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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/30

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/30

LA: Louisiana public school students won't have to quarantine after COVID exposure

theadvocate.com

The Louisiana education superintendent announced a new policy that allows public school students to remain in classrooms even if they have been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19. Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, and Dr. Joseph Kanter, the state’s health officer, expressed opposition to the policy.

DC: Most school nurses hired by DC can’t treat students with COVID symptoms

wamu.org

School nurses hired by Washington, D.C., are not allowed to monitor or treat students exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, according to accounts from several school leaders. It has put administrators in the difficult position of deciding who should respond to students with symptoms inside their buildings.

SC: A rise in forged COVID vaccine cards has South Carolina health officials calling investigators

thestate.com

South Carolina health officials fear a growing number of unvaccinated residents are putting the public at risk by forging or using forged COVID-19 vaccine cards to pass themselves off as inoculated against the virus for personal or professional reasons.

UT: Some masks provided to Utah schools are sitting in storage

sltrib.com

To help keep Utah kids “as safe as possible” from COVID-19, Republican Gov. Spencer Cox promised in August to provide more than 1 million masks for K-12 students, both surgical-style ones and higher-quality KN95 masks in small and large sizes. But some Salt Lake County school districts have left the masks in storage because of low demand.

CA: California’s choice to outlaw the all-White-male boardroom is reshaping corporate America

latimes.com

Companies across the country are embracing California’s boardroom diversity directives. Women now control more than a quarter of corporate board seats nationwide—50% more than they did before the 2018 California law requiring women on boards was passed.

AK: Inaction, incivility around COVID frustrates some Alaska health care professionals

alaskapublic.org

More than 300 Alaska doctors and other medical professionals who are frustrated about inaction and incivility around COVID-19 signed an open letter this week asking people to think of what’s best for their fellow Alaskans and consider getting vaccinated.

CO: Colorado reactivates emergency medical staffing center

denverpost.com

The state of Colorado reactivated its health care staffing center to supply emergency help to hospitals and other facilities without enough hands to care for their patients, even though the state’s COVID-19 situation is showing some signs of improvement. 

WI: Wisconsin plans to spend $80M in federal funds to update unemployment system

madison.com

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers plans to direct up to $80 million in federal COVID-19 funds to update Wisconsin's outdated unemployment system after GOP lawmakers rebuffed the governor's multiple requests to pay for upgrades with state taxpayer dollars.

NE: New pipeline proposals stoke controversy in Nebraska

journalstar.com

While the controversy over the Keystone XL pipeline has finally ended, other pipeline riffs loom in Nebraska. Environmental groups will fight proposals to build two high-pressure pipelines to transport liquid carbon dioxide. 

TX: The Justice Department will argue against Texas’ abortion law Friday

texastribune.org

A federal lawsuit filed by the Biden administration challenging Texas’ near-total ban on abortion will be heard in a U.S. District Court Friday. The Texas abortion law, which went into effect on Sept. 1 and bans the procedure after approximately six weeks of pregnancy, quickly became the target of several lawsuits aiming to stop its enforcement, including from abortion providers, doctors and reproductive rights groups.

WV: West Virginia governor urges vaccinations but says mandates are un-American

wvgazettemail.com

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, continued to send mixed messages during the state COVID-19 briefing, urging West Virginians to get vaccinated but also suggesting it is un-American to mandate vaccines.

RI: Rhode Island appeals Purdue Pharma settlement

apnews.com

Objections to a historic settlement with Purdue Pharma are mounting in the form of appeals, with Rhode Island’s attorney general saying the plan doesn’t hold the OxyContin maker or its owners accountable for their role in sparking the opioid crisis. 

VT: National and state GOP sue two Vermont cities over noncitizen voting rights

vtdigger.org

The national and state branches of the Republican Party are suing two Vermont cities for allowing residents without American citizenship to vote in municipal elections. 

OH: Ohioans can now ask the state to reimburse unemployment funds taken by scammers

cleveland.com

Thousands of Ohioans whose unemployment benefits accounts were hijacked by scammers can now ask the state to replace the money they’re owed, state officials announced. 

WA: Exemption alone won't save Washington workers' jobs

spokesman.com

About 9% of Washington workers have applied for religious or medical exemptions to the state's vaccine mandate. But even people whose exemptions are granted may lose their jobs, find themselves working graveyard shifts where they don’t interact with the public, reassigned to work from home or given a lower-wage job.

MI: Michigan governor vetoes more than $16M in anti-abortion funding

freep.com

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, vetoed more than $16 million from the new state budget, saying the proposals "would have used state funding to pursue an anti-abortion political agenda.”

MD: Maryland has budget surplus after stimulus

apnews.com

Maryland has a huge $2.5 billion fund balance in the state budget, largely due to federal stimulus aid during the pandemic. The state also had better tax revenue than expected in 2020.

CT: Deadline extended for vaccine mandate for Connecticut state employees 

courant.com

Citing incomplete documentation from 10,000 state employees, the state of Connecticut extended its final deadline for executive branch workers to submit proof of vaccination or compliance with COVID-19 testing requirements to Oct. 4. Employees who have been neither vaccinated nor tested will face unpaid leave. 

FL: Florida finally wins approval for summer food stamp program helping children in poverty

orlandosentinel.com

After weeks of pleas from education and anti-hunger advocates and finger-pointing by politicians, Florida has become one of the last states in the nation to win federal approval for a one-time pandemic food stamp boost of more than $1 billion for children in poverty. 

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