Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/6

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/6

LA: Louisiana overpaid $405M in unemployment

theadvocate.com

Nearly 100,000 Louisianans received $405.3 million in unemployment benefits to which they were not entitled and the actual numbers are probably much larger.

NV: Mass freezing of unemployment benefits debit cards left Nevada claimants with few options

thenevadaindependent.com

Bank of America froze more than 25,000 Nevada unemployment insurance debit cards from July through February while the state fielded an onslaught of unemployment claims—a move that officials say prevented payouts on fraudulent claims but also frustrated many legitimate claimants who were cut off from crucial payments for months.

MS: Health care, racial justice advocates file ballot initiative to expand Medicaid in Mississippi

mississippitoday.org

After years of partisan fear and loathing and failed attempts in the legislature, health care and racial justice advocates want Mississippi voters to force the issue and expand Medicaid at the ballot box. A nonprofit incorporated by the president of the Mississippi Hospital Association and others has filed preliminary paperwork for a ballot initiative that would put Medicaid expansion in the state constitution.

MN: Minnesota’s COVID hospitalizations have almost doubled since February

startribune.com

Minnesota hospitals are caring for nearly twice as many COVID-19 patients as they did at the end of February, following an increase in new coronavirus infections. Hospitals this time around are mostly treating COVID-19 patients who are younger than 65, now that 82.5% of the state's older adults have been vaccinated.

UT: New Utah law requires dads to pay prenatal child support

apnews.com

Biological fathers in Utah will be legally required to pay half of a woman’s out-of-pocket pregnancy costs under a new law unique to the state that critics say doesn’t do enough to adequately address maternal health care needs. Some critics argue the new legislation won’t help the women who are most vulnerable and could make abusive situations even more dangerous for pregnant women.

IA: Hysterectomy bill in Iowa would clarify that spouse’s consent is not needed

desmoinesregister.com

Iowa medical providers could no longer require women to obtain permission from their spouses in order to receive a hysterectomy under a bill that House Republicans are trying to advance for a second time this year.

LA: Louisiana overpaid $405M in unemployment

theadvocate.com

Nearly 100,000 Louisianans received $405.3 million in unemployment benefits to which they were not entitled and the actual numbers are probably much larger.

ME: Maine bill would audit election results as a way of promoting confidence

pressherald.com

A bill that would see Maine join 34 other states in conducting post-election audits won support before the legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, even though there has been no evidence that Maine election results are inaccurate.

CO: Colorado redistricting chairman is removed after sharing election conspiracy theories

denverpost.com

Danny Moore of Colorado’s congressional redistricting commission was removed from his chairmanship after previously sharing conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election on Facebook. He will remain on the commission.

IN: Indiana House backs more legislative power over emergencies

apnews.com

The Indiana House has voted to give the legislature more authority to intervene during emergencies declared by the governor. Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb has questioned whether the proposal is allowed under the state constitution.

NC: North Carolina Democrats say this may be the year the GOP joins them on Medicaid expansion

charlotteobserver.com

North Carolina Democrats say 2021 could be the year Republican lawmakers agree to pass a Medicaid expansion—but under a different name. “I think that they call it ‘Close the Coverage Gap’ and that’s fine,” said state Sen. Mike Woodard, a Democrat. “We can give it whatever name we want, but for those 700,000 to 800,000 North Carolinians that fall into the coverage gap, they need to be covered.”

CA: California nears COVID-19 vaccine target that would ease reopening rules

latimes.com

California is on the precipice of administering four million COVID-19 vaccine doses in its most disadvantaged areas—a hurdle that, when cleared, would trigger a rewrite of the state’s reopening blueprint to make it easier for counties to more widely reopen businesses and other public spaces.

PA: GOP lawmaker group seeks to ban Pennsylvania’s transgender student athletes from playing women’s sports

spotlightpa.org

Five Republican state lawmakers have introduced a bill that would ban transgender students in Pennsylvania from playing women’s sports, the latest in a nationwide wave of legislation advocates say risks the health of trans children and adults.

NM: New Mexico will boost poor, Native education after pandemic damage

abqjournal.com

Under a new law, New Mexico will give more education funds to poor and Native American communities. The state faces the prospect of more poor academic outcomes after a pandemic loss of classroom time.

WI: Wisconsin Elections Commission will study voting in nursing homes

jsonline.com

The Wisconsin Elections Commission unanimously launched a study to determine when poll workers can go into nursing homes to help residents with voting during the coronavirus pandemic. Election officials have been confounded during the pandemic by how to handle voting at nursing homes.

OR: Oregon lawmakers close in on new police oversight laws

opb.org

The Oregon legislature inched closer to implementing a sweeping set of laws that would loosen the grip police unions have on oversight and discipline in the state. A bipartisan Senate majority voted to pass a bill that would eliminate the requirement for cities to collectively bargain with police unions if they wish to implement a voter-approved oversight board with authority to discipline officers.

IL: Illinois governor signs firefighter pension bill that Chicago mayor says could lead to higher property taxes

chicagotribune.com

Illinois Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill that supporters say puts Chicago firefighter pensions on par with suburban and downstate systems, but which detractors led by the city’s mayor argue will increase pension costs and could lead to property tax hikes. 

RI: After months online, Rhode Island court is now in session

providencejournal.com

Jury trials are set to resume this month in Rhode Island Superior Court, with a distinctly different look, sound and feel: Jurors will sit in the jury box separated by plexiglass, a sound system will pipe audio, masks will be worn and the public can tune in from home.

WA: Washington pushes beyond clearing sexual assault evidence kits

crosscut.com

After passing policies to clear the rape kit backlog in recent years, Washington lawmakers are passing new legislation to help survivors. A bill that has unanimously passed through both chambers of the legislature would require law enforcement to report changes to investigations related to forensic analysis, implement a review system of officer-survivor interactions to improve the existing training program and expand the statutory rights afforded to survivors.

HI: Hawaii parents say 'so far, so good' as schools push toward full reopening

civilbeat.org

Early dismissal so staff can sanitize classrooms, intricate schedules and spreading kids into every corner of the room are among the COVID-19 prevention measures taken by Hawaii elementary schools as education officials strive to get all students back on campus as soon as possible.

WY: Wyoming takes a second shot at rental assistance

wyomingnews.com

The Wyoming Community Development Authority’s rental aid guidelines were too restrictive, officials said, and word didn’t seem to get out fast enough that assistance was available during the pandemic. After six months, the program had gotten just over 2,000 applications and had denied 40% of them.

 

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