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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 10/12

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 10/12

TX: Texas governor says businesses can’t force employees to get COVID vaccine

dallasnews.com

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott declared that Texas businesses cannot order their workers or customers to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Abbott said people who object for religious reasons, on grounds of conscience or “for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19,” should not be compelled to be vaccinated.

DE: Delaware state auditor charged with felonies, misdemeanors over use of taxpayer money

delawarepublic.com

Delaware State Auditor Kathleen McGuiness, a Democrat, faces felony and misdemeanor charges over her handling of contracts and hiring. The state’s Department of Justice announced the indictment by grand jury following more than a year of an ongoing investigation spurred by whistleblower complaints.

NM: New Mexico governor settles harassment claim for $150K

apnews.com

A $150,000 settlement was reached by Democratic New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and a former campaign spokesman to settle accusations of harassment. He accused the governor of dropping water on his crotch and then grabbing his crotch during a campaign staff meeting prior to the election—accusations that the governor denies.

WI: Wisconsin governor apologizes for Indian boarding schools in executive order

greenbaypressgazette.com

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers visited the Oneida Reservation and signed an executive order that formally apologizes for the mistreatment and abuse of Indigenous children at boarding schools in Wisconsin.

CA: Power shut-offs loom for tens of thousands of Californians amid gusty winds

latimes.com

More than 34,000 Californians could have their electricity intentionally shut off this week as cold, gusty winds increase the potential for fire danger throughout the state.

FL: Florida vaccine passport probe targets potential violators

orlandosentinel.com 

Florida is investigating potential violators of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine passport law, including the Miami Marlins, performing arts centers and government agencies. Last month, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis vowed to issue $5,000 fines against anyone who violated the law, which prohibits businesses from requiring that customers show proof they have been vaccinated. 

MI: Michigan’s redistricting commission approves preliminary maps

freep.com

Michigan’s independent redistricting commission voted to take 10 newly drawn political maps to the public in a series of hearings starting next week. The commission approved four congressional maps, three for the state Senate and three for the state House.

WA: Nearly 90% of Washington state employees have complied with COVID vaccination mandate

seattletimes.com

With an Oct. 18 deadline looming, nearly 90% of Washington state government employees subject to Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate have complied with the order. That’s up from 68% as of a couple weeks earlier.

MT: Trump voters would dominate most congressional map options in Montana

billingsgazette.com

There are nine different proposed maps carving Montana into two U.S. House districts, all of which are posted for public comment until Oct. 30. There’s consensus that three of the nine configurations create a western district that’s highly competitive, while all nine maps create eastern districts strongly favoring Republicans.

GA: Georgia county fires 2 elections workers accused of shredding 300 voter applications

ajc.com

Georgia state officials are investigating accusations that two Fulton County elections workers recently shredded about 300 voter registration applications. They were fired soon after. The incident is sure to raise the temperature on the partisan fight over the management of Fulton County’s elections.

SD: South Dakota redistricting draws GOP infighting

apnews.com

Intra-party Republican bickering and competing proposals for new legislative districts in South Dakota marked the start of a round of public meetings. The state legislature will meet Nov. 8 to vote on changes.

PA: Pennsylvania Republicans try to undo mail-in voting law they once supported

inquirer.com

Two years ago, Republicans and Democrats reached a deal to greatly expand voting by mail. But now, a year after a presidential race in which Donald Trump’s lies about mail-in voting and Pennsylvania’s results sowed distrust of the electoral system among his supporters, some Republicans are intensifying efforts to undo a law their party almost universally supported.

IA: Task force encourages rural Iowa to welcome Afghan refugees

thegazette.com

The anticipated arrival of nearly 700 Afghan refugees before spring reinforces the need for Iowa communities to find and develop resources for welcoming new residents. Although most in the first wave of evacuees from Afghanistan are expected to settle in larger cities, members of the Growing Rural Iowa Task Force are encouraging rural communities to consider their role in the resettlement.

CT: Connecticut promoted a natural gas plan to save taxpayers money, but prices are spiking

courant.com 

Connecticut promoted natural gas, shifting from oil heat, but pipeline construction stalled, and gas prices are soaring as winter approaches.

NY: New York declines in vaccine effectiveness may be due to delta variant and reduced precautions

timesunion.com

A new study from the state Department of Health suggests that modest declines in vaccine effectiveness among New Yorkers infected with coronavirus this summer may have been driven by the delta variant and reduced public health precautions rather than declining immunity.

WV: West Virginia COVID death rate skyrockets despite vaccines

wvgazettemail.com

West Virginia is on pace to eclipse 4,000 COVID-19 deaths, with 72% of those deaths occurring after vaccines became readily available. Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, noted that a 4,000-death milestone was inconceivable early in the pandemic, when initial projections were that COVID-19 would kill fewer than 100 West Virginians.

MS: Mississippi is buying more wine and liquor than ever. Can the state warehouse keep up?

clarionledger.com

Mississippi’s wine and liquor sales are sky-high, and while that’s good for the state’s general fund, it puts the government-run distribution warehouse in a bind.

OH: Ohio bill would allow cameras in nursing home rooms so families can capture neglect and abuse

cleveland.com

A bill making its way through the Ohio General Assembly would allow nursing home residents or their guardians to install a camera in their rooms.

AK: Tribal recognition might be on Alaska’s 2022 ballot

alaskapublic.org

Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, a Republican, has certified an initiative that would require Alaska to officially recognize all of its federally recognized tribes. Organizers of the initiative say state recognition is hugely symbolic but would have practical effects, too.

OR: Hate crime statistics are rising in Oregon

oregonlive.com

In 2020, law enforcement organizations in Oregon investigated 271 hate crimes, according to the FBI’s report, up from 160 the year before, a jump of nearly 70%. About 70% of the most recent incidents in the state involved victims targeted for their race, ethnicity or ancestry.

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