What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/9
CO: Federal infrastructure bill brings $8B in climate, water projects to Colorado and the West
Colorado will benefit from billions of dollars in climate change and water projects in the $1.2 trillion infrastructure investment bill passed by the U.S. House, conservation groups said, with some of the money shoring up drought-stretched obligations to the Colorado River Compact.
NY: Amid personnel shortage, New York hospitals ask for delay in minimum staffing rules
A regional association representing 50 upstate New York hospitals is calling on the state Department of Health to delay implementation of new laws that will require hospitals and nursing homes around the state to establish and maintain minimum staffing levels.
MN: More than 300 polluted lakes and rivers added to Minnesota's impaired waters list
Another 305 streams, lakes and rivers in Minnesota have become too polluted to meet federal water standards and will be added to the state's impaired waters list. The list, updated by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, now includes about 3,000 bodies of water with more than 6,000 specific impairments.
DE: Delaware governor signs criminal justice overhaul bills
All the bills signed by Democratic Gov. John Carney were part of the Delaware Legislative Black Caucus’ Justice for All Agenda, announced last year in response to calls for further racial justice changes. They are aimed at fixing inequities in the criminal justice system, and many seek to give former criminals a second chance.
AL: Alabama introduces first women to its statuary hall
Alabama Republican Gov. Kay Ivey unveiled two bronze statues of Pattie Ruffner Jacobs and Amelia Boynton Robinson, two Black women who dedicated their lives to achieving equal voting rights in Alabama and throughout the United States. They became the first women commemorated in the Alabama Department of Archives and History’s Statuary Hall.
AR: Arkansas to see $4B for roads, broadband, other sectors in infrastructure bill
Arkansas would get nearly $3.6 billion for highway programs and $278 million to replace and fix bridges, according to a White House analysis. Over five years, the infrastructure package will provide an estimated $246 million to bolster options for public transportation in Arkansas.
SC: Murders, violent crime spiked significantly in South Carolina in 2020, new crime report shows
In total, 552 people in South Carolina were murdered last year, 100 more than the year before.
NC: North Carolina judge could order state to increase school funding
A North Carolina judge could order the state to turn over $1.7 billion to increase funding for public education, over the objections of Republican lawmakers.
MS: Federal infrastructure bill won’t address Mississippi capital’s water crisis without help of state leaders
President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill does not seem likely to save the water system in Jackson, Mississippi: It includes just $459 million for water improvements across Mississippi—less than half of what the capital city needs.
KS: Kansas governor’s race turns to ending food sales tax
Kansas Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt both want lawmakers to cut the state’s food sales tax—one of the nation’s highest at 6.5% —raising hopes the idea will finally become a reality after years spent in political purgatory.
UT: Political groups, Democrats accuse Utah lawmakers of gerrymandering
Proposed redistricting maps from Utah lawmakers are splitting up communities in favor of gerrymandering, argued lobbyists and Democrats ahead of the first and only Legislative Redistricting Committee public hearing. The bipartisan Utah Independent Redistricting Commission also has released maps, but lawmakers are not required to use them.
NE: 'Black national anthem' to remain at games over Nebraska governor's objections
The University of Nebraska will continue to play “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” often referred to as the Black national anthem, before Husker basketball games, despite Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts' objections. Last week, Ricketts criticized the practice as divisive.
PA: In Pennsylvania, Philadelphia schools consider media ban for employees
The Philadelphia School District in Pennsylvania is mulling a policy that would forbid any of its 20,000 employees from talking to the media unless staff from its central office signs off. It’s a move that one school board member called “a gag order,” and the teachers union president said was “an authoritarian proposal” meant to curate the district’s image and silence whistleblowers.
WI: Wisconsin Senate approves GOP-backed redistricting plan
The Wisconsin Senate voted along party lines to approve a set of Republican-drawn political district maps that could help determine the balance of power in the state for the next 10 years.
TX: Judge blocks Texas from criminalizing cannabis extract
A county judge temporarily blocked Texas from listing delta-8 as a Schedule I drug, which effectively made it illegal. The cannabis extract became popular because users say it produces the “high” effect of marijuana.
OH: Ohio residents now can legally set off consumer fireworks starting next Fourth of July weekend
Ohioans can finally set off consumer-grade fireworks legally in the state starting next Fourth of July weekend, under legislation signed into law by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine. The law will eliminate a longstanding and long-ignored law that let people buy most forms of common fireworks in Ohio but required them to take those fireworks out of the state within 48 hours.