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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 10/20

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 10/20

IL: Federal panel tosses initial Illinois Democratic state legislative map 

chicagotribune.com

A three-judge federal panel tossed Illinois Democrats’ initial state legislative redistricting plan, which was based on population estimates, saying the plan was unconstitutional because it violated federal equal protection guarantees. 

ME: US Supreme Court won’t block Maine’s vaccine mandate

bangordailynews.com

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an emergency appeal of a vaccine requirement imposed on Maine health care workers, the latest defeat for opponents of vaccine mandates.

AZ, SC, UT: OSHA moves to strip three states of workplace safety authority

nytimes.com

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is taking steps that could strip three states—Arizona, South Carolina and Utah—of their authority to regulate workplace safety, citing shortcomings in policies on coronavirus protection.

CT: Connecticut towns repeal mask mandates 

courant.com

Despite federal guidance suggesting residents in all eight Connecticut counties wear masks indoors to protect against COVID-19, a growing number of towns have begun lifting mask mandates they imposed this summer, citing their local metrics.

IA: Iowa politicians condemn racist threats against Democratic party chair

iowacapitaldispatch.com

Iowa politicians rallied around Democratic Party Chair Ross Wilburn after he received a series of racist, threatening messages from an anonymous sender. The threats came after Wilburn criticized Republicans for aligning themselves with former President Donald Trump.

TX: Texas gerrymander wouldn't survive doomed federal voting act

dallasnews.com

Congress is preparing for a showdown on a doomed bill to protect minority voting rights that would derail the gerrymandered Texas redistricting plan. The bill is expected to die in the U.S. Senate.

VA: Virginia plans $2B broadband expansion

richmond.com

Virginia is working with local governments and private operators to invest up to a combined $2 billion to expand high-speed internet access to more than 250,000 homes and businesses. The goal is universal broadband access by 2024.

WA: More than 100 Washington State Patrol workers leave rather than comply with COVID vaccine mandate

seattletimes.com

More than 100 left jobs at the Washington State Patrol because of the coronavirus vaccine mandate. Earlier this month, the agency’s vaccination rate was at 93% of its 2,200 employees.

MI: Pregnant Michigan inmates get more baby time

freep.com

Pregnant women held in prison will be restrained less and able to spend more time with their babies after giving birth under a new Michigan directive. The policy addressed concerns about babies snatched from their mothers almost immediately after birth.

FL: 2 child welfare agencies exceeded Florida cap on executive salaries, report finds 

miamiherald.com

Two privately-run, government-funded child welfare service organizations are being investigated for violating a state law on excessive executive compensation, Florida’s chief inspector general told a House committee. 

TN: Tennessee lawmakers mock COVID safety, push back on federal workplace rules

wpln.org

Tennessee lawmakers are brushing off federal rules on masking, testing and distancing designed to stop COVID-19 from spreading in health care facilities. A legislative committee has ordered the state’s inspectors to abandon emergency safety protocols.

AR: Arkansas governor announces change to distancing protocol in schools

arkansasonline.com

To reduce disruptions to in-person instruction, Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson said elementary and secondary schools will be able to use 3 feet, instead of 6 feet, to determine who needs to quarantine after a student or employee tests positive for COVID-19.

CO: Colorado governor supports property tax cut measure on November ballot

coloradosun.com

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, said he will vote for Proposition 120, the ballot measure that gives other Democrats pause because it would slash property tax assessment rates for multifamily residential properties and lodging properties.

WY: Wyoming special session slated for next week

cowboystatedaily.com

The Wyoming legislature will convene for a special session next week to address coronavirus vaccination mandates. The three-day session will begin Oct. 26.

WI: Wisconsin ends fiscal year with record $2.58B surplus

madison.com

Wisconsin closed out the 2021 fiscal year with a positive balance of $2.58 billion, more than double the previous year’s balance of $1.17 billion.

ND: North Dakota approves first carbon storage project

bismarcktribune.com

North Dakota regulators approved what's expected to become the first carbon dioxide storage project in the state at an ethanol plant near Richardton.

MT: Montana now leads nation in COVID cases per 100K

billingsgazette.com

Montana became the state with the highest number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the country. The state hit 97 cases per 100,000 people per day.

ID: Health officials think Idaho is past delta COVID peak

idahostatesman.com

With Idaho’s test positivity rate and hospitalization rate declining for weeks, health officials are becoming more confident that the state is past the peak of the COVID-19 delta surge.

NE: Nebraska congressman indicted on contribution charge

omaha.com

A federal grand jury indictment charged U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, a Nebraska Republican, on charges including false statements about illegal contributions to his 2016 reelection campaign. A Nigerian-born Paris billionaire arranged for $30,000 to be contributed illegally, the indictment alleges. Fortenberry denied any wrongdoing.

SD: South Dakota moving on legal recreational pot

argusleader.com

South Dakota lawmakers are moving to repeal a voter-approved medical cannabis program in exchange for full legalization of recreational marijuana.

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