Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/29

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/29

NY: New York underreported COVID-19 nursing home deaths

timesunion.com

New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, released a searing report that found the state Department of Health underreported the deaths of nursing home residents related to the coronavirus by as much as 50%.

GA: Georgia health officials crack down on medical center that broke with COVID-19 vaccine plan for schools

washingtonpost.com

To get students back in school, a medical center in rural northeast Georgia decided to let teachers, bus drivers and cafeteria workers from a local district sign up to get vaccinated. The act ended up costing the facility in Elberton, Georgia, its vaccine supply altogether.

SC: Bill that would outlaw most abortions passes South Carolina Senate

thestate.com

South Carolina’s Senate passed a bill that would ban most abortions after cardiac electrical activity can be detected in the embryo, which happens about four weeks after conception. The bill, known by proponents as a fetal heartbeat bill, would limit the period during which abortions can be performed to a time before many women even know they are pregnant. The South Carolina House is expected to pass the measure as well.

AR: 18 states back Arkansas on Medicaid work rule

arkansasonline.com

Arkansas should be able to set work requirements for some of its Medicaid recipients, 18 states told the U.S. Supreme Court. The granting of federal waivers, which allowed these "demonstration projects" to proceed, was not "arbitrary and capricious," they said.

MI: Michigan seeks sanctions against Trump attorneys

freep.com

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, filed for sanctions against the attorneys who brought a lawsuit that relied on conspiracy theories and misinformation in a failed attempt to overturn the state's election in favor of then-President Donald Trump.

OK: Oklahoma seeks to return $2M worth of hydroxychloroquine

apnews.com

The Oklahoma attorney general’s office is attempting to return $2 million worth of the malaria drug once touted by former President Donald Trump as an effective treatment for COVID-19, a spokesperson said.

FL: Florida announces climate change fund

miamiherald.com

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis announced $1 billion to help Florida governments with infrastructure to address climate change. Challenges include flooding, intensifying storms and rising sea levels.

CA: California lawmakers vote to extend COVID-19 eviction protections through June

latimes.com

Under an emergency bill approved by the legislature, Californians facing financial hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic will be protected from eviction through June if they pay part of their rent. The approval arrives just three days before an existing moratorium was set to expire.

MO: Missouri House OKs emergency aid for renters and landlords

stltoday.com

Moving quickly to get money in the hands of people who need it, the Missouri House approved hundreds of millions of dollars in emergency aid for struggling renters and landlords. The measure, approved unanimously, earmarks $324 million for a rental assistance program to be overseen by the Missouri Housing Development Commission.

MD: Maryland governor lifts curfew on bars and restaurants

baltimoresun.com

Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan announced that restaurants can begin serving customers after 10 p.m. starting Monday, lifting a curfew that was put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. Bars and restaurants must continue to limit indoor dining to 50% capacity.

IN: Indiana bill would limit governor’s authority over businesses and churches

indystar.com

A bill proposed this legislative session would significantly rein in Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s ability to limit private activities during a state emergency, prohibiting Indiana governors from dictating a business’ hours of operation or its capacity level.

PA: Pennsylvania is looking to improve its COVID-19 vaccine rollout, governor says

inquirer.com

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said Pennsylvania was discussing ways to improve the coronavirus vaccine rollout while working with the federal government to increase the supply of doses.

RI: Rhode Island set to offer COVID-19 vaccines to people 75 and older next week

providencejournal.com

Rhode Island will begin vaccinating residents 75 and older as early as next week and plans to open vaccinations for people 65 and older by sometime next month, public health officials announced.

ID: Idaho governor orders COVID-19 vaccine distribution transparency

apnews.com

To increase transparency, Idaho Gov. Brad Little, a Republican, ordered the state’s seven public health districts and providers to regularly report the number of coronavirus vaccine doses they have received and administered. Little issued an executive order that also requires the entities to show how many doses they have in their inventories.

MS: Mississippi streamlines process for making appointments for COVID-19 vaccines

clarionledger.com

Residents will now be able to make second-dose appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations immediately after their first dose, the Mississippi State Department of Health announced. Prior to the change, patients had to wait at least two weeks before scheduling a follow-up appointment.

ME: Maine lawmakers tighten protocols on masks, face shields in Statehouse

pressherald.com

The Maine Legislative Council upgraded COVID-19 protections by designating three specific types of face shield as alternatives to cloth masks that may be worn by lawmakers in the Statehouse.

WI: Wisconsin Assembly holds off on ending state mask requirement

jsonline.com

Republican legislators backed off from a plan to end Wisconsin’s mask requirement after learning their effort could cause state residents to lose tens of millions of dollars in food assistance every month.

AK: Department of Justice opens probe into whether Alaska ‘unnecessarily institutionalizes’ children

adn.com

The U.S. Department of Justice has opened an investigation into whether the state of Alaska “unnecessarily institutionalizes” children with behavioral problems.

AZ: Arizona legislature fast-tracks bill that would block energy standards

apnews.com

The Arizona legislature is fast-tracking a proposed law that would strip state utility regulators of their power to require electric utilities to get more of their power from solar and other clean energy power sources. GOP lawmakers are emboldened by a state Supreme Court decision that called the commission’s powers into question.

IA: Iowa Senate passes pro-gun amendment to Iowa Constitution

desmoinesregister.com

The Iowa Senate has passed a pro-gun amendment to the Iowa Constitution and the House is expected to approve the measure. Passage by both chambers would set the amendment up to appear on Iowans’ ballots in 2022.

HI: Proposed sugar tax would generate $60M a year for Hawaii

civilbeat.org

Hawaii Gov. David Ige, a Democrat, has proposed a new 2-cents-per-ounce tax on soda and other sugary drinks in an effort to discourage sugar consumption. The measure could also raise $60 million a year or more.

KY: Kentucky restored voting rights to 178,000 with felonies

courier-journal

Kentucky remains one of the few states that still levy a lifetime voting ban for those with felonies without an executive pardon.

WV: West Virginia University system to give up to $1,000 to low-income students

wvgazettemail.com

West Virginia University officials say they will distribute a total of $10 million in federal aid to low-income students, prioritizing the university system’s 4,000 Pell Grant recipients.

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