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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/18

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/18

TX: New Texas election law leads to record number of rejected mail ballot applications

houstonchronicle.com

County officials in urban areas across Texas say they’ve been forced to reject an unprecedented number of mail ballot applications because they do not adhere to new requirements stipulated by the election bill passed last year by the legislature's Republican majority.

MN: Minnesota’s largest city will launch basic income experiment

startribune.com

Minneapolis, Minnesota, will soon support 200 families with its new guaranteed basic income pilot, an experiment in alleviating poverty by paying low-income households $500 per month for two years, no strings attached. The city has set aside $3 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds for the program.

CA: California freezes 345K ‘suspicious’ disability insurance claims

latimes.com

In the latest battle between California and scammers out to defraud its benefits system, the state said it froze 345,000 disability insurance claims that it suspects were fraudulently filed using stolen credentials of doctors and other medical providers.

MA: Massachusetts seeks to claw back at least $2.7B in incorrectly paid jobless benefits

bostonglobe.com

At least $2.7 billion in benefits went to claimants who, the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance later determined, received too much money or weren’t eligible for unemployment in the first place. The department issued what are called overpayments on 719,000 jobless claims from March 2020 through September 2021.

OH: Ohio Redistricting Commission meets ahead of Supreme Court deadline

cleveland.com

The Ohio Redistricting Commission will meet to begin the process of redrawing the state’s House and Senate district maps with days to spare before a deadline set by the Ohio state Supreme Court. The court tossed out the previous round of state legislative maps in a 4-3 decision and ordered the commission to draw new ones.

NC: North Carolina lawmakers to vote on delaying 2022 primaries again due to legal challenges

newsobserver.com

North Carolina Senate Republicans plan to postpone the state’s primary elections to June 7, citing ongoing litigation of the newly enacted redistricting maps.

WA: Washington Democrats push election bills

seattletimes.com

Washington state lawmakers are considering a bill that would make it a gross misdemeanor for elected officials or candidates to lie about election results if those lies lead to violence. Other proposals would increase criminal penalties for harassment of election workers and strengthen and expand the state’s Voting Rights Act.

CT: Connecticut lawmaker proposes mandatory neck guards after hockey death

apnews.com

A Connecticut state lawmaker says she plans to introduce legislation requiring all hockey players to wear a neck guard or a similar protective device during practice or games following the death last week of a 10th-grade player whose neck was cut by a skate.

FL: Owners to get $42M for citrus trees Florida destroyed

apnews.com

Sixteen years after their legal battle began, about 18,000 homeowners in central Florida will be paid more than $42 million collectively by the state for destroying their citrus trees during an effort to eradicate a harmful citrus disease.

IL: Complaints about nursing home care in Illinois are usually dismissed

chicagotribune.com

Illinois regulators last year dismissed as unsubstantiated about 64%—nearly 2 out of 3—of overall complaints as well as abuse and neglect complaints about nursing homes. In 2020, 66% of overall complaints were unsubstantiated, and so were 90% of neglect allegations.

NY: Law professor files suit challenging New York’s prioritization of ‘non-whites’ for COVID treatment

timesunion.com

A Cornell Law School professor filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the New York state health department’s recent directive requiring medical providers to prioritize “non-whites” and Hispanic individuals in the distribution of potentially lifesaving COVID-19 treatments. 

IN: Indiana considers bill to address nursing shortage

apnews.com

A proposed loosening of Indiana’s regulations on nursing education programs is advancing in the legislature, with supporters saying the step is needed to help address a statewide nursing shortage. The bill would allow nursing schools to increase enrollment and hire more part-time instructors.

UT: Utah lawmaker is set to push end-of-life legislation again

kuer.org

Utah Democratic state Rep. Jennifer Dailey-Provost is attempting to bring back a bill that would give people with terminal illness the right to die by getting a prescription from their physician. She’s planning to run the legislation for a fourth time.

ID: Bill to protect Idaho LGBTQ residents from discrimination returns

idahostatesman.com

A bill to add the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to classes protected from discrimination in state law has returned to the Idaho legislature. But it’s not expected to get a hearing.

NM: Staffing marks top education goal for New Mexico lawmakers

apnews.com

About half of New Mexico’s budget this year, $3.8 billion of $8.4 billion, is expected to go to K-12 education. New Mexico is struggling to keep America’s oldest teacher workforce in the classroom, keep up with inflation, and compete with other states and private employers that are raising wages.

NV: Lawsuit accuses Nevada jail of failing to provide interpreters for deaf inmates

thenevadaindependent.com

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada has accused the Clark County Detention Center of failing to provide deaf inmates with adequate communication devices and qualified interpreters during bookings, medical evaluations and jail programming.

OR: Oregon advances alternative routes to becoming a licensed lawyer

opb.org

Oregonians may soon have some options when it comes to becoming licensed attorneys in the state, following a recent decision by the state Supreme Court. The Oregon Supreme Court unanimously supported the concept of two alternatives in addition to the Uniform Bar Exam—an experiential learning pathway for students and a postgraduate supervised practice pathway.

MI: University of Michigan president fired by board over relationship with subordinate

freep.com

The University of Michigan Board of Regents has unanimously fired school President Mark Schlissel for cause following an investigation into a relationship with a subordinate.

PA: Pennsylvania GOP answered governor’s pandemic vetoes with constitution changes. The strategy is here to stay.

spotlightpa.org

Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has vetoed more than 50 bills as he begins his final year in office, a number that illustrates the institutionalized gridlock between the Democratic governor and the Republican-controlled General Assembly. As Wolf has exercised his veto pen, Republican legislators have increasingly turned to constitutional amendments to advance their priorities.

HI: Higher park fees sought for tourists in Hawaii

staradvertiser.com

With tourism arrivals forecast to reach just below 10 million by the end of 2024—and the state prohibited from limiting the number of visitors—some Hawaii legislators feel pressure to expand parking and user fees at state parks designed to charge tourists for their impact on state lands.

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