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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/15

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/15

WA: Washington governor declares drought emergency as wildfire conditions worsen

seattletimes.com

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, announced an emergency drought declaration that covers nearly all of the state. The announcement comes after an extended drought—intensified by the recent heat waves—has exploded into wildfire season, with blazes tearing across Eastern and Central Washington.

MI: Thousands of vaccines could expire in Michigan

mlive.com

Michigan estimates that at least 240,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccine will expire in the next two months, and approximately 45,000 doses of Moderna’s shot and 21,000 doses of Pfizer’s will spoil at the end of July.

TN: COVID-19 infections triple as Tennessee backs off vaccine outreach

tennessean.com

The rate of daily COVID-19 infections in Tennessee has more than tripled in the past three weeks—one of the largest increases in the nation. This resurgence of the virus comes as the Tennessee state government scales back efforts to vaccinate teenagers and distances itself from vaccines altogether.

PA: Pennsylvania county won’t hand over voting machines to GOP

apnews.com

One of three counties targeted by a Pennsylvania state lawmaker for an Arizona-style “forensic investigation” of the state’s 2020 presidential election sought by former President Donald Trump will not allow third-party access to its voting machines. 

OH: Ohio governor signs bill banning colleges, schools from requiring COVID vaccines

cleveland.com

Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed a bill that prohibits K-12 schools, universities and other public entitles from requiring vaccines that haven’t been fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

CA: California schools face ransomware threat

calmatters.org

A ransomware attack can have devastating consequences for schools. Experts say attacks against schools in California and across the country are increasing as educators try to figure out whether cybersecurity should be a priority. 

HI: Federal judge rules Hawaii prison system has failed to protect incarcerated people from COVID

civilbeat.org

A federal court ordered the Hawaii correctional system to finally follow its own official plan for coping with the COVID-19 pandemic but stopped short of appointing a special master to oversee efforts to prevent infections in state prisons and jails.

CT: Connecticut lawmakers approve extension of governor’s emergency powers, but Republicans push back

courant.com

In nearly simultaneous votes, the Connecticut House and Senate both voted to extend Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont’s emergency powers. Republicans argued that the powers should end because the pandemic is essentially over, and many citizens are no longer wearing masks because they have been vaccinated. 

MO: Missouri governor signs school choice measure into law

stltoday.com

Missouri students could draw on scholarship funds to attend the school of their choice under a bill signed into law by Republican Gov. Mike Parson. The legislation creates a program that allows residents to receive a tax credit for donating to certain educational assistance organizations. Those groups would then grant scholarships to eligible students. 

IL: Illinois legislature’s watchdog resigns, calls post a ‘paper tiger’

chicagotribune.com

The top state official charged with policing allegations of wrongdoing by Illinois lawmakers and legislative staff announced her resignation, calling the position “essentially a paper tiger.” The legislative inspector leveled criticisms echoing those of her predecessors, who also raised concerns about the office’s limited powers. 

OR: Researchers urge Oregon governor to stop promoting vaccines, saying she is the ‘least trusted’ messenger

oregonlive.com

Democratic Gov. Kate Brown should stop urging Oregonians to get vaccinated because she is the “least trusted” figure for unvaccinated individuals and could be undercutting the state’s efforts, according to new survey results. Researchers at the University of Oregon’s Institute for Policy Research and Engagement were blunt: “less Gov. Brown.”

AK: Alaska Native communities get federal grants to reduce energy costs

juneauempire.com

The federal Department of Energy announced $12 million in funding for energy cost reduction efforts in 13 American Indian and Alaska Native communities across the country, seven of which are in Alaska. The grant money will help Indigenous communities reduce costs and move toward more sustainable energy production. 

CO: Billionaire couple sues Colorado for a tax refund

coloradosun.com

Colorado billionaire Phil Anschutz and his wife, Nancy, are suing the Colorado Department of Revenue for a tax refund. Lawyers with the state Attorney General’s Office argue that if the court sides with the Anschutzes, it could sow fiscal chaos in how the state collects and refunds tax revenue. 

KS: Judge will decide if Kansas’ top election official can withhold records by altering software

kansas.com

An attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas says the state’s open records law might as well not exist if Secretary of State Scott Schwab, a Republican, can keep public information hidden by reconfiguring software. 

KS: Kansas Board of Education: critical race theory is not in state standards

kansas.com

Critical race theory is not in Kansas educational standards and some critics conflate it with educational equity, the Kansas Board of Education said in a statement. “Just as we teach our students to be judicious consumers of information, we encourage all Kansans to educate themselves on what critical race theory is and what it isn’t,” the statement said. 

NY: New York governor promotes summer jobs as antidote to gun violence

timesunion.com

Roughly 4,400 youth jobs are expected to be rolled out in New York City as the first part of the state's response to what Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has deemed a gun violence state of emergency. Two thousand of the employment opportunities are summer jobs for youth who live in what the state has classified as "gun violence hot spots" that are within New York City. 

WV: West Virginia attorney general will oppose Purdue Pharma opioid settlement

wvgazettemail.com

West Virginia’s attorney general will vote against a $10 billion settlement meant to confirm Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy plan, arguing that it does not address the state’s needs. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, a Republican, said the multibillion dollar settlement is largely based on a state’s population, which leaves those that were the most affected—such as small Appalachian states—with little money.

IA: Two Iowa counties pass 2nd Amendment sanctuary resolutions

apnews.com

Officials have voted to declare two Iowa counties as Second Amendment sanctuaries where any laws hindering gun rights cannot be enforced, joining similar efforts across the country and coming even as Iowa has significantly loosened firearms regulations.

TX: Texas Senate approves limits on transgender sports, but bills are still in limbo

texastribune.org

Amid their Democratic colleagues’ push to halt GOP priority voting legislation, Republicans in the Texas Senate passed two bills that would restrict transgender student athletes from participating on sports teams that do not correspond with their sex assigned at birth.

 

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