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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/23

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/23

MN: Minnesota governor pledges National Guard help for nursing homes

mprnews.org

Democratic Gov. Tim Walz said he's activating the National Guard to create skilled-nursing response teams to help short-staffed nursing homes in Minnesota. Walz also wants to spend $50 million in federal funding to help long-term care facilities hire and retain staff.

ID: Idaho deactivates crisis standards of care in most counties

idahostatesman.com

After two months of strain on Idaho’s health care systems due to COVID-19, crisis standards of care—in which hospitals ration health care based on patients’ progress—have been deactivated, except in North Idaho.

GA: Georgia legislature passes map that aims to gain Republicans a seat in Congress

ajc.com

The Georgia General Assembly gave final approval to a political map that positions Republicans to gain a seat in Congress by reshaping a suburban Atlanta district currently represented by Democratic U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath.

NY: New York workers’ help with Cuomo book not always ‘voluntary’: report

timesunion.com

As they extensively helped former New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo produce a book netting him $5.1 million, some government staff did not feel the assistance was voluntary, according to an investigative report by the state Assembly. Their work often occurred during government hours, and in the context of regular job duties, the report found, rebutting Cuomo's contention that the work was voluntary and not done on government time.

WA: Washington to pay $3M settlement to family of man allegedly killed by cellmate

seattletimes.com

Washington state will pay $3 million to settle a lawsuit by the family of a man killed in prison after the state Department of Corrections failed to heed its own staff’s warnings about the man’s violent cellmate. The $3 million settlement is more than double the $1.4 million paid out by the DOC in legal settlements for the entirety of the state’s 2021 fiscal year.

OR: June heat dome damaged Oregon’s forests

oregonlive.com

The trees in Oregon weren’t ready for the heat that sweltered over the state in late June. Researchers are still working to tally the damage several months later, and the long-term prognosis for the state’s forests after a heat wave of such epic proportions will require more in-depth research.

CA: California governor blasts recent retail thefts, vows to up funding for police, prosecution

sacbee.com

California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom called a recent spate of retail thefts “unacceptable” and said he would increase money for cities to address them in next year’s budget.

TN: Tennessee governor signs executive order targeting commercial truck driver shortage

tennessean.com

Republican Gov. Bill Lee directed the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security to study state statutes that "unduly burden" commercial drivers and might be amended. He also directed the Department of Military and Department of Corrections to promote commercial driver’s license training and certification for former servicemembers and incarcerated individuals. 

KS: Kansas lawmakers divided as special session to fight COVID vaccine mandates begins

kansas.com

Kansas lawmakers opened a special session with Republicans divided over how far to push their effort to fight federal COVID-19 vaccination rules but largely unified in support of sweeping religious exemptions for workers.

NJ: New Jersey’s 1st full report on school staff, student COVID cases shows 22K positive tests this year

nj.com

New Jersey publicly reported for the first time there have been at least 22,842 positive coronavirus tests among students and school staff in grades K-12 across the state since the start of this academic year, along with numbers showing nearly 85% of school staff are fully vaccinated.

WY: Vaccines will remain optional for University of Wyoming workers

trib.com

Three federal vaccine mandates could eventually impact the University of Wyoming. But until the courts decide their legality, Wyoming’s lone four-year public university will continue the policy of encouraging vaccinations without mandating them, the school said.

UT: Utah attorney general has COVID

fox13now.com

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, a Republican, has announced he has tested positive for COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated. Reyes is the second high-profile public official to test positive for the virus recently. House Majority Leader Mike Schultz, a Republican, has also tested positive. 

IA: Iowa will not meet its goal of keeping traffic deaths below 300

thegazette.com

Iowa law officers and safety officials will not meet their goal of holding traffic deaths below 300 this year. The state’s traffic death count recently hit 312, which officials with the state Department of Transportation said outpaced the death toll for that same date in the four previous years.

NV: 76% of Nevada corrections workers have had vaccine shots

apnews.com

More than three-fourths of the state’s corrections workers are either partially or fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to figures from the Nevada Department of Corrections. The state’s mandate starts to go into effect this month.

MI: Redistricting commission's closed meeting likely violated state constitution: Michigan attorney general
freep.com

freep.com

The Michigan redistricting commission's controversial closed-door meeting with its lawyers to discuss voting rights issues should have been held as an open meeting, Attorney General Dana Nessel determined in a legal opinion. Nessel wrote that the group must openly discuss and disclose any memos outlining information relevant to the commission's mapping process.

AK: Alaska medical board gets earful from public over unproven COVID treatments, misinformation
alaskapublic.org

alaskapublic.org

The board that oversees licensing of medical professionals in Alaska got an earful from the public at a meeting. More than two dozen Alaskans largely took one of two sides: They either pleaded with the board to allow doctors to keep prescribing drugs like ivermectin to treat COVID-19, which federal regulators have warned against, or they asked the board to take a clearer stand against misinformation related to the virus.

MA: Massachusetts governor says residents should ‘enjoy Thanksgiving’ even as COVID cases rise

wbur.org

Massachusetts families "should enjoy their Thanksgiving" with confidence even as COVID-19 cases tick upward, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker said. Baker, who toured small businesses in to promote an initiative urging residents to shop at local retailers this holiday season, noted that more than 5 million Bay Staters have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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