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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/21

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/21

TX: Texas doctor who admitted to violating the state’s near-total abortion ban is sued

texastribune.org

A Texas doctor is being sued in two separate lawsuits for performing an abortion illegally under a new state law that nearly bans the procedure, in what appear to be the first lawsuits spurred by the statute's goal of making providers targets of litigation.

IL: Illinois governor announces ‘historic investment’ in pandemic relief for low-income families 

chicago.suntimes.com

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, announced low-income families will be able to tap into a $327 million pool of funds. The money can be put toward rent, utilities, food and other expenses related to housing regardless of a person’s immigration status. 

NY: Lawsuit challenges New York’s school mask mandate

timesunion.com

A group of parents who oppose New York's regulations requiring children to wear masks in schools and on buses filed a federal lawsuit against state health Commissioner Howard Zucker, asserting the rules are a violation of their children's First Amendment rights and causing them physical, psychological and sociological harm.

WV: West Virginia health officials fear aftermath of COVID surge

wvgazettemail.com

Trends indicate that the current surge of COVID-19 cases in West Virginia might be peaking. However, hospitalizations, ICU visits and deaths are projected to continue climbing for two to six weeks, state officials said. They also announced a plan to assist understaffed hospitals.

ND: North Dakota seeks to maintain single area code, free up unused phone numbers

bismarcktribune.com

North Dakota officials are seeking permission from federal regulators to free up potentially millions of unused phone numbers and keep the state under one area code. The state is projected to run out of phone numbers under the 701 area code in 2026.

DC: DC mandates COVID vaccines for school staff, child care workers

washingtonpost.com

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Democrat, said that all public and private school teachers and staff as well as early child care workers must be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by Nov. 1, eliminating a testing option.

CO: Colorado regulators move forward with controversial new emissions rule

coloradosun.com

Colorado air quality regulators will move forward with a controversial, first-in-the-nation rule to curb greenhouse gas releases from oil and gas operators based on the intensity of emissions relative to their production. The proposed rule would set an emission limit per 1,000 barrels of oil equivalent (defined as oil plus natural gas) produced.  

VA: Unemployment overpayments recovery paused as Virginia Employment Commission struggles with new backlogs

richmond.com

The Virginia Employment Commission has paused its collection of overpayments to unemployed Virginians as the beleaguered agency struggles to address rising backlogs of disputed claims and appeals that continue to strain the state unemployment system.

WA: Washington governor asks feds for medical staffing help

apnews.com

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, has asked the federal government for assistance staffing hospitals and long-term care facilities in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

CA: Students with disabilities across California stuck in limbo

calmatters.org

Some California parents are being forced to decide between risking sending their kids with disabilities to school and getting all their needs met or keeping them at home and forfeiting their special education services.

MD: Maryland's opioid deaths could outpace heroin

baltimoresun.com

A record number of people died last year from prescription opioids in Maryland, continuing a trend that could eclipse heroin as the state's deadliest drug.

MS: Mississippi colleges and universities board bans COVID vaccine mandate

mississippitoday.org

The Mississippi Board of Trustees of the Institutions of Higher Learning voted to ban the state’s eight public universities from requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for students, faculty and staff.

NM: New Mexico legislators sue to rein in governor on pandemic relief

apnews.com

Legislators asked the New Mexico Supreme Court to limit Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s authority over more than $1 billion in federal relief. The lawsuit from the Republican Party’s top-ranked senator and a Democratic colleague accuses Lujan Grisham of overstepping her constitutional authority.

OR: Oregon receives nearly $1M to launch additional non-police mental health response teams

oregonlive.com

The Biden administration announced that Oregon will receive nearly $1 million of the $15 million earmarked under the American Rescue Plan to help launch non-police response teams to respond to people experiencing mental health crises outdoors. Instead of sending police to mental health or substance use emergencies, the programs are intended to send trained behavioral health workers.

MI: Poll: Michiganders support vaccine mandate for schoolchildren

freep.com

Michiganders support the government requiring students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as federal regulators approve inoculation for all age groups, according to the findings of a new poll commissioned by the Detroit Regional Chamber. A majority also believe the state, local government officials or school districts should make decisions on masking in schools, as opposed to parents.

AK: Alaska hospitals still under siege

adn.com

Alaska reported seven more deaths from COVID-19 as the number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus over the weekend dropped slightly from near-record levels. Even if infection rates start to drop, it will take time before there’s relief in hospitals.

UT: Utah police shoot at minorities at disproportionate rates

sltrib.com

Racial and ethnic minorities accounted for a third of the people shot at by Utah police over the past decade—despite these groups making up just a quarter of the population. The disparity is the greatest among Black people.

HI: Hawaii gives airport workers extra time for vaccine mandate

staradvertiser.com

Democratic Gov. David Ige’s order requiring that contractors and visitors at state facilities and property provide proof of their vaccination or testing status prior to entry has already been in effect for a week, but thousands of workers at Hawaii airports still aren’t in compliance.

GA: Judge seeks info on Georgia investigations of counterfeit ballots

ajc.com

A judge asked Georgia election investigators and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to provide an update about any investigations into allegations involving the casting of counterfeit ballots in last year’s presidential election.

NJ: New Jersey governor orders vaccine, mask mandates at day care facilities

northjersey.com

Workers at day care facilities in New Jersey will have to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 within five weeks or be subject to weekly testing under an executive order signed by Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy. The order also requires anyone 2 years and older to wear face masks at day cares beginning Friday. 

MN: Minnesota legislature’s 2 newest leaders say they want to bridge the partisan divide

minnpost.com

At separate news conferences over the course of two weeks, the two newly chosen leaders of the Minnesota Senate used a phrase that has fallen out of usage at the Capitol: The Purple Caucus. The group is a loose organization of people who wanted to counter partisanship in politics, and the two leaders claimed founding membership.

DE: Delaware governor signs solar, electric vehicle bills

delawarepublic.org

Democratic Gov. John Carney said a new law that lowers the barrier for community solar projects ties into Delaware’s goal of ensuring 40% of its electricity comes from renewable sources by 2035. Another new law allows state agencies to charge a fee to recover the costs of running an electric vehicle charger.

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