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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/20

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/20

TX: Texas governor signs law banning abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy

texastribune.org

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, signed a law that prohibits abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy—before some people know they are pregnant—and allows almost any private citizen to sue abortion providers and others. There is an exception for medical emergencies, but not for rape or incest.

PA: University of Pennsylvania Health System will require staff COVID immunizations

inquirer.com

The University of Pennsylvania Health System, the largest private employer in Philadelphia, announced that all employees and clinic staff will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 1. Those with religious or medical reasons for declining vaccination will have to apply for an exemption.

FL: Florida expands gambling, but hurdles remain

miamiherald.com

Florida joined the dozens of states that have authorized mobile sports betting, as legislators wrapped up their special session and ratified an agreement with the Seminole Tribe that ushers in the broadest expansion of gambling in the state in a decade. Federal regulators still must approve the deal.

KS: Top officials from roughly one-third of Kansas health departments quit during pandemic

kansascity.com

Kansas has lost top health officials from roughly one-third of its county departments during the pandemic. Thirty-six health officers and administrators have left their roles, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

OH: Ohio officials report hundreds of thousands of registrations for Vax-a-Million $1M giveaway, scholarships

cleveland.com

On the first day for Ohioans to register for the Vax-a-Million scholarships and the $1 million giveaway, more than 60,000 calls rang into the Ohio Department of Health call center, the website had more than 25 million views and hundreds of thousands of Ohioans had entered the drawing.

CT: As Connecticut fully opens, the Capitol will stay closed 

ctmirror.com

While COVID-19 restrictions have ended in most corners of Connecticut, a notable exception is the continued closure of the state Capitol to the public as the General Assembly works towards its adjournment deadline of June 9. 

IL: Illinois adopts requirement for full-time in-person learning this fall

chicagotribune.com

The Illinois State Board of Education has adopted a resolution requiring daily in-person learning next school year, with limited exceptions for remote learning. The vote came after several parents asked the board to reject the proposal in consideration of children who may still be too young in the fall to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. 

NY: New York won’t require masks at summer camps for the fully vaccinated

syracuse.com

New York won’t require masks for kids or staff members who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at overnight camps or day camps this summer. Fully vaccinated people won’t be required to maintain social distancing either, according to new guidance. Fully vaccinated staff members must still wear masks when they’re with kids who need to wear masks.

OR: Oregon will begin replacing 1990s unemployment systems

oregonlive.com

The Oregon Employment Department said it will begin upgrading the obsolete computer system that pays jobless benefits, ending a 12-year delay that caused a catastrophic breakdown in distributing aid during the early months of the pandemic. Oregon’s new system won’t be in place until 2024, though.

NJ: New Jersey landlords sue governor to end 'unconstitutional' rent protections for tenants

northjersey.com

A small group of landlords is suing New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy and his administration over what they call an unconstitutional executive order that allows renters to help cover missed monthly payments with their security deposit. 

NV: Nevada lawmakers approve adding more than a half-billion dollars to public education

thenevadaindependent.com

Nevada state lawmakers are adding more than a half-billion dollars in education funding to help shore up the new K-12 funding formula over the next two years, marking one of the largest legislative investments in school funding without a tax increase in state history.

HI: Hawaii legislature directs federal funds to patch up shaky broadband system

civilbeat.org

Federal pandemic relief funding is slated to help pay for badly needed connectivity improvements, especially in rural areas of Hawaii. 

GA: Georgia lawmakers are under investigation for handing out snacks to voters

ajc.com

Even before Georgia explicitly made it illegal to hand out pizza and chips to voters waiting in line, two state legislators were accused of breaking the law for doing so. Two Democratic state representatives are under investigation, facing allegations they gave gifts to voters in the form of snacks.

CO: Colorado will pay unemployed residents to get them to go back to work

denverpost.com

Democratic Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order to create an incentive program called Colorado Jumpstart. Those who have been unemployed for at least a week between March 28 and May 16 (among other stipulations) but return to work full time before May 29, could receive up to $1,600. People returning to full-time work between May 30 and June 26 can get $1,200. 

UT: Protest over critical race theory hits Utah legislature

sltrib.com

Democrats walked off the Utah House floor in protest of resolutions brought by House Republicans on the teaching of race in Utah’s schools and over gun rights.

MS: Mississippi criminalizes revenge porn

wlbt.com

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, signed a law criminalizing the disclosure of another person’s intimate parts without consent or with intent to harm. 

AZ: Arizona legalizes fentanyl test strips to prevent overdose deaths

azcentral.com

Prompted by the overdose death of a legislator’s son, Arizona’s Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed a law decriminalizing fentanyl test strips. The test strips can tell drug users whether there is fentanyl—a potent synthetic opioid—in the drug they are about to take. 

OK: Oklahoma state officials announce end to extra federal unemployment, offer $1,200 incentive to return to work

tulsaworld.com

Oklahoma state officials announced an end to the $300 in additional federal unemployment aid and offered a $1,200 incentive for certain individuals who get off unemployment and go back to work. Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt said the additional $300 in federal unemployment aid has acted as a disincentive for the unemployed to find a job.

WI: Wisconsin GOP lawmakers vote to reinstate work search requirement for unemployment benefits

wpr.org

Unemployed people in Wisconsin will again have to prove they are looking for work to receive unemployment benefits under a pre-pandemic rule reinstated by GOP state lawmakers. The legislature’s administrative rules committee voted 6-4, with Republicans in favor and Democrats against, to reinstate the requirement.

IA: Iowa governor signs law immediately banning school mask rules

iowapublicradio.org

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, signed a law just after midnight that immediately made it illegal to require masks in schools. The measure also bars Iowa cities and counties from enacting mask mandates that affect private property.

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