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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 10/29

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 10/29

WI: 4 in 10 Wisconsin health officers have retired or resigned since the pandemic began

jsonline.com

Nearly 40% of local health department leaders in Wisconsin have left their jobs since March 2020, mirroring a national exodus during a difficult and divisive pandemic. The state association of local health departments and boards listed 33 agencies out of 86 that lost their top official since the pandemic began.

FL: Florida governor sues Biden to stop vaccine mandate for federal contract workers 

orlandosentinel.com 

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state has sued President Joe Biden and the federal government over a mandate that federal contractors require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. 

OK: Oklahoma executes incarcerated man who dies vomiting and convulsing

apnews.com

Oklahoma administered the death penalty on a man who convulsed and vomited as he was executed for the 1998 slaying of a prison cafeteria worker, ending a six-year execution moratorium brought on by concerns over its execution methods.

IL: Illinois legislators send repeal of parental notification law on abortions to governor 

chicagotribune.com 

The Democratic-controlled Illinois House voted 62-51 to repeal a quarter-century-old law requiring parental notification when a minor seeks an abortion. The measure now heads to the desk of Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who has expressed his support. 

SC: South Carolina governor announces $500M plan to fix crumbling utilities

thestate.com

Republican Gov. Henry McMaster announced plans to spend $500 million upgrading substandard water and sewer service for small, rural communities across South Carolina, a state where crumbling utility pipes are threatening public health.

MS: 14K pandemic food cards mistakenly deactivated in Mississippi

apnews.com

The Mississippi Department of Human Services announced that its card processing partners mistakenly deactivated more than 14,000 pandemic food cards for children. The department apologized in a statement and promised that new cards would be mailed to their families within days.

MO: Missouri governor issues executive order against Biden vaccine mandates 

stltoday.com 

Missouri Republican Gov. Mike Parson issued an executive order targeting what he described as “unconstitutional” vaccine mandates from President Joe Biden’s administration. The order directs state offices within the executive branch to “cooperate fully and timely” with any legal actions the state attorney general may take against such mandates. 

CO: Colorado governor prepares to request federal medical surge as COVID spikes

coloradosun.com

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, said he is preparing to request federal medical surge teams, stop elective and cosmetic surgeries, and scale up distribution of monoclonal antibody treatments as COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state continue to spike.

IA: Iowa legislature approves new redistricting maps

iowacapitaldispatch.com

Iowa’s new congressional map maintains a more even political balance for its four districts, giving the GOP a slight edge in two districts. The new legislative districts for the Iowa House and Senate will put 58 incumbent lawmakers—38 House members and 20 senators—into competition with one another.

AZ: Arizona panel OKs maps for legislative and congressional districts with GOP edge

tucson.com

Despite concerns of Democrats on the panel, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission gave preliminary approval to a map that would give Republicans an edge in electing members of the legislature for the balance of the decade.

LA: Louisiana senators create panel to review state police use-of-force rules

apnews.com

The Louisiana Senate has created a special committee to dig into complaints about the use of excessive force by the state police, after troopers were documented in a series of beatings of Black men that have drawn attention from federal investigators.

OH: Ohio State Board of Education president, author of anti-racism resolution, to resign

cleveland.com

Ohio State Board of Education President Laura Kohler, one of the authors of an anti-racism resolution passed after the murder of George Floyd, said she plans to resign. “The governor did request my resignation, yes,” she said.

CA: Governor announce $5B in federal loans for California’s clogged ports

latimes.com

Not content to wait for Congress to pass a big infrastructure spending bill, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg moved to inject $5 billion in loan money to help modernize California’s seaports. The money won’t help unclog the severe congestion that’s creating seaport chaos at present.

GA: Georgia’s medical board mum as doctors spread COVID misinformation

ajc.com

In Georgia, doctors have been free to spread baseless assertions to the public with impunity. While some officials have expressed frustration with rampant misinformation, the agency that regulates doctors, the Georgia Composite Medical Board, hasn’t issued any public statements or guidance to physicians to counter misinformation or disinformation, much less handed out any discipline.

NV: Nevada lawmakers prepare to redraw political maps

apnews.com

A group of Nevada lawmakers traveling the state to engage the public in the once-in-a-decade redistricting process is confronting a raft of questions about race, partisanship and rural-urban divides as they prepare to redraw the state’s political maps next month.

PA: Pennsylvania redistricting goes on behind closed doors, despite transparency vows

spotlightpa.org

Lawmakers leading the redrawing of Pennsylvania’s political maps have vowed openness and transparency. But the task of actually shaping the districts falls to a small group of legislative insiders who work behind closed doors.

MD: Maryland health exchange offers subsidies for young adults

baltimoresun.com

Open enrollment for 2022 Maryland health plans begins Nov. 1, and local and state leaders drew attention to funds newly available for young adults, who go without insurance more often than any other age group.

IN: Massive road budget increase for Indiana cities is not enough

indystar.com

State funding formulas designed decades ago have long disproportionately shorted Indiana's highly trafficked urban areas such as Indianapolis of money for fixing up roads, local officials and experts say.

AR: Arkansas state universities yet to act on federal vaccine edict

arkansasonline.com

About $120 million in University of Arkansas System federal contracts "may be subject" to an executive order from President Joe Biden that imposes COVID-19 vaccination requirements on contractors. But thus far, neither the UA System nor other large public universities in Arkansas have taken action to comply with the order.

KS: Kansas lawmakers question impact of critical race theory on mental health

kansas.com

GOP state Rep. Kristey Williams urged a committee evaluating mental health in Kansas to consider whether critical race theory was leading young White students to feel shame unnecessarily. There is no evidence that critical race theory is being taught in Kansas K-12 schools, but the term has been appropriated by conservatives nationwide to attack a range of diversity and equity initiatives.

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