Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/7

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/7

MS: Black community leaders put Mississippi on path to vaccine equity

mississippitoday.org

After bearing the brunt of cases and deaths early in the pandemic, Black Mississippians were being shorted at the beginning of the vaccine rollout. A few months later, Mississippi is much closer to vaccine parity, the result of Black doctors, faith leaders and organizers going to the Mississippi State Department of Health with solutions.

CT: Connecticut lawmakers approve governor’s marijuana legalization bill but promise additional changes

courant.com

The Connecticut legislature’s Judiciary Committee voted to advance a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana, moving the state closer to joining others in the region that have already done so. If approved by the full legislature in the coming months, Connecticut would follow Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.

NJ: New Jersey releases police use of force data on new website

nj.com

New Jersey authorities unveiled a trove of data on every use of physical force by officers statewide, providing a level of detail law enforcement leaders said isn’t available anywhere else in the country. The interactive portal shows every time cops hit, tackled or shot suspects in recent months, and the data is both viewable online and downloadable. 

AR: Arkansas legislature overrides governor's veto of transgender-treatment bill

arkansasonline.com

The Arkansas legislature has overturned GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson's veto of a ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth, with both chambers voting to override in largely party-line votes. 

WY: New law allows roadkill to be picked up in Wyoming

buckrail.com

The new law will allow Wyomingites the opportunity to pick up wildlife, “killed as a result of unintentional motor vehicle collisions on any public road or highway.” The law requires the collection of the entire animal—both edible and inedible parts. According to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the state averages about 6,000 collisions between vehicles and big game each year. 

CA: California sets June 15 as reopening date

latimes.com

California is aiming to fully reopen its economy June 15, more than a year after the COVID-19 pandemic upended the lives and businesses of millions across the state. Officials emphasize the move hinges on two factors: a sufficient vaccine supply and stable and low hospitalization numbers. 

US: Southwest braces for water cutbacks as drought deepens along the Colorado River

azcentral.com

Lake Mead, the biggest reservoir on the Colorado River, is approaching a threshold that is expected to trigger a first-ever shortage declaration by the federal government for next year, leading to substantial cuts in water deliveries to Arizona, Nevada and Mexico.

MT: Montana governor tests positive for COVID-19

billingsgazette.com

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte tested positive for COVID-19, according to a news release from his office. The Republican governor who took office in January had mild symptoms over the weekend and was tested Monday; he received the positive result later in the day.

VT: Vermont governor sets timeline for full reopening

vtdigger.org

Vermont Republican Gov. Phil Scott has announced a plan to lift most COVID-19 restrictions by July 4. Scott unveiled a four-phase schedule for relaxing travel restrictions, loosening capacity limits for businesses and eliminating gathering restrictions. Masking and physical distancing guidelines remain throughout the first three phases. Both are still encouraged following July 4.

MO: After rejecting Medicaid expansion, Missouri Republicans look to spend cash elsewhere

stltoday.com

From directing $18 million to school transportation costs to sending an additional $88 million to nursing homes, the Missouri House Budget Committee reviewed how it will spend the $1 billion that Republican Gov. Mike Parson had earmarked for the expansion of the health insurance program for the poor. 

HI: Hawaii governor announces hold on vaccine passports

staradvertiser.com

Gov. David Ige, a Democrat, said Hawaii is testing the technology needed for a vaccine passport with CommonPass and CLEAR but that they still aren’t ready. “[Vaccination passports] won’t happen for at least four weeks or so,” Ige said.

TX: Texas governor bans vaccine proof requirements

texastribune.org

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott banned state-funded organizations from requiring proof of a COVID-19 vaccine. Abbott called such requirements "treading on Texans' personal freedoms." 

UT: New Utah law blocks vaccine passports on college campuses, state government buildings

sltrib.com

If a private company in Utah wants to use a vaccine passport to determine which customers have been inoculated against the coronavirus, there’s nothing stopping them. But a newly passed law blocks state government from requiring people to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

NY: New York reaches deal on $212B budget to jump-start recovery

nytimes.com

New York state leaders announced an agreement on a $212 billion state budget that includes tax increases on the wealthy as well as substantial relief for renters, undocumented immigrants and business owners hit hardest by the coronavirus. The spending plan is far from the doomsday scenario officials envisioned earlier this year, when the state was looking at addressing a daunting $15 billion budget hole over two years through steep cuts and tax increases. 

IA: Report finds ‘significant increase’ in use of force by Iowa police

apnews.com

State police officers in Iowa drew their guns and used force against suspects significantly more often in 2020 than previous years due to a major increase in resistance, according to an internal report. 

IN: Indiana Senate approves ‘abortion reversal’ requirement 

apnews.com

Indiana’s Republican-dominated legislature voted to advance a bill that would tighten state abortion laws despite objections that it would force doctors to provide dubious information to their patients.

ID: Idaho lawmakers return after COVID-19 outbreak

idahoednews.org

Idaho lawmakers convened for the first time in 18 days—after calling a sudden and historic recess in an attempt to slow a statehouse coronavirus outbreak. Lawmakers still have to pass K-12 budgets and the House needs to pass a higher education budget—and they cannot adjourn for the year without setting all state agency budgets.

NH: New Hampshire school districts scramble to meet governor’s school reopening deadline

nhpr.org

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu is ordering all New Hampshire schools to fully reopen, five days a week, by April 19. School leaders were caught off guard by this decision last week, and some districts are scrambling to make sure they're fully prepared to meet that deadline. 

SC: ACLU sues South Carolina governor over return-to-work order

thestate.com

The American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina sued Republican Gov. Henry McMaster for ordering state agencies to bring back all workers to the office immediately despite the ongoing pandemic. According to the lawsuit, filed in state court, McMaster’s order exceeds his authority and will disproportionately harm women, people with disabilities, caregivers and Black people. 

NM: New Mexico adds tax breaks for low-income residents

abqjournal.com

More than half of New Mexico income tax filers will get a tax break designed to pull people out of poverty. The boost could ease some of the strain on state social service agencies. 

 

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