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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/12

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/12

MD: Maryland lawmakers approve policing changes over governor’s veto

baltimoresun.com

The Maryland legislation will overhaul the disciplinary process for officers accused of misconduct, allow public scrutiny of complaints and internal affairs files, and create a new legal standard requiring that police use only “necessary” and “proportional” force. The legislation also places limits on the use of no-knock warrants.

RI: Rhode Island governor signs 'landmark' climate law

newportri.com

Rhode Island’s Act on Climate aims to cut the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050. Under the law, signed by Democratic Gov. Dan McKee, the 12-member state Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council must develop a comprehensive plan to meet the emissions goals that include a 45% reduction by 2030.

IN: Indiana governor vetoes bill that would limit his emergency powers

indystar.com

Indiana Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb vetoed a measure that would rein in his emergency powers, fulfilling his promise to nix what he called unconstitutional legislation. 

AZ: Arizona business can soon ignore mask mandates under new law

azcentral.com

Under a new law, Arizona businesses can allow people to go maskless even if a city, county or the state tries to require face coverings. The law doesn't become effective until 90 days after the legislative session ends.

US: More than 100 corporate executives discuss fighting state voting bills

washingtonpost.com

More than 100 chief executives and corporate leaders gathered online to discuss taking new action to combat the controversial state voting bills being considered across the country, including the one recently signed into law in Georgia.

MI: Most Michigan schools begin week in-person despite governor's plea

detroitnews.com

Most Michigan school districts opted to remain open this week, either for full-time face-to-face learning or in a planned hybrid mode, despite Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s plea to close for two weeks as Michigan continues to lead the nation in the number of coronavirus cases and rates.

US: US colleges are divided over requiring student vaccinations

apnews.com

Universities including Rutgers, Brown, Cornell and Northeastern recently told students they must get vaccinated before returning to campus next fall. But some colleges are leaving the decision to students, and others think they can’t legally require vaccinations.

WV: West Virginia lawmakers approve needle exchange regulations

apnews.com

Supporters say the legislation will help West Virginians with opioid use disorder get connected to health care services. But critics say more stringent requirements for the programs will constrain the number of providers who give clean syringes to injection drug users not able to quit the habit.

HI: Hawaii governor details plans for vaccine passports

civilbeat.org

In Democratic Gov. David Ige’s latest COVID-19 emergency proclamation, he extended Hawaii’s eviction moratorium as well as detailed plans for a vaccine passport provision. The proclamation said people who are fully vaccinated would be able to avoid quarantine and COVID-19 testing when flying to Hawaii by uploading valid vaccination documents.

WI: A third of Wisconsin nursing homes violated COVID-19 safety protocols

jsonline.com

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigation has found that 1 in 3 Wisconsin facilities violated coronavirus protocols, including by asking COVID-19-positive staff to keep working, not screening visitors for symptoms and not isolating infected residents.

CO: Colorado unemployment insurance fraud cases hit 1.2M

denverpost.com

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment plans to send out letters later this month to individuals and employers ensnared in the massive wave of fraudulent claims for unemployment insurance benefits. Law enforcement, overwhelmed, is asking people to not file police reports.

AK: Cases are rising again, but Alaska’s vaccination rate is slowing

alaskapublic.org

While a slowdown was inevitable at some point, health officials say Alaska is still far from reaching herd immunity and are urging more Alaskans to get vaccinated.

CA: California’s COVID-19 death toll surpasses 60,000 even as conditions improve

latimes.com

The COVID-19 death toll in California has exceeded 60,000, a grim reminder of the pandemic’s toll. Lower-income Latino communities—home to many essential workers who live in crowded housing—saw disproportionally high numbers of deaths, while affluent areas saw lower numbers.

ID: Idaho lawmakers add penalty to proposed ban on mask mandates

apnews.com

Idaho lawmakers added a penalty to a bill that would ban the state, public health departments and even school districts from requiring masks. The amendment in the Idaho House means the legislation now says that if a political subdivision enacts a mask mandate, any public health order or emergency declaration that the entity is operating under will be terminated.

WA: Washington could become the first state to guarantee attorneys for low-income tenants

seattletimes.com

Washington may soon become the first state in the country to ensure that low-income tenants have legal representation when faced with an eviction, an idea lawmakers see as a way to head off a feared wave of evictions once pandemic-era rental restrictions are lifted.

NV: Nevada GOP censures Republican elections official

apnews.com

Nevada’s Republican Party voted to censure the secretary of state, accusing her of failing to fully investigate allegations of fraud in the 2020 election. Barbara Cegavske, a Republican, said members of her party are disappointed with the election results and believe fraud occurred “despite a complete lack of evidence to support that belief.”

KS: Kansas Senate Republicans oust leader from post amid wrong-way drunken driving charges

kansas.com

Kansas Senate Republicans ousted state Sen. Gene Suellentrop as majority leader—the first major political penalty paid by the Wichita Republican after he was charged with leading police on a drunken wrong-way chase down Interstate 70.

MT: Montana governor signs bills allowing wolf snaring, extended seasons

billingsgazette.com

GOP Gov. Greg Gianforte signed bills allowing snares to be used for the trapping of wolves and lengthening Montana’s trapping seasons.

MS: Mississippi lawmakers get big budget assist from feds

mississippitoday.org

Economists cite the multiple federal stimulus packages passed to address the pandemic for fueling the Mississippi economy and revenue collections. And thanks to enhanced federal unemployment payments, many Mississippi workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic most likely were making more money than when they were employed.

NE: Nebraska prison resident sues for right to get abortion

apnews.com

The woman, identified as Jane Roe, asked a federal judge for an emergency order so she can get state-mandated counseling and an abortion at a Planned Parenthood in Lincoln, Nebraska. She’s a little more than 15 weeks pregnant and has been in prison since Feb. 18, serving a 26-month sentence.

MN: Minnesota mosques prepare for Ramadan with COVID-19 vaccines

startribune.com

At least 16 mosques in Minnesota have set up makeshift vaccine spaces in the past 10 days to inoculate their congregations in preparation for Ramadan, which begins this week. More than 7,000 people have been vaccinated in a campaign designed to reach a community underserved by the vaccine rollout, despite being among those most at risk.

Vaccines at Transit Sites Rural COVID-19 Deaths
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