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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/10

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/10

WI: Wisconsin GOP leader: ‘Zero chance’ of taking over elections

apnews.com

A top Wisconsin Republican lawmaker said there is “zero chance” the GOP-controlled legislature will take over the awarding of the state’s 10 presidential elector votes in 2024, even as Democrats worry that is their goal. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos also said he opposes dissolving the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission or making wholesale changes to how it operates.

TX: Omicron on track to shatter Texas' COVID hospitalization record

texastribune.org

Pandemic forecasters in Texas say the state’s current surge of omicron infections and hospitalizations is likely to get much worse before it gets better, with hospitalizations expected to continue climbing for at least three weeks if social behaviors don’t change and slow the trend.

ME: Governor vetoes Democratic bill to allow Maine farmworkers to organize

bangordailynews.com

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills vetoed a bill to allow Maine farmworkers to organize and collectively bargain, saying she feared it would discourage the growth of farms.

CO: Colorado reactivates crisis standards for emergency medical services

cpr.org

Colorado has reactivated its emergency standards, called crisis standards of care, for emergency medical services. It’s the first time the state has done so since April 2020. Still, the state’s top medical officer is urging those who are sick or in need of emergency care to use 911 or seek emergency care as normal.

NY: New York now prohibits homeowner insurance discrimination for certain dog breeds

timesunion.com

A new New York law prohibits insurance companies from refusing to provide insurance to homeowners based on dog breeds, a move that's drawing praise from pet owners who say some dogs are unfairly maligned as inherently violent.

NM: New Mexico weighs voting reforms, holiday on Election Day

apnews.com

New Mexico would designate Election Day as a state holiday to encourage voting and make it easier to request and cast ballots by mail under a suggested legislative proposal outlined by Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, both Democrats.

OR: Oregon wants to fix high lead levels in Portland's water

opb.org

With lead samples in Portland's water at the highest levels they’ve been since 2000, the Oregon Health Authority is requesting action while the city waits for the completion of a corrosion treatment facility. The agency asked the water bureau to provide a plan for “additional short-term measures."

CA: California governor proposes $2.7B to expand COVID response efforts

latimes.com

California would spend $2.7 billion on new efforts to respond to the surge in COVID-19 cases, including additional testing capacity and assistance to hospitals, under a budget proposal Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom will send to state lawmakers.

OK: Oklahomans could get 2 chances to legalize recreational marijuana

oklahoman.com

A second initiative petition to legalize recreational marijuana use in Oklahoma was filed with the secretary of state's office. Similar to a petition filed in October, the latest proposal details a framework for adult use of cannabis, seeks to impose a 15% excise tax on recreational cannabis sales and would make the new law apply retroactively to allow some drug convictions reversed and offender’s records expunged.

AZ: Arizona judge hits Maricopa County election auditors with $50K daily fine

azcentral.com

Cyber Ninjas, the firm hired by the Arizona Senate to conduct a review of the Maricopa County election, was found in contempt of court and ordered to pay sanctions of $50,000 a day until it turns over public records from the review to The Arizona Republic.

GA: Georgia lawmaking sometimes limits access

ajc.com

When Georgians try to weigh in on hot-button issues at the Capitol this year, they might find the sausage-making a little hard to follow. Even legislators and lobbyists can struggle to keep track—unless they’re cozy with the committee chairperson.

TN: Tennessee legislators look to tackle redistricting, education funding

tennessean.com

A draft Tennessee House map would reinforce the Republican supermajority, eliminating five Democratic incumbents facing reelection this year. Meanwhile, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle want to revamp the state’s school funding formula. 

FL: Proposed law would impose deadline for Florida governor to set special elections

sun-sentinel.com

Two Florida lawmakers seek to force governors to set special elections for Congress and the state legislature within six months of vacancies. The effort is aimed at preventing a repeat of moves made in 2021 by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who delayed setting special elections to fill four seats far longer than other governors ever have before.

VA: Virginia legislature working on backup IT system

richmond.com

With the Virginia General Assembly preparing to convene, legislative agencies are running their websites and computer systems on a backup IT network to bypass malware implanted in a ransomware attack that crippled them last month.

NE: Nebraska gun law helped spark prison growth

omaha.com

The smoking gun behind much of Nebraska's nation-leading prison growth is a 2009 state law that created new gun crimes and toughened penalties.

CT: Tax credits to film companies have cost Connecticut hundreds of millions

ctmirror.org

Film companies have gotten hundreds of millions of Connecticut taxpayer dollars in incentives aimed at creating and retaining jobs and economic activity. Officials are evaluating whether they’re worth it.

WV: West Virginia governor calls quick special legislative session

wvgazettemail.com

Four days before the start of the 2022 West Virginia legislative session, Republican Gov. Jim Justice issued a proclamation calling the legislature to meet for a special session. Justice wants lawmakers to fast-track six bills “all relating generally to economic development” during the single-day session.

SC: South Carolina COVID testing issues follow dramatic spread of omicron

postandcourier.com

The staggering spread of the omicron variant in South Carolina in recent weeks has led to severe demand for testing that is straining medical resources and leading to delays for people trying to find out if they are infected.

MN: Minnesota faces severe shortage of COVID tests

minnpost.com

As cases in Minnesota rise, appointments at the state’s community test sites are mostly booked. Ditto local pharmacies and health care providers. Walk-in wait times are unpredictable, and at-home rapid tests are so scarce they almost feel like a luxury good.

IL: Latest sign of Illinois hospitals’ COVID crisis: Patients kept waiting in ERs for beds

chicagotribune.com

Illinois hospitals running short on inpatient beds are increasingly housing patients in their emergency rooms, creating a situation some doctors say threatens the quality of care.

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