Indiana’s crowd size limits will be relaxed starting next week following recent improvements in the statewide COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates, Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb announced.
MD: Maryland state senators want to add to governor’s relief proposal
Democratic leaders in the Maryland Senate are proposing tacking on hundreds of millions of dollars to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s $1 billion pandemic relief plan.
ND: North Dakota loosens occupancy limits for bars, restaurants
Republican Gov. Doug Burgum lowered the statewide risk level for the coronavirus, increasing the occupancy limits for North Dakota bars, restaurants and other food service establishments.
MI: Michigan GOP targets governor in coronavirus-related power play
Michigan Republicans blocked appointments and withheld education funding to force Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to accept a law that would strip her and the state health department of emergency COVID-19 powers.
MA: Massachusetts teachers slam drop in COVID-19 vaccine priority, say they feel like ‘pawns’ in a game
Teachers unions in Massachusetts are pushing back on the state’s updated coronavirus vaccine administration plan, saying it delays vaccinations for educators, slowing down a safe return to in-person learning.
TX: Texas turns to National Guard for rural COVID-19 vaccinations
National Guard teams will visit five rural Texas counties as part of a newly created State Mobile Vaccine Pilot Program. President Joe Biden ordered full reimbursement to states that use the National Guard, aiming to increase the national rate of COVID-19 vaccinations.
CO: Frustrations mount for older Coloradans seeking COVID-19 vaccinations
It’s been almost a month since Coloradans 70 and older became eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, but the patchwork of distribution methods across the state—hospitals, county health departments, pharmacies at grocery stores—has left some of the most vulnerable residents confused and frustrated by the slow rollout.
IA: Iowa promised more COVID-19 doses soon, but supply lags demand
While Iowa, and the rest of the country, can expect more doses of coronavirus vaccines to be available sooner than initially planned, the demand still far outstrips the supply, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds said.
NH: New Hampshire enters Phase 1B of COVID-19 vaccination plan, administers first doses to 65+, other groups
Despite the cold weather, people happily snaked out of their heavy winter coats and bared their upper arms for a COVID-19 vaccination. New Hampshire officially launched Phase 1B, which is open to residents 65 and older and people under 65 with severe medical conditions, by administering vaccinations at more than a dozen locations.
CT: Connecticut officials plan to provide COVID-19 vaccines to inmates and guards
Under pressure to stop the spread of COVID-19 cases, the Connecticut Department of Correction will begin vaccinating incarcerated people and prison staff early next month.
MN: Minnesota adopts culturally sensitive hotlines to tailor COVID-19 info to its communities
Minnesota’s COVID-19 Community Coordinators program supports culturally specific organizations across the state. Each organization has created hotlines staffed by coordinators familiar with the needs and languages of the specific community.
DE: Delaware considers bill that would ban discrimination based on natural hair styles
Delaware lawmakers are considering a bill banning discrimination against people of color for wearing their natural hair styles. If passed, Delaware would join at least seven other states in enacting similar legislation.
MT: Campus free speech bill considered by Montana House
The Montana House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on a bill that seeks to protect free speech on public university campuses in the state—even as university administrators say their campuses already protect free speech.
UT: Utah bill would require women to watch video of developing fetus before abortion
A proposed bill in Utah would require women seeking abortion to declare they’ve watched a video created by the Utah Department of Health that would show ultrasounds of a fetus throughout development and visuals of what happens to a fetus during abortion.
PA: Pennsylvania could become a national outlier in how it elects appellate judges. Here’s why experts are worried.
The Pennsylvania measure, which could be before voters as soon as May, calls for abolishing statewide elections for appellate court judges and replacing them with races in partisan districts determined by lawmakers and redrawn every 10 years.