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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/7

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/7

US: Benefits expire for some 7.5M unemployed US workers

nytimes.com

President Joe Biden has encouraged some states to continue helping the long-term unemployed, but administration officials said it was time for enhanced federal aid to end. Some 7.5 million people were still receiving expanded unemployment benefits including a $300-per-week federal supplement to state jobless payments.

TX: Justice Department exploring ways to challenge Texas’ abortion ban

texastribune.org

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Department of Justice is “urgently” exploring ways to challenge Texas’ new law that bans most abortions.

KS: Kansas will give nurses extra pay. But GOP may exclude hospitals with vaccine mandates.

kansas.com

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and top lawmakers have approved up to $50 million in extra pay for Kansas nurses working in hospitals. But Republican legislators may attempt to limit the funds to hospitals that don’t require employees to be vaccinated.

LA: At least 350 oil and chemical spills reported in Louisiana waters after Hurricane Ida

nola.com

The U.S. Coast Guard reported 350 oil and chemical spills in Louisiana, mostly in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi River. The spills have been linked to broken oil wells, damaged oil wells and flooded refineries.

US: Prized trout streams shrink as heat, drought grips US West

apnews.com

Both torrent and trickle have afflicted storied trout streams in the American West in recent years amid the havoc of climate change, which has made the region hotter and drier and fueled severe weather events. Blistering heat waves and extended drought have raised water temperatures and imperiled fish species in several states.

NJ: New Jersey receives disaster declaration in the wake of Ida

northjersey.com

Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, announced that New Jersey has received a major disaster declaration from President Joe Biden for the areas impacted by the remnants of Hurricane Ida.

MD: Maryland nursing homes again suspending visits

washingtonpost.com

Nursing homes in Maryland are again seeing a rise in COVID-19 infections. Each time a new case occurs, nursing homes must immediately suspend visits, according to federal guidance.

WA: Concerns arise over departure of Washington state workers over vaccine mandate

seattletimes.com

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, has mandated that state workers and school employees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 18—or lose their jobs. Concerns have emerged over possible disruptions in services if significant swaths of state troopers, ferry workers, social service providers and other public employees resign or get fired for refusing to get vaccinated.

OR: Nearly 80% of deaths in August COVID surge were among unvaccinated, partially vaccinated Oregonians

oregonlive.com

Nearly 4 in 5 coronavirus deaths in Oregon during the first four weeks of August were among unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals, according to new data released by the Oregon Health Authority. And roughly 5 in 6 of the 51,391 known COVID-19 infections during the same period were among people who were unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated.

UT: Utah’s top elected education officials decline to take a public position on masking in schools

sltrib.com

The Utah Board of Education voted not to take any public position on masking in schools. The board, which oversees K-12 education in the state, has largely been kept from setting the policy for face coverings in classrooms this year, which has instead been arbitrated by Utah lawmakers.

IA: Lawsuit argues Iowa’s school mask mandate ban violates disability rights

iowacapitaldispatch.com

The complaint by 11 families against the state of Iowa contends that students with disabilities or preexisting conditions are unable to safely attend school without universal masking. Iowa’s law forbids school mask requirements, thereby violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, the lawsuit claims.

MN: Parents group sues Minnesota, seeks statewide mask mandate for schools

mprnews.org

A group of parents of students at Minnesota K-12 schools that have not implemented mask mandates are suing the state, asking the court to order Democratic Gov. Tim Walz to enact a statewide mask mandate for schools amid a rise in COVID-19 cases.

AL: Several Alabama schools to take virtual days, require masks

al.com

Most school districts in Alabama require masks and some are moving their districts online as more schools report increasing COVID-19 cases.

HI: Panel will oversee efforts by Hawaii prisons and jails to manage pandemic threat

civilbeat.org

Hawaii will allow a five-member panel to review its efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 after more than 2,700 inmates were infected.

MS: Mississippi workforce nears pre-pandemic levels, but experts say real growth will take time

mississippitoday.org 

Mississippi gained almost 15,000 jobs, pushing the state’s number of working residents closer to where it was before the pandemic. The state has recouped nearly 83% of the jobs it lost since 2020.

DE: Delaware identifies over 25K fraudulent unemployment claims, creating backlog

delawarepublic.org

The Delaware Department of Labor is now facing a massive backlog of fraudulent claims. Secretary Karyl Hubbard said they’ve identified over 25,000 cases so far where someone’s identity was stolen and used to apply for unemployment benefits without their knowledge.

OH: Ohio gives green light for marijuana legalization petitioners to start gathering signatures

cleveland.com

Backers of a new effort to legalize recreational marijuana in Ohio can now gather signatures needed to send the issue to the legislature—and maybe to voters—after getting state approval last week for their petition language.

IL: Republicans upend Democratic efforts to show they’re serious about ethics reform in Illinois 

chicagotribune.com 

In a move that appeared to catch majority Democrats by surprise, Illinois House Republicans rejected an ethics proposal tweaked by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker and are using the resignation of the General Assembly’s top watchdog to push for what they argue are more meaningful anti-corruption measures. 

ID: Idaho’s redistricting commission hopes to finish first map in October

idahocapitalsun.com

By law, Idaho’s redistricting commissioners have until Nov. 30—90 days from their initial meeting—to submit their maps and redistricting plan to the state. 

WI: Wisconsin counties reject subpoenas for election materials

madison.com

Milwaukee and Brown counties, the two counties that the Republican chair of the Wisconsin Assembly elections committee subpoenaed nearly a month ago to aid in a probe of the 2020 presidential election, rejected the subpoenas for election materials. County officials called the subpoenas invalid.

CA: In red California, Trump’s lies about a rigged election echo among recall supporters

latimes.com

The Republican-backed recall election could not be more consequential for California. Set amid a deadly wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, with record-breaking wildfires and a relentless drought drying fields and faucets, it gives the GOP its best shot in over a decade at governing the nation’s most populous state.

MO: How the fight to save endangered species on the Missouri River lost its funding 

stltoday.com 

An initiative to study and restore the habitat of threatened and endangered species on the Missouri River, which is under fire by farmers and industry and transportation interests, unprotected by politicians and overmatched by competing budget concerns, has been cut to the quick.

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