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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/15

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/15

TN: Federal judge temporarily halts new Tennessee school mask mandate ban

commercialappeal.com

A federal judge has ordered a temporary halt to the enforcement and implementation of Tennessee's new law banning public school mask mandates. The judge ordered all parties in a federal lawsuit challenging the law to maintain the status quo of Nov. 11, 2021—the Thursday before Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed the new legislation.

MI: COVID is straining Michigan hospitals once again

mlive.com

Michigan hospitals have seen a 20% increase in patients hospitalized with COVID-19 over the past week, according to the Michigan Health & Hospital Association. The numbers are the highest since a surge in the spring.

FL: Florida lawmakers consider COVID rules for businesses despite legal hurdles

tampabay.com

Florida legislators are holding a week-long special session to pass new regulations on businesses that require employees to get vaccinated for COVID-19. The proposals do not ban vaccination requirements but would impose five new exemptions for employees who don’t want a vaccination, all but one of which mirrors a federal rule.

ME: Universal health care could be Maine’s next high-stakes referendum battle

bangordailynews.com

Voters could find themselves in a reignited conversation around bringing universal health care to Maine next year as the nonprofit Maine Health Care Action advocates for a ballot question that would demand the legislature create a task force to come up with a bill by 2024. This could make the issue a driving factor in the 2022 elections.

WA: Businesses scramble under supply chain strains in Seattle, Washington

seattletimes.com

Businesses and consumers in the Seattle area are still suffering from a maxed-out global supply chain that can’t catch up in Washington state. There are “out of stock” signs at grocery stores, empty shelves at department store cosmetic counters. Car dealers are short on new cars and restaurants must perform weekly sourcing gymnastics to preserve their menus.

MO: GOP plan for Missouri Senate axes two Democratic seats

stltoday.com

A map of new Missouri Senate districts proposed by Republicans likely would result in a net loss for Democrats in the state’s upper legislative chamber, according to a review of the plan by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

MT: Montana election officials caution against rushed software rollout

montanafreepress.org

After the state missed a critical testing window in November, county election officials are urging GOP Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen to delay a January rollout of Montana’s new election system for the sake of election integrity.

GA: Redrawn Georgia House districts shoring up GOP majority head to governor’s desk

ajc.com

The Georgia General Assembly gave final approval to the state House’s redrawn district maps, sending them to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature.

AR: Arkansas raising pay, shifting approach to retain foster care workers

arkansasonline.com

Facing high employee turnover and an increasing number of children in the foster care system in the state’s largest county, the Arkansas Division of Children and Family Services will raise salaries and begin paying employees for being on call, among other changes.

NV: Nevada Democrats’ redistricting maps pass first hurdle despite activist, GOP complaints

thenevadaindependent.com

Nevada lawmakers began advancing legislation drawing new congressional and legislative districts, despite criticism from both advocates for marginalized communities and Republican lawmakers.

CA: How extremists are drowning out local California governments

sacbee.com

For much of the past two years in California, extremists have swarmed local board meetings spewing a toxic mix of conspiracy theories and violent rhetoric.

LA: Louisiana on tap to receive nearly $6B for roads and highways from funding bill

theadvocate.com

Louisiana Republican U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy said the state stands to receive $5.8 billion over the next five years for roads, bridges, broadband and other projects, through the $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure bill.

NE: Burned-out Nebraska teachers finding new careers

omaha.com

Nebraska educators said they were overworked, stressed, micromanaged and paid too little for the job. Then the pandemic made their jobs even harder while putting every move under a microscope.

CT: Connecticut legislature wants to take greater control when budget cuts must be made

ctmirror.org

After nearly a decade of leaning heavily on governors to make some of the toughest cuts in the state budget, the Connecticut General Assembly is looking to tackle more of the hard choices by itself.

MA: Massachusetts Statehouse only one in US still closed to public

bostonglobe.com

The Massachusetts Statehouse appears to be the only state capitol on the continent where the public remains barred from entering. The pandemic-induced closure has now stretched past 600 days, and legislative leaders in charge of the building say they’re juggling how to safely reopen a building where hundreds of people work and roughly 100,000 visit each year.

OR: Oregon incomes rise quickly, flummoxing economists

oregonlive.com

Oregonians’ typical incomes grew more in the last decade than in any other state, and one of the state’s chief economists isn’t sure if there’s a root cause. “That’s one we don’t fully understand,” said Josh Lehner, an analyst with the state’s Office of Economic Analysis.

MD: Maryland’s capital gets its acorn back

baltimoresun.com

The 250-pound gilded acorn that adorned Maryland's Statehouse in Annapolis for centuries will find a new home in a nearby museum. It is made of cypress wood and covered in copper alloy sheets.

ID: Deaths in Idaho are 20% higher than average

idahocapitalsun.com

The coronavirus disease is now the top killer of Idahoans of Native American, Asian and Hispanic descent. This year, COVID-19 is poised to be the No. 2 killer of Idahoans in their 20s—after not even breaking into the Top 10 causes of death for that age group last year. Overall, the state has reported about 20% more deaths this year compared with pre-pandemic years.

NY: Rampant cheating suspected in New York’s driver permits program

timesunion.com

New York state motor vehicle workers say potentially thousands of individuals may have illicitly obtained driver's permits since the Department of Motor Vehicles launched a program last year allowing written tests to be taken online, leading to widespread cheating. The pandemic had backlogged the in-office testing.

AK: With new research, Alaska groups aim to turn mariculture into $100M industry

alaskapublic.org

Alaska has an ambitious goal: to turn its growing mariculture business into a $100 million industry by 2040. It has a long way to go. But federal and state agencies are taking steps toward making products like seaweed and shellfish easier to grow and market.

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