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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/14

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/14

TN: Tennessee abandons vaccine outreach to minors—and not just for COVID

tennesseean.com

The Tennessee Department of Health will halt all adolescent vaccine outreach—not just for coronavirus, but all diseases—amid pressure from Republican state lawmakers, according to an internal report and agency emails obtained by the Tennessean. The health department will also stop all COVID-19 vaccine events on school property, despite holding at least one such event this month.

TX: Texas House OKs arrests for absent Democrats

statesman.com

The Texas House voted to send for the Democrats who headed to Washington, D.C., in a dramatic move intended to block the passage of a GOP priority elections bill—authorizing the use of arrest warrants if needed to compel attendance.

FL: Gambling companies push $62M into 2022 Florida ballot measures

miamiherald.com

Spurred by a massive gambling deal for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, three out-of-state gaming giants have put $37 million into what appears to be an effort to front-load multiple ballot efforts to influence the future of sports betting and casino gambling in Florida. A fourth company has created a political committee and gave it $15 million and the Seminole Tribe has injected $10 million into a political committee. 

MO: Missouri prisons face COVID outbreaks

stltoday.com

After seeing the number of positive COVID-19 cases dwindle in June, the deadly virus is again on the march within Missouri’s sprawling prison system. Two prisons that had seen case counts drop to single digits last month are now reporting over 100 cases each, and two others also are seeing increases mirroring the uptick in the state. 

NY: Sunday haircuts are OK in New York as ‘blue law’ gets trimmed

timesunion.com

New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill to remove an old "blue law” that barred barbershops from operating on Sundays. The law had prevented "any person who carries on or engages in the business of shaving, hair cutting or other work of a barber on the first days of the week.” 

CA: New bill aims to let low-wage workers in California take family leave

calmatters.org

California was the first state to offer paid leave to parents and caregivers. But many lower-paid workers can’t take advantage, even though money for the program gets taken from their paychecks. 

HI: Hawaii tax collections soared back to pre-pandemic levels in the past year

civilbeat.org

Hawaii’s general treasury collected a startling $7.2 billion in taxes in the year ending June 30, which represents a striking rebound in government finances that defied the expectations of the governor, lawmakers and economic experts.

MA: Boston economy could suffer from a decline in office space usage, report says

bostonglobe.com

The Boston-Cambridge economy that powers Massachusetts might never be the same after the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s the takeaway from a new report crafted by consultancy McKinsey & Co. on behalf of Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, to assess and predict the future of work in Massachusetts. 

PA: Pennsylvania governor refuses to release details of unemployment checks snafu

inquirer.com

Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration is refusing to provide details on the scope and timeline of an internal investigation of a state error that resulted in thousands of unemployed Pennsylvanians being overcharged millions in interest payments over a decade.

CO: Colorado mountain towns say they can’t handle any more tourists

coloradosun.com

Vacationers are pouring into Colorado resort communities and overworked and underhoused locals feel the crowds are pushing their valleys beyond capacity. Resort town tourism leaders, who long ago began transitioning away from pure marketing toward resource-protecting destination stewardship, are adjusting their messages to not just the visitors, but also locals. 

UT: More than 95% of hospitalized COVID patients in Utah aren’t vaccinated

sltrib.com

There are 231 Utahns hospitalized for COVID-19, the Utah Department of Health reported—and a leading Utah doctor confirmed that most didn’t get a COVID-19 vaccine. 

WA: Despite fight, civil forfeiture persists in Washington

crosscut.com

In most places, including Washington state, law enforcement agencies can keep, use or sell property they seize if they show it is probably connected to a crime. Legislatures in other states have moved to limit civil asset forfeitures, but in Washington there’s hardly been a peep, though a small cadre of legislators has tried for two decades to reform the state’s forfeiture laws.

OR: Nation's largest fire grows to 200,000 acres in Oregon

oregonlive.com

A week after it started, the Bootleg fire, burning in southeast Oregon, grew to 200,000 acres, as evacuation orders expanded ahead of the rapidly spreading blaze. More than 1,100 firefighters were battling the blaze.

MI: Michigan governor signs K-12 budget to close per-pupil funding gap

freep.com

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, signed a historic $17.1 billion school aid fund budget, the first domino to fall in the state's budgeting process for the 2021-22 fiscal year. The budget is regarded as significant because it closes the K-12 per-pupil gap among some school districts in Michigan.

AK: Alaska's child care sector is struggling to find workers

alaskapublic.org

Many child care providers in Alaska say they’re struggling to hire workers. That means fewer slots in early-childhood and after-school programs than there were before the pandemic, when the state was already strapped for child care. 

ID: Idaho governor warns of worst wildfire season in years

idahostatesman.com

With smoke wafting across the sky above him, Idaho Gov. Brad Little implored Idahoans to help minimize wildfires during a news conference at Boise’s National Interagency Fire Center. The Republican asked the public to limit outdoor activities that could spark a fire. The Idaho Department of Lands has responded to 202 fires across 10 districts.

AL: Alabama school board members spar about critical race theory, diversity

al.com

The Alabama State Board of Education debated a resolution that would prohibit school districts from applying for or accepting federal funding that supports the teaching of The New York Times’ “1619 Project.” The resolution also would bar schools from training teachers to teach students to believe “that any person is inherently superior to another race or sex.” 

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