Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/2

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/2

TX: Voting restrictions advance in Texas

texastribune.org

Texas Senate Republicans cleared the way for new, sweeping restrictions on voting that would forbid local efforts meant to widen access. The legislation is at the forefront of Texas Republicans’ crusade to further restrict voting.

MD: Missteps marked Maryland’s vaccine rollout, experts say

baltimoresun.com

The early expansion of eligibility marked one of a handful of missteps that made Maryland’s vaccination rollout inefficient and inequitable. Technological oversights and snafus, coupled with decentralization, planning shortfalls and limited coordination among government agencies all contributed to the early problems—some of which persist.

SC: Teacher shortage threatens South Carolina in wake of COVID-19

thestate.com

Roughly one in four South Carolina education employees plan to leave their positions at the end of the year, according to a survey of 1,991 school employees by SC for Ed, a teacher advocacy group. At first teachers were hailed as heroes coping with remote teaching and other hardships. But then public opinion changed, as opinion polls slammed educators for resisting a move to full, in-person classes.

NH: Racial disparities persist in New Hampshire’s vaccine rollout, according to new data

nhpr.org

New Hampshire continues to see racial disparities in its COVID-19 vaccine rollout, according to the latest data from the state health department. Only about 10% of New Hampshire’s Black and Latino residents have received their first dose of a vaccine, compared with about 22% of White residents.

CO: Colorado offers prison staff $500 to get vaccinated

9news.com

The Colorado Department of Corrections will provide $500, subject to normal taxes and withholdings, to any of the 6,211 corrections staff who get fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This week 40% of the department’s staff had been fully vaccinated.

GA: Most Georgia companies try to skirt voting law controversy

ajc.com

Most major companies headquartered in Georgia are sticking to the sidelines amid the growing uproar over the state’s new voting law. The chief executives of Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola called the voting restrictions “unacceptable.”

NY: New York governor signs law restricting use of solitary confinement

timesunion.com

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, signed a law limiting the solitary confinement of incarcerated people to a maximum of 15 consecutive days. The law also bars solitary confinement for anyone under the age of 21, over 55, is pregnant or has a disability.

VT: Vermont governor faces backlash over decision not to vaccinate out-of-state students

vtdigger.org

As soon as Vermont Republican Gov. Phil Scott announced he would not be allowing college students from out of state to get a COVID-19 vaccine in Vermont, he faced a swift and aggressive backlash from college students, faculty and community members.

WA: Jobless claims edge up in Washington

seattletimes.com

New unemployment claims in Washington rose modestly last week—a sign that the pandemic is still eliminating jobs even as the state’s COVID-19 vaccination program accelerates. Washingtonians filed 11,445 new claims last week, a 0.5% increase from the previous week.

OR: Oregon Democrats' bid to eliminate second home tax break draws realty backlash

oregonlive.com

A small group of Democrats in the Oregon legislature want their colleagues to look closely at who benefits from the state’s largest housing subsidy and consider scaling it back through means such as eliminating the state’s version of it for second homes.

HI: Biden plan to conserve more ocean habitat rattles Hawaii fishing interests

civilbeat.org

Commercial U.S. fishing interests in Hawaii and across the Pacific are closely watching President Joe Biden’s executive order to conserve 30% of all waters the nation controls by 2030, and members of the council that oversees those interests bristled last week at the idea of expanding the vast ocean region’s protected areas.

MS: Mississippi health official blames feds for slow vaccine rollout

mississippitoday.org

Mississippi ranks 48th in the U.S. for the percentage of the population that has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

NE: Governor: Nebraska will not participate in any vaccine passport program

journalstar.com

A vaccine passport program would violate “freedom of movement and health care privacy,” Nebraska Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts said. “Nebraska will take any necessary action to protect the private health information of our citizens and the freedoms we cherish.” 

AL: Alabama lawmakers pass bill to allow churches, businesses to stay open during pandemics

al.com

The Alabama legislature gave final approval to a bill that would limit the power of the governor and state and local agencies to close businesses and churches during a state of emergency caused by a pandemic.

CA: California governor says he’s worried about COVID variants, urges precautions

sacbee.com

Nearly a third of Californians have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine, but Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom said he’s still concerned the state could see another coronavirus surge before its population reaches herd immunity. 

KS: GOP lawmakers repeal Kansas mask mandate; lawsuits against local orders could follow

kansas.com

Kansas’ statewide mask mandate, already an exemption-filled patchwork, came to an end, canceled by top Republican lawmakers under a new law that makes it more difficult for health officials to keep COVID-19 precautions in place.

CO: Colorado law enforcement could use deadly force only as a “last resort” under new bill

coloradosun.com

Colorado law enforcement officers could use deadly force only as a “last resort” and only after they have “exhausted all reasonable de-escalation tactics and techniques,” under a bill introduced this week by Democratic state lawmakers. 

WI: Wisconsin GOP lawmakers want to ban vaccine passports

jsonline.com

Two Republican lawmakers want to bar private businesses and the Democratic Evers administration from requiring Wisconsinites to show they are vaccinated against COVID-19 as the state prepares for a post-pandemic life.

NV: Nevada will revisit its mail-in ballot debate

apnews.com

Leading Nevada Democrats want to make the state’s universal mail-in ballot policy permanent, extending temporary policies enacted last summer to protect people worried about contracting the coronavirus at in-person polling places. 

FL, GA: Florida loses water war with Georgia

tallhassee.com

The U.S. Supreme Court sided with Georgia in a years-long fight over water allocation between the Peach State and Florida. Florida did not prove its case that Georgia uses more than its fair share of water from interstate rivers, justices ruled.

 

Top State Stories 4/5 Vaccine Equity
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