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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 10/11

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 10/11

WI: Wisconsin election reviewer makes evidence-free allegations against governor

jsonline.com

Facing a barrage of criticism over how he’s handling his election review for Republicans, a former state Supreme Court justice pivoted this weekend to attacking Democratic Gov. Tony Evers for having “an incomplete and misguided view” of his efforts.

TX: Texas’ ban on abortions after 6 weeks back in effect after appeals court lifts injunction

dallasnews.com

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stayed a preliminary injunction by a federal judge in Austin that had stopped enforcement of the nation’s most restrictive abortion law. A three-judge panel of the conservative appeals court, in a two-paragraph ruling, gave no reason for its ruling.

MT: Montana GOP push for election audit has been building for months

billingsgazette.com

By the time Republican lawmakers’ push to investigate Montana’s elections burst into public view, theories attacking the validity of the 2020 election results had been building in the state’s far-right circles for months.

CA: As drought worsens, California farmers are being paid not to grow crops

latimes.com

As California reservoirs continue to decline, managers of water districts are looking to start or scale up land-fallowing programs, paying farmers not to farm temporarily on some fields and using the water to ease shortages.

CT: Connecticut governor terminates probationary workers over COVID noncompliance 

ctmirror.org 

A dozen state employees in their six-month probationary period were fired for refusing to comply with Connecticut Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont’s order to either get vaccinated against COVID-19 or begin weekly testing for the disease. 

WA: Vaccine mandate could challenge staffing levels at Washington long-term care agencies

spokesman.com

Washington's long-term care facilities could face critical staffing shortages this fall as Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee’s vaccine mandate takes effect. Federal data shows that statewide 76% of skilled nursing facilities staff in Washington are vaccinated, but the percentage does not include assisted living or other types of health care facilities.

NY: State University of New York accuses unvaccinated nurses of incompetence, misconduct

timesunion.com

The State University of New York has issued incendiary termination letters to nurses and other medical professionals charging them with misconduct, insubordination, dereliction of duties and incompetence after they declined to get vaccinated by the state's mandatory Sept. 27 deadline.

MI: Michigan redistricting commission approves state Senate draft map in surprise vote

mlive.com

In a surprise 5-4 vote that wasn’t on the agenda, Michigan’s independent redistricting commission approved its first statewide draft map for publication ahead of a series of public hearings later this month. The draft state Senate map would significantly shake up existing district lines and would make the partisan makeup of the upper chamber more competitive than it’s been in decades.

ME: One hospital’s staffing troubles prompt calls for Maine governor to ease vaccine mandate

bangordailynews.com

A Lewiston hospital has closed its neonatal intensive care unit and is making drastic contingency plans in case it loses staffers who remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 with a mandate from Maine’s Democratic Gov. Janet Mills set to go into effect at the end of the month.

MO: Missouri vaccine incentive lottery concludes with modest results 

kansascity.com 

Missouri’s vaccine incentive lottery may have motivated just over 57,000 adult residents to get the COVID-19 shot. In total, the state will pay out $9 million to 900 prizewinners, who will each receive $10,000 in either cash or, for winners who are minors, scholarship accounts. 

OR: It took 19 months, but you can finally reach the Oregon Employment Department by phone

oregonlive.com

Calling the Oregon Employment Department was one of the least productive things you could do for the first several months of the pandemic, when the agency was essentially inaccessible by phone. New state data, though, shows that calls are finally getting answered.

FL: GOP-led redistricting battle in Florida could decide control of Congress 

orlandosentinel.com 

The balance of power in Florida, and maybe even in Washington, D.C., lies in the hands of 160 state lawmakers who have already begun the process to redraw congressional and legislative boundaries.

NM: Annual review of campaign finances resumes in New Mexico

apnews.com

After a four-year hiatus, state election regulators have resumed spot-checks on campaign finance disclosures by New Mexico politicians, election candidates and political committees. At least 10 accounts, including one of Democratic state Rep. Luciano “Lucky” Varela, who died in 2017, were flagged by the State Ethics Commission and state prosecutors for possible enforcement action.

ID: Former Idaho lawmaker arrested on rape charge after returning to state

idahocapitalsun.com

Former Idaho state Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger, a Republican, was arrested on felony charges of rape and forcible penetration after being extradited to Idaho. Von Ehlinger flew to Idaho from Atlanta, where he had been arrested as a fugitive of justice after returning to the U.S. from Central America.

IA: Iowa law requires classrooms to have American flags

desmoinesregister.com

A new state law requires that first to 12th grade students in Iowa recite the Pledge of Allegiance daily or sit it out while their peers recite it. According to the law, they must do so while within the presence of an American flag.

TN: Tennessee governor launches review of education funding formula

tennessean.com

Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee announced the state’s intention to review and explore the creation of a new formula for how the state funds K-12 education. The state’s two largest metro areas have filed a lawsuit arguing that the current formula leaves Tennessee schools underfunded.

MS: Mississippi schools, state slowly spending federal COVID money

mississippitoday.org

Mississippi has received a windfall of cash from the federal government for K-12 education, though millions remain to be spent. The Mississippi Department of Education is still reviewing school districts’ applications for the second and third rounds of funding, and districts have spent a total of about $41 million of the $652 million they received.

ND: Infrastructure wishes emerge for North Dakota’s Rescue Plan aid

bismarcktribune.com

North Dakota lawmakers will meet for hearings on proposals for how to spend American Rescue Plan Act funds in a reconvened legislative session. The Legislative Council, lawmakers’ nonpartisan fiscal and legal research agency, compiled nearly 200 proposals from lawmakers and the governor. 

AR: Arkansas soars past 8,000 COVID deaths in data correction

arkansasonline.com

Arkansas reported its largest-ever daily increase in COVID-19 deaths, adding 289 deaths to raise the state's official toll to 8,120. Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the surge was a “data correction.”

KY: Judge's ruling strikes blow to Kentucky’s new school choice law

courier-journal.com

Kentucky's new school choice program is unconstitutional, a judge ruled. Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd's decision delivers a crippling blow to the fledgling education opportunity account program, which narrowly became law earlier this year. 

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