Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/14

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/14

RI: Rhode Island withholds unemployment benefits for workers fired for flouting COVID rules

bostonglobe.com

Rhode Islanders who lose their jobs because they refuse to follow their employers’ clearly communicated COVID-19 vaccine rules generally won’t be eligible for unemployment, state labor officials say. The state considers COVID-19 vaccine mandates to be a reasonable requirement that employees have to follow.

OR: Oregon School Boards Association leaders tell local members to follow COVID laws

oregonlive.com

Leaders of the Oregon School Boards Association admonished school board members across the state to uphold their oaths of office and follow all laws, even those they disagree with. They conveyed that message in an open letter that took aim at the notable number of school board members who have directed school employees to defy mask mandates intended to keep children safe from COVID-19.

MN: Judge puts Minnesota police force law on hold

mprnews.org

A judge put on hold a tougher standard on the use of deadly force by Minnesota police officers until a lawsuit is resolved over the way a new law is constructed. The law passed in 2020 requires officers to provide specific reasons to justify using lethal force.

KS: Kansas attorney general says spike in natural gas prices appears to break state law

apnews.com

Attorney General Derek Schmidt, a Republican, said that sharp spikes in natural gas prices last winter appear to violate Kansas law, and he is seeking outside legal help to investigate them.

TX: New Texas law requires cash bail for people accused of violent crimes

texastribune.org

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law sweeping bail legislation that requires people accused of violent crimes to put up cash to get out of Texas jails. The bill named after a slain state trooper also provides judges with more information about a defendant’s criminal history when setting bail.

MA: Massachusetts governor activates National Guard to ease school transportation shortages

bostonglobe.com

With a number of local school districts facing bus driver shortages, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, activated the National Guard to assist with school transportation, starting in four cities. Up to 250 personnel will be available, with 90 Guard members slated to begin training.

NC: North Carolina school district ends most quarantines, contact tracing of COVID cases

charlotteobserver.com

Public schools in Union County, North Carolina, will significantly curtail coronavirus quarantine requirements and school nurses and staff will not conduct contact tracing in cases where a student or employee has tested positive for COVID-19.

PA: COVID cases in Pennsylvania schoolchildren are 10 times higher than last year

inquirer.com

Coronavirus cases among school-aged children in Pennsylvania were nearly 10 times greater last week than during the same period in 2020, state health officials said, with local officials saying the rise could be due to a variety of factors, including the highly transmissible delta variant, the return of in-person school and an increase in testing.

FL: Florida is set to fine cities, counties millions for requiring employee vaccinations

miamiherald.com

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said Florida will fine local governments $5,000 for each employee who is required to be vaccinated, threatening some cities and counties with millions of dollars in penalties for adopting strict vaccine mandates.

IA: Federal judge temporarily blocks Idaho’s ban on school mask mandates

iowacapitaldispatch.com

The decision comes after a disability rights group and several Iowa families sued the state, arguing that students with disabilities face “irreparable harm” when attending schools without universal masking. The lawsuit contended that prohibiting schools from requiring masks was a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

NM: New Mexico deploys absentee ballot drop boxes statewide

apnews.com

Election officials are deploying ballot drop boxes across New Mexico for people who chose to cast absentee ballots without walking indoors during the upcoming Nov. 2 local election. The proliferation of drop boxes is the outcome of 2019 legislation from the Democratic-led legislature that was signed by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

WA: Dozens of state employees sue Washington governor over vaccine mandate

seattletimes.com

Dozens of Washington State Patrol troopers, firefighters and other state and local government employees have sued Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, contending that his COVID-19 vaccine mandate oversteps his legal authority and violates their constitutional rights.

MI: Michigan marijuana has become a $2B industry

mlive.com

Michigan marijuana sales reached a new peak when combined recreational and medical sales for the first time eclipsed a $2 billion-per-year pace.

DE: Delaware’s last remaining coal plant could operate longer than expected

delawarepublic.org

Delaware’s last remaining coal-fired power plant was scheduled to shut down next spring. But the regional electric grid manager says that the planned closure of the Indian River coal plant could bring reliability issues—and that some upgrades to address these will not be ready in time.

CO: Democrats would keep control of Colorado legislature under latest draft redistricting maps

coloradosun.com

The latest draft maps of Colorado’s new state Senate and House districts would make it difficult for Republicans to challenge Democratic control of the legislature, according to an analysis of the proposals.

GA: Georgia redistricting effort clears a path for Republican US House majority 

ajc.com

In an effort to take over Congress, Republicans are looking to redraw the maps of two key Georgia suburban districts that were once solid GOP territory and the political base for former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

SC: South Carolina county school board votes to enforce mask rules using federal funds

postandcourier.com

The new mandate allows the district to remain in compliance with South Carolina law since it will not use state funds to enforce the school mask mandate.

HI: Over decades, Hawaii cut acute care hospital beds. Then came the pandemic

civilbeat.org

Hawaii health and state government officials argued that advances in medicine and patient preference reduced the need for the beds, but now there aren’t enough.

CA: As recall campaign ends, Californians might be ready to change the system

latimes.com

Launched by conservative critics and fueled by anger and fear over the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, the campaign has shined a light on the rules governing California recall efforts, with academics and activists alike saying improvements are long overdue.

 

 

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