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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 10/5

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 10/5

AL: Alabama isn’t reporting school COVID outbreaks, contact tracing

al.com

Although Alabama reports weekly COVID-19 cases, officials are not reporting any outbreaks in school settings publicly, making it impossible for the public to identify outbreaks and raising concerns among parents, who are trying to monitor potential exposures themselves.

AR: Arkansas Senate OKs vaccine-exemption process for employers

arkansasonline.com

Under the proposal, any Arkansas employer that mandates vaccinations for workers also would have to offer an exemption process that includes testing or proof of antibodies. The bill is in response to President Joe Biden's order requiring workers at businesses with at least 100 employees to get vaccinated or tested regularly.

OR: Oregon is banning homebuyer love letters

opb.org

Oregon is restricting personal letters from homebuyers to sellers because they may violate federal fair housing laws.

WA: As COVID cases spike in Washington's kids, experts urge vaccination and testing

seattletimes.com

Washington state reported a seven-day rate of 300 new COVID-19 infections per 100,000 children in early September, the highest rate of pediatric cases during the pandemic. Now that schools have reopened, health officials are warning students, parents, teachers and staff to “do their part” in preventing another shutdown.

NJ: New Jersey residents can now legally sell their home-baked goods

nj.com

Baking from home for profit is legal in New Jersey. The state Department of Health published a set of rules that will allow bakers and confectioners to apply for a permit to run a “cottage food” business from their very own kitchens.

ME: Maine launching state-run health insurance marketplace for 2022 enrollment

pressherald.com

Maine is launching its own state-run health insurance marketplace in November, which means that people buying Affordable Care Act insurance for 2022 will be purchasing insurance through a new state website.

TX: New Texas Senate lines get initial OK despite clash over racial makeup

dallasnews.com

Texas senators gave initial approval to a plan to redraw the state’s Senate boundaries, with the author of the bill insisting the new map is “blind to race,” and Democrats contending the proposal doesn’t reflect the booming growth in the state’s minority population.

WI: Wisconsin DNR defies board, reduces fall wolf quota

apnews.com

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officials dramatically scaled back the number of wolves hunters can kill during the state’s fall season in open defiance of its policy board. The move marked another clash between the DNR’s liberal-leaning administration and the conservative-leaning board.

CO: Colorado orders faster discipline for unvaccinated state workers

denverpost.com 

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, issued an executive order streamlining discipline or firing of state employees who don’t comply with vaccine requirements. He also ended the last remaining executive order offering renters partial protection from eviction and directed state agencies to share more data about K-12 student exposure to COVID-19.

ID: Idaho bill would criminally charge public officials who carry out federal vaccine mandate

idahostatesman.com

State or local public officials in Idaho could face jail time if they help the federal government enforce COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Draft legislation from Senate Assistant Majority Leader Steve Vick, a Republican, would charge government officials with a misdemeanor if they violate a state law on immunization, which allows residents to decline to get immunized without “threat of penalty by the federal government.”

LA: Louisiana opens temporary housing program for Hurricane Ida victims

wbrz.com

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, announced in a statement that his office will provide temporary housing for people affected by Hurricane Ida. This program will be administered through the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

MN: Why this Minnesota city is attracting 'climate migrants'

mprnews.org

Harvard lecturer Jesse Keenan, an expert on climate adaptation, identified Duluth, Minnesota, as a potential hotspot for future “climate migrants”—people escaping rising sea levels or extreme conditions such as drought, heat waves and wildfires. Now residents from other states have started moving there.

MO: Missouri’s new strategy to remove Planned Parenthood from Medicaid: health inspections 

kansascity.com 

Missouri Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s administration has signaled it will use the inspections arm of the state health department in what abortion advocates are calling the latest effort to shutter Planned Parenthood, which operates the state’s only abortion facility.

MS: Mississippi audit shows ‘a tragic amount’ misspent, but can’t find what happened to $40M in welfare funds

mississippitoday.org

An audit of the Mississippi Department of Human Services provided little explanation of the misspending of $40.6 million welfare dollars in recent years.

DE: Delaware lays out plans for spending $1B in federal COVID aid

delawareonline.com

Delaware plans to spend $1 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds on new health care facilities, internet access and rehiring in the private sector.

IN: Indiana approves redistricting maps

indystar.com

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb signed Indiana's redistricting proposal into law, cementing political boundaries for the next decade. Republicans will likely lose two of 71 state House seats but keep 7 of 9 congressional seats.

OH: Ohio Supreme Court, University of Cincinnati ink agreement to build criminal sentencing database

cleveland.com

Officials from the Ohio Supreme Court and the University of Cincinnati entered an $800,000 agreement for the school to build a database of criminal sentences imposed by trial judges across the state. When built out, the public will be able to query the database to determine, for instance, whether Black men are given more time behind bars for various crimes than White men, among other searches.

CA: Governor signs law aiming to help new California moms, prevent infant deaths

sacbee.com

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law aimed at improving maternal and postpartum care for Black California families who have disproportionately suffered pregnancy-related and infant deaths in recent years.

IL: Illinois governor is waiting for further decline in COVID transmission before lifting indoor mask mandate 

chicagotribune.com 

Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he’s looking for clear signs that coronavirus transmission is on the decline in Illinois before he’ll consider lifting the indoor mask mandate he reinstated in late August amid a surge driven by the virus’ highly contagious delta variant. 

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