What We're Reading: Top State Stories 10/8
WI: Attorney overseeing Wisconsin election review cancels interviews, backs off subpoenas
An attorney reviewing the Wisconsin 2020 election for Assembly Republicans canceled interviews with mayors and city clerks and backed off on subpoenas he issued to them. He said officials could simply provide him with copies of records they have already made available to others under the state's open records law.
MN: Minnesota ICU needs hit 2021 high; hospital staffs 'exhausted'
State health officials and hospital leaders painted an increasingly worrisome picture of Minnesota’s stressed health care systems—short-staffed, with exhausted workers struggling to meet the needs of rapidly rising numbers of COVID-19 and other patients.
OR: Early arguments against Oregon’s vaccine mandate have slim chance of success, court says
A group of 25 health care workers, firefighters and paramedics from across Oregon received a crushing blow this week when the Oregon Court of Appeals refused to intervene to stop a state mandate requiring them to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 18.
AR: Arkansas lawmakers send redistricting bills to governor
The map approved by the majority-Republican legislature would divide Pulaski County, home to the Arkansas state capital of Little Rock, between three congressional districts instead of keeping its residents in a single district.
NE: Nebraska retailers expect holiday inventory shortages
The pandemic supply problems go beyond Nebraska and include shipping bottlenecks at some of the world’s largest ports and a lack of semiconductor chips to power some of the world’s most popular electronics, appliances and vehicles.
DE: Displaced apartment building signals what could come of Delaware’s rising sea levels
The flooding in September from Hurricane Ida primarily hit about 20 blocks along the Brandywine River in Wilmington, Delaware. But the unexpected crisis serves as a reminder—climate change and rising sea levels are coming for Delaware.
GA: Georgia Capitol lobbyists make sure redistricting lawmakers are well-fed
Georgia lawmakers traveled the state this summer to get public feedback on redistricting, and statehouse lobbyists made sure they didn’t have to do so on an empty stomach.
MI: Michigan GOP lawmakers pass bill to provide free state IDs as part of strict voter ID push
GOP lawmakers in Michigan's Senate passed a bill that would eliminate the fee to obtain a state ID card as part of a broader effort to enact a strict voter ID requirement opposed by Democratic lawmakers and voting rights advocates.
CA: California health department blasted over nursing home oversight
At an emotional legislative hearing, California lawmakers and critics subjected Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration to blistering questions about the state’s oversight of nursing homes.
TX: Texas Senate set to pass congressional lines that don’t include new Hispanic district
The Texas Senate is poised to approve new congressional boundaries that solidify the Republican majority in the state’s House delegation but fail to expand the clout of minority voters who powered the Lone Star State’s population surge.
NY: Immigration advocates call on New York governor, legislature to expand COVID relief
Immigration advocates are calling on the New York legislature and Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, to expand the state’s $2.1 billion first-in-the-nation fund for people living in the U.S. illegally who are ineligible for other federal and state benefits.
FL: Florida board OKs sanctions for school districts over mask rules
Eight Florida school districts should face funding cutbacks equivalent to their school board members’ salaries for their continued hard line on student masking, the State Board of Education agreed.
WV: West Virginia governor demeans Charleston mayor, calling her ‘baby’
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, diverted his COVID-19 briefing to criticize Democratic Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin’s request for a special session to address challenges brought on by the pandemic. He exacerbated the debate with sexist language: “Amy, baby, listen,” he said, “if you can get the legislature to go along with this, I’m all in.”
TN: Tennessee Republicans eye Oct. 27 date for special session tackling COVID restrictions
For some of Tennessee’s most conservative lawmakers, such a session could mean an opportunity to scrap school boards' authority over mask mandates or punish private businesses for vaccination or mask requirements.
WA: Washington Democrats ask courts to dismiss lawsuits pursuing 2020 election audits
The Washington Democratic Party has filed motions to dismiss several lawsuits filed by Republican activists against country elections officials seeking audits of the 2020 election and making baseless claims of “electronic manipulation” and “state-wide vote flipping.”
LA: New Orleans City Council ratifies $15 hourly minimum wage for city workers
The New Orleans City Council approved a new employee plan that increases the hourly minimum wage from $11.19 to $15 per hour for city employees.
HI: Hawaii panel shines light on missing, slain Indigenous girls
A Hawaii task force, created by the state House earlier this year, aims to gather data and identify the reasons behind the problem. As of now, few figures exist, but those that do suggest Native Hawaiians are disproportionately represented among the state’s sex trafficking victims.
IN: Indiana health emergency law upheld in court
A judge upheld the increased power Indiana legislators gave themselves to intervene during public health emergencies, siding with them in a lawsuit filed by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb.
MA: Largest Massachusetts insurer won’t cover Alzheimer’s drug
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the state’s largest insurer, joined large insurers in several other states in deciding not to cover a controversial new drug for Alzheimer’s disease, dealing another blow to Cambridge drugmaker Biogen.
ID: Idaho will bill MyPillow CEO for audit costs following his false election fraud claim
After MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell falsely claimed election fraud occurred in Idaho in the 2020 presidential election, Secretary of State officials audited three counties to disprove that claim. Now, the state plans to send Lindell a bill. Idaho Chief Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck, a Republican, confirmed to the Idaho Statesman that the office plans to bill the CEO a total estimated at about $6,500.