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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 2/2

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 2/2

OR: Oregon is the 1st state to decriminalize possession of drugs

apnews.com

Police in Oregon can no longer arrest someone for possession of small amounts of heroin, methamphetamine, LSD, oxycodone and other drugs as a ballot measure that decriminalized them takes effect. Instead, those found in possession will face a $100 fine or a health assessment that could lead to addiction counseling.

AK: More than half the high school students in an Alaska town failed online classes

alaskapublic.org

Parents in the Bethel, Alaska, region are increasingly distressed about their children’s educations after more than half of students failed their classes last semester, according to a report from the Lower Kuskokwim School District. For K-8 students, 36% to 52% of students didn’t turn in enough work to receive a grade.

CA: California’s outdoor dining ban may have helped slow the winter COVID-19 surge

latimes.com

Despite heated opposition and vows of resistance from some restaurant owners and elected officials, there is increasing evidence that California’s latest stay-at-home order, including a ban on outdoor dining, worked to turn around the latest surge of the coronavirus.

ID: Idaho lawmakers have not yet approved spending $900M in federal aid

apnews.com

Idaho lawmakers have yet to approve spending any of $900 million in new federal funding that the state has received despite urgent calls from groups saying it is needed immediately. The new funding includes $851,000 for Meals on Wheels for older adults, $164 million for rent assistance for workers who lost jobs and $58 million to help daycare centers remain open. 

DC: DC files restraining order against teachers union to stop teachers from discussing a strike

washingtonpost.com

The District of Columbia has asked a judge to stop the Washington Teachers’ Union from engaging in any talks about a potential strike as the city attempts to bring teachers and students back to school buildings for the first time since March, according to a request for a temporary restraining order filed in D.C. Superior Court.

NY: 9 top New York health officials quit over row with governor

nytimes.com

In recent weeks, New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly made it clear that he believed he had no choice but to seize more control over pandemic policy from state and local public health officials, who he said had no understanding of how to conduct a real-world, large-scale operation like vaccinations.

KS: Kansas governor: Medical marijuana should fund Medicaid expansion

apnews.com

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly proposed that Kansas should legalize marijuana for medical purposes and use the revenues to expand Medicaid health care for low-income residents, a top priority that the GOP-controlled legislature has blocked due to cost concerns.

SC: South Carolina governor wants to prioritize older adults over teachers for vaccine

thestate.com

South Carolina may next expand the pool of those eligible for COVID-19 vaccination to include anyone age 65 and older. Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, said he believes that age group, should be next in line for shots. He said they should go before teachers.

CT: Connecticut governor will ease restrictions on houses of worship

courant.com

Connecticut Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont announced that restrictions will be eased on religious gatherings in the state, permitting indoor capacity to reach up to 50%, with no other limit on attendance. 

MN: Minnesota cuts vaccine sites, adds doses for older adults

startribune.com

Mass state COVID-19 vaccination events will be scaled back across Minnesota this week to redirect doses to medical providers, who can reach out to their patients.

MD: Maryland faces shortage of 2nd vaccine doses

baltimoresun.com

Maryland is facing a shortage of second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, putting hospitals at risk of not being able to complete the regimen for many people who have already received the first dose, including frontline workers. As of Monday, 455,910 people in the state had gotten at least one dose.

WA: Personal data of 1.4M Washington unemployment claimants exposed in hack

seattletimes.com

The personal unemployment claims data of at least 1.4 million Washingtonians may have been stolen when software used by the state auditor’s office was hacked, Auditor Pat McCarthy said. McCarthy said the data, including Social Security numbers and banking information, was exposed in a December breach of a software provider the auditor’s office used to transfer large computer files.

HI: 'Overpayment' reviews cause the latest delays to Hawaii jobless benefits

civilbeat.org

Hawaii's labor department is still struggling to pay out the more complex unemployment insurance claims in a timely manner. These days, the main holdup has to do with so-called overpayment issues, which typically involve discrepancies between the wages reported by claimants and their former employers.

NE: Nebraska governor in quarantine again

journalstar.com

Nebraska GOP Gov. Pete Ricketts has entered quarantine for exposure to the coronavirus for the second time. A person with whom he had been in close contact has tested positive for COVID-19.

ME: Vaccine scammers target older adults in Maine

pressherald.com

Police departments in southern Maine have started to receive reports from residents who have been contacted by suspected scammers who say they can schedule COVID-19 vaccination appointments or connect older adults on Medicare with a government benefits card for coronavirus-related benefits. The calls often target older adults and come from phone numbers that spoof legitimate local numbers.

NC: North Carolina legislators want to stop 14-year-olds from marrying

newsobserver.com

If passed, bills in the North Carolina House and Senate would prevent anyone under the age of 18 from marrying. North Carolina and Alaska both have the lowest age of marriage set by statute in the United States.

WI: Wisconsin to miss deadline to close juvenile detention facilities

wpr.org

A 2018 Wisconsin law would have closed the Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake youth prisons in July 2021. The hope was to keep incarcerated children closer to their families. Nearly three years later, plans to meet the July deadline have stalled, even as the latest report from a court-appointed monitor shows worsening conditions at the two facilities.

MA: With rent due and unemployment claims unpaid, Massachusetts job seekers are on edge

bostonglobe.com

Unemployed workers in Massachusetts who haven’t received benefits since the end of December are pleading with the state to tell them where their money is—and worrying about how they’re going to cover February’s rent.

RI: Rhode Island judge says courts have no say over legislative spending

providencejournal.com

The legal battle in Rhode Island over the control of $46 million in legislative hiring, contracting and spending ended with a Superior Court judge effectively saying: The courts can't tell legislators how to run their business. 

PA: Top Pennsylvania election official to resign after agency bungled requirement for constitutional amendment

spotlightpa.org

Pennsylvania’s top election official will resign after her agency made a mistake that will delay a statewide vote on whether survivors of decades-old sexual abuse should be able to sue the perpetrators and institutions that covered up the crimes. Democratic Secretary Kathy Boockvar, who oversaw a tense and difficult presidential election in the battleground state, will resign Feb. 5.

OH: Ohio governor wants $50M to attract new residents

cincinnati.com

Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine announced that he wants to spend $50 million on a marketing campaign to convince East Coast and West Coast residents to live, work and spend their money in Ohio.

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