Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/10

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/10

US: States are turning down hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses as demand plummets

nytimes.com

Several states are turning away COVID-19 vaccine doses from their federal government allocations, as the daily average of doses administered across the United States has fallen below two million for the first time since early March. Experts say the states’ smaller requests reflect a steep drop in vaccine demand.

GA: Georgia ban on ‘defund the police’ efforts is signed into law

ajc.com

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, signed a bill that prohibits steep reductions in local budgets for law enforcement, preventing “defund the police” efforts that would redirect money to services such as mental health treatment or education.

MO: Missouri lawmakers approve new state budget, forgo Medicaid expansion spending

stltoday.com

The Republican-controlled legislature set aside no money for a voter-approved expansion of Missouri’s Medicaid program, but hospitals, public universities and the state’s public defender system will receive more funding under the new budget.

US: Some states plan big spending with Biden’s aid; others wait

apnews.com

Though still awaiting money from the latest federal coronavirus relief act, some governors and state lawmakers already are making plans to add the multibillion-dollar boon to their budgets. Among their priorities: bailing out depleted unemployment accounts, expanding high-speed internet and providing additional aid to schools and businesses.

DC: Unemployment system woes in Washington, DC, trigger investigation

washingtonpost.com

The Washington, D.C., Department of Employment Services has attributed its problems to a range of sources: its antiquated website, an unprecedented volume of new claims and a glitch it said was caused by a vendor. The Office of the Inspector General has announced plans to audit the employment agency’s ability to process claims.

NJ: New Jersey pays $1.3M to consultant to advise on women’s prison

apnews.com

New Jersey taxpayers are on the hook for about $1.3 million in fees to a criminal justice consultant to help the Department of Corrections amid a criminal investigation into what the attorney general said was a “brutal attack” on people incarcerated at the state’s only women’s prison, according to public documents.

TX: Texans take handgun licensing classes at record rate as GOP lawmakers seek to nix requirement

dallasnews.com

A bill moving through the Texas legislature would let people 21 and older carry a handgun outside their homes and vehicles without a license. The push to do away with the state’s license requirement and associated safety training comes as Texans are arming themselves at a record pace.

CA: California high schoolers stay home, say ‘no thanks’ to reopened campuses

latimes.com

Despite education officials’ detailed planning, the majority of secondary school students in California’s largest districts will end their year much like it began—fully online, according to state data. For many, it will mean 17 or 18 months away from classrooms.

NY: Hundreds of bodies of COVID-19 victims are still in New York City’s refrigerated trucks

washingtonpost.com

New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner officials acknowledged that the remains of about 750 COVID-19 victims are still being stored inside refrigerated trucks in makeshift morgues along the Brooklyn waterfront.

WV: West Virginia governor signs education bills granting money to vocational centers

wvgazettemail.com

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, signed a bill allowing more money for vocational centers as well as schools for the deaf and blind. The state School Building Authority currently grants 3% of its construction and major renovation funding to vocational schools. Under the bill, that amount increases to 10%.

VT: Vermont governor says legislature ‘can’t close the doors to the People’s House’ in 2022

vtdigger.org

Vermont Republican Gov. Phil Scott said the legislature should keep its doors open to the public when the 2022 session convenes in Montpelier, rejecting a proposal to bar everyone but legislators and staff from in-person access to the Statehouse. 

MN: Minnesota 'clean cars' rules may move forward, judge says

startribune.com

An administrative law judge ruled that a Minnesota agency can set new emissions standards without the OK of lawmakers. The ruling clears the way for state regulators to adopt new "clean car" rules that would require manufacturers to deliver more electric vehicles and hybrids to the state. It does not, however, resolve a standoff with Republican lawmakers that could still upend the administration's plans.

FL: Florida governor signs measure raising smoking, vaping age to 21

tampabay.com

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that raises the state’s legal age for purchasing nicotine or tobacco to 21, to align with federal law. The law will become effective Oct. 1.

WA: Washington schools carefully plan to welcome all students back to buildings this fall

seattletimes.com

With about a month left to go in the school year, some Washington public school districts are signaling to parents that they intend to offer a fully in-person school year this fall for students in all grades.

WI: Archdiocese sues Wisconsin over COVID policy barring clergy from prison visits

jsonline.com

The lawsuit, filed by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and attorneys for the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, takes aim at a Department of Corrections policy that barred visitors from prisons in March 2020 as the pandemic swept through the state. The department is still not allowing clergy members, whether vaccinated or not, even in instances where religious services cannot be conducted virtually, the complaint said.

OR: Oregon teachers unions could soon weigh in on class size limits

oregonlive.com

Oregon teachers unions could be on the cusp of winning a state mandate for school boards to negotiate class size limits. Adding class size to the list of issues districts must bargain over with unions would increase teachers’ power, but it also has the potential to undermine some districts’ drive to improve equity for low-income students, students of color and others with particularly acute learning needs.

AK: After a weeklong delay, Alaska House will try again to pass a state budget

adn.com

The Alaska House of Representatives will resume debate on its version of Alaska’s state operating budget, ending a weeklong delay caused in part by disagreement over the handling of amendments proposed by minority Republicans. Alaska legislators have until May 19 to approve the state budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

AR: Arkansas prison workers lag on shots, putting incarcerated people at risk

arkansasonline.com

Of more than 4,700 Arkansas Department of Corrections employees, an estimated 42% have received at least one shot, an agency spokesperson said. The agency's leader set a goal of vaccinating 80% of employees after shots were offered Jan. 5.

HI: Tourists are returning to Hawaii, but not tourism jobs

civilbeat.org

Signs that tourists are returning to Hawaii are hard to miss: crowded beaches, lines outside tourist takeout spots, increasing foot traffic along Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki. Hawaii hosted 8% more tourists in March 2021 than in March 2020, but there are 35% fewer hotel and restaurant jobs.

PA: Pennsylvania can’t fine addiction centers for breaking rules; lawmaker wants change

inquirer.com

A Pennsylvania state legislator is trying to try to persuade fellow lawmakers to give the state Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs the power to fine licensed addiction treatment facilities for violating state rules. 

MA: Massachusetts opens road races, amusement parks—and singing is back

bostonglobe.com

Massachusetts is now permitting amusement and water parks open and increasing capacity for stadiums such as Fenway Park. Officials are looking to further ease restrictions later this month, including allowing gatherings of people to sing and road races.

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