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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/21

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/21

CA: California will spend $6B to expand internet access

sacbee.com

Under a bill signed by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, California will spend $6 billion over the next three years to expand broadband access throughout the state, prioritizing unserved, underserved and rural communities.

WA: Washington will close public lands due to extreme fire danger

seattletimes.com

Starting Friday, the Washington Department of Natural Resources will temporarily close all recreational and public access to DNR-managed lands east of the Cascade Mountains, citing extreme fire danger and the ongoing drought.

PA: Pennsylvania governor no longer opposes some voter ID rules

inquirer.com

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, has been steadfastly opposed to changing the state’s voter ID rules. But Wolf now says he’s open to some stricter ID rules, including requiring ID for mail voting.

AR: Researchers call Arkansas COVID surge a ‘raging forest fire’

apnews.com

Public health researchers called the rapid rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in Arkansas a “raging forest fire,” and the state’s top health official warned that he expects significant outbreaks in schools. Arkansas leads the country in new cases per capita and only 35% of the population is fully vaccinated.

MO: Missouri governor has criticized federal aid, but he received a PPP loan

kansascity.com

Missouri Republican Gov. Mike Parson received a modest grant from the federal government this year to sustain his cattle farm, records show. The state government helped businesses secure millions in low-interest loans through Small Business Administration programs last year, but the governor has declined other forms of federal pandemic aid.

LA: Louisiana Senate votes to override governor's veto on transgender sports bill

theadvocate.com

The Louisiana Senate voted to override Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ veto of a bill targeting transgender athletes, putting the veto override effort in the hands of the state House. 

MI: Michigan governor vetoes GOP plan to end extra $300 of unemployment

mlive.com

Michiganders on unemployment can keep getting up to $662 per week of unemployment benefits, as Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has vetoed a Republican bill that aimed to axe the extra $300 of weekly federal funding.

AR: Judge blocks Arkansas ban on abortions

arkansasonline.com

An Arkansas law set to go into effect July 28 that would outlaw virtually all abortions in the state was blocked by a U.S. District judge who granted a preliminary injunction while she hears a challenge to its constitutionality.

OR: Oregon governor, leaders outline response to historic start to wildfire season

oregonlive.com

Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, the state fire marshal and the director of emergency management briefed the public on Oregon’s response to a historic start to wildfire season, citing drought emergencies in 19 counties so far, with more expected.

NY: Ethics agency probes former aide to New York governor over vaccine calls

timesunion.com

New York’s ethics oversight agency is investigating a series of phone calls made by a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, that some county executives felt improperly mixed politics with vaccine distribution efforts.

UT: Utah ICUs are crowded with COVID patients

sltrib.com

Nearly 300 Utahns are in the hospital because of the coronavirus, and 123 are in ICUs. At least one Salt Lake City medical facility—the University of Utah Hospital—is delaying some elective surgeries because of the number of patients in its medical ICU.

ID: Over $150M remains available for Idahoans for COVID rental aid

idahocapitalsun.com

The Idaho Housing and Finance Association is receiving about 50 applications per day and approving around 65% of them within five days. Some are denied because the applicant earns more than 80% of the area median income, while others are missing required documentation.

CT: Connecticut will forgive debt for community college students enrolled during pandemic

courant.com

The Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system said it is wiping the slate clean for more than 18,000 community college students who took on debt or couldn’t repay debt because of the coronavirus pandemic. It will forgive a total of $17 million in account balances.

HI: Hawaii schools are helping kids who struggled during the pandemic

civilbeat.org

Hawaii schools are implementing programs to foster “social and emotional well-being” in students as well as academic progress.

AL: Alabama lawmaker wants teachers fired if they teach critical race theory

al.com

Alabama Rep. Danny Crawford, a Republican, wants to make sure any teacher in public K-12 schools or colleges who teaches “certain concepts regarding race or sex, such as critical race theory,” gets fired.

TX: Texas GOP House members seek forensic audit of 2020 election in Democratic counties

dallasnews.com

Republican House members are seeking a forensic audit of the November election results, but only in Texas’ largest counties that mostly went for Democrat Joe Biden. The legislation will likely go nowhere in the 30-day special session, since Democrats’ walkout stopped the GOP-led House from conducting any business.

DC: DC Council votes to raise taxes on the rich

washingtonpost.com

The Washington, D.C., City Council voted to increase income taxes on residents earning more than $250,000 per year and use the revenue to tackle homelessness and other social problems. Final budget votes will take place in August.

CO: Colorado marijuana-related arrests are down, tax revenues are up

coloradosun.com

More than seven years since Colorado became the first state to allow cannabis to be sold at stores for recreational use, pot arrests are down, marijuana-impaired driving cases are up and school expulsions were up and then down, according to a new report by the state Department of Public Safety. 

MA: Massachusetts legislature will debate sports betting bill

bostonherald.com

Massachusetts representatives are preparing to debate a 38-page rewrite of a bill that would legalize betting on professional and college sports for people 21 and older. It includes wagering on esports, video games and car racing, and some lawmakers want to include in-stadium wagering.

CA, IA: Iowa’s lawsuit over California hog farm law heads for hearing

iowacapitaldispatch.com

The Iowa Pork Producers Association has requested a preliminary injunction that would block enforcement of California’s Proposition 12, which tries to ensure that breeding pigs have enough room to turn around freely, lie down, stand up and extend their limbs.

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