What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/28
CA: California expands Medicaid to older immigrants without legal status
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill that will make low-income Californians 50 and older eligible for Medicaid regardless of immigration status. The move, which goes into affect May 1, 2022, will extend comprehensive benefits to approximately 235,000 residents living in the country illegally.
WI: Wisconsin Assembly fails to override veto of bill ending federal unemployment aid
The GOP attempt to override Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' veto fell short of the two-thirds vote needed. The bill would have barred Wisconsin from participating in the federal program that provides $300 a week in additional unemployment aid to benefit recipients.
NV: Nevada will require COVID vaccines or weekly testing for state employees
Nevada plans to require its roughly 27,500 full-time state employees to either show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine or undergo weekly tests for the virus beginning next month as COVID metrics continue to worsen.
NY: New York law has long let officials use campaign funds for legal defense
Some legislators want to change New York’s campaign finance rules after Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo used $285,000 in political donations to pay lawyers representing him in sexual harassment and misconduct investigations.
MN: 2020 broke record for most murders reported in Minnesota
Violent crime increased dramatically last year across Minnesota, which saw a record number of murders, the highest number of bias crimes in 15 years and a record number of assaults against on-duty police officers. The number of murders hit 185 last year, up 58% from 117 in 2019.
US: States that cut unemployment early aren’t seeing a hiring boom, but who gets hired is changing
The 20 Republican-led states that reduced unemployment benefits in June did not see an immediate spike in overall hiring, but early evidence suggests something did change: The teen hiring boom slowed in those states, and workers 25 and older returned to work more quickly.
CT: Connecticut looks to use Medicaid funds to address gun crime
The state of Connecticut is embarking on a plan to dedicate Medicaid funds to help address gun violence and other violent crimes. Under new legislation, financially challenged community-based violence prevention services will eventually be able to receive state and federal Medicaid funds.
FL: Florida governor holds secret meeting to drive home his opposition to masks at schools
As cases of COVID-19 surged across the state, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis held a secret meeting in the Capitol with medical professionals, underlining his opposition to mask mandates for students.
MO: Missouri attorney general sues St. Louis over masks, but decision could take months
The Missouri attorney general’s lawsuit challenging new mask orders in the St. Louis region also targets school mask mandates and could hamstring districts that plan to require them.
OH: Backers of new Ohio marijuana legalization effort target Nov. 2022 election
A new push has begun to place a full marijuana legalization initiative on the Ohio ballot, with backers now targeting the November 2022 election, according to state disclosure forms.
OR: Former Oregon representative pleads guilty to allowing violent demonstrators into Capitol
A former Oregon Republican state representative is banned from entering the state Capitol or the grounds surrounding the building for the next 18 months after pleading guilty to official misconduct. The plea is a result of his actions on Dec. 21, 2020 when he opened a door at the state Capitol to allow a group of violent demonstrators inside the building, which was closed due to the pandemic.
MI: Michigan governor makes controversial choice to ignore campaign donation limits
Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's reelection campaign is not observing the donation limits that normally apply to candidates under Michigan law, allowing her to raise millions more through wealthy donors than would normally be allowed. Her campaign has collected up to six-figure donations from national figures in the TV and movie industries, technology and philanthropy, while her opponents are limited to individual donations capped at $7,150.
CO: Colorado will allow 4-year colleges to grant associate degrees to dropouts
Giving Colorado students with some college credit an associate degree won’t drastically enhance their potential earnings or change why students dropped out in the first place. But the program could open up new pathways for universities to bring those students back to finish their bachelor’s degrees.
TN: Tennessee Senate GOP urges public to take COVID vaccines
More than half of Tennessee’s Senate Republican Caucus signed a letter urging Tennesseans to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, n acceleration of pro-vaccine rhetoric from leading conservatives as hospitalizations from the virus have begun to rapidly increase.
WY: COVID returns to Wyoming prisons
A small number of COVID-19 cases have been detected at Wyoming prisons in the last couple of weeks, according to recent reports from the Department of Corrections. A department spokesperson said 64% of people incarcerated in Wyoming state prisons are fully vaccinated.
KS: Kansas launches pilot program to help people with disabilities find and keep jobs
A new employment program for people with disabilities in Kansas launched earlier this month by the state is intended to help participants gradually decrease reliance on public benefits and increase their incomes. Under federal labor law, employers can pay some workers who experience physical or mental disabilities less than the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
MS: Mississippi Department of Corrections cancels visitations to prevent spread of COVID
For the second time this year, the Mississippi Department of Corrections suspended all visitation for people who are incarcerated. The department mandated masks for all staff and incarcerated individuals. Though inmates are required to be vaccinated, staff and correctional officers are not.
DE: Site readiness fund aims to make Delaware attractive to businesses
Democratic Gov. John Carney signed a bill boosting Delaware’s ability to compete with neighboring states to attract businesses. The new law creates a $10 million fund to help developers prepare new land for large businesses to come in.
AR: Arkansas may revisit mask ban as COVID cases rise
Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson met with legislative leaders to discuss the possibility of holding a special session on the measure enacted in April that bans local and state government entities, including schools, from requiring masks.
LA: Louisiana hospitalizations rise to highest level in months
COVID-19-related hospitalizations in Louisiana have soared in the past few weeks. The Louisiana State Department of Health reported the second-highest total of new COVID-19 cases and highest hospitalizations since the beginning of this year.
GA: Fulton County responds to possible elections takeover by Georgia Republicans
The top elected official in Fulton County, Georgia, has said he would fight any attempted state takeover of the county’s elections management, but how that fight would look is unclear.
AL: No state mask order is expected in Alabama
Alabama’s state health officer said that despite increasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, he doesn’t think there will be a statewide mask mandate.