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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/16

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/16

MO: COVID cases in Missouri reach highest level since January

apnews.com

Missouri’s health department reported the highest daily count of new COVID-19 cases since the dead of winter, and the association representing the state’s hospitals is warning that the health care system is potentially on the brink of a crisis. 

IL: Illinois becomes 1st state to ban police from lying to minors during interrogations

chicagotribune.com

Police will be forbidden from using deceptive tactics while interrogating minors under a measure Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law, making Illinois the first state in the nation to ban the practice.

IA: Iowa’s abortion numbers increased 14% in 2020, after climbing 25% in 2019

desmoinesregister.com

The increase in abortion numbers came in the wake of Iowa’s decision to withdraw from a federally funded family planning program that helped thousands of Iowans gain birth control supplies and information on how to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. The program was replaced with a state-run version, which bars Planned Parenthood's participation and has served fewer Iowans.

TN: Tennessee's top vaccine official got glowing reviews before firing

tennessean.com

A top Tennessee health official called last week for the firing of the state's then-vaccination chief Dr. Michelle Fiscus, criticizing her leadership and management skills, newly released documents show. But Fiscus' termination, which touched off a national media firestorm, followed years of glowing performance reviews ultimately approved by the very same official, additional records reveal.

NY: New York governor will be questioned in sexual harassment inquiry

nytimes.com

New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to be questioned by investigators from the New York state attorney general’s office, signaling that a four-month-long inquiry into several sexual harassment accusations may be entering its final stages.

UT: Utah pharmacist gave half a dozen people COVID cards without giving them a shot

sltrib.com

A Utah pharmacist has admitted he gave COVID-19 vaccination cards to half a dozen people without giving them a vaccine. According to a stipulation order, the pharmacist said he was giving the patients “a choice.”

AR: Arkansas COVID cases spike; hospitals are full

arkansasonline.com

Top health officials in Arkansas warned of an approaching threat to access to care as the number of coronavirus patients in hospitals rose by double-digits for the 10th day in a row. Already at its highest level since Feb. 14, the number of COVID-19 patients in the state's hospitals rose by 22, to 669.

ME: New Maine law aims to shed light on racial makeup of traffic stops

pressherald.com

The new Maine law will attempt to identify and prevent racial profiling by requiring police departments around the state to collect data on the rate at which people of various races are being stopped for traffic infractions.

CA: Drought prompts scrutiny of California’s water restrictions

latimes.com

As Californians wonder when mandatory water restrictions might be coming, officials and experts including those who played roles in addressing the 2012-2016 drought say the pace and strategy of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s current response sufficiently incorporates insights gained from the past. But some scientists are frustrated and believe his approach is too little too late. 

HI: Other states have tough police standards boards. Hawaii doesn’t.

civilbeat.org

Almost every other state has professional staff and funding dedicated to overseeing law enforcement, but Hawaii does not have minimum standards for officers, a process to decertify cops, or an independent state agency to make any of that happen.

CT: Connecticut announces $13M in raises for management-level state employees

courant.com

Connecticut Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont’s office announced significant raises for 1,700 management-level state employees, as union workers ramp up a potentially contentious contract fight. 

KS: Racial justice panel in Kansas issues recommendations

apnews.com

A Kansas racial justice panel appointed by Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly has recommended expanding Medicaid, adding another income tax bracket for top-income earners, restoring a food sales tax rebate and banning Native American mascots and team names in public schools. 

CO: Colorado’s new nicotine, cigarette taxes generated $34M in 5 months

coloradosun.com

A ballot measure approved by Colorado voters went into effect in January, raising the taxes on a pack of cigarettes to $1.94 from 84 cents. It appears Colorado won’t meet the $87.4 million nonpartisan legislative analysts estimated the measure would collect in its first six months.

WY: Wyoming Supreme Court upholds ability of nurses to switch companies

cowboystatedaily.com

Companies cannot use noncompete clauses to protect themselves against ordinary business competition, Wyoming’s Supreme Court has ruled. The court overturned a district court’s ruling that three nurses who had worked for one home health care company in Evanston could not go to work for a competitor. 

PA: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, schools will install air purifiers, require masks

inquirer.com

Equipped with air purifiers in each classroom and planning to require anyone in schools to wear a mask, Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia School District will welcome back its 120,000 students in all buildings Aug. 31. It will be the first time since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic that there has been in-person instruction.

RI: Advocates warn Rhode Island ‘child erotica’ law is vaguely written, could criminalize LGBTQ youth

bostonglobe.com

In the final hours of this year’s legislative session, the Rhode Island General Assembly passed legislation making it a crime to produce or possess “child erotica” for sexual arousal or gratification. The American Civil Liberties Union and LGBTQ groups urged Democratic Gov. Dan McKee to veto the bill, noting Rhode Island already prohibits child pornography and calling the bill “extraordinarily vague.” But McKee signed it.

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