What We're Reading: Top State Stories 10/25
TN: Tennessee to crack down on COVID falsehoods from doctors
Tennessee’s top medical licensing officials are pushing the state government to crack down on doctors and nurses who spread damaging misinformation about the coronavirus vaccines, calling for aggressive probes with the potential to suspend professional licenses and end careers.
OR: Oregon behavioral health providers warn of ‘collapse’ of system to treat children
Since the summer, care providers have warned Democratic Gov. Kate Brown and state administrators of potentially serious consequences after the pandemic dealt one blow after another to Oregon residential programs and centers that provide mental health and addiction treatment to young people.
KS: Allegations of police bias in Kansas yield few sanctions
Kansas law enforcement agencies have received hundreds of complaints of bias over the past 10 years, but records available to the public show only two alleging racial bias resulted in consequences for officers, an Associated Press examination shows.
CA: Storm drenches Northern California, prompting fears of floods, mudslides
The heaviest rainstorm in years pelted Northern California, sparking flood warnings and mudslide alerts for urban and rural residents while evacuation centers were opened in anticipation of disasters. Thousands of residents lost electricity.
WV, MD: West Virginia governor says he’d welcome disgruntled Maryland counties
After Republican lawmakers in West Virginia and Maryland reportedly met about incorporating some Maryland counties into the Mountain State, West Virginia Republican Gov. Jim Justice said they would be “welcome with open arms.” Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan called the whole thing a publicity stunt.
MN: Turnover, court intervention roil Minnesota agency that oversees lawyers
The small, powerful state agency that polices the conduct of Minnesota lawyers has been roiled for several years by internal strife, leading to an exodus of key employees and an extraordinary intrusion into its inner workings by Supreme Court justices.
GA: Georgia police chief creates firestorm with bid to change shooting tactics
Chief Louis Dekmar of the LaGrange Police Department in Georgia started training officers to shoot away from the center of a person’s body because he believes it could reduce fatal police shootings. The effort has elicited criticism from the national law enforcement community.
TX: Texas universities with federal contracts caught between state, feds on vaccine mandates
Many Texas universities—which collectively hold billions of dollars in federal contracts—are wrestling with how to navigate the Biden administration’s mandate that all federal contractors be vaccinated by Dec. 8 in a state that bans vaccine mandates.
MI: Michigan health departments with school mask orders haven’t lost funds, despite budget threat
Michigan’s 2022 budget threatened to cut funding from health departments that impose school mask mandates, but officials who called the legislature’s bluff say state dollars are arriving anyway.
CT: Dozens of Connecticut state employees losing jobs for refusing vaccines or testing
More than 100 Connecticut executive branch employees are in the process of losing their jobs over their refusal to either get vaccinated for COVID-19 or tested regularly for the disease.
IL: Illinois governor issues vaccination mandate for 55,000 day care workers
Workers in state licensed day care centers will have to be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing under an executive order issued by Illinois Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker. The state estimates the order will apply to about 55,000 workers at nearly 2,900 day care centers.
AL: Alabama lawmakers consider whether to stay with 1 Black congressional district
Some Black Alabama lawmakers and others want to redraw districts to lower the percentage of Black voters in District 7, the only Alabama district with a majority of African Americans. Instead, they would create two districts where Black voters would make up more than 40% of the population.
NY: Investigations into New York lawmakers’ priority COVID tests stall
Multiple investigations into preferential COVID-19 testing that former New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration had provided for the well-connected—including state lawmakers and their families—have stalled, and individuals with intimate knowledge of the practice said they were never interviewed in connection with any of the inquiries.
WY: Wyoming legislator names anti-mask bill after teen arrested for refusing to wear a mask
The Grace Smith Medical Freedom Act, filed by Wyoming GOP lawmakers, would require county and state health officers to grant waivers from coronavirus immunization or face mask use requirements to any K-12 student who requests one.
MS: Mississippi wants residents to draw their own redistricting map
The Mississippi Joint Legislative Redistricting Committee requires public access for three weeks to allow the public to draw congressional districts.
WI: Auditors say Wisconsin election officials should adopt formal rules on drop boxes
Wisconsin legislative auditors released a report, ordered by Republican lawmakers, that contended the state Elections Commission should adopt formal rules if it wants to continue to allow cities to have ballot drop boxes—a move that would clear the way for lawmakers to try to bar their use.
MA: Massachusetts lawmakers relax rule to allow public retirees to work while getting pensions
Massachusetts legislators have loosened 40-year-old limits on how many hours government retirees can work for a public agency each year while still collecting their taxpayer-funded pension, realizing a change long sought by former employees but derided by critics as too generous.
MT: Montana's redistricting effort snags on 'what's fair?' question
An effort by Montana’s independent districting commission to reconcile Republican and Democratic proposals for dividing the state into two U.S. House districts slid into a thicket, as public comment split on largely party lines and commissioners yielded only modest ground to their colleagues across the table.
HI: The clock is ticking as Native Hawaiians wait for homeland inheritance policy
An effort to allow more part-Hawaiian children and grandchildren of Hawaiian homeowners to inherit the properties has stalled in Washington, D.C.
CO: US looks to Colorado for methane emissions policy
U.S. environmental regulators are expected to base new rules for controlling methane emissions from oil and gas operations on the nation-leading policies of a state that has been tamping down on the potent greenhouse gas for seven years: Colorado.
VA: Officials say shortage of volunteer firefighters an 'overlooked crisis' across Virginia
A long-growing shortage of volunteer firefighters in some parts of the state has reached a critical level that could jeopardize public safety, according to the Virginia Fire Chiefs Association.