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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 12/20

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 12/20

CA: California governor responds to crime concerns with more funding

calmatters.org

California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom responded to a raft of flash-mob-style shoplifting incidents, defending past changes to the criminal justice system and proposing more than $350 million to stop organized retail thefts.

WA: Washington state senator who fought vaccine mandates dies; sought COVID treatment
seattletimes.com

seattletimes.com
Washington state Republican Sen. Doug Ericksen, a former leader of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in Washington and an outspoken critic of COVID-19 emergency orders died, his family said. The 52-year-old last month tested positive for COVID-19 while on a trip to El Salvador and sought medical treatment, but his cause of death was not immediately confirmed.

PA: New Pennsylvania law could ease substitute teacher crisis

inquirer.com

Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has signed legislation aimed at easing Pennsylvania’s school staffing crisis, temporarily expanding the pool of available substitutes and allowing retired teachers to fill teacher vacancies on an emergency basis. The measures will be in place for the remainder of this school year and for the 2022-23 term.

TN: Tennessee House Republicans propose plan to eliminate 5 Democratic districts

tennessean.com

The Tennessee House Redistricting Committee approved a map that would eliminate the districts of five Democratic incumbents who face reelection in 2022. The map would combine nine Democratic incumbents in Nashville, Knoxville, Memphis and other urban areas into four districts.

NE: Last call for Nebraska's remaining video store

flatwaterfreepress.org

Call Video may well be the last free-standing video store in the state. It outlasted at least six brick-and-mortar competitors, beating back Blockbusters, cable's on-demand video, Walmart discount DVDs and Redbox kiosks.

WI: Wisconsin schools are desperate for substitute teachers as many absences go unfilled

jsonline.com

Wisconsin educators have said for years that there’s been a critical need for full-time and substitute teachers, but COVID-19 has exposed the need like never before. With most schools now teaching in person, droves of the state’s educators are absent because they’ve tested positive, been exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms.

MA: Vaccine mandate, passports likely coming to Boston

bostonherald.com

A COVID-19 vaccine mandate and passport in Boston—just as virus cases and hospitalizations surge ahead of Christmas—will likely spark a legal fight from unions and other groups. Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, a Democrat, is set to announce a slate of new coronavirus vaccine policies.

MD: Maryland facing worst hospital crisis of pandemic

baltimoresun.com

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan said Maryland could be facing "the worst surge we've seen in our hospitals throughout the entire crisis" over the coming weeks. The state reported 1,257 COVID-19 hospitalizations, twice the number in mid-November.

 

NY: New York state workers lament return of mask mandate

timesunion.com

Thousands of New York state workers have been ordered to wear masks on the job, prompting complaints across the sprawling workforce as Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul's administration also moved forward with a plan to have nearly all employees back in the office by Jan. 3.

AR: Arkansas grapples with soaring construction costs

arkansasonline.com

Inflation is eating into money that cities and counties in central Arkansas have set aside for select road construction projects built with federal dollars. The price tag for the projects has increased by between $20 million and $25 million, erasing the modest windfall in money the region is expected to receive under the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law.

HI: Hawaii legislative group issues new recommendations for tallest peak conservation

apnews.com

A working group tasked by the state legislature to come up with recommendations for a new management plan for Hawaii’s tallest peak and its affiliated telescopes released the first draft of its proposal. The giant telescope project has sparked a cultural movement among Native Hawaiians who believe the mountain, Mauna Kea, is sacred. Construction of the massive instrument has been blocked by opponents.

MN: New legislative commission targets cybersecurity threats to Minnesota agencies

minnpost.com

A new Legislative Commission on Cybersecurity, created earlier this year, will advocate for more cybersecurity resources and legislation at the Minnesota Capitol. For government IT managers, it’s is a lifeline to much-needed support. For members of the commission, it’s a way to push other lawmakers to meet what they see as a fundamental responsibility.

OR: Laid off, burned out or longing for change, Oregonians shake up careers in pandemic
oregonlive.com

oregonlive.com
Oregon shed more than 250,000 jobs almost overnight at the start of the pandemic, and the jobs that remained changed dramatically—and indefinitely. A year and a half later, the vast majority of the lost jobs have returned, but many of the workers who filled those roles have moved on. And the shock of the intervening months has spurred many others to reassess their priorities, often starting with their work.

CO: Governor says Coloradans may need booster to be ‘fully vaccinated’ against COVID

denverpost.com

Coloradans may need to receive COVID-19 booster shots in order to be considered “fully vaccinated” against the virus, Democratic Gov. Jared Polis said. It was not clear how changing the definition of “fully vaccinated” would apply to Colorado’s mandate that health care workers be fully vaccinated and most state employees be either fully vaccinated or submit to twice-weekly testing.

WY: No violence seen at Wyoming schools after threats circulate online

cowboystatedaily.com

All was quiet across Wyoming’s school districts after many increased measures due to threats of violence that circulated nationally across the social media app TikTok.

ID: Idaho health department is losing social workers

idahocapitalsun.com

Turnover rates among mid-level social workers at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare have been higher in the past two years, in part because some former social workers say workflow changes at the department made the job impossibly difficult and stressful.

Raises for State Workers Offshore Drilling Bans
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