What We're Reading: Top State Stories 2/3
KY: Kentucky governor sues after GOP overrides vetoes of bills limiting his pandemic powers
Kentucky Republicans overwhelmingly voted to override vetoes issued by Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear of bills that limit his powers during the coronavirus pandemic and other emergencies. The governor immediately filed a lawsuit against the bills.
OH: Ohio governor vows increased efforts to vaccinate minority communities against COVID-19
Black residents, who account for 20% of virus hospitalizations and 12% of deaths during the pandemic, constitute less than 5% of the Ohioans who have been vaccinated so far.
AR: 'Stand your ground' bill fails Arkansas House panel vote
A contentious bill to eliminate the "duty to retreat" from Arkansas' self-defense laws was derailed in a House committee, after hours of testimony from opponents who said the proposal would give cover to armed vigilantes and racists. The bill's supporters said they will try to extract it from committee to the House floor.
OR: Oregon could face $1.6B shortfall due to pandemic and wildfire spending
Oregon could face a $1.6 billion shortfall in the next two-year budget because of immense unanticipated spending on pandemic and wildfire recovery and a slowdown in tax revenue growth. Lawmakers will get a better picture of the revenue outlook at forecasts Feb. 24 and May 1.
CA: California’s early vaccine rollout was chaotic and filled with problems. Here’s what went wrong.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, and public health officials limited vaccine access to only health workers and nursing homes, and data snafus complicated the picture of how vaccination efforts are progressing. Experts say structural barriers also complicated the response.
IN: Indiana lawmakers propose tougher penalties in protests
Indiana’s Republican state lawmakers are attempting to deter protests that have elevated since George Floyd’s death with a series of bills that would increase penalties for rioting, vandalizing monuments, blocking emergency vehicles and violating curfews.
NY: New York governor will allow New York City restaurants to open, despite dire metrics
New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that “on our current trajectory,” New York City could reopen indoor dining Feb. 14, typically a busy day for the restaurant industry. As Cuomo spoke, average per-capita case counts in New York City were 64% higher than when he announced an indefinite ban on indoor dining in December.
WA: Washington tells vaccine providers their supply will be cut if they allow VIP scheduling
The Washington State Department of Health told hospitals, clinics and other providers not to give special access to coronavirus vaccines and warned they may risk supply reductions if caught. Three medical systems in the region gave special access to major donors or foundation board members.
TX: Texas governor open to reconsidering emergency powers after criticism from both parties
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said his office is "offering up some legislation ourselves" to deal with some intraparty concerns about executive authority that have cropped up during the pandemic.
KS: GOP moves to condemn early COVID-19 shots for incarcerated in Kansas
Republican lawmakers in Kansas moved toward formally condemning Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s decision to give incarcerated people COVID-19 vaccinations ahead of others, as her administration sought to address problems in providing benefits to workers left jobless by the pandemic.
VA: Virginia Senate passes stronger anti-foreclosure protections
Virginia homeowners who face foreclosure would have more time to save their homes under a bill that cleared the Virginia Senate unanimously. A mortgage company would have to give a 60-day notice instead of the current 14 days before it plans to auction off someone’s home.
HI: Advocates say Pacific Islanders should be on Hawaii's vaccination list
Advocates say Hawaii should put Pacific Islanders on its vaccination priority list since the communities make up 23% of the state’s coronavirus cases. Hawaii is relying on community health care centers and its own outreach to try to ensure those in the most affected communities are inoculated.
CO: Colorado wants COVID-19 vaccine partners to reach Black and Latino older adults
In response to concerns about fewer Black and Latino older adults getting access to the COVID-19 vaccine, Colorado’s health officials said they are encouraging large providers to more actively target those groups, particularly when it comes to large vaccination events.
DE: Delaware will track demographic data in new vaccination plan
Delaware’s revised vaccination plan includes measures aimed at reaching more people over the age of 65 and tracking vaccine distribution among minority populations. Race has gone unreported for about 31% of Delawareans vaccinated, according to state data. The data shows that only 4% of vaccinations have gone to Black residents and only 2% have gone to those who identify as Hispanic or Latino.
MN: Vaccine numbers nearly eclipse COVID-19 cases among Minnesota congregate care residents
A drop in COVID-19 cases among congregate care residents in Minnesota might be the first encouraging sign that the state's mass vaccination efforts are starting to pay off. Last week's average of 64 cases per day among these residents was the lowest since September, said the state’s infectious disease director.
NV: Automatic voter registration adds thousands of new Nevada voters
More than 140,000 people registered as new voters through Nevada’s automatic voter registration system since it took effect in January last year, according to a new report. The system allows individuals who complete certain DMV transactions such as driver’s license renewals to register to vote or have registration information updated unless they opt out.
MT: Montana bill to end same-day voter registration revived, advanced to House
Montana lawmakers have revived a bill that would end same-day voter registration. The legislation, which the Secretary of State's Office called one of its top priorities, was tabled last week. But the House State Administration Committee voted first to bring back the bill, then amend it to close voter registration at noon the day before an election.
ME: Maine emergency hazard pay upheld, workers to appeal to state high court
Portland, Maine, employers would not need to start paying time-and-a-half to minimum wage workers during declared emergencies until next year under a Superior Court ruling, but attorneys for two workers say they plan to appeal the decision to Maine’s highest court.
VT: Vermont lawmakers call for investigation of huge state data breach
The Vermont Department of Labor mailed an estimated 55,000 1099 tax forms with mismatched personal information last week, including other people’s names and Social Security numbers. Lawmakers directed their censure at the governor’s office, saying the administration didn’t appear to be taking the matter as seriously as it should.
CO, WY: Wyoming governor says he’d ‘love’ to see Colorado county secede
For the better part of the past decade, some in Weld County in rural Colorado have pushed their state and local officials unsuccessfully to back a long-shot effort to secede from the state and join their neighbor to the north, Wyoming. But now those Coloradoans offended by ammunition limits, low shares of state dollars and concerns over regulations on oil and gas drilling may have netted their most influential endorsement yet: Wyoming GOP Gov. Mark Gordon.