What We're Reading: Top State Stories 2/4
CO: Colorado is planning a shift to an endemic response to COVID
As Colorado shifts toward an endemic response to COVID-19, the state health department is looking to the private sector for help in rethinking strategies to deal with the presence of the virus forever, and appears to be trying to shed its central role in limiting its spread.
NJ: GOP lawsuit dumped, locking in new maps for New Jersey congressional districts
A unanimous state Supreme Court dismissed a Republican lawsuit seeking to overturn New Jersey’s new congressional district lines. The map’s 12 districts locked in nine favoring Democrats and two Republicans, with just one considered competitive.
UT: Utah parents could sue education officials, teachers for almost any reason under proposed bill
A new bill in the Utah legislature would give parents the authorization to sue schools or education officials for any perceived infringement of their rights as a parent. The proposal covers curriculum, textbooks, classroom materials, teacher training and courses of study, among other things.
MI: Michigan Supreme Court upholds voting districts
A divided Michigan Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit against the state's redistricting commission that alleged that newly drawn voting districts violate federal voting rights requirements and would illegally disenfranchise Black voters.
WI: Wisconsin Republicans who posed as electors met secretly, had armed security
Wisconsin Republicans who posed as presidential electors in 2020 met secretly for an hour before filling out official-looking paperwork at the state Capitol and were accompanied by armed security, according to one of the participants.
AZ: Arizona House moves critical race theory ban to Senate
Two controversial education bills, one that would ban critical race theory in Arizona schools and one that would forbid schools from using or referring students to “sexually explicit materials,” passed the state House on party-line votes.
AL: Lawmaker who sponsored Alabama’s 3rd-grade reading law seeks 1-year delay
The lawmaker who sponsored the Alabama Literacy Act, which focuses attention and resources on improving reading instruction in the earliest grades, has filed a bill to delay a key part of the law by one year: that third graders must show they are reading on grade level to be promoted to fourth grade.
DE: Delaware allows non-lawyer representation for people facing eviction
The Delaware Supreme Court announced the state will start allowing non-lawyer representation of residential tenants in eviction cases. Currently landlords are permitted to be represented by non-lawyer agents in eviction proceedings in the Justice of the Peace Court, but tenants are not.
ND: North Dakota offers emergency program to recruit nurse aides
The North Dakota Department of Health is offering an emergency recruitment program to encourage people to pursue careers in the nursing field to help the ongoing nursing shortage. The program provides a $2,000 sign-on payment for individuals who obtain a nurse aide certification for employment in a skilled nursing facility, basic care facility or assisted living facility.
OH: A massive criminal justice bill 5 years in the making is now up for debate in Ohio
Ohio lawmakers are considering changes to how the state approaches criminal justice in the hopes of stopping cycles of crime and lowering the number of people who return to prison. The Ohio Senate introduced a 1,800-page bill ranging from bigger incentives for prisoners to earn early release, to smaller tweaks and clarifications.
TN: Tennessee governor proposes $250M for infrastructure projects at historically Black college
After decades of dealing with rundown buildings and chronic underfunding, Tennessee State University is set to receive $250 million in infrastructure money. Last year, a Tennessee budget analysis found the state owed its only public historically Black college upwards of a half-billion dollars—which was the result of legislators failing to provide TSU with its state land-grant matching money from 1957 to 2007.
HI: Feds take Hawaii to court over Navy base defueling order
The federal government is taking Hawaii to court over its emergency order requiring the Navy to drain its massive, underground fuel tanks at Red Hill, arguing the state overstepped its authority when it tried to shutter the aging fuel farm that has contaminated Oahu’s groundwater.
WA: Insurer groups sue over Washington's credit scoring ban
Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s adoption this week of a rule prohibiting insurers from using credit scoring to set rates for auto, homeowner and renter insurance has already drawn a legal challenge from insurer groups. The rule is set to last for three years after the end of pandemic-related federal and state emergency financial protections, whichever is longer.
CA: After years of cuts, California could provide school buses for all kids
The yellow school bus has become an increasingly rare sight in California. But new legislation is aiming to change that, a policy shift that proponents say could curb absenteeism and narrow inequities.