Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/14

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/14

US: Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause leads to canceled appointments across states

nytimes.com

The abrupt halt to the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because of concerns about potential blood clots upended plans to vaccinate some of the country’s hardest-to-reach populations. Health departments scrambled to postpone vaccine clinics and rebook patients.

TX: Voters would have to approve police budget cuts under bill approved by Texas Senate

texastribune.org

The bill would require Texas cities or counties to hold an election before reducing police funding. Senators approved the legislation on a 28-2 vote with broad bipartisan support, despite numerous Democrats harshly criticizing the legislation as a political ploy.

NV: Nevada Assembly votes to abolish death penalty

reviewjournal.com

The Nevada Assembly has voted in favor of a bill that would abolish the death penalty in the state, marking the first time that a bill that would eliminate capital punishment has been approved by the full chamber. The bill now heads to the Senate.

AL: 16 states back Alabama’s challenge to US Census privacy tool

apnews.com

Sixteen other states are backing Alabama’s challenge to a statistical method the U.S. Census Bureau is using for the first time to protect the privacy of people who participated in the 2020 census, the nation’s once-a-decade head count that determines political power and funding.

MT: Montana governor issues executive order banning vaccine passports

billingsgazette.com

Montana GOP Gov. Greg Gianforte’s order also prohibits businesses from requiring customers to show they've been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 to receive services or enter a business. But it does carve out exceptions for nursing homes, long-term care facilities and assisted living facilities that require that documentation for residents.

CA: California raised fuel taxes 4 years ago, and it’s still short on money for road repairs

sacbee.com

California’s ambitious road repair program faces financial trouble—a projected $6.1 billion annual shortfall—four years after the state adopted the highest fuel tax in the nation in a plan to fix its battered highways. The new estimates reflect a pandemic decline in fuel tax revenue and new predictions about how roadways might deteriorate as climate change accelerates.

NJ: New Jersey faces a ‘historic shortage’ of judges amid growing case backlog

nj.com

Almost 14% of judicial seats in the New Jersey Superior Court system, including the trial and appellate divisions, are vacant at a time when jury trials have been delayed and officials are bracing for a glut of new complaints once landlords are allowed to evict tenants again.

MN: Minnesota Senate GOP agrees to fact-finding hearings on policing changes

minnpost.com

Republicans have been hesitant to consider new changes to policing standards after enacting a set of policies following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota. But GOP lawmakers also have come under increasing pressure to consider additional Democratic-backed measures in the wake of Daunte Wright’s killing.

NE: Nebraska governor declines request to help house migrant children

journalstar.com

Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts declined a request from the Biden administration asking Nebraska to help house displaced migrant children who have entered the United States.

WA: Auditor: Washington was 'wholly unprepared' for unemployment fraud

seattletimes.com

Washington’s unemployment agency failed to stop a massive criminal fraud scheme that stole more than $640 million amid a surge in jobless claims last year, a new state investigation has concluded. While most of last spring’s fraud has been tied to foreign cybercriminals, one state employee is under criminal investigation.

ID: Idaho House kills $1.1B teacher pay bill on tie vote

apnews.com

The Idaho House, on a 34-34 vote, failed to advance legislation to pay $1.1 billion to Idaho’s K-12 teachers. Opponents said the legislation needs language to prohibit the teaching of some ideas, specifically critical race theory, which examines the way race and racism influence politics, culture and the law.

MD: Maryland sees record fatal overdoses in 2020

baltimoresun.com

More than 2,700 people in Maryland died from drug and alcohol overdoses last year, the most ever recorded in a single year. A newly released state report shows that fatalities jumped during the heart of the pandemic, with the bulk of overdoses attributed to fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is much more potent than heroin.

DE: Delaware reports 70 cases of COVID among fully vaccinated

baytobaynews.com

The Delaware Division of Public Health has found 70 “breakthrough cases”—people who have tested positive for COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated. This number represents just 0.03% of all persons who have been fully vaccinated in Delaware.

NC: North Carolina rolls out plan to vaccinate farm workers

newsobserver.com

After North Carolina’s farm industry was hit hard by the pandemic last year, health leaders have been working to prepare for the daunting task of vaccinating tens of thousands of agricultural workers. That includes those who live in North Carolina and thousands of seasonal immigrant workers with H-2A work visas coming from Mexico.

IA: Iowa lawmakers pass bill that would stop farm investigations

apnews.com

Iowa lawmakers for the fourth time have approved restrictions that would prevent animal welfare activists from documenting animal abuse at livestock farms. The bill received bipartisan support in both chambers and is likely to be signed by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, who has supported such efforts in the past.

NY: New York lawmakers mull carbon tax that would help pay for shift to renewable energy

timesunion.com

A bill in the New York state Senate that would impose a carbon tax to help the state meet its green energy goals could cost New York motorists an extra 55 cents per gallon at the pump. The gas hike would generate an estimated $2.3 billion in revenue.

CO: Shuttering coal-fired power plants will cost Colorado consumers $1.4B

coloradosun.com

The price tag for Xcel Energy closing all its Colorado coal-fired plants will be $1.4 billion spread over decades—a sum that will be paid exclusively by the utility’s residential and commercial customers. Xcel’s $8 billion resource and clean energy plan, submitted to regulators, describes how the utility will meet state requirements to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 80% from 2005 levels by 2030.

IN: Controversial Indiana environmental bills inch near passage 

apnews.com

Indiana lawmakers approved two environmental bills that critics say would damage the state’s ecosystems by scaling back current policy affecting water, energy and other resources. 

OR: Oregon lawmakers could allow more flexibility in forgiving overpaid jobless benefits

oregonlive.com

A state Senate committee voted unanimously to give the Oregon Employment Department more flexibility to allow jobless workers to keep the money when the state pays them too much.

VA: Virginia state revenues surge

richmond.com

Virginia revenues grew by more than $270 million in March, an 18.5% increase powered by boosts in high-wage jobs, internet sales and a booming housing industry. Virginia is emerging from the pandemic in a stronger budget position than when the public health emergency began.

IL: Illinois attorney general’s office probes hack 

chicagotribune.com

The Illinois attorney general’s office is investigating a hack of its computer network that was discovered over the weekend, officials said.

Cities vs. States Vaccinating Home Health Workers
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