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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/23

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/23

FL: Florida order halts school districts’ challenge to mask mandate ban 

tampabay.com

Five school districts’ challenge to a mask mandate rule came to a screeching halt after Florida’s new surgeon general repealed the rule and replaced it with his own that gave parents even more choice over how to deal with COVID-19 in schools. 

IN: Indiana evictions spike as assistance money remains unspent

indystar.com

Indiana families in need are being evicted while mountains of federal dollars, earmarked specifically to help them, sit untouched in the state’s coffers. About 83% of Indiana households behind on rent have not received rental assistance.

WI: Wisconsin Supreme Court agrees to hear redistricting case

jsonline.com

The Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed to take a case over the state's redistricting practices, a day after a federal court scheduled a January trial on the same issue. The state's high court agreed to take the case on a 4-3 vote, with conservatives in the majority and liberals in dissent.

AK: 400 health care workers on their way to fight Alaska's COVID surge

alaskapublic.org

Alaska has contracted 400 additional health care workers from the Lower 48 to aid the state’s battle against COVID-19. The contract will cost $87 million, and the health care workers are scheduled to arrive next week.

AR: Arkansas redistricting bill would split most populous county into 3 congressional districts

arkansasonline.com

A redistricting bill filed by a Republican legislator would put parts of Pulaski County, which contains Arkansas' capital of Little Rock, in the 1st, 2nd and 4th congressional districts. The state’s most populous county has been in the 2nd Congressional District since the 1960s.

NM: New Mexico races to spend federal rental assistance

apnews.com

New Mexico faces a deadline at the end of September to distribute at least $104 million in federal rental assistance or risk forfeiting additional money. As of mid-September, the state had spent or assigned $51 million of that assistance.

SD: South Dakota offers incentives for hiring formerly incarcerated people

argusleader.com

South Dakota's labor department is looking to help formerly incarcerated individuals rejoin the workforce by offering federal bonds and tax incentives for employers who hire them.

SC: South Carolina unlikely to overturn mask ban

postandcourier.com

The South Carolina House won’t return when the Senate does in mid-October, making it unlikely for the full legislature to address or overturn its ban on masks in schools for the foreseeable future.

MD: Maryland parents dread school quarantines

baltimoresun.com

Maryland school districts are seeing COVID-19 cases rise, forcing hundreds of students into quarantine and prompting schools to alter plans and cancel events.

TX: Texas GOP moves to fortify Senate lines as Democrats target Republican incumbents for 2022

dallasnews.com

Texas Republicans are redrawing state Senate boundaries to protect three GOP incumbents targeted by Democrats. If Democrats win three additional seats they win control of the Senate.

NC: With North Carolina political maps about to be drawn, some lawmakers are leaving

newsobserver.com

Four North Carolina state lawmakers have now announced that they will not run for reelection in 2022, as the Republican-controlled General Assembly is preparing to redraw state legislative and congressional districts.

CT: Connecticut governor seeks to extend emergency authority until February 2022 

courant.com

More than 18 months after COVID-19 began spreading throughout Connecticut, Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont asked the state legislature for the sixth extension of his extraordinary powers to govern during the pandemic.  

MO: Revamped work-from-home rules take effect for some Missouri state workers 

stltoday.com

Four major state agencies in Missouri have received approval to allow some of their employees to work remotely. But Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s administration is requiring a stricter accounting of how workers spend their time. 

OR: Oregon to spend $23.6M on hazard payments to state employees who had to work in-person

oregonlive.com

Oregon will spend $23.6 million on hazard payments of up to $1,550 for state employees who were required to work in-person during the first 16 months of the pandemic.

MI: Michigan governor wants electric vehicle charging circuit around Lake Michigan

freep.com

Michigan has a plan to add charging stations all along the Lake Michigan shoreline, covering communities, lighthouses and other tourist destinations as soon as next year.

CA: California COVID deaths skewing younger, increasing among Latinos

calmatters.org

California’s COVID-19 deaths are skewing younger, with the average age dropping seven years during the past few months. And death rates are increasing for most racial groups, particularly Latinos.

CO: Only 22% of Colorado schools join weekly COVID testing program

denverpost.com

Only 22% of Colorado’s more than 2,000 K-12 schools have enrolled in the state’s weekly COVID-19 testing program. Without routine testing, schools face a higher risk of transmission while following the state’s more lax quarantine guidance for this school year.

WY: Online predators on the rise in Wyoming

cowboystatedaily.com

Wyoming officials received and investigated 263 cyber tips about child pornography and other hazards in 2019. That number nearly doubled last year, and this year the office has already received 425 tips. 

MN: Minnesota child care providers to receive $300M in grants

startribune.com

A new Minnesota program is designed to improve pay and benefits for child care workers, as well as cover expenses such as personal protective equipment and overhead costs. The legislature set up the $300 million program using federal COVID-19 stimulus money.

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