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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/16

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/16

AR: Arkansas broadens eligibility for Pfizer, Moderna booster shots

arkansasonline.com

Amid a recent uptick in coronavirus cases, Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson made Arkansas the latest state to broaden eligibility for booster shots of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Boosters now will be available to anyone 18 or older who received a second shot of one of the two vaccines at least six months ago.

MN: Minnesota has worst 7-day rate of new COVID infections in nation

startribune.com

Minnesota's rate of new coronavirus infections has been the worst in the nation over the past seven days, according to the latest federal data. More than 95% of available inpatient hospital beds are filled, resulting in backups in emergency departments across the state.

GA: Final vote completes redistricting of Georgia General Assembly

ajc.com

The Georgia General Assembly finalized new legislative maps with district boundaries drawn to ensure Republicans maintain control at the Capitol as Democrats gain ground in a changing state.

CA: Amazon to pay California $500K for concealing COVID cases among workers

latimes.com

Amazon has agreed to pay $500,000 to better enforce state consumer protection laws after California’s attorney general said the company has concealed COVID-19 case numbers from its workers, the first such action under the state’s new “right to know” law meant to improve workplace safety.

IA: Shooting brings scrutiny of Iowa air rifle regulations

thegazette.com

A loophole in the law that local authorities hope to close has prevented an Iowa county attorney from pressing serious charges against a man who was shooting at a squirrel with an air rifle but missed and fired a projectile into the head of a passing driver, badly injuring him.

NJ: New Jersey likely to expand COVID vaccine booster eligibility soon, governor says

nj.com

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy hinted that New Jersey will soon expand and simplify COVID-19 vaccine booster eligibility rules to allow all residents 18 and older to get another shot, a step beyond current federal guidelines.

MI: Michigan reports highest single-day positivity rate since start of the pandemic

mlive.com

Michigan reported 21,034 new coronavirus cases over a three-day period, including one day where 19% of tests were positive. This was the highest single-day percentage statewide since the start of the pandemic.

PA: Protests erupt over Pennsylvania bill that would allow permitless concealed carry of weapons

post-gazette.com 

Competing against chants from counter-protesters outside the office of a Republican state lawmaker, gun safety advocates warned that a new bill allowing permitless concealed carry in Pennsylvania would make communities less secure, put children at risk and undermine public safety.

MS: Mississippi governor wants more funding for police, ban on critical race theory

clarionledeger.com

Mississippi Republican Gov. Tate Reeves released his 2022-23 budget proposal, attempting to steer state money to hot-button conservative issues while simultaneously cutting spending across the board.

FL: ACLU of Florida files class action lawsuit challenging unaffordable bail

tampabay.com

The ACLU of Florida has filed a class-action lawsuit against the state of Florida and sheriffs in Sarasota and Manatee counties, claiming that people are being held in county jails on unaffordable bail amounts in violation of their due process rights.

OR: Some Oregon food banks are feeling the effects of supply chain issues

opb.org

The strained supply chain is shaking some Oregon food banks. Food banks in rural areas are also feeling the effects of increased demand and supply chain issues.

NV: As deadline looms, thousands at Nevada colleges haven’t reported vaccine status

thenevadaindependent.com

With just weeks to go before mandate deadlines arrive, it’s far from clear how many of Nevada’s college students and higher education system employees have received a COVID-19 vaccine.

TN: Tennessee may funnel big money into dental schools in hopes of getting grads into rural areas

wpln.org

A proposal from the Tennessee Department of Health would expand dental school class sizes and forgive tuition for those who end up working in high-need areas. The five-year, $94 million pilot project would push dentists to set up shop in small communities by paying them more when patients can’t afford the care.

MD: Maryland launches effort to combat anti-Asian hate

baltimoresun.com

Maryland announced a series of proposals to combat anti-Asian hate crimes, including improved training for state police, better coordination among agencies and increased outreach efforts.

OH: Ohio pension fund sues Facebook, saying company misled investors over products’ harm to children

cleveland.com

Ohio’s largest public pension system is suing the parent company of Facebook, saying the social-media giant misled investors and other members of the public about the risks its products posed to children.

NY: New York governor shows interest in discussing bail system changes

timesunion.com

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, avoided taking a hard stance on changes to the state's bail system. The changes to bail have come under scrutiny following recent critical comments by New York City Mayor-Elect Eric Adams, also a Democrat, who suggested the policies are not working well. Hochul pledged to work closely with Adams to make the changes “if necessary.”

WV: West Virginia transportation secretary welcomes ‘sorely needed’ federal infrastructure funds

wvgazettemail.com

West Virginia’s transportation secretary told a panel of state lawmakers that the federal infrastructure bill could provide sorely needed upgrades for the state’s roads and bridges, citing “underinvestment that you’ve seen in infrastructure across the country for decades.”

IN: Indiana lawmakers weigh tax cuts

apnews.com

Indiana’s fast-growing tax collections have some Republican lawmakers looking to push through tax cuts, even as that move faces skepticism.

WI: GOP candidate for Wisconsin governor sues elections commission

wpr.org

Republican candidate for governor Rebecca Kleefisch filed a lawsuit against the Wisconsin Elections Commission, calling on the state Supreme Court to suspend guidance the commission issued to local election officials ahead of the 2020 election. The lawsuit asks the court to take the case immediately, bypassing lower courts that would typically handle such matters first.

WA: Heavy rains bring flooding, evacuations in Washington

knkx.org

Heavy rainfall and high winds in Washington caused flooding and mudslides that forced evacuations and closed schools and part of Interstate 5 near Bellingham as storms pounded the Pacific Northwest. The National Weather Service warned that winds nearing hurricane strength were possible in the region that has seen nearly ceaseless rain for about a week.

ID: Idaho lawmakers censure member who identified sexual assault victim

idahocapitalsun.com

Idaho state Rep. Priscilla Giddings, a Republican, was removed from one of her three committee assignments and censured. Giddings had posted a link from her Facebook page to a blog that named and included the photo of a 19-year-old legislative intern who accused former GOP Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger of rape in April.

ND: North Dakota lawmakers pass bill to reshape panel in charge of in-state Legacy Fund investments

grandforksherald.com

North Dakota legislators and Republican Gov. Doug Burgum approved a bill that will reconfigure a board tasked with forming a procedure for investing part of the state's oil tax savings account in local companies.

AL: Alabama politicians look for ways to close math achievement gap

apnews.com

Alabama Republican state Sen. Arthur Orr, who chairs the legislative education budget committee, is working on a proposal to overhaul math instruction to include more math coaches in schools, summer programs and interventions. Alabama students have ranked at the bottom for years in the national math assessment.

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