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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/30

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/30

US: Biden vaccine for health workers blocked in 10 states

apnews.com

A federal judge has blocked President Joe Biden’s administration from enforcing a coronavirus vaccine mandate on thousands of health care workers in 10 states—Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming—that brought the first legal challenge against the requirement.  

NJ: GOP lawmakers who defy COVID rules for New Jersey Statehouse access could be shut out

nj.com

The head of the New Jersey State Police said people trying to enter the Statehouse who refuse to show COVID-19 vaccination proof or a negative coronavirus test will likely be denied access to the building under a new rule. Some GOP lawmakers have said they will refuse to abide.

NE: Nebraska governments are spending millions on COVID relief consultants

omaha.com

Tasked with spending an unprecedented windfall of federal COVID-19 relief, some of Nebraska’s largest political jurisdictions, primarily the state, are on track to spend more than a combined $10 million of the federal dollars on consultants to help them allocate the money.

WV: West Virginia awarded millions in grants with little accountability

wvgazettemail.com

West Virginia state agencies awarded 3,420 grants totaling $219 million in the 2016-17 budget year, but only about 21% of all recipients have provided sufficient documentation to verify the funds were spent properly, an audit has found. A 2019 law exempts state agencies and local governments from financial reporting requirements. 

TX: Texas governor remains silent on posthumous pardon for George Floyd

texastribune.org

It’s been nearly two months since the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recommended that George Floyd be pardoned for a problematic 2004 drug conviction in Houston. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who has the final say, has been sitting on the recommendation largely without public comment since.

WI: Hospital ICU beds fill up across Wisconsin

nbc15.com

Two regions of Wisconsin show zero open ICU beds, according to data from the Wisconsin Hospital Association. Of the 1,353 total ICU beds in Wisconsin, the association reports just over 5% of beds are currently available. The number of people hospitalized in Wisconsin with COVID-19 is also at the highest it’s been in almost a year,  the association noted.

OR: Oregon Bar proposes to let paralegals represent clients in some housing, family law cases

oregonlive.com

The organization representing Oregon’s lawyers is considering granting paralegals limited powers to advise and represent tenants in evictions and disputes over rental assistance. The plan aims to help deal with the backlog of landlord-tenant cases in courts and to broaden access to legal representation.

DC: New opioids, more powerful than fentanyl, are discovered in DC amid deadly wave of overdoses

washingtonpost.com

Forensic analysts have identified a new and highly potent family of synthetic opioids in Washington, D.C.’s illicit drug supply, a worrisome discovery in a city already struggling with a wave of fatal overdoses that shows no signs of abating.

CA: California State University blunder may mean loss of 3,000 new student housing beds

calmatters.org

Thousands of affordable student housing slots are in jeopardy after the California State University system misread the fine print for a new $2 billion state student housing program. With the deadline for applications passed, a solution remains unclear.

MO: Group hopes to amend Missouri Constitution to enact ranked choice voting 

missouriindependent.com

An effort to do away with partisan primaries in Missouri and replace them with a ranked choice method got a big boost, receiving roughly $670,000 from a Virginia-based nonprofit hoping to put the idea on the 2022 statewide ballot. 

MN: Minnesota panel aims to stop violence against African American women

mprnews.org

Minnesota’s newly established Task Force on Missing and Murdered African American Women met for the first time with a mission to advise the commissioner of public safety and Minnesota legislature on ways to reduce violence against African American women and girls by December 2022.

AR: New Arkansas legislative maps win final approval

arkansasonline.com

The new maps maintain the same number of majority-minority districts in the Arkansas state Senate— four—and on the state House side, keep the same number of majority-Black districts and add a new majority-Hispanic district. 

CO: Colorado lawmakers want to end state sales tax on menstrual products, diapers

denverpost.com

Colorado Democratic lawmakers want the state to join the ranks of 12 other states that don’t impose a sales tax on menstrual products and 15 that don’t on diapers.

CT: Shortage of substitute teachers compounding stress at Connecticut schools 

courant.com

A substitute teacher shortage caused by the coronavirus pandemic, low pay and rising challenges that include students’ bad behavior has school administrators throughout Connecticut scrambling to cover classrooms. 

FL: Florida governor proposes more first-responder bonuses, raises 

orlandosentinel.com

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has announced plans for another round of $1,000 bonuses for police and other first responders as part of his upcoming budget. 

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