What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/27
US: Vaccine mandate kicks in for 1st wave of health workers
Health care workers in about half the states face a deadline to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine under a Biden administration mandate that will be rolled out across the rest of the country in the coming weeks.
AL: Alabama challenges ruling ordering redraw of state map
The Alabama attorney general’s office petitioned to block a federal court ruling ordering the state to redraw congressional districts. The federal court said the map violates the Voting Rights Act because Black voters have a lower chance of electing a candidate of their choice than other voters.
ME: Maine legislature fails to override veto of bill that would have allowed farmworkers to unionize
Maine lawmakers failed to override Democratic Gov. Janet Mills’ veto of a bill that would have allowed workers at farms with five or more employees to form unions.
IN: Indiana House passes bill limiting lessons on race in schools
A bill to limit what teachers can say regarding race, history and politics in Indiana classrooms has passed the House. The controversial bill was inspired by a nationwide debate over how schools teach about race, history and social-emotional learning.
KS: Kansas senator under investigation after prescribing ivermectin for COVID
Kansas state Sen. Mark Steffen, a Republican and an anesthesiologist, has revealed that he’s under investigation for prescribing ivermectin to COVID-19 patients. Steffen has introduced legislation that would give himself and other doctors the authority to treat COVID-19 patients with ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine.
CA: Redwood forest in California is returned to Native tribes
Ownership of more than 500 acres of a forest in Mendocino County, California, was returned to 10 sovereign tribes who will serve as guardians to “protect and heal” the land.
GA: Georgia Senate GOP joins fight to limit how race is discussed in schools
After promising to define what they say is a problem with the way race is discussed in Georgia classrooms, Republicans in the state Senate introduced legislation that would prohibit teaching “divisive concepts” in both K-12 classrooms and in public higher education.
WY: Storefronts filling up in Wyoming’s small towns
Jumps in tourism traffic and the oil and gas industry, along with an influx of city dwellers, have given a much-needed boost to many communities in Wyoming, according to local officials. Restaurants are among the fastest-growing small town businesses.
OH: Ohio loosens candidate filing requirements amid redistricting uncertainty
Ohio lawmakers have voted to temporarily relax filing requirements for state legislative and congressional candidates in response to uncertainty around the state’s ongoing redistricting process, which remains tied up in court days before a crucial legal deadline.
PA: Pennsylvania governor vetoes redistricting map
Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has vetoed a congressional map from Republican lawmakers, leaving the job of drawing district lines to the state courts. Wolf said the map failed “the test of fundamental fairness.”
MN: Student leaders call on Minnesota State college system to require COVID vaccinations
Members of Students United, an association representing those enrolled at Minnesota State's universities, want the system to require all students to either be fully vaccinated or tested regularly for COVID-19.
SC: South Carolina governor OKs controversial congressional map that protects GOP advantage
A redrawn South Carolina congressional map expected to deepen Republicans’ advantage in the state was signed into law, hours after House lawmakers signed off on a version passed by the Senate last week.
NC: North Carolina nonprofit hospitals are supposed to provide charity care, but bill low-income patients
Some North Carolina hospitals that receive tax breaks to provide charity care are billing low-income patients at three times the national average. They face little to no accountability.
VA: Virginia health department will stop contact tracing for every patient as cases become insurmountable
The Virginia Department of Health will stop contact tracing for every COVID-19 patient, acknowledging that it cannot continue in the face of astronomical case counts but embracing the fact that the practice is no longer effective.
MI: Michigan deaths outpace births for the first time in history
For the first time in Michigan's recorded history, deaths outpaced births in 2020—a situation worsened by the wave of deaths from COVID-19. It could have wide-reaching economic and political implications for the state.
MT: Blood shortage is affecting Montana’s rural hospitals
The blood shortage at Montana hospitals adds another barrier to patient transfers, which have been impeded periodically due to high volumes of COVID-19 patients at larger hospitals.
MA: Massachusetts governor pitches tax cuts in budget proposal
The $48.5 billion budget Massachusetts Republican Gov. Charlie Baker is proposing for fiscal 2023 pairs a modest increase in state spending with a total of $693 million in tax cuts.